17 April 2024 The Irish Film & Television Network
Irish documentarian Ross McDonnell wins two major honours at 2022 News and Documentary Emmy Awards
03 Oct 2022 : Nathan Griffin
Ross McDonnell and his documentary The First Wave won three Emmys
Hulu and National Geographic’s Covid documentary The First Wave emerged as the big winner at the 43rd annual News & Documentary Emmy® Awards last week, taking place at Palladium Times Square in New York City.

On a night that saw Sir David Attenborough received the Lifetime Achievement, The First Wave took home the top award of Best Documentary, as well as the award for Outstanding Cinematography: Documentary and Outstanding Editing: Documentary.

Among those recognised for these achievements was Irish documentarian Ross McDonnell, who worked as both a cinematographer and co-producer for Hulu/Natural Geographic.

This is the second time McDonnell has won the award for Outstanding Cinematography: Documentary having won in 2021 for his work on Showtime series The Trade.

Directed and produced by Matthew Heineman, the documentary details the first four months of the COVID-19 pandemic in NYC, as healthcare workers at Long Island Jewish Medical Centre risked their lives in the epic battle to keep the virus at bay.

"The First Wave is a film we're all immensely proud of,” McDonnell told IFTN.

“In the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, New York City was the epicentre of the outbreak worldwide. To be able to witness, first hand, the tragedies and victories of those early months was both a huge risk, and enormous privilege,” he added. “To receive these awards is a huge honour, not just for the filmmaking team but also for the participants of the film, our collaborators, with whom we shared this once in a lifetime experience."  

Born in Dublin, McDonnell is best known as a filmmaker and photographer. Ross’ early experience of travel and his love of cinema sparked a fascination with image making and storytelling. His work reflects his interest in the open-ended nature of non-fiction and the tensions, inherent in the photographic process, between transience and permanence.

Ross’ debut feature film Colony premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival and won the IDFA First Feature Award as well as an Irish Film and Television Award nomination in 2009. Since then, McDonnell has continued working as an image maker, moving between disciplines as a director, cinematographer, and producer.

In 2018 he was Emmy-nominated for his direction of the feature length documentary Elián produced by CNN Films, BBC, and Jigsaw Productions. In 2019, he was shortlisted for the world’s pre-eminent photography award Prix Pictet in its cycle “Hope”. The work opened with an inaugural exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London.

Click here to see full list of winners from the 43rd annual News and Documentary Emmy Awards.

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IFTA Q&A Series: Stephen Jones on Acting
IFTA Q&A Series: John Walters on Editing
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