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The Grierson Trust has chosen the late documentary-maker Roger Graef as the first posthumous recipient of its Trustees’ Award.

Graef, who died in March at the age of 85, ran the indie Films of Record for 35 years and was a founding board member of Channel 4. He also directed Amnesty fundraiser The Secret Policeman’s Ball and co-produced the first Comic Relief with Richard Curtis.

The US-born filmmaker specialised in criminal justice and social change and was best known for the real-world impact of docs such as The Truth About Adoption, Who Cares? and Thames Valley Police: A Complaint of Rape.

His final doc, Extinction Rebellion: For Life, was released on Netflix a month after his passing.

Grierson Trust chair Lorraine Heggessey described Graef as “an inspirational figure to generations of documentary makers” and a champion of young talent who was always “supportive, encouraging and unfailingly courteous”.

In a tribute penned for the awards, film-maker and Rogan Productions founder James Rogan echoed Heggessey’s comments in looking beyond Graef’s impressive body of work.

“I think of his kindness to contributors and to filmmakers,” he wrote.

“I think of the fact that if I had not met Roger Graef, perhaps I wouldn’t have felt as empowered to show my films to contributors, to follow my conscience and to trust that good process makes great films.

“Kindness can be underrated in documentary filmmaking, but it is an essential tool and his work is a testament to that.”

Rogan joked: “I don’t like to think of Roger gone. Rather, I prefer to imagine him hustling for documentary access to the afterlife.”

Read the full tribute here

The Grierson Trust British Documentary Awards take place on 10 November, with film-maker and We Are Doc Women co-founder Clare Richards set to be given the TV Hero of the Year award, sponsored by Talent Manager.

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