Report Grand Jury Documentary 2021

Jury Members

  • Galia Bador
  • Sam Soko
  • Simon Kilmurry

Thanks to the festival team – Margje, Laura and Maarten and the entire team. This was a remarkably strong slate of films and we hope that all the films in the competition will be seen by wide audiences. We applaud and appreciate the work of all the filmmakers.

Winner Grand Jury Documentary Award

Watch Over Me – Farida Pacha

Impressive, deeply moving documentary about a Delhi palliative care team visiting terminally ill cancer patients at home. Counselor Maniamma, nurse Sini and doctor Reena help them make the time they have left as pain-free and dignified as possible, while preparing them and their family members for the inevitable end. Human compassion is a quality that can seem in short supply in our turbulent world. In this beautifully observed and profoundly intimate documentary, we enter the world of palliative care. The care team makes home visits to terminally ill patients of all social strata to ensure that the patients and their families receive the essential and deeply kind support they need as they face the end of life. The cinematic experience is audacious and respectful, allowing the audience to pay attention to the little things that exude empathy. For its deep humanity and compassion, for its mastery of observational cinema, we are honoured to present the Grand Jury Documentary Award to Watch Over Me by Farida Pacha.

Special mentions (in alphabetical order)

Dying to Divorce – Chloe Fairweather

More than one in three Turkish women have experienced domestic violence, and femicides are rising. Brave Turkish activists and lawyers fight for justice for the victims. But after the 2016 coup attempt, the government tightens its grip on society and their work is becoming increasingly dangerous. This shocking and powerful film exposes an epidemic of violence against women and femicide and that is set against the backdrop of an authoritarian regime that explicitly treats women as second class citizens. Despite the violence and ever-present threats, these brave women – the victims of brutal attacks and their lawyers alike – refuse to be silenced. Their fight and their demand for their full rights are at the heart of this brave and stirring documentary. We are honored to recognize Dying to Divorce by Chloe Fairweather with a Special Jury Mention.

Petite Fille – Sébastien Lifshitz

In a gorgeous and tender style, director Sébastien Lifshitz observes Sasha, a 7-year-old born in a boy’s body, who doesn’t feel like a boy at all. Sasha is a girl. Her parents do everything to make her childhood as happy as possible. But Sasha’s school resists seeing her as a girl. Beautiful and warm documentary about identity and acceptance. This tender and exquisitely crafted documentary is a story of family love. Seven-year-old Sasha, a young girl born in a boy’s body, faces societal judgements and prejudice at an unbearably young age when her life should be carefree. But with the unstinting love and support of her family, which is showcased in this remarkable film, Sasha embraces who she really is. For its artistry, sensitivity, and cinematic vision a Special Jury Mention goes to Petite Fille by Sébastian Lifshitz.

Other contenders (in alphabetical order)

A La Calle – Maxx Caicedo

Insightful documentary chronicling the massive Venezuelan protests of 2017. Powerful portrayal of the complexity of the situation, which is often overshadowed by other incidents in the news. The film would have benefitted from a greater focus on fewer characters to help give it a stronger focus.

Colombia in my Arms – Jenni Kivistö

This documentary exhibits stunning cinematography in every scene. It gives a clear and powerful overview of the situation in Colombia after the peace agreement between the government and the FARC guerrillas. While surely being a remarkable documentary, the choice of character can be quite overpowering: a smaller selection of rather “regular” people would have given more importance to the narrative.

Fly So Far – Celina Escher

A powerful documentary on a little known problem: women in El Salvador, convicted for having had a miscarriage. A “female” problem that reflects on the entire society, is portrayed with respect and through an incredible access to the prison. The proximity to amazing women, in particular to the protagonist, and their incredible stories allows empathy with them and their fight for justice. The documentary addressed a lot of elements but missed a clear structure, which combined, can be slightly overwhelming.

President – Camilla Nielsson

A terrific film with beautiful imagery and a smart approach to the 2018 presidential elections in Zimbabwe. President allows an incredible access to Chamisa and his campaign, revealing – even to an unfamiliar viewer – the powers at play in the country. The depth it reaches however is suited to a western audience only, not to the local population. It would have profited from a reduced running time.

Shadow Game – Eefje Blankevoort, Els van van Driel

Though the issue this film revolves around has been widely covered throughout the years, the approach of this documentary is as unique as remarkable. The choice of perspective – teenage boys fleeing the war – is eye-opening and heartbreaking with regards to Europe and its border policies. Still, the youngsters are never victimised, they are portrayed in their playful youth, or what is left of it within this dreadful journey. The choice of music, at times, did not leave freedom to the spectator to explore their own emotions. Furthermore, though on one side the amount of character emphasises the size of this problem, it also makes their individual stories hard to follow.