Ken Burns Film CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES Wins DuPont

The PBS special CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES, a Ken Burns film directed by Barak Goodman, has won the prestigious Alfred I. duPont Award. The award, presented by the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, was bestowed on January 19, 2016. This juried journalism prize seeks programs that portray “accurate and fair reporting about important issues that are powerfully told.” NBC correspondent Tom Brokaw and Nightline anchor Juju Chang co-hosted the ceremony.

CANCER: THE EMPEROR OF ALL MALADIES is based on the Pulitzer Prize-winning book of the same name by hematologist, oncologist, and writer Siddhartha Mukherjee.

Dramatizing the story of cancer from ancient times to the present, this six-hour film includes patients’ stories about new therapies such as immunotherapy, which harnesses the body’s own immune system to attack cancer cells. “An ambitious documentary series tackle[s] a challenging topic with depth, context and humanity,” cites the award committee. The series premiered on WETA over the course of three nights in March 2015. The Sloan Foundation provided the film with production support.

PBS’s FORGOTTEN PLAGUE Nominated for Writers Guild Award

THE FORGOTTEN PLAGUE, by WGBH’s award-winning show AMERICAN EXPERIENCE, has just been nominated for a 2016 Writers Guild Award. This documentary tells the story of tuberculosis, the bacteria that invaded almost every home in America at the turn of the 19th century. The nomination is for Chana Gazil in the category of Best Documentary Script. The entire film is available to stream below.

In winter 2015 WGBH’s AMERICAN EXPERIENCE premiered three Sloan-supported documentaries on PBS as announced on Science & Film. The historical series spotlights stories about science and technology, such as the building of Penn Station and founding of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the origin story of forensic medicine, and the invention that was the wellspring of Silicon Valley.

The Writers Guild Awards will be presented on February 13, 2016. They have been awarded each year to the best writing in film, television, and radio since 1949, and newly to videogames.

Nicole Kidman Wins Best Actress for PHOTOGRAPH 51

At the recent London Evening Standard Theatre Awards, Nicole Kidman took home the Best Actress prize for her portrayal of scientist Rosalind Franklin in Anna Zeigler’s play PHOTOGRAPH 51. For her performance Kidman was also named a theatre icon at Harper’s Bazaar Women of the Year Awards in November. In her acceptance speech for the Best Actress award, Kidman dedicated her performance in the play to her late father—a biochemist.

PHOTOGRAPH 51 is based on the true story of x-ray crystallographer Rosalind Franklin. She worked alongside Watson and Crick and played a critical role in the discovery of DNA. She died young of cancer in 1958 at the age of 37 and, like many women working in science, did not receive due credit for her contribution during her lifetime. Since then, she has been acknowledged widely including in this dramatization.

The play had its New York premiere in 2010 at the Ensemble Studio Theatre where it received production support from the Sloan Foundation. In 2015 it was revived in London at the Noel Coward Theatre under the direction of Michael Grandage. The play just wrapped production. Now, the story is in production as a feature film starring Rachel Weisz.

Playwright Anna Zeigler has a new play commission, BOY, premiering at the Ensemble Studio Theatre in winter 2016 that is previewed in another article on Science & Film.