Award winners Movies that Matter Festival 2023

Grand Jury Documentary Award

Theatre of Violence by Lukasz Konopa and Emil Langballe. 

 The jury, comprising Anita Khanna, Rintu Thomas and Ben Fowlie awarded Theatre of Violence with the Grand Jury Documentary Award. The film offers an intriguing insight into the guilt of Dominic Ongwen, who is accused by the International Criminal Court of crimes that were also done to him as a child. 

From the jury report: “Complicated and complex, this dramatic film balances two worlds to deliver a visually cinematic and thought-provoking examination of the definition of justice. Through difficult and necessary questions, the film builds a balanced case, forcing the viewer to confront their own interpretation of what it means to be both victim and perpetrator.” 

Director Negin Ahmadi receives a Special Mention from the jury for the documentary Dream’s Gate. The documentary about the female Kurdish militia YPJ, offers a unique perspective on the destruction of war and the courage and perseverance of these women.  

Read the complete jury report here

The Grand Jury Documentary Award is made possible by HUMAN. 


Grand Jury Fiction Award

Dalva by Emmanuelle Nicot

The jury for this award consists of Louise Rosen, Nafiss Nia and Sabri Saad el Hamus. Dalva is a powerful debut about a young girl who, despite her father’s abuse, wants nothing more than to return to him. Dalva will be released on 4 May by Gusto Entertainment. 

From the jury report: “In the end, we chose a film that exudes the highest form of cinema in every way with a combination of exceptional craftsmanship and extraordinary creative expression. The film deals with a subject so dark and taboo that it is rarely discussed. This film does so with an astute script, nuanced direction and unforgettable acting. The cinematography is exceptionally compelling; we felt we were living every moment.” 

Director Maryam Touzani receives a Special Mention from the jury for the film The Blue Caftan. This delicate feature shows a caring relationship between Halim and Mina, in which they have a tacit understanding about Halim’s homosexuality. The Blue Caftan was released by Cinéart. 

Read the complete jury report here

Activist Documentary Award

Seven Winters in Tehran by Steffi Niederzoll 

The jury for this award consists of Alex Pritz, Anna Ramskogler-Witt, Dewi van de Weerd, Martijn Herrmann and Peter Mudamba. The Activist Award goes to director Steffi Niederzoll for her documentary Seven Winters in Tehran: an inspiring portrait of the brave Iranian Reyhaneh Jabbari, who was sentenced to death for killing the man who threatened to rape her. 

From the jury report: “The Activist Documentary Award goes to a film that left the jury speechless and deeply moved. This film tells a devastating story of great global importance, and moves us because of its fight for humanity and justice. Despite the lack of tangible material and extremely difficult production conditions, the filmmakers managed to create an immersive experience that allowed us to be immersed in the story and the characters were brought to life.” 

Directors Joseph Curran and Dominic Aubrey de Vere receive a Special Mention from the jury for the documentary A Story of Bones. A revealing documentary about the discovery of mass graves of enslaved people on the island of St Helena, where the legacy of colonialism proves intractable. 

Read the complete jury report here

The Activist programme is made possible by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the National Postcode Lottery. 

Camera Justitia Award 

Twice Colonised by Lin Alluna 

The Camera Justitia jury consists of president Ingrid van Engelshoven and jury members Jumana Al-Yasiri, Kujtim Çashku, Sushmit Ghosh and Larissa van den Herik. The jury awarded the Award for best film about law and justice to director Lin Alluna for Twice Colonised: a story about renowned Inuit lawyer Aaju Peter, who has spent her life fighting for the rights of her people. 

From the jury report: “The winning film convincingly demonstrates the importance of giving people a voice in decision-making, the importance of considering multiple perspectives and recognising the multiple identities we all have. The film confronts us with the fact that history determines the present and the future, and shows that everyone has to find their own way of dealing with it.” 

Director Inna Sahakyan receives a Special Mention from the jury for her animated film Aurora’s Sunrise: an epic reconstruction of the story of Aurora Mardiganian and the Armenian genocide.  

Read the complete jury report here

Camera Justitia is co-sponsored by the Municipality of The Hague and vfonds. 


Dutch Movies Matter Award

Mijn grote broer (My big brother) by Mercedes Stalenhoef 

Mijn grote broer (My Big Brother) by director Mercedes Stalenhoef has been awarded the Dutch Movies Matter Award by jury members Ivette Forster, Florencia Santucho, Marion Schmidt and Sergi Doladé, and jury chairman Ahmet Polat. The documentary intimately shows how family members cope with the loss of a loved one. Mijn grote broer will be released by Mokum Film on 13 April. 

From the jury report: “The filmmaker seems to be part of the family, and the emotions shown in the film are genuine. The film emphasises the importance of mental health and the grieving process. Stalenhoef portrays each family member’s struggle in a delicate way, and it helps the audience understand the character even though he is no longer there. The film is so unique but also very universal and touches something in us that we feel is urgent.”  

Director Reber Dosky receives a Special Mention from the jury for the documentary Daughters of the Sun, about a group of Yezidi women who were used as sex slaves by Islamic State. Daughters of the Sun will be released by Mokum Film on 30 March. 

Read the complete report here

Dutch Movies Matter is co-sponsored by VEVAM, copyright organisation for directors. 

Students’ Choice Award

The Kings of the World by Laura Mora Ortega 

The film The Kings of the World was awarded the Students’ Choice Award (in collaboration with Leiden University). The film takes you on a road trip of five street boys in Medellín. 

From the jury report: “The winner of the Students’ Choice Award 2023 is a raw, hard-hitting and unique film. The film contains a lot of intensity and is a very authentic story about current issues such as youth unemployment, violence and poverty. The film’s cinematography complements the story it is trying to convey. The Kings of the World is a wonderful road movie.” 

Read the complete report here

Shorts Award

Haulout by Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev  

The Shorts Award jury consists of Charlie Philips, José Miguel Beltrán and Olga Lucovnicova. Evgenia Arbugaeva and Maxim Arbugaev’s feature film Haulout was awarded the Shorts Award. The short film follows a scientist in the Russian Arctic facing the consequences of climate change. 

From the jury report, “The award-winning film takes us to a remote corner at the end of the world, where we witness an amazing and unexpected event. The design of the film – especially the cinematography – blurs the boundaries between fantasy and reality. At the end of this journey, we are confronted with the consequences of the impending climate catastrophe.” 

Director Élodie Dermange’s receives a Special Mention from the jury for her short film Armat in which a young Swiss woman tries to find out more about her Armenian roots. 

Read the complete report here

 Audience Award

Aurora’s Sunrise by Inna Sahakyan

During the festival, visitors indicate how they rate the film via voting cards after a film screening. The final score will determine which filmmaker receives the Movies that Matter Audience Award. Voting was possible until 31 March.

The Movies that Matter Audience Award 2023 is supported by the ASN Bank.