The winners of the 20th, jubilee edition of DokuFest were announced Saturday evening in an award ceremony held at Lumbardhi Open Air Cinema in Prizren, in the presence of numerous dignitaries, guests, jurors, sponsors and partners of the festival.
106 films, representing 60 countries ran for awards in 8 competing categories and were judged by a pool of jurors who all by one travelled to Prizren. A selection of 10 films ran for Audience Award also.
The 9-day festival saw the return to the physical format with the screenings of 234 films in more than 10 cinemas, workshops, panels, debates, masterclasses, exhibitions and a series of live acts under the revamped SonicNights music strand, with the concerts and audio visual performances of the likes of Dhafer Youssef, Casare Dell’Anna & Opa Cupa, Timo Novotny, Mohammad Reza Mortaza etc, turning once again the city of Prizren into a place of celebration of cinema and music and art.
Best Balkan Dox was awarded to Marija Zidar for her film Reconciliation. Other awards included Best Int’l Feature and Short Dox, Human Rights and Green Dox, Best Short and Best National Film and Best Truth Dox. In addition to these Audience Award was also handed out.
Full list of awards, including jury statements below.
Balkan Dox Competition
Jurors: Ivan Ramljak, Norika Sefa and Marko Stojiljković
Reconciliation by Marija Zidar
In documentary filmmaking, some topics are more difficult and sensitive to approach and deal with than others. In Reconciliation, Marija Zidar tried and succeeded to see and paint the whole picture of blood feuds and attempts at reconciliation between families, both rooted in the ancient tribal code in the secluded mountains of Northern Albania. Her perspective is both insider’s and outsider’s, her take on the topic and the subjects involved is extremely sensitive and highly ethical, so the subjects function as complex, highly developed characters without losing authenticity and without even a hint of being exploited. With the visual appeal of the beautiful, but harsh mountains, the societal landscape is matched with a natural one in a seamless, clever way, making Reconciliation a well-rounded film, smartly made, convincing and compelling, important on the cinematically level as much as on the topical.
Best Balkan Newcomer – Award sponsored by Balkan Documentary Center
Rampart by Marko Grba Singh
The director handles with subtlety and depth a very thematically complex film, building a bridge from a familiar world to a new one. A blend of culture, history, political and social commentary, all wrapped up in a world that is as appealing as it is informative. This becomes an experience that tends to challenge the relationship between viewer and screen, managing distance in place of violating closeness, provoking dialogue instead of consumption.
Telenovela: Grey-Scale in Color by Filip Martinović
‘All the world’s a stage’, William Shakespeare once proudly said. In his film Filip Martinović argues that his world is much closer to the ones of telenovelas, TV soap operas which were extremely popular in the Balkans at the turn of the century. So, he stages a filmic telenovela dealing with his life! Lost fathers, angry mothers, disappointed grandmothers, newly discovered loves – all the ingredients for real drama (with a touch of humor) are here! Muchas felicidades señor Filip!
International Dox Competition
Jurors: Gürcan Keltek, Abby Sun and Mahdi Fleifel
Winner – Int’l Feature Dox
WE by Alice Diop
We were impressed and moved by the intelligence of this film, which effortlessly extends a psychogeographic tour of one city’s periphery through embodied observational scenes that touch on multiple social crises, historical context stretching back centuries, and an intimate personal approach that reconstitutes an alternative sense of collectivity. The film’s critique of this national multicultural project is handled with nuance, playfulness, and a sharp attention to race, religion, class, and immigration status. Its essayistic structure delivered a constant sense of discovery and engendered in us a state of deep listening. The Best International Feature Film goes to Alice Diop’s WE.
Winner – Int’l Short Dox
The Rifleman by Sierra Pettengil
This archival film respects the materiality of its sources, ignoring depoliticized current media narratives to excavate histories we’ve forgotten. We admired how this film weaves together a story about an institution in transition and a story of one individual who subjected it to his control. Its investigation into how states protect their own criminals, connect tools of power to the control of white supremacy, and narrativize the violent Other, spoke to us universally. The Best International Short Dox goes to Sierra Pettengill’s The Rifleman.
Int’l Short Film Competition
Jurors: Enis Saraçi, Rüken Tekeş and Thomas Grimshaw
The Criminals by Serhat Karaaslan
Through a very powerful cinematic language the film brings into light a local social and political issue while reminding and warning us about the panopticon. The jury gives the award to Serhat Karaaslan’s The Criminals.
National Film Competition
Jurors: Enis Saraçi, Rüken Tekeş and Thomas Grimshaw
A Child by Bekim Gurri
Simply realised yet emotionally complex, this universal story of love, patriarchy and understanding, delivers its narrative with both grace and empathy. The jury gives the award to Bekim Guri’s A Child.
Mardhë by Flaka Kokolli
The jury has decided to give a Special Mention to a film from National Competition that portrays the tragedy of war with creativity and simplicity through power of animation. The award goes to Mardhë.
The Driver by Valter Lucaj
Given by Radiator Ip Sales
Human Rights Dox Competition
Jurors: Nita Luci, Wouter Jansen and Ziad Khaltoum
Our Memory Belongs to Us by Rami Farah and Signe Byrge Sørensen
The jury has decided to recognize a film that speaks to the documentary relevance of personal and collective remembrance when marked by enactment of defiance to state violence. The filmmakers use a minimalistic approach to stage a re-telling of events that culminated not only the beginnings of great socio-political upheaval, namely events between 2011-2021 in Daraa, Syria, but also the friendships and affective connections that went into confronting and unveiling a violent and authoritarian state apparatus. The haste in which the film was produced is afforded allowance by the immediacy of recording and preserving, at great peril, the evidence of tremendous social solidarity. The smuggled drive, containing the footage that serves as the backdrop for the acts of remembrance we become privy to, is made lieu de memoir mediating the evidentiary material of ‘eyewitness’ testimony in the form of videos and the performative stage in which three political activists lay claim to their interpretation of the past. Through both a staged screening and reconstruction of events the retelling and performance of memory we are invited to ask questions about the documentary film as a vehicle of remembrance. The Human Rights Dox Award goes to Our Memory Belongs to Us by Rami Farah and Signe Byrge Sørensen.
Green Dox Competition
Jurors: Ahmet Gürata, Brigid O’Shea and Jeton Jagxhiu
White on White by Viera Čákanyová
The Green Dox jury on the occasion of the 20th DokuFest is happy to award a documentary shot in a radical situation with guidance from modern technology. We appreciate the absurd humor and extreme honesty that the filmmaker was willing to endure to show us the true face of climate change. We award White on White as winner of the Green Dox Prize.
Truth Dox Competition
Jurors: Claire Simon, Dea Gjinovci and Svetla Turnin
Writing with Fire by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh
The winner of this year’s Truth Dox Award follows the incredible story of the creation and rise of the first news organization founded by Dalit women in India. Featuring unique access to the protagonists, this inspiring film shatters stereotypes about women and poverty and gives us a lesson about women’s empowerment. Beautifully lensed and skillfully framed, their story is told with a fresh sense of liberty. Young and courageous women who teach each other the profession of journalism and digital media production, are also teaching us valuable lessons about activism and comradeship. Journalism for them is a daily practice of democracy – we see how their brave reporting leads them to influence lives, bring important cases to court despite police inaction, counter the propaganda of Hindu nationalists and bring justice to communities… Their dream of uplifting people’s voices while seeking dignity and equal rights for the Dalits is part of their success story and is what makes Writing with Fire our standout selection for this award.
The Silence of the Mole by Anaïs Taracena
We were impressed by the artistry and precision with which the director of this film tells the harrowing story of an unspoken hero, the journalist Elias Barahona, who infiltrated and spied on the most dangerous and repressive government in Guatemalan history. Every encounter, testimony and image of this film are strung together with beautiful dramaturgical skill as an important chapter of the country’s history unfolds on screen. Humility and great ambition are virtues both the director and the protagonists share and their genuine friendship is felt throughout. As a first feature, The Silence of the Mole is a commendable cinematographic achievement as it fulfills one of the great duties of filmmakers – to give life to important stories in the face of death and repression.
After counting votes from the audience Valter Lucaj’s short film The Driver has been awarded Audience Award.