Peabody Awards: ‘Summer of Soul’ and ‘The Underground Railroad’ Among Final Round of Winners

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The Peabody Awards have today announced their fourth round of winners, which include Hulu’s Oscar-winning documentary Summer of Soul, Netflix’s Emmy-winning Bo Burnham: Inside and Amazon’s Emmy-nominated limited series The Underground Railroad.

Other notable winners include Netflix’s animated series City of Ghosts, HBO Max’s documentary series Exterminate All the Brutes and PBS’ documentary Mayor.

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Winners were announced each day this week through Thursday, with celebrities virtually presenting each of the winners online in short video clips. A full list of nominees is available here, and previous winner announcements were posted Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

The Peabody Awards are organized by the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

A full list of Thursday’s winners, alongside comments from the jurors, follows.

Arts

Summer of Soul: (…Or When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (Hulu) Presented by Alicia Keys

In the concert documentary film Summer of Soul, musician and debut director Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson puts us in the front row of a seminal event that should be as legendary as Woodstock but had been relegated to the dusty and neglected storage bins of history: the Harlem Cultural Festival in the summer of 1969. The film weaves together interviews with attendees and cultural commentators for context with astonishing footage of festival performances from the likes of Stevie Wonder, Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson, B.B. King, and many more.

Children’s & Youth

City of Ghosts (Netflix) Presented by Monica Kaufman Pearson

The winsome charm of Elizabeth Ito’s City of Ghosts lies in its simple premise: to commune with haunting specters is not a scary prospect. Instead, it’s an opportunity to learn about local history, a chance to reconnect with one’s heritage. Centered on a “Ghost Club” led by Zelda, a young girl who doesn’t blink when encountering a fluffy ghost haunting a restaurant or a drumming one keeping a cafe owner up at night, this animated mockumentary series is a love letter to Los Angeles and a textured mosaic that understands the sunny city contains as many stories as it does people and buildings.

Documentary

Exterminate All the Brutes (HBO/HBO Max) Presented by Stanley Nelson

In our current moment of intense dispute and contestation, when the clash of narratives and history are reduced to disputes over truth and feelings, disinformation, and gaslighting, Raoul Peck’s documentary series is an uncompromising commitment to evidence, science, ethics, and morality. It asks viewers to consider the continuing impact of racial hierarchies, land seizure, and the plunder and profit of cultures throughout the world, placing important historical movements, narratives, and alliances on the global stage rather than leaving them merely as isolated national or local stories.

Mayor (PBS) Presented by Hasan Minhaj

How do you run a city when you don’t have a country? The documentary Mayor answers this question by following Musa Hadid, the charismatic and compassionate mayor of Ramallah, as he goes about his daily duties running the Palestinian, West Bank city of 60,000 people. Deadpan municipal humor, quiet outrage, and civic duty in the face of staggering injustice drive this engaging film from director David Osit.

Entertainment

Bo Burnham: Inside (Netflix)

Bo Burnham’s comedy special doubles as a multimedia tour de force, an artistic manifesto, and a lockdown diary. Every new comedic musical number, with titles like “FaceTime with My Mom (Tonight),” “Problematic,” and “White Woman’s Instagram,” feels like a call for help—the kind that gets louder and all the more disquieting the more it drones on. Burnham wrote, directed, edited, and performed this special from the confines of a single room for what feels like months on end, making it the perfect piece of Covid Era art.

The Underground Railroad (Amazon Prime Video) Presented by Ibram X. Kendi

In Colson Whitehead’s 2016 novel, the figuratively magical network that aided enslaved people in their pursuit of freedom took on a real mythical valence: the miracle of The Underground Railroad was powered by a literal locomotive. Director Barry Jenkins’s adaptation of Whitehead’s book follows the enslaved Cora, weaving in an immersive sensory experience of the land that both aided and foiled her, poignant moments of connection between characters spanning generations, and weighty lessons about the utter devastation of the transatlantic slave trade.

News

Escaping Eritrea (PBS / GBH / FRONTLINE) Presented by Jay Ellis

The task of fleeing Eritrea, the small nation sometimes reductively called the North Korea of Africa, is the kind of perilous journey that often goes unchronicled for fear of retaliation. Amid threat of incarceration, torture, and execution in a country with no free press, the subjects and filmmakers of the FRONTLINE documentary Escaping Eritrea conducted an unprecedented, years-long investigation. With rigor and care, the film captures not just the myriad abuses faced by Eritreans within the country and on various treacherous migration routes, but also the historical roots of the current regime.

Podcast/Radio

Finn and the Bell (Rumble Strip) Presented by Adam Scott

Finn and the Bell assembles a quiet portrait of a small Vermont community grappling with a young man’s suicide, and the beauty of its method lies in how the piece universalizes the feeling of a wake. Using a drifting, non-narrated format that emphasizes the voices of those left behind, podcast host Erica Heilman gently guides the emotion through the overwhelming pang of loss toward celebration of a life, giving us a tender treatment of a community in grief.

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