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'Taste Of Cement' wins top prize at Visions du Réel in Nyon

The Gaze of the Sea, School Life, Stars of Gaomeigu also winners at Swiss fetsival.

Ziad Kalthoum’s second feature documentary Taste of Cement was awarded the CHF 20,000 Sesterce d’Or for the Best Feature-Length Film in the International Competition at the 48th edition of Visions du Réel in Switzerland’s Nyon.

According to the jury of filmmakers Joelle Bertosa, Lluis Minarro and Sergio Oksman, the film about Syrian construction workers building a skyscraper in Beirut uses expressed “the human capacity to create beauty, but also to destroy everything”.

The production by Germany’s BASIS BERLIN Filmproduktion with partners from Lebanon, Syria, UAE and Qatar is being handled internationally by the Canadian sales company Syndicado who had acquired the film ahead of its world premiere in Nyon.

The feature film in the International Competition went to Mexican filmmaker Jose Álvarez’s The Gaze of the Sea, about a journey to mourn the deaths of a group of fishermen who disappeared without trace in the Gulf of Mexico.

Other awards included the Memoire Vive Jury Prize for the most innovative short film went to Serbian filmmaker Marko Grba Singh’s Stars of Gaomeigu; the Sesterce d’Argent Prize in the Regard Neuf sidebar to Martin DiCicco’s debut All That Passes Through A Window That Doesn’t Open, and the Audience Award for the best film in the Grand Angle section to Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane’s School Life about Ireland’s only boarding school for children aged 7 to 12, which is handled internationally by Magnolia Pictures.

A complete line-up of the prize-winners in the festival’s various sections can be found HERE.

International Market awards

The festival’s parallel industry section, Doc Outlook - International Market (DOCM), also presented a number of awards.

The Prix Vision Sud Est is given annually to the best project from Visions du Réel focus country, and in 2017, the spotlight was put on documentary filmmakers from South Africa, with a 30-strong delegation visiting Nyon for the festival and market.

Announcing the award to Teboho Edkins for Days of Cannibalism, Locarno Film Festival’s artistic director Carlo Chatrian said that the selection of projects had been “inspiring” and the winning project had surprised the jury by the strength of its images. “While it is deeply anchored in the South African reality, it opens up another perspective on the issues that small businesses have to face in the 21st century,” the jury declared.

Meanwhile, the projects presented at this year’s Pitching du Réel were in the running for two prizes - the HEAD-Genève Postproduction Award and the newly created Audience Engagement Award.

Spanish-born director Eloy Dominguez Seren’s Hamada shared the prize of postproduction services with veteran French filmmaker Claire Simon’s new project The Village.

In addition, Hamada is the first recipient of the award to the project offering the greatest potential to engage audiences through online activities.

The unusual portrait of group of young people living in a refugee camp in a corner of the Sahara reunites the director with the Swedish production company Momento Film who have already brought Heino Deckert of Germany’s Ma.Ja.De onboard as a co-producer.

Final festival

This year’s edition of Visions du Réel was the last one under the aegis of artistic director Luciano Barisone who had indicated in 2010 when he was approached to head up the documentary festival that he would only do this for seven editions.

Barisone kept his word and his successor, Emilie Bujès, who has been a member of the selection committee since 2012, will take up her post this August to prepare the 49th edition (13-21 April, 2018).

¨Throughout these seven years, Luciano Barisone has constantly insisted on the high ethical and qualitative requirements that should preside over the selection of films,¨ the festival’s executive president Claude Ruey observed. ¨(He) also has a passion for sharing. This teacher who became a festival director has indeed always been willing to meet others, the other, in particular young people, whether they are from film school, secondary or high school; he is always passionate about encounters and sharing.

Read more:
Visions du Réel round-up: deals for ‘Taste Of Cement’, ‘The Village’

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