Jury reports IDFA 2017
During IDFA several awards were handed out by international jurymembers.
Scroll down and read the complete jury reports by the jurymembers for all the different competition programs.
IDFA Competition for Feature-Length Documentary
Jury: Zaradasht Ahmed, Galia Bador, Ernesto Pardo, Diana Sanchez, Frank Scheffer
Around the world there are many unsung heroes. This enthralling film about a man who puts the lives and safety of others before his own portrays one of these – while at the same time forces us to question our idea of “hero”. An experiential, universal and global film, it portrays and reflects a part of the world that we rarely encounter in the cinema while capturing the tenacity of a single man confronting impossible odds. For it’s melding of cinematic genre and thematic urgency, the jury awards the IDFA Special Jury Award for Feature-Length Documentary to The Deminer by Hogir Hirori and Shinwar Kamal.
An apartment becomes a metaphor for both the former Yugoslavia and the current political climate in the region. In a space where past and present are in constant dialogue, we discover an inspiring character. Through the filmmaker’s lens we are introduced to her mother - an enlightened woman who has dedicated her life to political activism. Poetically structured, the beauty of this character resonates.
For its textured cinematic language that artfully blends the historical with the personal, the jury awards the IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary to The Other Side of Everything by Mila Turajlic.
IDFA Competition for Mid-Length Documentary
Jury: Lars Skree, Reber Dosky, Yael Bitton
The Jury for the Mid-Length Documentary competition would like to comment on the selection of films, as it found that few of them totally mastered an understanding of film language. Some films were surprising in their content, others were touching in their humanity and emotions, others very well crafted, and others offered beautiful visual discoveries, but very few managed to actually integrate a complete, deep, layered and cinematic experience.
The jury noticed that some of the films obeyed to narrative conventions that tend to bend the films towards a fairly normative story telling mode. Whereas others could really have benefited from a deeper and more guided writing process, production and editorial work.
As a result, the jury decided to give the IDFA Special Jury Award for Mid-Length Documentary to a beautiful documentary that offers us the possibility to see how the director builds his poetical and cinematic gaze as he films this decaying neighborhood and it's inhabitants.
We loved his bravery and persistence as he becomes part of the environement he managed to get close to. We would like to command his choice not to fall for the efficiency of the story telling but rather to remain on the subtle level of the humanity he captures. The film lands as a metaphor for how modernity is eating at all of us, everywhere, as we become the eyes of the young child at the end of the film.
The winner is Last Days in Shibati by Hendrick Dussolier.
And the IDFA Award for Mid-Length Documentary goes to a unique film that distinguishes itself by the congruence of it's form, perfectly fitted to it's content. Via a high quality cinematography and a thoroughly tailored editing of voices and situations, it offers us a perspective onto a world and community unknown to us, with outstanding protagonists, strong humor, and it becomes a mirror of how we all deal with our own superstitions about our own health, bodies, and mortality. The film comprises some of the most surprising scenes of this competition: indeed, in a world saturated with modern pharmacology, who does not want to be cured by a frog?
The winner is The Dread by Martin Benchimol and Pablo Aparo.
IDFA Competition for First Appearance
Jury: Sigrid Dyekjær, Ilona Hongisto, Niels Van Koevorden, Jose Rodriguez, Severine Roinssard
Two prizes were not enough to appreciate the original ideas, storylines, and craftsmanship in this year’s selection. All films in the program had incredible access, demonstrating strong intimacy with the main characters. But what we were really impressed by, were the choices of the side characters! Especially the Grandmothers! There were many wonderful grandmothers in this year’s program. The films took us to magical environments, with incredible sounds and visuals, as well as remote geographical locations that were introduced in their political, natural and social complexities. The films in the program showed admirable investment in unpredictable moments, offering layered scenes unfolding in surprising directions.
IDFA Special Jury Award for First Appearance We could not shake this film off. It kept coming back into our thoughts, persisting throughout the festival. The unique, intimate world of the film resisted explanation and took directions that were impressive, unpredictable and troubling, as well as humorous. The exceptional characters kept the camera under their spell.
Our special jury award goes to Solving My Mother by Ieva Ozolina.
IDFA Award for Best First Appearance Vulnerable lives of mesmerizing characters in the fringes of a warzone. We were at a place most of us would never go, unless the filmmaker invited us there. Natural scenes communicate a heartwarming bond between grandmother and her grandsons. Moments that the characters take us to were trusted and unfolded. The craftsmanship came together in this film, it is not an easy task.
The award goes to The Distant Barking of Dogs by Simon Wilmont.
IDFA DocLab Competition for Digital Storytelling
Jury: Hugues Sweeney, Annelies Termeer, Dan Tucker
As commissioners, creators and curators in this field, being here and being part of the DocLab Digital Storytelling jury has been humbling and enriching. It has in fact been a learning experience for all three of us also. IDFA DocLab continues to stretch the limits of non-fiction storytelling in new and surprising ways - and helps us all to understand how the documentary form is evolving.
We were really pleased to see projects from a great variety of origins: Russia, Guinée, Scandinavia, South Korea, United States, France, Denmark [= part of Scandinavia], South Africa, Belgium, Australia, United Kingdom and The Netherlands. We look forward to IDFA DocLab continuing to bring us stories from new places around the globe.
We were also happy to see such a great diversity in platforms. Even if this meant hard work for us as a jury because we have to judge and compare almost uncomparable projects: from a 360 VR experience, a text messaging app, a game, to wandering through Amsterdam on an audio walk. Makers are exploring more and more digital platforms to tell their stories.
From all of these very diverse stories, the ones that appealed to us most were the ones where we could really feel an emotional and personal connection to the story.
This project brought a big smile to the face of all three jurors. We love its tone of voice, the visual style and the interaction. We can tell that the creators worked in a cross-disciplinary team and that they did loads of user testing to get it right; two things we encourage all digital storytellers to do. The platform chosen by the makers felt like the perfect one for this specific story: together with the main character, you dive into the secret history of her father, assembling pieces of the puzzle along the way. The winner of the IDFA DocLab Award for Digital Storytelling is: Cosmic Top Secret by Trine Laier.
IDFA DocLab Competition for Immersive Non-Fiction
Jury: Toby Coffey, Shirin Anlen, Klasien van de Zandschulp
The diversity of formats was highly commendable; the presence of, amongst others, communal storytelling, VR and an outdoors audio tour reflects the vibrant potential for the ongoing development of the age old tradition of storytelling. The selection encouraged us to interrogate what we understand by immersion; a range of experiences used it to truly allow us to understand society in new ways and with greater depth. It is inspiring to see artists choosing to implement the very technologies that they question. They find ways that compel us to address the issues they inherently bring to society: ones that are affecting us now and ones that we need to keep an eye on. Equally inspiring is seeing the evolution of formats that we as audiences are especially familiar with, from intimate one-on-one experiences (through) to more social and communal.
With completely new forms competing with inspiring takes on existing ones, the deliberations were definitely not quick and certainly not easy: testament to strength of the work and the affect it had on the judges.
Technology is becoming as important as it is intrusive in our lives. This project takes that premise and uses the form to discuss itself. It examines the influence of technology on humanity, and the need for humanity to influence technology. Whilst evidently a project about tech and software, it is also a fascinating insight into how people build relationships and who or what they let into their lives. The winner of the IDFA DocLab Immersive Non-Fiction Award is: Lauren by Lauren McCarthy.
IDFA Competition for Dutch Documentary
Jury: Khalil Benkirane, Nicoline van Harskamp, Young-woo Kim
The jury was impressed with the quality and the variety of the films. Approaches ranged from creative documentary to personal or experimental work, and subject matter was chosen from close to home as well as across the globe.
As expected, we had a difficult time deciding between these 15 films. In the end, we chose two films that combine strong subject matter, or even a sense of urgency, with a clear formal approach. Both are ambitious works that directly impacted our understanding of the situations they depict. Situations that have young people at their centre. Situations in which the protagonists find themselves trapped or displaced. The filmmakers managed to enter these situations with skill, respect and patience, and took our understanding of these to new levels.
The Beeld en Geluid IDFA Award for Dutch Documentary goes to a documentary with a pressing theme that is reported on in every news medium. Yet this work manages to provide new and much needed insights, not in the least by choosing the perspective of women. Even though the jury had some reservations about certain formal aspects of the film, it has chosen to honour: The Long Season by Leonard Retel Helmrich.
The IDFA Special Jury Award for Dutch Documentary goes to a film in which again we witness a person caught in a situation involuntarily. Like her, we never really get to understand exactly why. And like her, we desperately want to find a solution – to get her out. The jury was moved and affected by this very well-made film, and hopes it will help bring about awareness and change. The jury has chosen to honour: Alicia by Maasja Ooms.
IDFA Competition for Short Documentary
Jury: Tamás Almási, Gema Juarez, Dana Lixenberg
The IDFA Competition for Short Documentary has offered us a selection with a rich diversity of films and various viewpoints on the world we live in. It was an interesting experience to not only have this variety in the selection of films, but also within our jury. With a producer, a director and a photographer onboard, it really felt enriching to hear each other’s perspectives on the works we have seen. Through these films, we have witnessed different visual strategies used by directors to tell their stories.
Varying in length from a 7-minute film to a 36-minute film, it was a challenge to see all these films as part of one single category. This challenge notwithstanding, the films did open thought-provoking topics for discussion and debate. It was a privilege and inspiration to be a part of this jury process and to spend many hours in the dark together. In all of the films we found something to move and inspire us, and we’d like to thank the makers for the great care and dedication they have put into their work and for bringing their particular stories to light.
The IDFA Special Jury Award in the shorts competition goes to a film that offers an unexpected and creative solution to the constraints the director experienced documenting his subject matter. The result reveals a detailed, critical observation of the aimless and spiritless bureaucracy in a Western European country. With heartfelt irony and great craftsmanship, the film challenges the boundaries of documentary as a genre. The winner of the IDFA Special Jury Award for Short Documentary is As We're Told by Erik Holmström and Fredrik Wenzel.
The IDFA Award for Best Short Documentary goes to a film that portrays life in a bleak and almost apocalyptic setting with humor and many absurd moments. Through carefully observed vignettes, the film enters a microcosm that shows a community that has to live with the consequences of a megalomaniac, political decision. With a compassionate and humanistic approach, the director of this film presents visual metaphors for resilience in a post-Soviet reality. The IDFA Award for Best Short Documentary goes to Zhalanash – Empty Shore by Marcin Sauter.
IDFA Competition for Student Documentary
Jury: Rémi Bonhomme, Sophie Dros, Vincent Moloi
First of all we like to say that we were pleased with the diversity of topics in the selection of films. Most films in this category were very ambitious and daring in both subject and execution, essentially attempting to discover new storytelling techniques. This is particularly encouraging that young filmmakers are consciously trying to find seminal cinematic language. They have provided us with films many different forms and style. The films did not only manage to tackle various subjects but went further than just a phenomenon of “current issue” but intimate and personal day to day universal issues of ordinary people. The filmmakers permitted us, as viewers, space to have an internal conversation and with each other. We, the jury, appreciated that filmmakers took risks and made bold unconventional artistic and narrative decisions.
The achievements of the strongest films had a lasting emotional and analytical impact. Most filmmakers’ artistic execution was respectful to the character and did not objectify the characters, which often is a mistake filmmakers make. The films were well crafted with a great degree of technical superiority. We would also like to encourage a continuation of diverse geographical representation of voices at IDFA to further enrich the festival status, especially in this category student documentary.
IDFA Special Jury Award for Student Documentary This film has a simple way of opening complex questions about how to look at political conviction and representation in a historical moment. It also provoked different feelings and interpretations, becoming a catalyst to different strong opinions amongst us, the jury members. This film minimalistic approach yet provided critical analysis impressed us. Lastly, its incredible how one moment can tell a whole story. And this is what this film has done. We woud like to congratulate the film I Am by Denise Kelm Soares.
IDFA Award for Best Student Documentary The winner of the Student Documentary Award was a unanimous decision by the Jury. This film emphatically stood out from the rest. It was a complete, well-told and a touching story. This is a great and significant achievement by a student filmmaker. The director showed maturity, dedication and focus. This is evidantly clear in a way the film managed to present to us a complex and layered character that even in the face of despair and difficulty, was still inspiring. And so the film took us on a holistic journey with great dramatic developments. We are very happy to give the Award for Best Student Documentary to Call Me Tony by Klaudiusz Chrostowski.
IDFA Competition for Kids & Docs
Jury: Daan Bol, Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami, Christian Popp
We had the great opportunity to discover a fine selection of films with lengths ranging from 5 minutes to 83 minutes, a proof that documentaries for children can work in any duration if they are inviting, challenging and ultimately well made. The selection is based on diverse criteria, still, it was interesting for us to look at trends. We saw many documentaries where the passion for music played an important role. We saw many documentaries in which family issues were at the core of the story, in general the difficult relationship between children and adults. Interestingly, and a bit simplified: children in western societies seem to deal with fears, while children from developing countries seem to have dreams. If the selection reflects the best of the best of the production of the past year, we cannot wish more than a bigger diversity in terms of topics and production countries. Discovering stories of children from a wide range of cultures and made also in those cultures seems to us essential for the future. While it was pretty easy to agree on a short list of potential winners, the final choice for the awards proved to be a challenge as all films have obvious qualities and relevance.
IDFA Special Jury Award for Children’s Documentary With an outstanding creative form that triggers the imagination, we experience the hardships of young life in a daring way of storytelling. The cinematic language creates an intimacy that guides the viewer through an emotional experience and forces him not only to just see, but more so to listen. Because hidden within the different stories lies a message of great importance: you are not alone The Special Jury Award for Children’s Documentary goes to L I S T E N by Astrid Bussink.
IDFA Award for Best Children’s Documentary When a film masters to bring to light with only a few images and words the deeper truth beneath the surface of reality, it is an immense gift for an audience. Beneath violence in the awarded film, there is a fragile core. Behind apparent rejection there is true love. With an impressive cinematic joy, well-chosen metaphors and great intimacy this film challenges our perception by capturing beautifully the life of a boy on the edge. The IDFA Award for Best Children’s Documentary goes to Lenno & the Angelfish by Shamira Raphaëla.