Filmmaker wins Gabriel Award for Reinhold Niebuhr documentary

May 22, 2017

Martin Doblmeier, founder of Journey Films, won a Gabriel Award for his documentary An American Conscience: The Reinhold Niebuhr Story.

The Gabriel Awards, sponsored by the Catholic Academy for Communications Arts Professionals, honor work in radio, television, new media, and film. An Amer­ican Conscience, which has been airing on PBS stations across the country, won in the category of television documentary.

“The film crackles with energy,” Jason Byassee wrote in a review for the Chris­tian Century. “Like his previous film on Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Doblmeier does a good job showing the arc of a life.”

That life was one of a public theologian in the 20th century. Niebuhr wrote works such as Moral Man and Immoral Society but is more widely known as the author of the Serenity Prayer, which has been adopted by Alcoholics Anonymous and recovery groups. Niebuhr found fame slightly embarrassing, his daughter, Elisabeth Sifton, says in the documentary.

Others interviewed in the film include former president Jimmy Carter, ethicist Stanley Hauerwas, philosopher Cornel West, and Jewish studies professor Susannah Heschel, who details Niebuhr’s close friendship with her father, Abra­ham Joshua Heschel.

Doblmeier, who specializes in filmmaking about religion, faith, and spirituality, previously made the documentaries Chaplains, The Power of Forgive­ness, and Bonhoeffer, among others.