DOC NYC Visionaries Tribute

DOC NYC’s seventh annual Visionaries Tribute lunch will be held at Gotham Hall on November 12, 2020.

Lifetime Achievement Awards are given for a distinguished output of documentaries.  2019’s two recipients were:

Martin Scorsese has interwoven documentary making throughout his distinguished career. His latest nonfiction work is Rolling Thunder Revue: A Bob Dylan Story. Among his other acclaimed nonfiction films are The 50 Year Argument; George Harrison: Living in the Material World; No Direction Home: Bob Dylan; The Blues; My Voyage to Italy; The Last Waltz; A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies; Public Speaking; and Italianamerican. His latest project is the narrative feature The Irishman.


Michael Apted is the director of the ground-breaking 7 Up series, a study of the British class system that brings forth a new film every seven years. The latest film in his series, 63 Up, presented by BritBox, will be released in fall 2019. His other documentaries include Married in America; Me & Isaac Newton; Moving the Mountain; Inspirations; Incident at Oglala; and Bring on the Night.


Past Lifetime Achievement recipients are Errol Morris, Sheila Nevins, Jon Alpert, Jonathan Demme, Chris Hegedus, Barbara Kopple, Albert Maysles, D.A. Pennebaker, Stanley Nelson, Frederick Wiseman, Wim Wenders and Orlando Bagwell. The honorees are selected by the festival programming team, based on recommendations from the Visionaries Host Committee.

The Leading Light Award honors an individual making a critical contribution to documentary in a role other than as a filmmaker. 

The 2019 Leading Light Award went to Cynthia Lopez, the Executive Director of New York Women in Film & Television. She is the former Commissioner of the New York City’s Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment. Prior to working as Commissioner she was Executive Vice President and co-Executive Producer of the award-winning PBS documentary series American Documentary | POV, and was involved in the organization’s strategic growth and creative development for 14 years. 

The past recipients are Tabitha Jackson, Cara Mertes, Molly Thompson, Tom Quinn and Dan Cogan.

The Robert and Anne Drew Award for Documentary Excellence honors a mid-career filmmaker or partnership that excels in observational filmmaking.

The 2019 Robert and Anne Drew Award went to Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert are the filmmaking team behind this year’s American Factory; the Oscar-nominated short The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant; and the feature A Lion in the House. Reichert was Oscar-nominated for her documentary feature films Union Maids and Seeing Red: Stories of American Communists. Her first film was Growing Up Female, which is on the National Film Registry. Bognar’s solo films are Personal Belongings, Picture Day and Gravel. The award includes a $5,000 cash prize to the filmmakers contributed by Drew Associates, under the helm of Jill Drew. 

Past recipients are Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, Dawn Porter, Kim Longinotto and Laura Poitras. 

The Visionaries Tribute is co-presented by Leadership Sponsor Netflix, Supporting Sponsor National Geographic Documentary Films and Signature Sponsor Bloomberg Philanthropies and NEON.

The 2019 Visionaries host committee: Jon Alpert*, Orlando Bagwell*, Joslyn Barnes, Geof Bartz, Amy Berg, Joe Berlinger, Nancy Buirski, Maro Chermayeff, Christine Choy, Marshall Curry, Kate Davis, Carl Deal, Deborah Dickson, Nick Doob, Ezra Edelman, Bob Eisenhardt, Heidi Ewing*, Susan Froemke, Geeta Gandbhir, Liz Garbus, Alex Gibney, Sabrina Schmidt Gordon, Rachel Grady*, Thomas Allen Harris, Chris Hegedus*, Amy Hobby, Gary Hustwit, Chiemi Karasawa, Kristi Jacobson, Ross Kauffman, Barbara Kopple*, Susan Lacy, Tia Lessin, Marc Levin, Stephen Maing, Stanley Nelson*, Marilyn Ness, Sheila Nevins*, Frazer Pennebaker, Bob Richman, Robert Richter, Richard Rowley, Deborah Shaffer, Toby Shimin, Marcia Smith, Ricki Stern, Robert Stone, JT Takagi, Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi*, Lana Wilson, Pamela Yates, Farihah Zaman

*denotes previous Visionaries Tribute Honorees

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The 2019 Visionaries Tribute booklet can be found here.