Matthew Akers’ documentary Marina Abramović: The Artist is Present scooped the Special Jury Award at Sheffield Doc/Fest on Sunday (June 17), continuing a run of festival wins that saw it scooping the audience award doc prize at Berlin in February.
The film, which was recently sold by Dogwoof into France and Germany, follows the performance artist as she prepares for one of the greatest shows of her career – a landmark retrospective at New York’s MoMA. The film continues its run at Silverdocs in Washington DC this week.
Special Jury member Carol Morley said the doc “becomes a performance in itself and blurs the boundaries beyond performance, filmmaking and art, and questions ideas of authenticity that allow art to come alive whilst giving an insight into a world that is often closed.
“The jury considered it an intelligent and insightful portrait of a compelling, charismatic artist.”
The jury also gave a special mention to Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax-Wright’s Call Me Kuchu and Sean McAllister’s The Reluctant Revolutionary.
The win came as Sheffield Doc/Fest announced that next year’s 20th edition in 2013 will see the introduction a Tim Hetherington Award, presented by Dogwoof. The award is named for the Oscar-nominated documentarian (pictured above), who was killed in Libya last year.
The award will include a cash prize and be decided by a jury including Hetherington’s mother, Judith Hetherington.
In a statement, Dogwoof head of distribution Oli Harbottle said: “Tim’s legacy will forever define what we do at Dogwoof, and his approach will inspire filmmakers for generations to come,” while Doc/Fest programmer Hussain Currimbhoy added: “Sheffield Doc/Fest is the natural home for this award.
“Doc/Fest is where the British and international doc-making community gather every year, so it’s right that we honor one of Britain’s great documentary filmmakers in the program in this way.”
Of the remaining Doc/Fest award winners for this year, the Sheffield Green Award went to Michael Christoffersen’s Law of the Jungle, with a special mention given to Jon Shenk’s The Island President; while Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Inspiration Award, now in its third year, went to British filmmaker Penny Woolcock.
Doc/Fest chairman Alex Graham said Woolcock “combines a real empathy for her subjects and never underestimates the intelligence of the audience.”
Elsewhere, the Sheffield Youth Jury Award went to Ross McElwee’s Photographic Memory; with a special mention given to Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky’s Indie Game: The Movie.
The Sheffield Innovation Award, meanwhile, went to Leanne Allison and Jeremy Mendes’s 20-minute effort Bear 71, with a special mention given to Question Bridge: Black Males. The Student Doc Award was given to Karen Winther’s The Betrayal.
Finally, the inaugural EDA award for Best Female-Director, awarded by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ), was given to Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami’s doc Up The Stairs, which looks at a the life of a 50-year-old illiterate Iranian artist.
The winner of the Sheffield Doc/Fest Audience Award will be announced later today (June 18).