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Sheffield Doc/Fest Awards: the winners

Sheffield Doc/Fest Awards: the winners
Pippa Considine
17 June 2013

The Sheffield Doc/Fest 20 awards were announced this weekend as this year's festival came to a close.

The Special Jury Award was awarded to The Act of Killing (Dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, Den/Nor/UK 2012, 158mins). There was also a special mention to Mothers (Dir. Xu Huijing, China 2013, 68mins).

Jury spokesperson Krishan Arora said of The Act of Killing: "From its mystical beginning, this film presented to us the celebratory narrative inside people's heads while they are committing unspeakable acts. Despite its uncomfortable length, it revealed a reality of genocide in which we are all complicit. The film leaves you asking more questions than it provides answers and is an important piece of cinema."

About Mothers, Arora added, "this verité film where the filmmaker had gained an extraordinary level of trust with his characters provided a real insight into a rural China that is rarely seen in this unflinching detail."

Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Inspiration Award went to BBC Storyille Editor Nick Fraser. Producer Simon Chinn said: “He has inspired me more than anyone I can think of to make documentaries, to believe documentaries can be the highest form of storytelling, and to be ambitious with them. And I know, from the many filmmakers I meet – both those who are starting out and the more established ones – that he continues to support and inspire filmmakers to do their very best work.”

The Sheffield Youth Jury Award was awarded to God Loves Uganda (Dir. Roger Ross Williams, US 2013, 83mins)

Youth jury spokesperson Curtis Holland said “There was one film that ticked all of the boxes. Delivering an important message, with humour, tact and humanity, one film stood out from the crowd."

The Sheffield Innovation Award went to Alma, a Tale of Violence (Dirs: Miquel Dewever-Plana  & Isabelle Fougère / Fr, 2012, 40 mins).

Anna Higgs, spokesperson for the Innovation Jury said, “we're at a really interesting time in understanding storytelling. We are beyond supporting innovation for the sake of innovation, it's about recognising what audiences are doing and making work that builds on, and stretches that. We need to build sustainable models for digital storytelling. The work we liked developed techniques that other storytellers can learn from and use in their work."

The Sheffield Green Award was awarded to Pandora’s Promise, (Dir. Robert Stone, USA 2012, 87 mins), with a special mention to Fuck For Forest (Dir. Michał Marczak, Germany 2012, 90mins)


Jury spokespeople Charlotte Cook and Rajendra Roy commented, “in choosing the winner of the Green Jury, two films stood out as the most provocative and challenging submissions. We decided to give a special mention to Fuck For Forest for its mix of extraordinary access, exceptional creativity and a new voice in documentary filmmaking that challenges the conventions of the form.

"Our winner though has even greater potential to provoke controversy and debate. If you believe fundamentally in the dangers of nuclear power it encourages you to interrogate that view. Applying techniques more commonly found in left-wing polemic to a seemingly contradictory view, Pandora's Promise is a great piece of filmmaking. It left us with questions and a desire to explore the issues more. Choosing a pro-nuclear film as the winner of the Green Jury may seem odd, but it is in shaking our preconceptions that Pandora's Promise is so successful”.

The Student Doc Award was awarded to Boys (Dir. Marc Williamson, 2013 UK, 42 mins).

Jury spokesperson Kate Townsend said: “This documentary stood out for two components key to a documentary – remarkable access and sensitivity of approach. Boys is an observational film which follows the struggles of two pupils over a term in a boarding school for boys with emotional and behavioural disorders. There are no interviews in the film and the director shows an impressive ability to shape his self-shot footage to pursue the narrative of the boys’ slow progress and the challenges of the staff who try to help them. What emerges is a powerful film which unpeels layers of destructive behaviour to show the vulnerable children beneath.”

The Sheffield Short Doc Award was awarded to Slomo (Dir. Josh Izenberg, US 2013 16 mins).

Short Doc spokesperson Kate Trancard of The Smalls short film community commented, “We really believe in short form filmmaking as a unique medium to tell a small story with big ideas. For us this year's winning short doc, was exactly that. A story of guy, who does what he wants to. A simple idea, from a complex character. A story that takes on one of the oldest paradigms in storytelling, where the jester is the smartest of us all.”

The Tim Hetherington Award presented by Dogwoof and Doc/Fest is a new award celebrating the life and legacy of photojournalist and humanitarian Tim Hetherington, whose objectives as a filmmaker were to highlight the plight of people so often ignored by the world and mainstream media.

A cash-prize of £1,000 was presented to the film in the festival that best reflects Tim Hetherington’s legacy. The Tim Hetherington Award was given to The Square (Al Midan) (Dir. Jehane Noujaim, Egypt/United States 2012, 90mins).

The EDA award for Best Female-Director, from the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, went to Rafae Solar Mama (Dirs Mona Eldaief, Jehane Noujaim, Jord/USA/Den/India, 76 mins).

Jennifer Merin, spokesperson for the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, said, “After our deliberations, we reached a consensus, picking a film about a very compelling lead character, a woman who accepted a challenge, conquered it and changed her world.  We simply fell in love with the inspiring Rafea, Solar Mama. And we think her story was beautifully rendered by Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief .”

The EDA additionally presented a special award for outstanding achievement to the Sheffield Doc/Fest director, Heather Croall.


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