SHEFFIELD – Luke Lorentzen’s Midnight Family and Nikolaus Geyrhalter’s Earth took home top prizes at the 26th annual Sheffield Doc/Fest Awards.
The six-day UK festival handed out awards at a Tuesday evening (June 11) ceremony at Sheffield’s Netflix Cruciable Studio, hosted by writer and presenter Mark Thomas.
The 2019 edition of Doc/Fest saw an increacse in attendance by 1.30% from last year, with 3,489 industry delegates on the ground. Filmmakers, digital creatives and decision makers from 59 countries (up from 55 in 2018) attended the six-day festival; 54% of the film program was directed or co-directed by women.
“I am immensely proud that the majority of these stories were told by women, including 57% films in competition and 50% of Alternate Realities Projects,” said Melanie Iredale, interim director of the Sheffield Doc/Fest, in a statement. “Our winners tonight demonstrate internationalism and urgency; among them stories about healthcare, Aleppo, climate change and reproductive rights – as well as showing us the creative and technical possibilities of non-fiction filmmaking and digital art.”
Lorentzen’s Midnight Family (pictured), which held its world premiere at the 2019 Sundance Film Festival, took home the Grand Jury Award.
The 81-minute vérité film journeys to one of Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, where the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent care.
A jury statement read, “For the Grand Jury prize we would like to award a technically accomplished film that combines family drama with serious moral questions for the participants and viewers alike. A film that examines the corruption of individuals within a pernicious market system, and that acts as a timely warning to the dangers of privatised healthcare.”
Special mentions in the category went to Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ For Sama and Hassan Fazili’s Midnight Traveller.
Geyrhalter’s Earth, meanwhile, was feted with the inaugural International Award, which honors the best new international non-fiction film challenging global perspectives and bringing audiences to the heart of the story.
The 115-minute film, which debuted at the Berlin International Film Festival, observes people – in mines, quarries and at large construction sites – engaged in a constant struggle to take possession of the planet.
A special mention in the category went to Mother by Kristof Bilsen.
Taking home the Doc Audience Award, as voted for by the Doc/Fest audience, was Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ For Sama. The intimate 94-minute feature-length film chronicles the female experience of war by documenting the five-year journey of director al-Kateab as she navigates through love, marriage and motherhood during the revolution in Aleppo, Syria.
Find a full list of the Sheffield Doc/Fest awards below:
GRAND JURY AWARD
Winner: Midnight Family
Special Mention: A Woman Captured
Special Mention: Mother
DOC AUDIENCE AWARD
Winner: For Sama
TIM HETHERINGTON AWARD
Winner: One Child Nation
ART DOC AWARD
Winner: No Data Plan
NEW TALENT AWARD
Winner: About Love
YOUTH JURY AWARD
Special Mention: Jawline
SHORT DOC AWARD
ALTERNATE REALITIES JURY AWARDS
BEST DIGITAL EXPERIENCE AWARD
BEST DIGITAL NARRATIVE AWARD
Winner: Le Lac
ALTERNATIVE REALITIES AUDIENCE AWARD
Winner: Algorithmic Perfumery
THE WHICKER’S PITCH
Winner: Amanda Mustard’s All That Remains receives £80,000 to make her first feature-length documentary
Runner up: Anna Oliker’s AZ House receives a £15,000 contribution
BBC Northern Docs Pitch
Winner: Rebecca Southworth Ashley Turner
The Joseph Rowntree Foundation X Guardian Pitch
Winners: Edwin Mingard and Elizabeth Benjamin (Stoke Film)
Hazel Falck – United Voices of the World
The Channel 4 First Cut Pitch
Winner: Ashley Francis-Roy