The Ridenhour Documentary Film Prize

2020 / One Child Nation from Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang

2020 / One Child Nation from Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang

From award-winning documentarian Nanfu Wang (Hooligan Sparrow, I Am Another You) and Jialing Zhang, the sweeping “One Child Nation” explores the ripple effect of this devastating social experiment, uncovering one shocking human rights violation after another – from abandoned newborns, to forced sterilizations and abortions, and government abductions.

2019 / On Her Shoulders from Alexandria Bombach

2019 / On Her Shoulders from Alexandria Bombach

Bombach’s documentary follows Nadia Murad, a 23-year-old Yazidi woman who survived genocide and sexual slavery committed by ISIS. Repeating her story to politicians and media, including at the United Nations, Murad was thrust onto the world stage as the voice of her people.

2017 / National Bird from Sonia Kennebeck

2017 / National Bird from Sonia Kennebeck

National Bird follows the dramatic journey of three whistleblowers who are determined to break the silence around one of the most controversial current affairs issues of our time: the secret U.S. drone war. At the center of the film are three U.S. military veterans. Plagued by guilt over participating in the killing of faceless people in foreign countries, they decide to speak out publicly, despite the possible consequences. The filmgives rare insight into the U.S. drone program through the eyes of veterans and survivors, connecting their stories as never seen before in a documentary.

2015 / CITIZENFOUR from Laura Poitras

2015 / CITIZENFOUR from Laura Poitras

CITIZENFOUR provides a first-hand account of Edward Snowden’s disclosure of the NSA’s mass surveillance program. The film documents the initial contact the former NSA contractor had with Poitras via anonymous, encrypted email messages, and the whistleblower’s history-making disclosures that revealed chilling evidence of a worldwide web of mass surveillance.

2014 / Gideon’s Army from Dawn Porter

2014 / Gideon’s Army from Dawn Porter

Gideon’s Army follows three young public defenders in the Deep South — Travis Williams, Brandy Alexander, and June Hardwick — as they struggle with staggering caseloads, long hours, and low pay, trying to balance their commitment to public service with a criminal justice system strained to the breaking point.

2013 / The Invisible War from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering

2013 / The Invisible War from Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering

The Invisible War, a groundbreaking investigation into the troubling epidemic of rape in the US military. The film paints a startling picture of the extent of the problem — today, a female soldier in combat zones is more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire.

2012 / Semper Fi: Always Faithful from Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon

2012 / Semper Fi: Always Faithful from Rachel Libert and Tony Hardmon

Semper Fi: Always Faithful is the chronicle of one determined Marine, Master Sgt. Jerry Ensminger, whose quest to understand the reasons for his daughter’s early death pitted him against the organization to which he had pledged to be semper fidelis, or “always faithful.”

2011 / Budrus from Julia Bacha, Ronit Avni and Rula Salamehi

2011 / Budrus from Julia Bacha, Ronit Avni and Rula Salamehi

Budrus is an inspiring documentary about a Palestinian community organizer, Ayed Morrar, who in 2003 united local Fatah and Hamas members along with Israeli supporters in a peaceful movement to save his West Bank village from destruction by Israel’s Separation Barrier.