Sundance Institute Producers Awards: PHILLY D.A. Co-Creator Nicole Salazar Receives Award for Nonfiction Filmmaking


Posted by Larry Gleeson



January 30, 2021 – It was announced today that Nicole Salazar is the recipient of the 2021 Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Nonfiction Filmmaking.

As a recipient, Salazar will be awarded a $10,000 grant from the Sundance Institute and Amazon Studios. The award was announced in place of the Sundance Film Festival’s annual Producers Brunch. Speeches by Salazar and Fiction winner Natalie Qasabian can be read in full on Sundance‘s website HERE.

Salazar is co-creator and producer of Philly D.A., a groundbreaking docuseries inside the office of Philadelphia District Attorney and unapologetic reformer Larry Krasner, which will premiere its first two episodes at the Sundance Film Festival in the Premieres section on Tuesday, Feb. 2 at 7:00 PM MT. The full eight-part series will premiere on PBS’s Emmy-Award winning documentary anthology series, Independent Lens, later this year.

Nicole Salazar

Salazar said: “After working so hard to gain access to these rooms where decisions were being made that impacted the lives of so many people, we realized that we had the opportunity to bring the public into an institution they had never gotten to really see before. I am honored to be recognized with this award and would like to thank the Sundance Institute and Amazon Studios Producers, my fellow filmmakers Ted Passon and Yoni Brook, Lois Vossen, everyone who participated in this project and trusted us in telling their stories.

Lois Vossen, the Executive Producer of Independent Lens, said: “Nicole is a singular talent with a strong vision and tenacity that she brings to every project she works on, and that shines through in her work on Philly D.A. We’re so proud of this docuseries — our most expansive yet — and the way it shines a light on an often overlooked but extremely important public office where consequential life decisions are made for millions of people in cities across America.”


In 2017, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania had one of the highest incarceration rates of any major city in the United States. And it’s become the epicenter of a historic experiment that could shape the future of prosecution in America for decades to come. When civil rights attorney Larry Krasner mounted a long-shot campaign to become District Attorney, he ran on a bold pledge: to end mass incarceration by changing the culture of the criminal justice system from within. He shocked the establishment by winning in a landslide.

Now, the bureaucrats he spent his campaign denigrating are his co-workers; the police he alienated are his rank-and-file law enforcers. Pressure comes from all sides of a system resistant to reform. Krasner’s unapologetic promise to use the power of the D.A.’s office for sweeping change is what got him elected; now that he’s in office, that same stubbornness threatens to alienate those he needs to work with the most.

From the eye of this political storm, filmmakers Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, and Nicole Salazar gained unprecedented access into Krasner’s office and behind the scenes of the criminal justice system. Over the course of eight episodes, Philly D.A. explores the most pressing social issues of our time—police brutality, the opioid crisis, gun violence, and mass incarceration—through the lens of an idealistic team attempting a fundamental overhaul from within the system.

About the Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Awards:

The Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Awards are $10,000 grants awarded to producers with films premiering at the Sundance Film Festival in both fiction and nonfiction categories. The awards are presented annually during the festival at the Producers Brunch. The 2020 Narrative Producers Award went to Huriyyah Muhammad (Farewell Amor), and the 2020 Documentary Producers Award went to Diane Becker and Melanie Miller (Whirlybird).

(Media Alert – Rachel Allen, Cinetic Media)