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The IDA Documentary Awards from the International Documentary Association is the world’s most prestigious event dedicated to the documentary genre
(March 4, 2022) ––The International Documentary Association announced the podcast series “Suave” from independent producer Futuro Studios and public media organization PRX won the IDA Documentary Award in the Best Multi-Part Audio Documentary Or Series category.
“Suave” is a seven-part podcast series about the criminal justice system that sentences juveniles to life in prison — particularly young men of color — and what happens when, decades later, they’re suddenly granted one more chance at freedom. The story follows David Luis ‘Suave’ Gonzalez from boy to man, and explores incarceration, redemption, and the often unusual relationship between a journalist and a source. The Futuro Studios production team includes executive producer Maria Hinojosa, host and producer Maggie Freleng, reporter and producer Julieta Martinelli, story editor Audrey Quinn, engineer and sound designer Stephanie Lebow, and executive editor Marlon Bishop. The podcast is distributed by PRX and was released free to audiences in February 2021.
The IDA Documentary Award was accepted during the awards’ 37th annual ceremony by David Luis ‘Suave’ Gonzalez, whose story is featured in the “Suave” podcast.
In 1988, Gonzalez was found guilty of a first-degree homicide committed when he was 17 years old. A Philadelphia judge sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole. At Graterford State Correctional Institution in Pennsylvania, Suave joined the largest population of juvenile lifers in the country, young men considered by the U.S. justice system to be “irredeemable.” Then, in 2016, a Supreme Court decision changed everything. After expecting to die in prison, suddenly Gonzalez had another chance at freedom.
Released in 2017 and now in his 50s, the series follows Suave as he transitions to life on the outside and tries to live as a model citizen, yet he soon realizes there are limits to how much freedom he can ever truly have. Journalist Maria Hinojosa––who has communicated with Gonzalez for nearly 30 years––also realizes there are limits to how much she can help as he navigates the realities of conditional freedom. As the team explores racism and corruption in the legal system, and the more Hinojosa learns about Gonzalez’s crime, the more they question the events that put him in prison in the first place, and the system that continues to put children away for life.
“We had extraordinary competition from brilliant journalists but I believe the ‘Suave’ story has a tremendous amount of heart and human connection and even hopefulness,” said Maria Hinojosa, executive producer of ‘Suave,’ host of “Latino USA,” and founder of Futuro Media. “I see this recognition as a message to young journalists to trust their gut – I didn’t know thirty years ago that “Suave” would be an award-winning podcast. I connected with this young man’s humanity. I am grateful for Suave who opened himself up in the most vulnerable way and allowed us to tell his story unfiltered. This is one of the greatest moments in my career.”
“It’s an honor winning the IDA Documentary Award because it means juvenile justice is on the frontline,” said David Luis ‘Suave’ Gonzalez. “America can no longer deny the fact that our justice system is broken. For me, the “Suave” podcast is so much bigger than my story — it represents the injustice millions of Black and Brown people suffer daily when dealing with the carceral system.”
See a full list of IDA Documentary Award honorees and nominees here.
“Suave” is available across all major podcast listening platforms, including Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Stitcher, Overcast, and Amazon Music.
“Suave” and Gonzalez’s story have also been featured by NPR’s All Things Considered, MSNBC’s American Voices, Democracy Now!, The Financial Times, and WHYY public radio in Philadelphia. The show was also named one of the best podcasts of 2021 by The Atlantic.
Support for “Suave” was provided by the Art for Justice Fund, a special project of Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors, and The Heising-Simons Foundation: Unlocking knowledge, opportunity, and possibilities.
Visit futuromediagroup.org/suave for more.
About Futuro Studios
Futuro Studios is the new creative division of the Futuro Media Group, an independent nonprofit organization producing multimedia journalism that explores and gives a critical voice to the diversity of the American experience. Based in Harlem and founded in 2010 by award-winning journalist Maria Hinojosa, Futuro Media is committed to telling stories and uplifting voices and perspectives often overlooked by mainstream media. Futuro Studios partners with some of the world’s top media companies to produce beautiful narrative storytelling podcasts that center Latinx, Black, and immigrant experiences. Our team of podcast producers, editors, sound designers and engineers have collectively won some of the highest awards in narrative and investigative journalism.
In 2019, Futuro Studios debuted with “The Battle of 187,” a co-production with the Los Angeles Times, following up with “Con Todo: Brown Love” in collaboration with Netflix, “Radical Imagination” with PolicyLink, and “TransLash Podcast” with Imara Jones. Recently, it launched the critically-acclaimed podcasts: “Anything For Selena” with WBUR, “La Brega” with WNYC Studios, “Norco 80” for LAist Studios, “LOUD: The History of Reggaeton” with Spotify, and “Ídolo: The Ballad of Chalino Sánchez” with Sonoro. Futuro Studios podcasts were recognized in many 2021 year-end lists, including four of our original series landing on The Atlantic’s Top 50 podcasts of 2021.
Futuro Media also produces Peabody Award winning “Latino USA,” the longest running national Latino news and cultural public radio program; “In The Thick,” an award winning political podcast; and Latino Rebels, a pioneering digital news outlet founded by journalist Julio Ricardo Varela.
PRX is a non-profit public media company specializing in audio journalism and storytelling. PRX serves independent producers and organizations by helping them connect to their most engaged, supportive audiences. One of the world’s leading podcast publishers, PRX works in partnership with TED, PBS, the Smithsonian, Futuro Media, GBH, Religion of Sports, and more. PRX is also home to Radiotopia, known as one of the most creative and successful podcast networks. In addition, PRX distributes trusted and treasured public radio programming to hundreds of stations nationwide, including “The World,” “The Moth Radio Hour,” “This American Life,” “Snap Judgment,” “Reveal,” “The Takeaway,” and “Latino USA.” PRX programs have been recognized by the Peabody Awards, the duPont-Columbia Awards, the IDA Documentary Awards, and the Pulitzer Prizes.