The projects selected in this year’s IDFA DocLab Digital Storytelling Competition might seem unsuspecting, approaching you slowly but hitting you deeply.
We noticed an overall trend that almost all projects in the Digital Storytelling selection were capturing powerful and personal memories, brave stories all told very differently, but each one very effective. These projects are revealing and wildly varied, whether heart-warming or spine-tingling. What a crazy world we live in, with the power of documentary digital storytelling at its best.
In this experience, co-creator Eline Jongsma allows us into the darkest corners of her family history, illustrating the power of secrecy and revelation through a series of beautifully animated shorts skillfully assembled on the Instagram platform. The design, so evocative of the propaganda that Jongsma’s family sought to hide away, is pitch-perfect, and the narration is polished. This project speaks to the idea of timecapsuling memories, and the mixed media of graphic design, animation, augmented reality, and archival footage all contribute to its strength. We must also celebrate the courage of the makers to tell this personal family history on an open platform like Instagram. The public nature of the work may encourage others to come forward with their own similar stories and, in fact, already has in the mere days since it’s been released. The AR filter adds a final depth, remarking that “his world is your world” and warning you that history might repeat itself if one does not stay awake to the truth, no matter how ugly. The jury gives the Special Jury Award for Creative Technology to His Name Is My Name by Eline Jongsma and Kel O’Neill.
He Fucked the Girl Out of Me by Taylor McCue is a personal account of a horrific experience, as it is supposed to be. The writing of the story is phenomenal, emotional, and intimate. The experience is a unique approach to conveying a complicated personal history in the artist's own terms. They wanted to tell their story on their terms, and you feel this in the pacing and in the gravity of the storytelling. The use of a retro computer game as the medium for the story was well chosen, so lo-fi and yet so dense. The gameplay itself is an often effective symbol for the powerlessness of the protagonist, as we’re given the suggestion of choice, but ultimately, there is none. It is an experience we will not soon forget; at times, we wanted to escape the game and the painful story, but we just couldn’t. The jury kept on talking about it, and therefore we are convinced this is the winner of the 2022 IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling.