According to the International Documentary Association, the best doc of 2007 is one that the Oscar people don't even think is good enough to be on the list of potential nominees. It's A Walk to Beautiful (pictured), a Brazil-produced U.S.-produced story about five Ethiopian women in search of medical care, and it beat out Sicko, Crazy Love, Taxi to the Dark Side, and Operation Homecoming: Writing the Wartime Experience to win the top prize at the IDA's awards ceremony Friday night.

In the category for short docs (under 40 minutes), the winner was A Son's Sacrifice, about a young American Muslim whose father operates a New York City slaughterhouse. There was also a new category, the Alan Ett Music Documentary Award, given to the film that best uses music. The winner was We Are Together (Thina Simunye), about the children at a South African orphanage who lift their spirits by singing.

Documentary filmmaking often encompasses news reporting, which leads to the Courage Under Fire award, given to reporters who put themselves in harm's way to get important stories. This year's recipient was CNN's Christiane Amanpour, whose The War Within was a special report on Islamic unrest in the U.K.

If Michael Moore was disappointed that his Sicko didn't win its category, he was probably comforted by being given the IDA's career achievement award. That prize had been previously announced, as had several others, including one for Spike Lee's Hurricane Katrina doc When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts. It won the Pare Lorentz Award, named for the pioneering documentarian and given to films that carry on his activist spirit.

So what's the deal with A Walk to Beautiful? It's played at about a dozen film festivals and will be broadcast on PBS next spring. The film's website indicates they'd love to get a theatrical distributor, too, but no one's bought it yet. The only review I can find is in this article, where it is highly praised.

UPDATE: Sorry, folks, I messed a couple things up. First, the film was U.S.-produced, not Brazil. Second, the film was not eligible for the Oscars because it had not yet been released theatrically. The director, Mary Olive Smith, tells us it will get its Oscar-qualifying run in New York in January, and will thus be eligible for the following year's Academy Awards.
categories Awards, Cinematical