14 August, 2023
At the award ceremony, held at Lumbardhi Open Air Cinema in Prizren on Saturday evening, in the presence of numerous dignitaries, guests, jurors, sponsors and partners of the festival, the winners of the 22nd edition of DokuFest were announced.
105 films were in run for awards in 8 competition sections of the festival and were judged by a pool of jurors comprised of filmmakers, festival directors, film professionals and human rights activists from around the world. A selection of twelve films ran for Audience Award also.
The 9-day festival saw the screenings of whopping 256 films in 8 cinemas and improvised screening venues across the city, as well as at ITP premises, with workshops, panels, debates, masterclasses, exhibitions and a series of live acts under the DokuNights music strand, turning once again the city of Prizren into an enormous place of celebration of cinema, music and art.
Best Balkan Dox was awarded to Turkish filmmaker Somnur Vardar for her film Drifting. Other awards included winners in Best Int’l Feature and Short Dox, Human Rights and Green Dox, Best Short and Best National Film, Best Truth Dox categories, and Audience Award. In addition to these, a number of other awards were given, such as; Distribution Award, DokuFest candidacy for Best European Short at European Film Award, two grants in New Wave Grant Award as well as several newly established awards were as part oif collaboration between DokuFest and QKK (Kosova Film Center) and Le Fresnoy, The National Studio of Conemporary Art in France. Also, Doc Alliance, a network of seven leading documentary festivals of Europe, to which DokuFest was invited this year as a guest festival, also handed out Doc Alliance Awards in both short and feature categories.
Full list of awards, including jury statements below.
Balkan Dox Competition
Jurors: Marlene Edoyan, Srđan Kovačević and Zeynep Güzel
Winner: Drifting by Somnur Vardar
By drawing her attention to the dramatically gentrifying skyline of a metropole, the director turns her focus to the exploitative working conditions and the lives of Kurdish construction laborers, and with a humane and respectful approach and a subtle narrative treatment, she creates an intimate cinematic space to intricately elucidate moments of vulnerability, resilience and solidarity. The filmmaker’s dedication to the topic and to the film’s protagonists shed new light to a complex economic reconstruction project in contemporary Turkey. The result is a thought-provoking film, with an imperative socio-political commentary attached.
International Feature Dox Competition
Jurors: Valérie Massadian, Dario Oliveira and Maryam Tafakory
Winner: Hypermoon by Mia Engberg
For its cinematographic freedom, tracing a complex journey grasping for life through poetic and delicate layers of memories, for its fragile intimacy in the face of death, that the film transcends in a gesture of resistance and love, the award goes to “Hypermoon” by Mia Engberg.
Q by Jude Chehab
For its subversive family portrait of intimate entanglements between three generations of women confronting each other’s relationship with religion and love, the special mention goes to “Q”.
International Short Dox Competition
Jurors: Sanne Jehoul, Ruggero Calich and Randa Maroufi
Winner: Pacific Club by Valentin Noujaïm
We've chosen to award a film that demonstrates genuine care and empathy towards its character. Through testimony, digital visualisations and performance, it aims to preserve the memory of a once crucial space for a dismissed community, a space whose physical traces have disappeared amidst urban capitalism. Its dazed atmospheric setting at night and the break of dawn evokes loss and remembrance, giving room to the complexities of the space's history, the joys and tragedies. The winner of the International Short Dox Competition is Pacific Club by Valentin Noujaïm.
Int’l Short Film Competition
Jurors: Dorian Jespers, Nina Rodríguez and Simon Ellis
Winner: Neighbour Abdi by Douwe Dijkstra
Being a good jury at DokuFest is a challenging task. It entails avoiding excessive time in the captivating documentary program, avoiding numerous encounters that divert your focus from your duty, avoiding endless parties, and avoiding bestowing yet another award upon one of the most successful short films of the year.
This jury is proud to not have been able to avoid any of these.
This jury is even prepared to assert that refraining from awarding Neighbor Abdi is nearly an insurmountable feat: the film shines as evidence.
Neighbor Abdi stands as the most innovative, most playful, most skilfully crafted, entertaining, and accomplished piece. And if cinema weren’t enough, the film is also a profound appeal for increased understanding, unity, and humanity among individuals, spanning from immediate neighbours to entire communities.
May it continue to be unavoidable.
The Goose’s Excuse by Abdo Zin Eldin and Mahdy Abo Bahat
Jury Statement: For creating an essentially cinematic experience that, in its peculiar rhythm, whisked us along on a spiritual journey that keeps on humming.
The same jury chose Daydreaming so vividly about our Spanish holidays by Christian Avilés as DokuFest’s Short Film Candidate for 2023 European Film Awards.
The jury was tickled by this deftly crafted meditation on teenage abandon. An alternative appraisal of the British tendency to cook oneself on an annual basis shines whimsical light on a dark phenomenon, reconsidering the desire to become a solar sponge as biological necessity. A sunny future for this filmmaker.
Human Rights Dox Competition
Jurors: Shoshi Korman, Rron Gjinovci and Dina Pokrajac
Winner: A Golden Life by Boubacar Sangaré
The best documentaries leave viewers feeling like they entered a new world simultaneously confronting what they already know and making them step out of their comfort zone. The winning film tackles the issue of child labour with a clear observational lens resulting in a gripping and emphatic portrait with a well-researched social background. The director creates a bond of trust with his protagonists, approaching them with gentle respect and warm reassurance. A mesmerising cinematic journey into the lives of precocious working minors exposing global inequality and not allowing us to turn away our gaze.
Human Rights Dox Award courtesy of FDFA, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland.
My Name is Happy by Ayşe Toprak and Nick Read
Protecting women against gender-based violence is a human rights issue often overlooked globally. Despite tireless efforts of activists around the world, the rates of femicide remain stubbornly high. This emotionally piercing documentary introduces us to a young woman of formidable strength and relentless optimism who utilises her voice as a powerful instrument of protest. Mutlu means happy in Turkish and despite her tragic fate our heroine manages to transform hatred and anger into a force for progressive social change and find happiness in her resilient chant.
Green Dox Competition
Jurors: Cecilia Barrionuevo, Artan Sadiku and Viera Čákanyová
Winner: Last Things by Deborah Stratman
The winning film in the category of Green Dox was chosen by the jury because it represents a venture beyond obvious methods of putting topics in environmental films. It uses rocks and minerals as a core material of our planet to engage in a wide range of disciplines - from science, literature, ethnography, to ultimately deliver an extremely stimulating, reflective, political and non-conclusive film. It combines an insightful scientific approach with a haunting poetic language to create a highly artistic message that connects the distant past, and possible futures of our present. This is why the jury decided to award the prize to Last Things by Deborah Stratman.
Green Dox Award courtesy of RBF, Rockefeller Brothers Foundation.
Truth Dox Competition
Jurors: Tomáš Hudák, Emilia Mazik and Gugi Gumilang
Winner: Total Trust by Jialing Zhang
"Total Trust" contests real challenges to what has long been argued to be a fundamental right to privacy. The title itself stands in contrast to the pervasive atmosphere in China, where distrust is amplified to an extent that positions the nation as a global surveillance giant. This collection of exceptionally powerful narratives offers a rare window into life within these constraints. It underscores the practical political advantages of censorship for those vested in state control, while also revealing the damaging consequences for those who dare to alter the system. Despite the fact that half a billion cameras point without permission, the jurors feel that this remarkable piece of work by filmmakers captures both cautionary and incredible elements.
Seven Winters in Tehran by Steffi Niederzoll
The Truth Dox Competition jury recognises Seven Winters in Tehran for bringing attention to the tragic story of a young woman who courageously upholds the truth even in the face of death, and for delivering a impactful narrative that intertwines individual testimonies with the broader societal context of living within a patriarchal society, whether it be in Iran or elsewhere.
National Film Competition
Jurors: Maike Mia Höhne, Sabahat Meta and Thelyia Petraki
Winner: Prishtinë, 2002 by Trëndelina Halili
A gripping portrayal and authentic exploration of human emotions set against the backdrop of uncertainty. The plot delves into the raw feelings of insecurity that persist, drawing a striking parallel to the timeless emotions experienced during the pivotal years of puberty. This thematic connection adds a layer of depth to the narrative, as it weaves together the universality of human experiences.
The director's vision through every frame managed to guide us through the characters' emotional landscapes. The acting is touching, humorous and very authentic, which allowed the story to breathe and let us connect with the characters and their journey on a personal level.
The film captures the essence of becoming one's true self, a journey often mirrored in the tumultuous transition from adolescence to adulthood. The film's ability to evoke genuine empathy and reflection is a proof to its narrative strength and the subtle yet powerful performances.
Overall, Prishtinë, 2002 is a remarkable cinematic artwork that skilfully intertwines the timeless struggles of youth with the apparent uncertainties of its setting. The director's talent and the cast's compelling portrayal created a memorable and emotionally resonant experience.
National Competition Award courtesy of Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport of Kosova.
As part of agreement between DokuFest and Ikonë Studio, the leading film production company in Kosova, a prize in the amount of 7.000 EUR in the form of equipment lease and to be used in the next film project was awarded to the winner of National Competition too.
Same jury also awarded the newly established Talent Doc Award, given by QKK, (Kosovo Film Center) for Best documentary short from National Competition to The Future is Better, Comrade by Blerta Haziraj
After counting the voting ballots, Snajka: Diary of Expectations by Tea Vidović Dalipi has been announced as the winner of Audience Award of the festival.
Audience Award courtesy of ProCredit Bank.
A number of other awards were also announced during the closing ceremony.
For the first time The Doc Alliance Award was presented at DokuFest thanks to the invitation to DokuFest as a guest festival.
Best Short film went to The Cervix Pass by Marie Bottois whereas Best Feature was awarded to Death of a City by João Rosas with a special mention to Disturbed Earth by Kumjana Novakova and Guillermo Carreras Candi. The jury members for this year’s Doc Alliance Award were Anna Berthollet (CEO, Sales & Acquisitions at Lightdox), journalist and programmer Arnaud Hée (La Cinémathèque du Documentaire) and festival programmer Jonathan Ali (Third Horizon, Tribeca Film Festival).
Distribution Award, given by Radiator IP Film Sales from Belgium went to a film from National Competition Hana e Re by Jehona Berisha.
Le Fresnoy Award, a newly established award as a result of a collaboration between DokuFest and Le Fresnoy, the renowned National Studio of Contemporary Art from France went to Blerta Haziraj for her short documentary film Future is Better, Comrade.
New Wave Grant, in the amount of 7.000 EUR + film equipment lease and 6 month mentorship by renowned film experts, was awarded to two projects this year.
Financial grants going towards the production of short films are given by DokuFest and are supported by SIDA and Swedish Embassy in Kosovo. The winners are Aurela Berila and Flaka Kokolli.