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ZINEBI 2021 Awards

Rock Bottom Riser heads home with the top prize at Zinebi after being named Best First Film

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- The documentary by US director Fern Silva was announced the winner of the international competition, part of the Official Section at the 63rd edition of the Bilbao festival

Rock Bottom Riser heads home with the top prize at Zinebi after being named Best First Film
The winners of this year's edition during the closing ceremony (© Zinebi)

On Friday 19 December, the international jury tasked with picking the winner of the ZIFF International Competition (ZINEBI first Film) announced its much-anticipated verdict. This year’s panel at the Zinebi International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Bilbao, now in its 63rd year, was formed by journalist, researcher and film critic Paula Arantzazu Ruiz, writer and program director Eva Sangiorgi and artist and filmmaker Helena Wittmann. The festival ran in hybrid format between 12 and 19 of November, with live screenings in cinemas across Bilbao and streamed on the online platform Filmin. This year’s winner was the hypnotic and evocative documentary Rock Bottom Riser, directed and produced by the USA’s Fern Silva.

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Also within the Official Section was the Short Film International Competition, its jury uniting director and producer Isabel Herguera, producer and lecturer Itandehui Jansen, filmmaker and actress Jone Laspiur, director, critic and program director James Lattimer and filmmaker Florencia de Mugica. Here, the coveted Zinebi Grand Award went to North Pole, directed by Marija Apcevska. The winning short is a coproduction between North Macedonia and Serbia, produced and distributed by Kino Oko. Meanwhile, Grand Award of Basque Cinema was presented to Mel Arranz’s animated short film Azaletik azalera (Skin to Skin), and the Grand Award of Spanish Cinema to Descartes: a fascinating documentary directed by Concha Barquero and Alejandro Alvarado.

The Mikeldi Award for Best Documentary Short Film was won by Some Kind of Intimacy by Toby Bull, coproduced by France and the UK. Polish short Crumbs of Life, directed by Katarzyna Miechowicz, took the Mikeldi for Best Animated Short Film, while the Mikeldi for Best Fiction Short Film was destined for Danish production Inherent, from Nicolai G.H. Johansen. Finally, the SGAE Foundation Best Basque Script Award was presented to Kinka, the work of Bilbao-native Maider Oleaga, and the Unicef Prize to Écoutez-Moi (Listen to Me), directed by Paula Armijo.

In parallel to the official competition, the festival was also celebrating the fourth edition of Zinebi Networking, a professional event for documentary filmmakers. Dokumentalen Sorgunea — an initiative spearheaded by the festival itself in partnership with the Basque Producers Association, EITB, Europa Creativa Media Desk Euskadi and Zineuskadi, took place over 16 and 17 November. The event featured seven full-length documentary projects, of which one was ultimately selected as the winner of the €10,0000 Zinebi Networking Prize. This year, that honour went to A los libros y a las mujeres canto by María Elorza, who hails from Vitoria. The film was produced in the Basque Country by Txintxua Films.

The full winners’ list:

Official Section - ZINEBI First Film International Competition

ZIFF Grand Award
Rock Bottom Riser – Fern Silva (USA)

ZIFF Special Mention
Faya Dayi – Jessica Beshir (Ethiopia/USA)

Official Section - Short Film International Competition

Zinebi Grand Award
North Pole – Marija Apcevska (North Macedonia/Serbia)

Grand Award of Basque Cinema
Azaletik azalera (Skin to Skin) – Mel Arranz (Euskadi)

Grand Award of Spanish Cinema
Descartes (Out-takes) – Concha Barquero and Alejandro Alvarado (Spain)

Mikeldi Award for Best Fiction Short Film
Inherent – Nicolai G. H. Johansen (Denmark)

Mikeldi Award for Best Animated Short Film
Crumbs of Life – Katarzyna Miechowicz (Poland)

Mikeldi Award for Best Documentary Short Film
Some Kind of Intimacy – Toby Bull (United Kingdom/France)

Other Awards

ZIFF Youth Jury Award (UPV/EHU)
Los fundadores – Diego Hernández (Mexico)

SGAE Foundation Best Basque Script Award – Consejo de Euskadi
Kinka – Maider Oleaga (Spain)

Unicef Award
Écoutez-Moi (Listen to Me) - Paula Armijo (Spain)

Zinebi Networking: Fourth Professional Forum for Documentary Filmmakers, Dokumentalen Sorgunea

Zinebi Networking Award - Dokumentalen Sorgunea
A los libros y a las mujeres canto - María Elorza (Spain)

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(Translated from Spanish by Ruth Grant)

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