BOSTON (November 10, 2022) – NOVA, the PBS science documentary series produced by Boston public media producer GBH, has been honored with a 2022 AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Award. Producer/Director Bella Falk and Co-Director David Dugan received the AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Silver Award in the Video In-Depth Reporting category for their work on NOVA’s Ice Age Footprints, which explores how ancient footprints provide new evidence of humans and extinct giant beasts of the Ice Age. The awards, administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), recognize distinguished worldwide science reporting for a general audience.
“We’re incredibly proud of Bella and David for this recognition on behalf of their work for NOVA. It was a tremendous opportunity to tell the story of these ancient footprints and their implications for our understanding of the human timeline,” said NOVA Co-Executive Producer Julia Cort. “We thank AAAS and our peers in science journalism for this honor.”
“It is a privilege to be able to take our audiences behind the scenes of groundbreaking science. Bella and David are masters of storytelling, and went above and beyond to place this Ice Age discovery in context,” said NOVA Co-Executive Producer Chris Schmidt. “The NOVA team couldn’t be more thrilled that Ice Age Footprints and its creators have received an AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Silver Award.”
Ice Age Footprints is a NOVA Production by Windfall Films, Ltd. (part of the Argonon Group) for GBH. Hosted by paleontologist Kirk Johnson, the Sant Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History, the documentary explores how thousands of ancient footprints left by Ice Age humans and animals stretch for miles across the dazzling white surfaces of New Mexico’s White Sands National Park. The prints preserve a series of snapshots of life and behavior, capturing moments when humans crossed paths with extinct Ice Age beasts, including enormous ground sloths and mammoths. Frozen in time, these intimate traces of human and animal activity are unlike any other type of archeological evidence, and radiocarbon dating of the footprints could provide new evidence about when humans might have arrived in the Americas.
“As filmmakers, all the joy and satisfaction comes from bringing incredible stories to life, and this film was no different,” said producer/director Bella Falk. “The discovery of 23,000-year-old human footprints alongside the tracks of extinct Ice Age animals is a story that has transformed experts’ understanding of the history of human migration into the Americas. It was a privilege just to highlight the work of the scientists uncovering their secrets, but winning this award is the icing on the cake. Thank you to the judges.”
Judge Blythe Terrell of Gimlet Media said the filmmakers did a masterful job covering the complexities of the science while keeping viewers engaged. “They also effectively placed this story in the cultural context as it relates to Indigenous communities in the U.S.,” she said. Judge David Baron called the video “a great detective story well-told. Through it, viewers were able to watch a revolutionary scientific finding unfold in real time.”
The AAAS Kavli Science Journalism Awards go to individuals rather than institutions, publishers or employers. There is a Gold Award ($5,000) and Silver Award ($3,500) for each of the eight categories. Independent panels of science journalists select the winners, who will receive their awards in a virtual ceremony held in conjunction with the 2023 AAAS Annual Meeting in March.
Ice Age Footprints is a NOVA Production by Windfall Films Ltd. (part of the Argonon Group) for GBH. Producer is Bella Falk. Directors are David Dugan and Bella Falk. Editor is Sabrina Burnard. Kirk Johnson is the Host and Sant Director of the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. Executive Producer for Windfall Films is David Dugan. Executive Producers for NOVA are Julia Cort and Chris Schmidt. NOVA is a production of GBH. Ice Age Footprints is distributed internationally by PBS International.
Ice Age Footprints is made possible (in part) by the George D. Smith Fund, Inc. Funding for NOVA is provided by the NOVA Science Trust, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and PBS viewers.
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NOVA is the most popular primetime science series on American television, demystifying the scientific and technological concepts that shape and define our lives, our planet, and our universe. The PBS series is also one of the most widely distributed science programs around the world, and is a multimedia, multiplatform brand reaching more than 55 million Americans every year on TV and online. NOVA’s important and inspiring stories of human ingenuity, exploration, and the quest for knowledge are regularly recognized with the industry’s most prestigious awards. As part of its mission to make the scientific enterprise accessible to all, NOVA is committed to diversity, equity, and inclusion in all its work, from the production process to the range of stories we tell and the voices we amplify. In addition, science educators across the country rely on NOVA for resources used in the classroom as well as in museums, libraries, and after-school programs. NOVA is a production of GBH; more information can be found atpbs.org/nova, or by following NOVA onFacebook,Twitter, orInstagram.