Jacqui Morris and David Morris’ documentary Attacking The Devil: Harold Evans and the Last Nazi War Crime (pictured), on the former Sunday Times editor, took home the Special Jury Prize at Sheffield Doc/Fest on Thursday (June 12).
The film – which follows the journalist’s enduring campaign against Second World War drug Thalidomide - was called “an elegant examination of complex themes” by jury member and director Dawn Porter.
“We appreciated his film on all levels,” said Porter. “It is a work approached with relevance and rigor, a historical film that feels contemporary and engaging, blossoms like a novel, and is surprising when least expected, epic in its scope, traversing decades and exploring big themes while revealing intimate details.”
The jury also gave an honorable mention to Andre Singer’s Night Will Fall, on Alfred Hitchcock’s unfinished film on the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp following the Second World War.
Meanwhile, the inaugural Peter Wintonick Award for activist filmmaking – presented in honor of the Canadian documentarian who died last November – went to Diana Whitten’s Vessel, which documents a sea-borne abortion clinic.
Presenting the award, producer Martin Rosenbaum read a message from Wintonick’s daughter Mira who said she was very happy to see the award go to “a filmmaker who embodies his activist spirit.”
Elsewhere, the Sheffield Innovation Award – which recognizes cutting-edge storytelling techniques – went to Katerina Cizek’s interactive doc A Short History of the Highrise, which explores the 2,500-year history of vertical living. The Sheffield Youth Jury Award, presented by a six-member group of young doc lovers, was given to Brian Knappenberger’s The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz.
The Sheffield Green Award for films tackling environmental issues went to Jolynn Minnaar’s Unearthed, whose doc explores the fracking industry in the U.S., while the Student Doc Award was given to Tomasz Sliwinski’s Our Curse, whose doc profiles a young couple whose newborn suffers from Ondine’s Curse, or congenital central hypoventilation syndrome.
In addition, veteran filmmaker Ondi Timoner’s Amanda F***ing Palmer on the Rocks - on the punk-cabaret icon – took home the Short Award.
The second annual Tim Hetherington Award, named after the Oscar-nominated photojournalist and director who was killed in Libya in 2012, was presented to Profession: Documentarist from Shirin Barghnavard, Firouzeh Khosrovani, Farhnaz Sharifi, Mina Keshavarz, Sepideh Abtahi, Sahar Salahshoor and Nahid Rezaei.
The doc follows seven female Iranian documentary makers who take viewers into their personal and professional worlds, where their freedoms are severely restricted.
Finally, the festival’s Inspiration Award was given to filmmaker Laura Poitras, who dedicated her prize to Edward Snowden, Glenn Greenwald, Jacob Appelbaum, William Binney, Julian Assange and Sarah Harrison, and the Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Films of Record exec Roger Graef.