The Grierson Awards celebrate innovative and exciting new documentary films. The awards have been set up by the Grierson Trust to commemorate the life and work of world-renowned documentary filmmaker John Grierson. The awards were first set up in 1972 and have run annually. In 2000 the Grierson Trust forged a link with the UK Film Council in order to expand the awards and add more prestige to the awards. The awards have grown in stature and recognition over the years and now are "more important (than ever). They have an impressive list engaging with a broad palette of styles and subjects from disabled people looking for love to asylums, Russian billionaires and global warming." 
John Grierson is widely considered[who?] to be the godfather of documentary film, he has also been attributed to have coined the name "documentary". He was born in Scotland in 1898. Grierson was the founder of a new movement of documentary film in the 1930s. He started the Empire Marketing Board Film Unit, and in 1933 the GPO Film Unit, gathering together such diverse and exciting talents as Humphrey Jennings, Paul Rotha and Alberto Cavalcanti. His ground-breaking work on the Scottish herring fleet, Drifters, had its premiere in 1929 alongside the first British showing of Sergei Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin. In 1936, he produced the celebrated Night Mail, directed by Harry Watt with script by W.H. Auden and score by Benjamin Britten.
Sheffield Doc/Fest works in conjunction with The Grierson Trust to present Grierson: Sheffield. There are three awards presented by the Grierson Trust, the Green Award, which recognises a documentary exploring environmental issues or that has made a contribution to the climate change debate. The Innovation Award, a documentary that exhibits innovation in format, style, technique or content and The Youth Jury Award. The Youth Jury is a panel of 16- to 21-year-olds that are selected by Channel 4 and 4Talent.
The Grierson Awards are presented annually in nine categories:
- Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue
- Best Documentary on the Arts
- Best Historical Documentary
- Best Documentary on Science or the Natural World
- The Frontier Post Award for Most Entertaining Documentary
- Best Drama Documentary
- Best International Cinema Documentary
- Best Newcomer
- Trustees' Award
- Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue - Rain In My Heart, dir: Paul Watson
- Best Documentary on the Arts - Imagine...Who Cares About Art?, dir: Sam Hobkinson
- Best Historical Documentary - Hungary 1956: Our Revolution, dir: Mark Kidel
- Best Documentary on Science or the Natural World - Monkeys, Rats and Me, dir: Adam Wishart
- The Frontier Post Award for Most Entertaining Documentary - Ray Gosling OAP, dir: Amanda Reilly
- Best Drama Documentary - Consent, dir: Katie Baliff
- Best International Cinema Documentary - Anatomy Of A Crime, dir: Steph Atkinson
- Best Newcomer - Deep Water, dir: Sonja Linden
- Trustees' Award - Paul Watson
- Best Documentary on a Contemporary Issue - Asylum, dir: Peter Gordon
- Best Documentary on the Arts - Take That For The Record, dir: David Notman-Watt
- Best Historical Documentary - How Vietnam Was Lost (Two Days In October), dir: Robert Kenner
- Best Documentary on Science or the Natural World - The Natural World: The Queen Of Trees, dir: Victoria Stone and Mark Deeble
- The Frontier Post Award for Most Entertaining Documentary - Ramsay's Kitchen Nightmares: "Prog 3 - Momma Charris", dir: Christine Hall
- Best Drama Documentary - The Year London Blew Up, dir: Edmund Coulthard
- Best International Cinema Documentary - Storyville: Darwin's Nightmare, dir: Hubert Sauper
- Best Newcomer - Disabled and Looking For Love, dir: Clare Richards
- Trustees' Award - Mike Salisbury
- "Film Council Grierson Documentary Awards".
- Graef, Roger (2006-11-27). "Reel life changes". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 2010-05-04.
- Ann Curthoys, Marilyn Lake Connected worlds: history in transnational perspective, Volume 2004 p.151. Australian National University Press
- "John Grierson Biography".
- "John Grierson CBE".
- The Grierson Trust: 2007 Awards Linked 2012-10-16
- The Grierson Trust: 2006 Awards Linked 2012-10-16