Filmmaker Burns to Receive Christophers Life Achievement Award


An episode of ABC’s comedy “The Middle,” the Academy Award-nominated films “Darkest Hour” and “Lady Bird,” and historian David McCullough’s book “The American Spirit” are among 21 TV/Cable programs, feature films, and books for adults and young people to be honored at the 69th Christopher Awards in Manhattan Thursday, May 17.

Documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, who was born in Brooklyn, will receive the Christophers Life Achievement Award. With a style emphasizing archival footage and photographs, Burns has tackled series ranging from The Civil War and Baseball to Jazz and The Vietnam War.

The Christopher Awards celebrate works that affirm “the highest values of the human spirit.”

TV & Cable

“ABC News 20/20: Wonder Boy” follows the Newman family as they deal with their son’s cranio-facial condition, and their efforts to help the world see his beautiful heart, mind and soul. The mini-series “The Long Road Home” (National Geographic Channel) dramatizes the 2004 ambush of the U.S. Army’s First Cavalry Division as they start peacekeeping duties in Iraq, and shows the heroism of ordinary soldiers. In “The Christmas Miracle,” an episode of the series “The Middle” (ABC), Frankie Heck’s son Axl refuses to attend church on Christmas Eve, causing her to confront her own spirituality. “The Music of Strangers” (HBO) celebrates the individuals in cellist Yo-Yo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble. “POV: Swim Team” (PBS) highlights parents’ efforts to help their son and others with autism achieve goals.

Feature Films

With a Nazi invasion of England imminent, Prime Minister Winston Churchill rallies his nation and fellow members of Parliament to fight for liberty and freedom in “Darkest Hour” (Focus Features). A rebellious teen experiences moments of grace due to the influences of her Catholic education in “Lady Bird” (A24 Films). A merry band of animated misfits are on a mission to bring Mary and Joseph to Bethlehem for Jesus’ birth in “The Star” (AFFIRM Films/Sony Pictures Animation). “Wonder” (Lionsgate) tells of a boy, born with facial deformities, who teaches his new classmates about compassion and kindness.

Books for Adults

Historian David McCullough explores the ideals, values and individuals that brought out the best in our country’s citizens in his collection of speeches “The American Spirit” (Simon & Schuster). Holocaust survivor Dr. Edith Eva Eger recalls her healing journey to become a psychologist who helps others in “The Choice” (Scribner/Simon & Schuster). Radical forgiveness shines through in Andrew Collins’ and Jameel McGee’s “Convicted,” written with Mark Tabb (Waterbrook/Penguin Random House).

In “Dorothy Day: The World Will Be Saved by Beauty” (Scribner/Simon & Schuster), Kate Hennessy presents an intimate portrait of her grandmother, the Catholic social activist and possible future saint. “I’ll Push You” (Tyndale House Publishers) chronicles the struggles and spiritual fruits as a man travels the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage with his friend, who is confined to a wheelchair. In “Redeeming Ruth” (Hendrickson Publishers), Meadow Rue Merrill shares her family’s story of adopting an orphaned Ugandan baby with cerebral palsy.

Books for Young People

A trip to the park prompts a girl’s discovery of ordinary joys, giving her mom new perspective in “Through Your Eyes” by Ainsley Earhardt, illustrated by Ji-Hyuk Kim (Preschool and up, Aladdin Books/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing). “Pocket Full of Colors” (Kindergarten and up, Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children’s Publishing) by Amy Guglielmo and Jacqueline Tourville, illustrated by Brigette Barrager, introduces readers to trailblazing illustrator and animator Mary Blair. Harriet Tubman’s bravery extends beyond leading slaves to freedom in “Before She Was Harriet” (ages 6 and up, Holiday House Publishing), by Lesa Cline-Ransome, illustrated by James E. Ransome.

In “Genevieve’s War” (Ages 8 and up, Holiday House Publishing) by Patricia Reilly Giff, an American girl’s vacation at her grandmother’s farm in 1939 France takes an ominous turn as the Nazi occupation begins. Tom Rinaldi’s “The Red Bandanna” (ages 10 and up, Viking/Penguin Young Readers Group) chronicles 9/11 hero Welles Crowther, who led 18 people to safety before he was killed. In post-World War I Chicago, the friendship between a white boy and an African-American child sparks outrage and challenges their loyalty in Bibi Belford’s “Crossing the Line” (Young Adult, Sky Pony Press/Skyhorse Publishing).


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