The Look of Silence takes the top prize at CPH:DOX
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Four days after its Indonesian premiere, Joshua Oppenheimer’s Danish documentary is awarded at the Copenhagen festival
“We honour this work of art that, above all else, manages to break the silence,” said the jury as it handed the main DOX:Award of the CPH:DOX – Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival to US director Joshua Oppenheimer’s The Look of Silence [+see also:
film profile] – the “companion piece” to his Oscar-nominated The Act of Killing [+see also:
film profile], about the 1965-1966 Indonesian Genocide.
The awards ceremony at Copenhagen's Hotel d'Angleterre took place on Friday (14 November) – four days after the film was released in Jakarta’s largest cinema by Indonesia’s National Human Rights Commission; in contrast, 2012's The Act of Killing was premiered in the utmost secrecy. “This film is an act of research, digging into recent but clouded history, a philosophical meditation on memory and crime,” argued the jury about the Danish production by Signe Byrge Sørensen, for Final Cut for Real.
Danish director Lea Glob and her Brazilian colleague Petra Costa’s Olmo & the Seagull [+see also:
film profile] received the NORDIC:DOX Award for “finding a specific cinematic language to reflect upon the difficulties of juggling family and career,” according to the jury. Produced by Denmark’s Zentropa Entertainments and Brazil’s Busca Vida Filmes/O Som e a Fúria, the film portrays a young couple, Olivia and Serge, at a turning point in their private and professional lives, as they discover Olivia is pregnant.
The Dent – Egyptian artist Basim Magdy’s “imaginative and surreal tale of an unknown city dreaming of being the host of the Olympic Games” – collected the NEW:VISION Award. “A film of striking lyricism, whose brief glimpses of beauty remind us of an august tradition in experimental filmmaking, while it confidently affirms its own cinematic language,” the jurors concluded.
US directors Katy Chevigny and Ross Kauffman’s The E-Team follows members of Human Rights Watch as they investigate violations of civil rights – from Syria to Libya, with flashbacks to Kosovo. “An honest picture of the humanitarian organisation's role in the political power game; it tries to boil down the message to what the essence of their work is: to offer hope.”
Screening more than 200 films from over 60 countries, including visiting US director-producer Laura Poitras’ Citizenfour [+see also:
film profile], about US whistleblower Edward Snowden, the 2014 CPH:DOX shared its Reel Talent Award between Danish directors Lea Glob (Olmo & the Seagull) and Camilla Nielsson (Democrats). The Politiken's Audience Award went to Canadian director Grant Baldwin’s Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story.