The 19th Geneva’s International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) has wrapped its first digital edition with the announcement of its winners. Running from 5 to 14 March, the event gathered nearly 45,000 people who watched the films, debates and various content available online. “While we regret not having been able to open this Festival to a physical audience, some of the experiments carried out this year will be perpetuated. We must pay tribute to the FIFDH team, which has been able to adapt to many challenges with increased energy,” mentioned general director Isabelle Gattiker.
Starting with the Creative Documentary Competition, the jury headed by Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov, and featuring Lamia Maria Abillama, Yulia Mahr, and Arnaud Robert, bestowed the Grand Prize of Geneva valued at CHF 10,000 – offered by the city and state of Geneva – upon Shadow Game by Eefje Blankevoort and Els Van Driel. The jury’s statement mentions that the film “deals with a crucial issue in modern time: young migrants alone on their road, trying to cross boundaries and as they say: ‘playing their game’. With the use of videos and social media material produced by the teenagers themselves, it has innovative filmmaking, and it is pushing cinematic boundaries in many ways.”
Shadow Game also picked the Youth Jury Prize, as it “brings to our attention the fact that we need not look far to find human rights’ violations. This confrontation makes it necessary to take greater responsibility at the sight of this injustice and to abandon the often-stereotypical image of migrants,” the jury stated.
The CHF 5,000 Gilda Vieira de Mello Prize in tribute to her son Sergio Vieira de Mello, went to Downstream to Kinshasa [+] by Dieudo Hamadi for its “powerful and brave character-orientated filmmaking, about reparations for forgotten communities who endured atrocities (the Six-Day War in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2000). This film is haunting and shows such a rage of the protagonists seeking justice and reparations.” Once Upon a Time in Venezuela [+] by Anabel Rodríguez Ríos received a Special Mention by the jury as the director “approaches the protagonists in a very crude and yet subtle way, showing brilliantly the inextricable relation between industrial pollution, political and electoral constraints as well as citizens’ welfare.”
In the Fiction Competition, the Grand Prize Fiction and Human Rights, valued at CHF 10,000 and offered by the Hélène and Victor Barbour Foundation, went to Veins of the World [+] by Byambasuren Davaa as it “points beyond itself, towards a formless totality, a shared human experience often forgotten and instantly remembered where the beauty and pain of a profoundly essential human longing is unearthed and laid bare,” according to the jury presided by American filmmaker Danielle Lessovitz, with Santiago Amigorena, Laïla Marrakchi and Philippe Cottier. The film also won the Youth Jury Prize.
The Special Mention went to Should the Wind Drop [+] by Nora Martirosyan, “an important film, especially in the current context where borders are moving and closing and where it is difficult to travel.”
Finally, in the Grand Reportage Competition, the CHF 5,000 Prize of OMCT (World Organisation Against Torture), went to Coded Bias by Shalini Kantayya which, according to the jury, “powerfully depicts the threats that artificial intelligence poses to our liberties, including by hardwiring into algorithms racist and sexist biases.” The Public Award went to Dear Future Children [+] by Franz Böhm, which received CHF 5,000 from the FIFDH.
This post was originally published on Hans Thoolen on Human Rights Defenders and their awards.