HBO and the National Association of Latino Independent Producers  (NALIP) have announced the winner and finalist of the 2013-2014 HBO/NALIP Documentary Filmmaker Award. The winning documentary, Olhando Pras Estrelas / Looking at the Stars (pictured left) by Alexandre Peralta is the inspiring and empowering story of ballerinas at the Fernanda Bianchini Ballet Association for the Blind, São Paulo’s first and only ballet school for the blind.

Following the achievements and hardships of Geyza, the Prima Ballerina, one of the first students of the company and now a ballet teacher, the documentary shows that anything is possible when you follow your dreams.  The film crew from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts created the film with accessibility in mind, with the harmonious sound design and narration providing an inclusive experience for visually impaired spectators.

The documentary finalist, Jessica Gonzales vs. the United States of America (pictured right) was created by the directing team of Katia Maguire and April Hates. This moving documentary follows Jessica Gonzales, a domestic violence survivor on her crusade to strengthen the legal rights of women who hold restraining orders after her three young daughters are murdered. Jessica took her case to the Supreme Court and the international human rights tribunal becoming a vocal advocate for domestic abuse victims along the way.

Created in 2009 by HBO, the $10,000 cash prize rewards Latino documentarians focusing on capturing the Latino experience.  Professional filmmakers and HBO Documentary Film executives selected the winners from numerous submissions based on uniqueness, quality, structure and tone and style.