Documentary line producer Serena Kennedy has been named the Grierson Hero of the Year, an inaugural award sponsored by The Talent Manager.
The award highlights the pivotal role of production managers and celebrates Kennedy’s work on a trio of diverse projects produced during the Covid pandemic: BBC and Apple TV+ debut co-commission 9/11: Inside the President’s War Room; Edgar Wright’s cinema music documentary The Sparks Brothers; and Channel 4’s series Take Your Knee Off My Neck, a fast-turnaround response to the killing of George Floyd.
A former head of production at RDF West, Maverick TV, Drummer TV and World Media Rights, Kennedy has worked in the industry for 25 years.
Grierson chair Lorraine Heggessey said Kennedy is an “unsung hero” whose work on the 9/11 doc was “nothing short of miraculous”.
Heggessey added: Serena is a fantastic example of the wide range of skills and talent that a good production manager deploys at every stage of a production. I hope that through celebrating Serena and her work, we can continue to build on our commitment to bring new talent to this field of work as there is a desperate shortage of people working in production management.”
The award is sponsored by The Talent Manager. Founder Sarah Lee said: ''Making TV is a collective enterprise. None of the films we watch and enjoy would be possible without the incredible work, professionalism and dedication of teams of people. Their work is often challenging, frequently exhausting, rarely glamorous but absolutely essential. We’re delighted that it’s now being recognised by the Griersons, and couldn’t imagine a more fitting recipient of this inaugural Hero of the Year award than Serena.’’
Meanwhile, Sundance Film Festival director and former Channel 4 arts commissioner Tabitha Jackson will receive the Trustees’ Award at Grierson’s British Documentary Awards on 10 November.
Prior to taking up the Sundance role at the state of 2020, Jackson had spent seven years championing the cultural power of cinematic non-fiction as director of the festival’s documentary film programme.
Heggessey declared Jackson as “visionary and inspirational in her support of innovative documentary film-making” and celebrated her series of firsts in securing the Sundance role: the first woman, the first person of colour, the first person born outside the US and the first person from the documentary community.
Jackson's executive producer credits for Film4 include The Imposter, The Arbor and Nick Cave documentary 20,000 Days on Earth.