Jury report: 2021 International Competition

    Jury statement

    We sailed along the Ganges and walked a cow across the Alps. We played with children in the warehouse of a Chinese electronics store, in a boarding school in Argentina, and in the mist-shrouded hills of rural Vietnam. We pulled oil by hand from a field in Myanmar and got totally wasted with female Georgian footballers, Ecuadorian beach shack owners, and New Year's Eve revelers riding the Moscow metro. We sat with African migrants on the streets of Valencia and stood with protesters on the streets of Vilnius. We traced the fraught fate of a Russian father sent to the gulag, accompanied Austrian children to Portugal after the war, and experienced unending conflict through the eyes of a mismatched Libyan brother and sister.

    We were able to do all this in a place we have missed so much: the cinema - and not just any cinema, but Tuschinski - because of the team at IDFA. Our fervent thanks to them - especially our wonderful jury assistant Rada Šešić - for having the courage, passion, and gift for improvisation that made this festival possible for all of us, and unforgettable for this jury. We are grateful for an inspiring and diverse selection of stories that brought us across the world and back, with experienced but also emerging filmmakers as our warm, wise, and witty traveling companions.

    IDFA Award for Best Cinematography

    Displaying the innate ability to capture fleeting but profound moments of humane and often humorous connection within a complex, bustling environment, this DOP - also the film's director - guides us through grand halls, corridors, and carriages, making an entire universe out of the Moscow metro system. The Award for Best Cinematography goes to Ruslan Fedotow for his first feature Where Are We Headed. 

    IDFA Award for Best Editing

    Key to the success of any film is the rarely acknowledged hero who sits in a dark room for days, weeks, or months; watching, compiling, and cutting; scouring archives; and interpreting the will and vision of the rest of the team. In recognition of the extraordinary work of efficient and inspired montage that makes a four-hour documentary feel half that length, the 2021 International Jury of IDFA gives the Award for Best Editing to Danielus Kokanauskis for Mr. Landsbergis.

    IDFA Award for Best Directing

    Documentarians sometimes establish intimate relationships with their subjects that interfere with their role as director. But this first-time filmmaker negotiates that tricky balance brilliantly, making her own emotional attachment transparent without intrusively forcing herself into the moving story of a Hmong girl caught between childhood and adulthood, and cultural tradition and modernity, in the remote Vietnamese countryside. For her sensitive and dignified treatment of her protagonists, the Award for Best Directing goes to Diem Ha Le for the wonderful Children of the Mist.

    IDFA Award for Best Film

    It is not easy to bring history to life. It is even more difficult to make it thrilling, urgent, and totally enriching; to make it feel like we are living through it as it happens. On every level of craft, the winning film represents a monumental achievement that fully explores the role one man, one nation, and one historical moment can play in the still-unfolding story of the global struggle for freedom and self-determination. The 2021 IDFA Award for Best Film in the International Competition goes to Sergei Loznitsa’s stunningly complete and gripping Mr. Landsbergis.

    See the jury members
    See the selection

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