Award Recipients: Jury Comments

Prizes for the International Competition

Jury: Atom Egoyan (Chair), Haile Gerima, Ichioka Yasuko, Amar Kanwar, Fernando Pérez

General Comment
The jury saw a stimulating and highly varied selection representing a full range of current documentary practice. While the decisions were not without passionate debate, we believe that the difficult task of deciding upon five final choices has been stimulating, highly rewarding, and ultimately unanimous.

• The Robert and Frances Flaherty Prize (The Grand Prize)
The Collaborator and His Family
USA, ISRAEL, FRANCE / 2011 / Hebrew, Arabic / Color / Video / 84 min
Ruthie Shatz, Adi Barash

For its extraordinary ability to chart revealing, oppressive and sometimes shockingly absurd borders within family, state, and society.

• The Mayor’s Prize (Prize of Excellence)
Nostalgia for the Light
FRANCE, GERMANY, CHILE / 2010 / Spanish / Color, B&W / 35mm / 90 min
Patricio Guzmán

For its masterly ability to harness a pure cinematic language with profound and inspiring vision.

• Award of Excellence
CHINA / 2010 / Naxi language / Color / Video / 145 min
He Yuan

A highly distilled and intensely intimate examination of a son and his father, composed with a concentrated and convincing sense of compassion.

• Award of Excellence
The Woman with the 5 Elephants
SWITZERLAND, GERMANY / 2009 / German, Russian / Color, B&W / 35mm / 93 min
Vadim Jendreyko

A unique cinematic portrait of an unforgettable woman told with great sensitivity, affection, and intelligence.

• Special Prize
Distinguished Flying Cross
USA / 2011 / English / Color / Video / 62 min
Travis Wilkerson

Working with an absolute economy of means, the work contrasts textures of film, video, narration, and text to create a unique meditation on war.


New Asian Currents Awards

Jury: Mickey Chen, Zeze Takahisa

General Comment: by Zeze Takahisa
In the many countries in Asia, each with its own respective problems, there are filmmakers who try to face them, contemplate them, and find a way to solve them. I found it interesting to discover so many films that approached the world in such a way, and I was deeply moved many times.
To tell the truth, there were many outstanding films that did not win a prize. Also, the two jurors could not find any single work that we wanted to push strongly. So, in the jury meeting, I decided to emphasize films that expressed the attitude and the position of a documentarist who is trying to untangle various current issues of society.
Please allow me to repeat that whether a film wins a prize or not is truly a hair’s difference. I look forward to all of you returning to your homes and continuing to pursue cinema deeply. This goes also for myself, who encountered so many wonderful films and was overwhelmed by so many emotions at this film festival. Thank you very much.

General Comment: by Mickey Chen
Among the outstanding works in New Asian Currents this year, the intimate relationship between a mother and child in a fertile forest let us sense the greatness of humanity; with a fiddle player we searched for a blissful, yet fading, melody playing within our hearts; with the bodies of martyrs fallen on the street, we saw our old passionate ideals dying like vanishing illusions.
We entered the world of documentary filmmakers of Asia. With both militant interrogations and quiet gazes, we became entangled with the contrasting languages of reality and fiction, attentively looking into this world.
This was the holistic world created by the genre called documentary; it swallowed and struck us.

• Ogawa Shinsuke Prize
Yuguo and His Mother
CHINA / 2011 / Chinese / Color / Video / 49 min
Gu Tao

Above all, the warm gaze of the camera towards the ethnic minority group in Inner Mongolia is exceptional. The camera is there by their side, so that the relationship between the subject and the cameraman is not contrived, but simply there. The infinite amount of time that it must have taken to build such a relationship is condensed in this medium-length documentary. The filmmaker’s passion does not come to the foreground, but the filmmaker’s attitude towards filmmaking is obstinate, constantly trying to overcome obstacles. Though the film is unspectacular, it manifests in an exceptional way a strong will deriving from the positive attitude of a documentarist. This attitude is clearly shown in this film. The everyday, the landscape, history shine in the fragments of their daily lives, and by showing us the woe and the splendor of living, the film touched us deeply.

• Award of Excellence
IRAN, KOREA, CANADA / 2010 / Persian, Turkish, Russian / Color, B&W / Video / 120 min
Shahin Parhami

By following Amin, the protagonist who desperately tries to record an ethnic music that is disappearing, the film gradually reveals Iranian society, history, and everyday lives, together with the present issues that surround them. Amin’s suffering and passion are shared by the director, too. With the camera that follows the protagonist, the viewer also undertakes his journey. It is both a geographical and a psychological journey, as well as a journey into history. This film attemps to challenge something big, and that is what fascinated us. Above all, the music performed in the film is remarkable. The film’s dynamism comes from the will power of the filmmaker, which attracted us constantly.

• Award of Excellence
KOREA / 2010 / Korean / Color / Video / 73 min
Mun Jeong-hyun

With the raw power of activist film, the director documented increasingly violent street protests, calmly presenting a historic archive of a Korean struggle. We heard the screams and the crackdowns, felt the tears and the blood, as if we were present at the scene. The director at times touches upon public history, but at other times returns to his inner self. Using the format of personal documentary, for the sake of his own past ideals and collective beliefs—that is, for the sake of his past self and others who believed that they could attain a better tomorrow through the battle—on distressing streets, the director has written an epitaph-like poem of collective disappointments and betrayals by politician.

• Special Mention
Children of Soleil
JAPAN / 2011 / Japanese / Color / Video / 107 min
Okutani Yoichiro

This film is perhaps not simply about the world of the old man and the dog at the mouth of Tama River. Particularly intriguing is that the director, in a “real time” of about two hours, confronts the subtle behaviors that manifest themselves on a dark and quiet riverbank in Tokyo, inviting us to reflect on the eternal question of “time.”

• Special Mention
Hard Rails across a Gentle River
VIETNAM / 2010 / Vietnamese / Color / Video / 45 min
Tran Thanh Hien, Pham Thu Hang, Do Van Hoang, Tran Thi Anh Phuong

Centering around a bridge about a kilometer away from the city center of Hanoi, four directors depict people’s everyday lives in fragments. Above all, the way the people’s lives come alive is most impressive. Though there are four different perspectives, they become one as a film as they are woven together. Also, these four filmmakers show a caring and clear perspective. It is deeply related to the new wave of documentary filmmaking that is springing out in Vietnam today, and we have taken into account our expectations for the future in giving this award.

• Special Mention
Water Hands
SINGAPORE, SERBIA, MONTENEGRO / 2010 / Cantonese, Mandarin, Serbian / Color, B&W / Video / 93 min
Vladimir Todorovic

“Every man is an island.”
With a resonant mixture of images and words, the director created a reverie and a reality, an enchanting dialogue between a sailor and a woman, and a murky world of seduction and rejection.
Visually, the director has created a sharp contrast between homeland and fantasy. At the same time, the unceasing conversation between the man and the woman draws us into their world, in which seduction, metaphor, symbolism, and mystery abound.


Citizens’ Prizes

The Woman with the 5 Elephants
SWITZERLAND, GERMANY / 2009 / German, Russian / Color, B&W / 35mm / 93 min
Vadim Jendreyko

Iranian Cookbook
IRAN / 2010 / Persian / Color / Video / 72 min
Mohammad Shirvani


Community Cinema Awards

Iranian Cookbook
IRAN / 2010 / Persian / Color / Video / 72 min
Mohammad Shirvani

This film uses the kitchen, the place where the everyday is best exhibited, to depict Iranian tradition, lifestyles, and family relationships in a gentle and humorous manner. The film reminds us that something important, which we should not forget, can be found in everyday life.

Great East Japan Earthquake Recovery Support Screening Project “Cinema with Us”

In face of an unprecedented situation, namely the Great East Asian Earthquake and the nuclear accident at Fukushima Daiichi Plant, we have continued to contemplate what it is that we as film exhibitors should do. This project presents one very important answer to this question. We would like to express our thanks to this action and announce our intention to full-heartedly support and cooperate with the nationwide screening of this program.


Directors Guild of Japan Award

Jury: Ito Shunya (President), Omori Tatsushi, Hayashi Kaizo, Yamamoto Yoko, John Junkerman
Prison and Paradise
INDONESIA / 2010 / Indonesian / Color, B&W / Video / 93 min
Daniel Rudi Haryanto

Reasoning behind the Award
This year’s international competition boasted such films as The Woman with the 5 Elephants, an elegant and rich masterpiece; a strongly contrasting film in Armadillo, a tour de force with vivid power that could be mistaken for a fiction film; and the excellent The Collaborator and His Family, which embodies a Kafkaesque world of absurdity (a situation like The Castle, where the main character’s permit is never granted, or the no exit sphere of The Metamorphosis, where like Gregor Samsa, he is transformed into an insect his sons don’t recognize) in one of the cities where the contradictions of today’s world are concentrated. We express our respect toward these films.
The DGJ Award is not necessarily given to the best film, but rather our intention is to honor a director who, in his or her chosen field, be it the actual world or not, exhibits a spirit of bold challenge in attempting to open new horizons, and from whom we can expect much in the future. In this regard, director Haryanto’s Prison and Paradise, on the 2002 terrorist bombing in Bali, stands out for the tolerance and calm with which it depicts the families, not only of the victims, but of the perpetrators, and especially his portrayal of the children on both sides. Moreover, the centerpiece of this film is his success in interviewing the terrorist perpetrators in prison. We were frankly surprised to learn that this was accomplished through the director’s individual efforts, before he met the former Washington Post reporter who was his intermediary to the families on both sides. This in itself is worthy of admiration. He then skillfully employs the reporter as, in a sense, a representative of the dead, to punch through contradictions in the perpetrators’ theories of jihad. He was also able to obtain sober reflections from a father of one of the perpetrators and from the wife of a victim. Carrying this off, while straddling both sides and treading deep into socially dangerous territory, is evidence that director Haryanto possesses another quality essential to a documentarist, which is a certain stoicism. Along with honoring Prison and Paradise, we look forward with anticipation to director Daniel Rudi Haryanto’s future work.

(Statement by jury president Ito Shunya, translated by John Junkerman.)


Sky Perfect IDEHA Prize

Jury: Josetxo Cerdán (Spain)
Goodbye UR—Japanese Social Housing Crisis
JAPAN / 2011 / Japanese / Color / Video / 73 min
Hayakawa Yumiko

For the engagement of her work, the ethics of her filmmaking, and the capacity of the film to make audiences react. People have the power!