“‘Libby’ movie up for Emmy
Missoulian, July 26, 2008
By Jamie Kelly
As a filmmaker, Doug Hawes-Davis has done a lot of writing.
Now the executive director of High Plains Films has another writing assignment: acceptance speech.
He may have to give one come September in New York, when he finds out whether his documentary film “Libby, Montana,” wins an Emmy.
“I’ll think about that on the plane out there,” said Hawes-Davis, who with Drury Gunn Carr, co-produced and co-directed the acclaimed documentary about the asbestos poisoning of Libby and the nearly 200 deaths attributed to it.
Hawes-Davis and Carr were contacted last week by “P.O.V.,” the documentary series that airs on PBS, about the Emmy nomination. “Libby, Montana” aired on PBS nationally last August, with an audience of more than 3 million people.
“It took a couple days to sink in, to tell the truth,” said Hawes-Davis. “Now that I think about it, it’s our biggest honor as filmmakers by a long shot.”
The film, at just under 90 minutes, was nominated under the category Outstanding Continuing Coverage of a News Story - Long Form, and competes against four other documentaries in the category. Two of them are also from “P.O.V.” CNN is nominated as well for its news documentary, “The War Within.”
Other programs entered in the news and documentary Emmy Awards include “60 Minutes,” “National Geographic Explorer” and “ABC World News.”
The nomination came as a shock to Carr, who never considered the possibility that his film would be entered, much less make the cut.
“We absolutely weren’t expecting it,” he said. “But you know, I think the fact that it’s in the category it is, shows what we said all along, that we were hoping to take this story a step further than the news coverage and find out who these people were and what this town was all about.”
Since its airing nationally, “Libby, Montana” has received critical acclaim. The San Antonio Current wrote of the film: “If the political pressure to prosecute Grace’s executives to the full extent of the law persists, it will be due in part to this deeply moving film.”
Hawes-Davis is flattered by that summation, but is unsure just what impact the film will have on the criminal trial of W.R. Grace executives.
“It increases the probability that there will be a pursuit of justice,” he said. “Whether or not people are convicted is really up to the court system. But my hope is that the movie had some role in building public understanding. I love the idea that the movie could have that kind of impact, but I’m trying to be realistic about it. I do believe that this type of media can raise public awareness.”
The news and documentary Emmy Awards will be presented on Sept. 22 at the Lincoln Center in New York.