January 8, 2007


The documentary is a harrowing account of the rise and fall of the Reverend Jim Jones. The production will air nationally in the US in 2007 on PBS's American Experience and covers Jones's life from childhood forward, presenting a portrait of a troubled-yet- charismatic man and the development of his People's Temple as it migrated from Indiana to California to Guyana.

David N. Sheehan, director of ABCNews VideoSource, presented the 2006 award to the film's producer/director, Stanley Nelson.

"For me, like many other Americans, the 1979 mass murder/suicide in Jonestown, Guyana, occupies a place of horror mixed with fascination," says Nelson. "Somehow the photos of the mysterious white preacher with dark sunglasses, the bloated bodies strewn across a tropical compound, and the Kool-Aid references never seemed to answer the questions I held on to: What drew so many people across racial and class lines to the People's Temple? How could a diverse group of 900 people be convinced to commit suicide?"

Newly discovered footage helped deliver the gut-wrenching impact of this 28-year old story. Archival footage includes clips of victims' family members and others who survived the November 1978 tragedy.

"It's been almost 30 years since the tragedy in Guyana, but it wasn't until Mr. Nelson wove a tapestry of archival footage and in-depth interviews that the real truth was revealed," says Sheehan.

ABCNews VideoSource, in partnership with the International Documentary Association, has presented the Award for Best Use of News Footage in a Documentary annually since 1997. Recent winners have included: Rwanda: Do Scars Ever Fade by Bill Brummel (2005); Imelda by Ramona Diaz (2004); Bus 174 by Jose Padilha and Marcos Prado (2003) and Bringing Down a Dictator by Steve York and Peter Greenburg (2002).