Outstanding Achievement in a Debut Feature Film

From Barbara Kopple’s Harlan County U.S.A. to Frederick Wiseman’s Titicut Follies, some of the most lauded and lasting nonfiction films of all time have been crafted by debut filmmakers. Previous winners in this category include Jennifer Venditti for Billy the Kid (2008), Yung Chang for Up the Yangtze (2009), Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher for October Country (2010), Jeff Malmberg for Marwencol (2011), Clio Barnard for The Arbor (2012), Jason Tippet and Elizabeth Mims for Only the Young (2013), Zachary Heinzerling for Cutie and the Boxer (2014), John Maloof and Charlie Siskel for Finding Vivian Maier (2015), and Crystal Moselle for The Wolfpack (2016).


Nominated for
“I’ve been singing for more than 60 years and I have no intention of retiring,” 75-year-old Mavis Staples tells us at the beginning of this documentary. The Chicago-born singer broke through at a young age when she and her sisters...

When Two Worlds Collide

Nominated for
In this tense and immersive tour de force, audiences are taken directly into the line of fire between powerful, opposing Peruvian leaders who will stop at nothing to keep their respective goals intact. On the one side is President Alan...

Do Not Resist

Nominated for
Starting on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, as the community grapples with the death of Michael Brown, Do Not Resist—the directorial debut of Detropia cinematographer Craig Atkinson – offers a stunning look at the current state of policing in America...

Hooligan Sparrow

Nominated for
Intrepid young filmmaker, Nanfu Wang, follows activist “Hooligan Sparrow,” and her band of colleagues to China’s Hainan Province to protest the case of six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal. Marked as enemies of the state,...

The Eagle Huntress

Nominated for
The Kazakh tradition of eagle hunting has been passed down from father to son for over 2,000 years in Western Mongolia. Aisholpan, a determined and spellbinding 13-year-old, dreams of becoming the first female huntress. With the support of her family,...


Nominated for
When David Farrier came across social-media notice of a “competitive endurance tickling” event in Los Angeles, he thought he’d lit upon another amusingly weird topic for his lighthearted reports on New Zealand television. But the Donkey Lady, frog-eating survivalists and...

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