And the winners of the 23rd edition of WATCH DOCS. Human Rights in Film are...
The winning film of the 23rd edition of WATCH DOCS IFF is "20 Days in Mariupol" directed by Mstyslav Chernov.
"We have unanimously decided to award a film that offers important testimony on the massacre that Russia committed in Mariupol, which is one of the 21st century’s worst war crimes. A film that is a true tool for fighting injustice and demonstrates the power of images. A testimony that shows that Russia murdered civilians, a charge which they routinely and basely deny. We decided to award a film that is masterfully crafted and goes far beyond regular journalism. A film that is a collective effort of the filmmakers with all protagonists ─ doctors, soldiers, policemen, and other citizens ─ to bring this testimony to the world"
Special mention in the Main Competition goes to Motherland by Hanna Badziaka and Alexandr Mihalkovich: "The landscapes of Belarus serve as a poignant canvas for the film’s cinematography, reflecting the enduring resilience of its people against the shadows of conflict and the quest for peace. Through the lens of war and the brutality of violence, this film shows how young men are forced to enter a life they did not choose. The jury has chosen to hand out a Special Mention to the film Motherland by Hanna Badziaka and Alexander Mihalkovich".
The Green Dog Award goes to Lonely Oaks by Fabiana Fragale, Kilian Kuhlendahl and Jens Muehlhoff.
"We are honoring a film that encapsulates the essence of journalism as it tells a story about entering into a closed and reclusive community, and provides a comprehensive and nuanced depiction of the complex motives, choices and dilemmas faced by a group of activists living in the Hambach Forest; a film that asks questions about the limits of involvement and the bounds of a community; a film where the natural environment is a starting point to examine human nature, depicting the forest as the potential site of an autonomous society founded on the will to oppose all exploitation of the natural world; a film that is deeply moving and which doesn't provide easy answers but instead leaves us with questions and doubts; a film that doesn't shy away from difficult issues, including the use of violence as a strategy by activists motivated by lofty ideals and fighting for change; a meta-documentary that makes excellent use of narrative to pay tribute to someone who takes up the challenge of telling the story and ends up paying the highest price".
The Special Mention in the Green Dog Competition goes to This is Our Everything dir. Frederik Subei: "We are awarding a special mention to a film about an indigenous community's relationship to the world around them, about the power of that community, and the resolve with which they are trying to defend their environment. For them, the forest is a buffer zone and a barrier; without it, they would not be able to survive. The director has managed to capture the protective feelings of one community for another: even though the two groups do not know much about each other, they are still part of the same complex ecosystem."