Silverdocs Documentary Festival
- Category: Silverdocs Documentary Festival
- Published on 26 June 2011
AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival announced its distinguished award winners, culminating the weeklong festival activities that included the screening of 108 films representing 52 countries, a free outdoor screening, live performances and a five-day professional documentary conference. The Festival hosted 27,000 attendees, including more than 1,500 filmmakers, film and television executives and media professionals celebrating the art and business of documentary filmmaking.
This year’s Sterling Award for Best US Feature goes to OUR SCHOOL directed by Mona Nicoara and Miruna Coco-Cozma. Shot over the course of four years, the film follows the attempt to integrate isolated rural Roma (or gypsy) children into the mainstream school system of Romania. Focusing on seven-year-old Alin, 12-year-old Beni and 16-year-old Dana, this fascinating film takes an unflinching look at the challenges of a longstanding tradition of prejudice. The prize is accompanied by a $5,000 cash award.
The Sterling US Feature Jury noted: “The cinematic quality of this film, the filmmaker's vision and power of the story's core issue impressed the jury, revealing an intimate depiction of a marginalized and underrepresented community, whose voice is seldom heard. The filmmaker brings to light a timely human rights issue with compassion and intimacy.”
A Special Jury Mention went to THE BULLY PROJECT, directed by Lee Hirsch, which tackles the timely topic of bullying in this sensitive examination of an urgent crisis in American society. The film follows five children and their families over the course of one school year as their lives are affected in different ways by bullying.
The Jury noted: “Set in the heartland of America, this film takes a sensitive and volatile issue and brings it to light in a no-holds barred style that is visually stunning and deeply compelling. This tortuous experience of youth is shared by many, but is bravely revealed in this film through characters who confront their experience and work to reclaim their dignity. The filmmaker's access shows the enormous trust established with his subjects. The result is a film that doesn't reduce people to their worst experience, but rather elevates them to a level of marginalized heroes and sheros we should all aspire to emulate.”
A Special Jury Mention also went to WHEN THE DRUM IS BEATING directed by Whitney Dow. The film reveals Haiti’s complex history and the resilience of its people in the stories of Septentrional, the country’s most celebrated band, whose unique beats and rhythms continue to thrill its people after six decades.
The jury noted: “An ambitious, multi-dimensional articulation of the identity of a country seen through layers of history, inter-generational, political and natural disasters set against a lyrical and poetic narrative backdrop. The synergy of place is the motif in this beautifully crafted ode to a people. Both historical and contemporary, this film offers a lens to history through cultural expression, which affords a glimpse at the past, present and future of a complex and fascinating place and its people.”
This year’s Sterling Award for Best World Feature went to FAMILY INSTINCT directed by Andris Gauja. A unique chronicle of family gone awry, this film is an unsparing exploration of a Latvian household built on the incestuous relationship between Zanda and her imprisoned brother Valdis, whose pending homecoming creates tremendous frisson. The prize is accompanied by a $5,000 cash award.
The Sterling Award World Jury noted: “A slice-of-f#@ked-up-life portrait, the director of this film clearly had fly-on-the-wall access to his subjects, but some scenes, shot from multiple angles, are so formally composed as to seem staged. That’s not a bad thing: For all the desperation and depravity of the story, the filmmaker rescues a narrative of deep sadness and yearning that’s as touching as the circumstances are shocking.”
A Special Jury Mention went to POSITION AMONG THE STARS directed by Leonard Retel Helmrich. The film is the conclusion of his in-depth three-part portrait of Indonesia as seen through the eyes of one family living in the slums of Jakarta. The Shamuddin family’s anxieties, hopes, and frequent, often hilarious fights culminate in a poignant mosaic of Indonesian life today.
The Jury noted: “A special jury prize for persistence of vision for the third film in a trilogy that explores a multi-generational family at the cusp of societal upheaval. It is the culmination of a filmmaker's aesthetic, thematic and philosophical mission. This is a film that exemplifies a sustained and consistently maturing vision.”
The Sterling Award for Best Short Film was given to GUANAPE SUR, directed by János Richter. The film explores a barren island off the coast of Peru that is the breeding ground for thousands of sea birds, its sole inhabitants. Once every eleventh year, hundreds of men make their way to the island to harvest the birds’ dried excrement, which is then used as valuable fertilizer. The prize is accompanied by a $2,500 cash award.
The Sterling Award Short Jury noted: “We were won over by the stark beauty of the images, which take us into a world of extreme hardship. The formal restraint of the filmmaking coupled with complex sound design create a poetic yet unflinching meditation on human beings' constraint by their environment.”
An Honorable Mention?went to STILL HERE, directed by Alex Camilleri. In the film, Randy Baron has been living with HIV for over two decades. In that time, he watched as AIDS ravaged his partner and many friends whose lives were lost to a diagnosis that was considered a death sentence in the 1980s. The film documents his efforts to carry on and dedicate his life to education and activism.
The Jury noted: “A powerful portrayal of loss and grief, this film is a testament to one man's resilience. Visually rich and capturing raw emotions, it stays with you long after watching.”
The Sterling Award winners were chosen by an eminent Festival jury, including:
Sterling US Feature Jury: Claire Aguilar, Programming VP, Independent Television Service (ITVS); Chico Colvard, Filmmaker (FAMILY AFFAIR); Shannon Kelley, Head of Public Programs for the UCLA Film and Television Archive.
Sterling World Feature Jury: Sean Farnel, former Programming Director, Hot Docs; Eugene Hernandez, Director of Digital Strategy, Film Society of Lincoln Center; Karina Longworth, Editor, LA Weekly.
Sterling Short Film Jury: Sadie Tillery, Programming Director, Full Frame; Eva Weber, Filmmaker (STEEL HOMES); José Rodriquez, Program Associate, Tribeca Film Institute.
“We are thrilled to celebrate the best that documentary cinema has to offer and to congratulate all of our award winners. We thank our Jurors who brought their passion and commitment to the challenging process of selecting winners amongst so many great films,” said Sky Sitney, AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Festival Director.
Other Awards include:
The Cinematic Vision Award went to LIFE IN A DAY directed by Kevin MacDonald. The film explores what happens when a team of renowned producers put out a call for people professional filmmakers and non-professionals alike to document what is going on in their lives, whether its epic or benign, on July 24, 2010. The mesmerizing film is culled from more than 4,500 hours of videos submitted from 192 countries. The prize comes with $4,000 in-kind services from the Alpha Cine Labs in Seattle.
The WGA Documentary Screenplay Award went to THE LOVING STORY written by Nancy Buirski and Susie Ruth Powell. Mildred and Richard Loving never imagined that their unassuming love story would be the basis of a watershed anti-miscegenation civil rights case. But in 1967, when this soft-spoken interracial couple are exiled from Virginia—the only home they have ever known—for the mere crime of falling in love and getting married, they feel they have no choice but to fight back. The Prize is accompanied by a $1,000 cash award, and a five-year membership in the WGAE Nonfiction Writers Caucus.
The inaugural Whole Foods Market and Silverdocs Grant for Works in Progress go to two filmmakers: Margaret Brown for THE GREAT INVISIBLE exploring the effects of the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill and its impact on her hometown of Mobile, Alabama and the Gulf of Mexico. The film looks at the global oil economy through the lens of characters that work in the oil and fishing industries on the Gulf Coast.
The second grant goes to Ian Cheney for BLUESPACE, which explores the degradation and renewal of urban waterways. With more than half the world’s population now crammed into cities, the way we use water – as a place to grow food, as a method of transportation, as a source of renewable energy – will plunge viewers into the midst of the struggle to rethink this most overlooked resource. The prize is accompanied by a $25,000 cash grant to each filmmaker for a total of $50,000.
The Tribeca Film Institute and Silverdocs Transmedia Lab Pitch award goes to Amir Bar-lev for THE TILLMAN STORY INTERACTIVE EDITION, to develop a cross-platform interactive project that will allow audiences to actively participate in the acclaimed 2010 documentary THE TILLMAN STORY while viewing it; a navigable platform through which audiences can view outtakes, investigate documents, interact with others, and keep up-to-date on the latest developments in the Tillman controversy. The prize is accompanied by a $5,000 cash award.
The Audience Award winners will be announced on Monday, June 27, 2011.
[ via press release - Silverdocs]
- Category: Silverdocs Documentary Festival
- Published on 28 May 2011
AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival announced its full slate of competition films for the Festival
AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Competition Slate
Sterling U.S. Feature Competition
BETTER THIS WORLD / USA, 2011, 97 minutes (Director: Katie Galloway, Kelly Duane de la Vega) — When two Midland, Texas, activists make Molotov cocktails at the 2008 Republican Convention, a dramatic story unfolds, with multiple domestic terrorism charges, an entrapment defense and a surprising FBI informant. The film sets in high relief the impact the war on terror has on civil liberties and political activism in a post-9/11 world.
BOB AND THE MONSTER / USA, 2011, 85 minutes (Director: Keirda Bahruth) — Bob Forrest first made his name as an outspoken indie-rock hero and popular front man for the band, Thelonious Monster. But it is his role as one of the most influential drug counselors in the U.S. today that he would cherish most. Shot over six years, the film offers an inspiring example of how one man was able to overcome his demons and use his success to help others do the same.
THE BULLY PROJECT / USA, 2011, 90 minutes (Director: Lee Hirsch) — This film tackles the timely topic of bullying in this sensitive examination of an urgent crisis in American society. The film follows five children and their families over the course of one school year as their lives are affected in different ways by bullying.
DRAGONSLAYER / USA, 2011, 75 minutes (Director: Tristan Patterson) — Few skateboard movies are as vibrant as DRAGONSLAYER, which follows oddball Josh "Screech" Sandoval as he drifts between the skate circuit and an ill-defined but adaptive existence in Southern California's recession-wracked suburbs. In a setting where nothing seems whole, first-time director Tristan Patterson finds arid beauty, hazy intimacy and a thread of hope.
GIVE UP TOMORROW / Philippines/Spain/USA/UK, 2011, 95 minutes (Director: Michael Collins) — In 1997, two sisters vanished without a trace on the island of Cebu in the Philippines. Paco Larrañaga was sentenced to death for their rape and murder despite overwhelming evidence to support his innocence. Spanning more than a decade, the film chronicles the shocking corruption within the Philippine judicial system and one of the most sensational cases in the country’s history.
INCENDIARY: THE WILLINGHAM CASE / USA, 2010, 102 minutes (Director: Steve Mims, Joe Bailey, Jr.) — In 2004, Cameron Todd Willingham was executed in Texas for the 1991 arson murders of his three daughters, despite evidence that the fire wasn’t arson. The film masterfully explores why Willingham has become a cause célèbre for arson investigation reform and death penalty repeal.
JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI / USA/Japan, 2011, 81 minutes (Director: David Gelb) — A feast for the senses, JIRO DREAMS OF SUSHI introduces us to master chef Jiro Ono, proprietor of the revered 10-seat, $300-a-plate Sukiyabashi Jiro restaurant in Tokyo. Filmmaker David Gelb offers extraordinary access to the process of preparing the celebrated sushi that has earned Jiro an elite three Michelin stars.
THE LEARNING / USA/Philippines, 2010, 90 minutes (Director: Ramona Diaz) — This absorbing documentary follows four teachers from the Philippines who are recruited to work in the American public school system. Leaving behind husbands, children and extended families who depend heavily on them, Dorotea, Rhea, Grace and Angel spend one year teaching in Baltimore public schools, where they can make up to 25 times their salaries versus in the Philippines.
THE LOVING STORY / USA, 2011, 75 minutes (Director: Nancy Buirski) — Mildred and Richard Loving never imagined that their unassuming love story would be the basis of a watershed anti-miscegenation civil rights case. But in 1967, when this soft-spoken interracial couple are exiled from Virginia – the only home they have ever known – for the mere crime of falling in love and getting married, they feel they have no choice but to fight back.
OUR SCHOOL / Romania/Switzerland/USA, 2011, 93 minutes (Director: Mona Nicoara, Miruna Coco-Cozma) — Shot over the course of four years, OUR SCHOOL follows the attempt to integrate isolated rural Roma (or “gypsy”) children into the mainstream school system of Romania. Focusing on seven-year-old Alin, 12-year-old Beni and 16-year-old Dana, this fascinating film takes an unflinching look at the challenges of a longstanding tradition of prejudice.
Sterling World Feature Competition
AT THE EDGE OF RUSSIA / Poland/Russia, 2010, 72 minutes (Director: Michael Marczak) — Aleksey is eager to serve Mother Russia, but this 19-year-old recruit sees little soldiering while stationed at the country's frozen northern border. With invasion unlikely, his burly superior's lessons teach more about isolation, quotidian civil service and drunken paternity than anything else.
BAKHMARO / Georgia/Germany, 2011, 58 minutes (Director: Salome Jashi) — Incredibly visually striking, BAKHMARO is a quiet, unhurried film about the persistence of hope in the face of irrelevancy. A restaurant where nobody goes and a staff that serves no one in a building in rural Georgia’s Guria region are at the center of this compellingly claustrophobic documentary.
DONOR UNKNOWN / USA, 2010, 76 minutes (Director: Jerry Rothwell) — Twenty-year-old JoEllen Marsh was raised by two loving mothers in Pennsylvania who used a carefully chosen anonymous sperm donor to create her. When JoEllen discovers an online registry that connects her to several other young adults fathered by the same donor, she reaches out to her newly discovered half-siblings and sets out to meet her biological father when he publicly reveals his identity.
EL BULLI - COOKING IN PROGRESS / Germany/Spain, 2010, 108 minutes (Director: Gereon Wetzel) — Celebrated chef Ferran Adrìa shares the spotlight with his magnificent culinary creations in a film sure to appeal to foodies and non-foodies alike. For six months a year, Adrìa and his creative team close shop on his world-famous El Bulli Restaurant in Spain to prepare for a new season’s menu representing the best in molecular gastronomy.
FAMILY INSTINCT / Latvia, 2010, 58 minutes (Director: Anris Gauja) — A unique chronicle of family gone awry, this film is an unsparing exploration of a Latvian household built on the incestuous relationship between Zanda and her imprisoned brother Valdis, whose pending homecoming creates tremendous frisson.
FIRE IN BABYLON / UK, 2010, 82 minutes (Director: Stevan Riley) — This energetic documentary looks back at the legendary West Indies cricket team that rose to prominence in the 1970s and 80s. Led by the dynamic Clive Lloyd, the team used the game of cricket to battle oppressive forces of prejudice on the playing field through superior athleticism and a bold, insuppressible spirit.
THE FIRST MOVIE / Canada/Iraq/Kurdistan/UK, 2009, 77 minutes (Director: Mark Cousins) — A lyrical and magical look at the power of cinema, director Mark Cousins’ whimsical film explores what transpires after he exposes the children of a small rural village in Iraq to the magic of film. Through their experiences, Cousins shows viewers a side of Iraq that they are rarely allowed to experience.
GRANDE HOTEL / Belgium/Mozambique/Portugal, 2010, 57 minutes (Director: Lotte Stoops) — The Grande Hotel in Beira, Mozambique, once a luxurious haven in the Portuguese colony, is a shadow of its former self since closing in 1963. The film traces the history of the building, from its opening in 1954, with 110 sumptuous guest rooms, to today, when the abandoned hotel serves as a home to more than 2,500 people who live in its crumbling ruins.
EL VELADOR (THE NIGHT WATCHMAN) / Mexico, 2011, 72 minutes (Director: Natalia Almada) — The turmoil of Mexico's bloodiest conflict since the revolution plays out in subtle yet poignant detail as filmmaker Natalia Almada quietly observes the daily routine of Martin, the night watchman and groundskeeper of the cemetery that houses the remains of Mexico's most notorious drug lords.
POSITION AMONG THE STARS / Indonesia/Netherlands, 2010, 109 minutes (Director: Leonard Retel Helmrich) — Filmmaker Leonard Retel Helmrich concludes his in-depth three-part portrait of Indonesia as seen through the eyes of one family living in the slums of Jakarta. The Shamuddin family’s anxieties, hopes and frequent, often hilarious fights culminate in a poignant mosaic of Indonesian life today.
WIEBO’S WAR / Canada, 2011, 92 minutes (Director: David York) — When Wiebo Ludwig moves his sizeable family to the rural plains of northern Canada to live closer to God, the last thing he expects is to be transformed from a holy man into an eco-terrorist. Yet when energy companies start encroaching on his land soon after discovering it lies on Canada's biggest gas field, Wiebo feels compelled to protect himself and his family from their newly toxic surroundings.
2011 AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival announced its opening, closing and centerpiece films
- Category: Silverdocs Documentary Festival
- Published on 27 May 2011
AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival announced its opening, closing and centerpiece films for the Festival, taking place June 20-26, 2011 in the Washington, D.C. area.
The Festival will open its ninth annual edition on June 20, 2011 with THE SWELL SEASON. Directed by Nick August-Perna, Chris Dapkins and Carlo Mirabella-Davis, THE SWELL SEASON follows musical artists Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová, who captivated audiences and earned an Academy Award for their musical collaboration in the film, ONCE. As their fictional, on-screen romance blurred with reality, they fell in love, recorded a self-titled album called “The Swell Season” and embarked on a world tour. Fueled by two years of exhilarating, sold out performances and psychological turmoil, the documentary is a volatile and intimate portrait of a romance that fractures in the face of life on the road and personal tragedy.
REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR will close the Festival. The documentary, directed by Chris Paine, explores the triumphant reemergence of the “clean car,” focusing on four dynamic entrepreneurs dedicated to creating an environmentally friendly automobile.
The featured Centerpiece film, THE INTERRUPTERS, from acclaimed director Steve James (HOOP DREAMS), chronicles former gang members – now modern-day heroes – who risk their lives to disrupt violence and make extraordinary change in their Chicago communities.
[source: AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival]