Documentaries from Latin America were the big winners at this year’s Visions du Réel (April 25-May 3) in Switzerland’s Nyon.

The Sesterce d’Or for best feature length film in the international competition was awarded to Mexican filmmaker Hatuey Viveros Lavielle’s n, which also received a special mention from the interreligious jury.

The international jury of UK producer Simon Field, German director Nicolas Humbert and French philosopher Marie-José Mondzain said that it appreciated the “patient perspective” of “this extremely sensitive film [which] explores the relation between emancipation and tradition, proximity and separation at the heart of an indigenous family.”

Paraguay’s Arami Ullón received the Sesterce d’Argent prize in the Regard Neufs competition and a special mention from the C-Side Prize jury for his debut El Tiempo Nublado.

The Chilean MAFI collective picked up the George Foundation Jury award for the most innovative medium-length film for Propaganda, about the presidential election campaign of autumn 2013, while the Young Audience Jury Award in the First Steps sidebar went to Leni Huyghe’s Brazilian-Belgian short film essay PS Sao Paulo.

Other awards included the Régionyon Jury prize for the most innovative feature film to Romanian filmmaker n the Interreligious Jury Prize to the German-Polish co-production Domino Effect by Elwira Niewira and Piotr Rosolowski, and the Audience Award for the collective project Cinetrain: Russian Winter by 20 young filmmakers from 15 countries as far apart as Germany, the UK, Switzerland, India and Italy.

Visions Sud Est Prize to Tunisia

For the second year running, ‘Visions Sud Est’ prize was awarded to a project submitted by filmmakers from this year’s Focus region, Tunisia.

The jury of Marc Maeder, head of programming at the Fribourg International Film Festival, Walter Ruggle, director of Swiss distributor Trigon-Film, and Ananda Scepka, the new head of Locarno’s Open Doors section, was impressed by the quality of the five entries. The panel was unanimous in its choice of Sarra Labidi’s The Factory And Me, about life in Labidi’s home town of Gabes in Tunisia’s South in the aftermath of the 2011 revolution.

Swiss successes

Five of the evening’s prizes went to productions coming from Switzerland, ranging from ThuleTuvalu by Matthias von Gunten and Je Suis FEMEN by Alain Margot, through Michele Fornasero’s political satire smoKings (handled internationally by Deckert Distribution) to Arami Ullón’s El Tiempo Nublado and Mehran Tamadon’s Iranian.

Distribution focus at Doc Outlook - International Market

Apart from its pitching and works-in-progress fora, Nyon’s industry strand Doc Outlook – International Market (DOCM) focused on strategies for distributing feature documentaries in a collaboration with Europe Distribution for the second year running.

Three distributors of Joshua Oppenheimer’s multi-award-winning The Act Of Killing – the UK’s Dogwoof, France’s ZED and The Netherlands’ Cinema Delicatessen – gave detailed insights into how the film performed in their respective territories, while the innovative strategies developed to release I Am Breathing were described by Ben Kempas of the Scottish Documentary Institute.

A closed workshop attended by  European distribution outfits Rapid Eye Movies, Camino Film, Peccadillo Pictures, Nonstop Entertainment, Aerofilms, Soda Pictures, Cineworx and Tour de Force exchanged notes on the distribution of titles and discussed new forms of marketing to reach and develop audiences for their films.

As organisers reported at the weekend, this year’s edition of the festival – a double anniversary celebrating 45 years of the Nyon International Film Festival and 20 years of Visions du Réel – posted record attendance with a 17% increase in admissions over 2013 to 33,000.


British Focus at Krakow doc festival

Julien Temple’s London – The Modern Babylon, about the highly topical issue of immigration in Great Britain, will open the ‘Focus On Great Britain’ sidebar at this year’s Krakow Film Festival (May 25-June 1) following previous country showcases from Israel, The Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland.

Other documentaries programmed in this section are:

* Sam Benstead’s tragicomic Coach Zoran And His African Tigers, about the charismatic Serbian coach Zoran Vlastimir Djordjevic’s attempts to organise a national football team in South Sudan;

* Nick Read’s The Condemned, about a Russian penal colony for murderers;

* Dick Fontaine’s Sonny Rollins Beyond The Notes, recording a concert on the occasion of the legendary saxophone player’s 80th birthday and looking back on his life; and

* Emma Davie and Morag McKinnon’s BAFTA Scotland award-winner I Am Breathing, which follows the last months in the life of a young man suffering from motor neurone disease.

In addition, Krakow will have several British films in its short documentary competition as well as works from the NFTS in the Night Of Student Etudes programme. An industry conference will explore the potential for co-production between Polish and British film-makers.

DOK Leipzig gets Oscar approval

DOK Leipzig (October 27-November 2) has been recognised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (AMPAS) as one of 13 festivals outside the US designated as an Academy qualifying festival in the short documentary subject category.

Starting this autumn, the Golden Dove-winning film in Leipzig’s International Short Documentary Competition will qualify for the Academy’s short documentary subject category without the standard theatrical run, provided that the film otherwise complies with the AMPAS rules.

Normalisation wins Slovak national award and Crossing Europe honour

Robert Kirchhoff’s documentary Normalisation, a behind-the-scenes look at the longest case in Czech judicial history, was named best documentary at last week’s The Sun In A Net Awards by the Slovak Film & Television Academy and earned a special mention from the jury for Crossing Europe Social Awareness Award for European documentaries.

In addition, the FEDEORA Award for European Documentaries was presented in Linz to France’s Claire Simon for Human Geography.

Photo credit: Miguel Bueno