God Bless the Child wins CPH:DOX 2015
by Jorn Rossing Jensen
- Finnish title Return of the Atom takes the Nordic Prize
On a summer's day, four little boys and their 13-year-old sister are home alone, left in their Californian house by their depressive mother. What happens now that everything is allowed?
At the 13th CPH:DOX-Copenhagen International Documentary Film Festival, which ended on Sunday (15 November), the result depicted in US directors Robert Machoian and Rodrigo Ojeda-Beck’s God Bless the Child convinced the DOX:AWARD jury that it was worth the main festival prize of €5,000. “The film reveals a mastery of observational rigor and an uncanny willingness to expand the limits of the documentary form – it immediately inspired us to spread the film as far and wide as possible,” explained the jury.
Canadian director Mohammed Naqvi’s Among the Believers, co-directed by Hemal Trivedi, explores the spread of Pakistan’s radical Islamic school Red Mosque, which trains legions of children to devote their lives to the Jihad. It received the F:ACT Award for its intersection between documentary and investigative journalism, “for its ability to show us a country with a complex political situation and for unprecedented access to part of its educational system with far-reaching consequences”, argued the jury.
World-premiered at Toronto’s TIFF Docs, Finnish directors Mika Taanila and Jussi Eerola’s first feature-length documentary, Return of the Atom, was shot over eight years, following the building of the Olkiluoto 3 nuclear power plant in a small town of 6,000 inhabitants. “In turns sensitive, satirical, critical and bemused, taking a complex, rarely discussed topic and creating a serious but engaging, subtle and poised film,” said the jury, which gave it the NORDIC:DOX Prize for Best Nordic Documentary.
The NEW:VISION Award for boundary-pushing experiments between documentary and artistic vision was split between German artist-director Rosa Barba’s Bending to Earth and Lebanese artist-director Ali Cherri’s The Digger. Audiences voted UK director David Sington’s The Fear of 13 the winner of Politiken’s Audience Award, worth €3,400.
The €3,400 Reel Talent Award went to Danish director Elvira Lind, who showed her debut, Songs for Alexis, at last year’s festival, and who is now working on her second feature, Bobby Jene. “Lind has demonstrated that she is able to get close, to deal with sensitive matters in a gentle and respectful way, to build a story so that it comes out as an engaging drama that is much stronger than many fiction feature films,” said the jury.