This Rain Will Never Stop, a documentary about family ties disrupted by war, selected as best film of the year at One World 2021
The winning films of the 23rd edition of the One World International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival were announced online on the festival’s social network pages and the One World Online platform on 19 May at 8:30 pm. Interested viewers can now watch the prize-winning films online. The jury members from the various competition categories could not physically meet face to face, but they deliberated about the documentaries as if they had known each other all their lives. The discussions about the films in the International Competition, the Czech Competition, and the Right to Know categories took place online, just like the entire first part of this year’s festival. The announcement of the winning films on Wednesday was the culmination of the first part of the festival – One World Live – which offered more than forty streamed debates with filmmakers and experts on various topics. From 20 May to 6 June all of the films may be viewed via the One World Online platform. Viewers can also look forward to seeing the premieres of selected Czech and foreign films at open-air cinemas and drive-ins in Prague and many other towns throughout the Czech Republic from 20 to 28 May.
International Competition Jury
The jury for the International Competition selected the films to receive the Best Film Award and the Best Director Award. They had ten documentaries to choose from, all of which are excellent from the perspective of directorial style and offer eyewitness testimony about the state of human rights.
The members of the International Competition jury comprised French director and producer Thomas Balmés, whose film Sing Me a Song received an award at last year’s One World, Sigrid Dyekjær, who is one of Denmark’s most experienced film producers and organises courses and lectures at film schools around the world, and Hana Kastelicová, the head of documentary film production at HBO Europe.
The winner of the Best Film Award is director Alina Gorlova’s This Rain Will Never Stop (Ukraine, Latvia, Germany, Qatar | 2020 | 103 min.) This documentary follows the thin line between war and peace, tradition and progress, and contrasts geographical separation and family togetherness. In visually elaborate and captivating black and white compositions, it presents a picture of a man who has become a mere dot on the map of major geopolitical events. “A perfectly crafted story beautifully shot in black and white technique is wisely dramatically divided into nine chapters. We admired the careful, consistent, and conscious building of the characters and their stories. The film is showing excellence in all segments of film work,” says the jury in their justification. They add that it was easy to select the winner as the best documentary represents art at its purest, which surprised the jury and stole their hearts. The jury was also extremely impressed by the talent of the young director and her creative team.
The Best Director Award went to Delphine Deloget and Stéphan Correa, the directors of the film The Man Who Was Looking For His Son (Francie, Slovenia, Kosovo, Serbia, Montenegro | 2021 | 76 min.). This story draws attention to the fact that an enormous number of children disappear in China each year without a trace, and their desperate parents continue to tirelessly search for them. One of them is Wu, the protagonist of this film, who has been looking for his son for ten years. In explaining their choice, the jury writes: “This film is a strong story about a devoted father who doesn’t stop loving his child and caring about him despite the tragic circumstances. Against the background of his story, we also experience the atmosphere of current life in China. The directors managed to create a very organic connection between these two storylines and a coherent and emotional story.”
This year, the jury also selected a documentary for the Special Award. The recipient was director Aliaksei Paluyan for his film Courage (Germany, Belarus | 2021 | 90 min.), which was the opening film for this year’s festival. The jury praised the director of this film about the Belarus Free Theatre, which captures anti-government protests and the current situation in Belarus, for the courage that was needed both in front and behind the camera.
Václav Havel Jury
The Václav Havel Jury was charged with the task of choosing the winner from the documentaries included in the Right to Know Category by selecting the film that makes an exceptional contribution to the protection of human rights. This year’s jury comprised Génesis Dávila, who is the founder of the Defiende Venezuela organisation that fights for responsibility and justice for victims of political persecution, people who are arrested at random, and others who face attacks government-approved attacks, Kiryl Masheka, who is a Belarusian actor and activist as well as a member of the Belarus Free Theatre, Lian Ryan-Hume, who is the founder of Manara Resources, a non-profit organisation led by women, which operates at high levels and focuses on strengthening the position of Arab women in Israel.
The film selected as the winner in the Right to Know category is director Nanfu Wang’s documentary In The Same Breath (China, USA | 2021 | 95 min.). The film captures the course of the coronavirus crisis in China. Its director sent her colleagues out with cameras, to streets, hospitals, and cemeteries, subsequently comparing the resulting footage with Chinese television propaganda, which, rather than assuming responsibility for the situation, lied from the onset, played down the severity of the virus, and denied its consequences. The jury justified its decision as follows: “A number of human rights issues have surfaced in the documentary, from the right to know to the right to health and more. We see it as a thought-provoking film, allowing us, as the viewers, to reconsider the role of governments in promoting and protecting human rights, and the relationship between the government and its citizens in a post-COVID world.”
The Václav Havel Special Jury Prize was virtually received by director Celin Escher for the documentary Fly So Far (Sweden, El Salvador | 2020 | 90 min.). The jury said the following about this film that tracks the life path of Teodora Vásquez, who was accused by an El Salvadoran court of intentionally giving birth to a dead baby: “We would like to give a special mention to Fly So Far directed by Celina Escher – a story of real power and the struggle for human rights, specifically (but not only) of women. We were amazed by the inner strength and belief that justice exists. We want to draw attention to the fact that there is still terrible treatment of people in prisons in the 21st century. We paid attention to this film because we were able to empathize with the protagonists through their deeply personal stories of injustice. In the 21st century, we should be able to equalize justice regarding certain issues in every nation and move on.”
The Czech Competition is another of the festival’s traditional categories. The best Czech documentary is selected by a jury comprising representatives of international festivals. This year, they were the director of the Thessaloniki Film Festival and the Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Orestis Andreadakis, the programmer for the Docudays UA International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival (Kyiv) Darya Bassel, and the managing director of the French international documentary film festival FIPADOC Christine Camdessus.
The Main Award of the Czech Competition Jury went to director Viera Čákanyová’s White on White (Czech Republic, Slovakia | 2020 | 74 min). This video diary from Antarctica was made during the shooting of the director’s prize-winning film FREM. The jury praised the documentary as an original, innovative, and transgressive film, which not only makes a powerful statement about the environmental crisis but also reminds us of the unconditional beauty of this world and that each crisis is a crisis of consciousness.
The film chosen to receive the Special Jury Award is the documentary Housing Against Everyone (Czech Republic, Slovakia | 2021 | 89 min.), which explores one of the most burning issues of today – accessibility to housing. The jury particularly valued the film for documenting the struggle to change the system in an effort to improve the living conditions of Brno citizens.
Regional Jury Award
The regional jury comprises three representatives from the regional festivals. A jury member cannot be a member of the organisational team, but someone who is favourably disposed to the One World Festival and supports it. The winning film is added to the selection of documentaries included in the Get Your Audience! programme. This year’s jury members were: Dana Calábková, who works at the Olomouc Research Library where she organises the screening of films from the Get Your Audience! selection several times a year, Pavel Trčka, who has been organising Get Your Audience! screenings in the Wallachian region for ten years, and Barbora Bryksí Stunová, a university teacher who focuses on the impact that the foundry industry and industrial technologies have on the environment.
The jury was most impressed by the documentary Fly So Far (Sweden, El Salvador | 2020 | 90 min.). In its statement, the jury wrote: “The emotional storyline builds a compact tale of injustice with a prospect of positive outcome which is told against the background of amazing images, including people’s faces, the city or the Salvadoran countryside. Even in the 21st century, freedom and justice cannot be taken for granted and must be fought for.”
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