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Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012 Award Winners

Winners in All Categories of Competitiom at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012

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Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012, held from June 13 to 17, drew to a close with an awards ceremony honoring films in seven categories of competition, including the Inspiration Award, Special Jury Award, Sheffield Innovation Award, Sheffield Green Award, Sheffield Youth Jury Award, Student Doc Award and the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film presented by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists. (Disclosure: I am president of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, and was a member of the AWFJ EDA Award Jury at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012).

The Sheffield Doc/Fest Audience Award will be announced Monday, 18 June.

2012 Juried Awards in All Categories

Inspiration Award:

Sheffield Doc/Fest's Inspiration Award, now in its third year goes to British documentary filmmaker Penny Woolcock.

Alex Graham, Doc/Fest Chairman, said that Woolcock "combines a real empathy for her subjects, and never underestimates the intelligence of the audience," About her creative process, he described how she, "starts with a question, circles round the subject like a hawk ready to pounce. The longer you can stay in the not-knowing-place, the better."

In accepting the award, Woolcock said that it's the, "rebellious, rambunctious, refusal-to-lie-down (of her subjects) that excites and inspires me. My instinct is to walk towards things that most people would run away from."

Special Jury Award:

The award goes to Marina Abromović: The Artist is Present - Directed by Matthew Akers/USA

Special Mention: Call Me Kuchu - Directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax-Wright/USA

Special Mention: The Reluctant Revolutionary - Directed by Sean McAllister/UK

Special Jury spokesperson Carol Morley commented, "Matthew Akers' Marina Abromović: The Artist is Present becomes a performance in itself and blurs the boundaries beyond performance, filmmaking and art and questions ideas of authenticity that allow art to come alive whilst giving an insight into a world that is often closed. The jury considered it an intelligent and insightful portrait of a compelling, charismatic artist."

In accepting the Special Jury award, Matthew Akers said, "This film really was born out of skepticism on my part and fearlessness on Marina's part. I want to say that it was my great privilege to show Marina the kind of love that she's displayed to the rest of the world. This experience reinvigorated my belief in art being transformative and it was my aim to transfer that thought to the rest of you."

The Special Jury: Carol Morley (director, Dreams of A Life UK), Elena Fortes (Abulante Documentary Film Festival, Mexico) Greg Sanderson (Editor, BBC's The Review Show,UK), Caroline Libresco ( Sundance Film Festival, USA), Louis Theroux (TV presenter, UK)

The nominated films: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry (Directed by Alison Klayman), Call Me Kuchu (Directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax-Wright), Chopin Saved My Life (Directed by James Kent), Going Up the Stairs (Directed by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami), Marina Abramovic : The Artist is Present (Directed by Matthew Akers), Off Label (Directed by Michael Palmieri and Donal Mosher), Not A Carwash (Directed by Gentian Koçi), The Other Dream Team (Directed by Marius Markevicius), The Reluctant Revolutionary (Directed by Sean McAllister)

Sheffield Youth Jury Award:

The award goes to Photographic Memory - Directed by Ross McElwee/USA

Special Mention: Indie Game: The Movie - Directed by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky/Canada.

Youth jury spokesperson Rhys Holland commented, "We found Photographic Memory to be applicable to this and every generation ... we admired how this films' self-shot form illustrates to emerging filmmakers the ability for anyone to tell honest and heart felt stories, without the necessity for big production values/"

In accepting his award, Ross McElwee, thanked the jury and said "This has been a great festival, wonderful to get this award. The film is brand new to the festival circuit, and this is a great start."

The Sheffield Youth Jury: Rhys Holland, Driffield, UK 19; Lily Phillips / Sheffield, UK / 20; Amy Garrod / Surrolk, UK / 20; Isla Badenoch / Sheffield, UK / 21; Abech Zewdneh / Sheffield, UK / 20

The nominated films were: Indie Game: The Movie (Direted by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky/Canada), Love Free or Die (Directed by Macky Alston/USA), Photographic Memory (Directed by Ross McElwee/USA), Town of Runners (Directed by Jerry Rothwell/UK), We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists (Directed by Brian Knapperberger/USA)

Sheffield Innovation Award:

The award goes to Bear 71 - Directed by Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes/Canada.

Special Mention to Question Bridge: Black Males (USA)

Siobhan O'Flynn, spokesperson for the Innovation Jury said for "We define innovation as breaking new ground in documentary making and the demonstration of new modes of engagment in the use of new digital technologies. Bear 71 demonstrates strong storytelling and allows audiences to interact with content by questioning our relationship with the natural world."

The Sheffield Innovation jury: Arnaud Dressen (Honky Tonk Films, France), Siobhan O'Flynn (Digital Interactive Media Consultant, Nick Phillips (Artist, UK), Lucy Wurstlin (Digital Interactive Media Consultant), Tunji Akinsehinwa (filmmaker, UK)

The nominated films were: Bear 71 (Directed by Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes), Britain In A Day (Directed by Morgan Matthews), The Miners' Hymns (Directed by Bill Morrison), Question Bridge: Black Males (USA), ¡Vivan Las Antipodas! (Directed by Victor Kossakovsky)

Sheffield Green Award:

The award goes to Law of The Jungle - Directed by Michael Christoffersen and Hans la Cour/Denmark

Special mention to The Island President - Directed by Jon Shenk/USA

Jury spokesperson, Juliet Ellis commented, "A timelessly powerful film, Law of The Jungle has done what only the best documentaries can do. It has delivered very uncomfortable and disturbing truths to powerful organisations, whilst holding an iron grip on the heart strings of its audience. And of course - who doesn't like a great David vs. Goliath court room drama?"

In accepting the award, director Michael Christoffersen said via Skype link: "Wonderful for all of us involved in this film to receive this award. Hans La Cour, the main director and cinematographer, got cancer and died quite early in the filming so this award means a lot for everybody involved. All the issues that the film describes are still going on in Peru. Hopefully this award will help to make a difference."

The Sheffield Green Jury: Juliet Ellis (actress), Anthony Baxter (filmmaker), HeardInLondon (activist), Shiv Malik (journalist), Rupert Murray (filmmaker)

The nominated films: Aluna (Dir. Alan Ereira), Baka: A Cry from the Rainforest (Dir. Philip Agland), Chasing Ice (Dir. Jeff Orlowski), A Fierce Green Fire (Dir. Mark Kitchell), The Island President (Dir. Jon Shenk), Law of the Jungle (Dir. Michael Christoffersen and Hans la Cour)

Student Doc Award:

The award goes to The Betrayal - Directed by Karen Winther/UK

Jury spokesperson Kim Longinotto, said, "We voted for this film because of its courage and intensity and the beautiful way it was put together."

Receiving the award, Karen Winther acknowledged the National Film and TV School, and thanked Kim Longinotto for "inspiring me to become a filmmaker."

The Student Doc Jury: Ryan Harrington (Director of Documentary Programming, Tribeca Film Institute, USA), Tabitha Jackson (Commissioning Editor for Arts, Channel 4, UK), Kim Longinotto (filmmaker, UK), Katrina Sedgwick (Head of Arts, ABC, Australia), Seth Tabatznik (Founder/Director of OneWayTheatre, UK)

The nominated films: The Betrayal (Dir. Karen Winther), Burmese Butterfly (Dir. Hnin Ei Hlaing), Fabalous (Dir. Ed Emsley), No Regrets (Dir. Jim Smith), Mostar (Dir. Josh Bamford and Sebastian Feehan), A Place We Call Home (Dir. Albina Griniute), This Life that Chose Me (Dir. Chloe White), The War Next Door (Dir. Ferdinand Haberl)

AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film:

The award goes to Going Up The Stairs - Directed by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami/Iran

Jennifer Merin (per disclosure above), President of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists and AWFJ jury member at Doc/Fest 2012 said,"We highly commend this wonderful film about an unlikely artist, a 50 year-old illiterate, Iranian woman who is consumed with her need to create, but also embraces her role in a traditional marriage to an older man. She gives us a new understanding of the strength of women in sustaining their dreams in difficult circumstances. Bravo to director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami and her leading lady Akram."

Unfortunately director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami's visa application was delayed by the British Embassy in Warsaw, and she was unable to travel to the UK to collect her award. In a statement read out by Jennifer Merin, Rokhasreh Ghaem Maghami said, "Repeating the phrase 'the best female directed' makes me feel better.... I wish the world could be directed in a female way. If it was so, governments wouldn't go for a war. I don't think that embassies would take revenge on artists because of politics. I am sure that artists needn't to prove that they are rich or married to travel abroad for a festival. They wouldn't hear 'sorry, we cannot make a decision' when they are nominated for an award. Yes, repeating 'the best femaled directed' makes me feel better. I am so proud of it. Thank you, Sheffield Doc/Fest staff and AWFJ."

The AWFJ International Jury: Linda Barnard (The Toronto Star, Toronto, Canada), Jennifer Merin (About.com, New York, USA), Nikki Baughan (MovieScope, London, England), MaryAnn Johanson (Flickfilosopher.com, London, England), Karen Krizanovich (Radio Times, London, England)

The nominated films: Call Me Kuchu (Directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax-Wright), Indie Game: The Movie (Directed by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky), Putin's Kiss (Directed by Lise Birk Pedersen), Scarlet Road (Directed by Catherine Scott), The Tsunami and The Cherry Blossom (Directed by Lucy Walker), Going Up The Stairs (Directed by Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami)

More Details

For more details about the awards ceremony and notes on all films mentioned above, visit the Sheffield Doc/Fest Website.

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