Armenia’s submission to the Oscars, animated feature “Aurora’s Sunrise,” took home the top Jury Award for best documentary at the MiradasDoc Festival, Spain’s foremost documentary film festival, which wrapped its 16th edition on Feb 4.
The festival closed on a strong note, reaffirming its relevance where interest in and demand for documentaries have only grown in strength, thanks largely to wider exposure and distribution on streamers.
Directed by Inna Sahakyan, the Armenian-German-Lithuanian co-production tells the true harrowing tale of Aurora, a survivor of the 1915 Armenian genocide who lost her family, fled slavery and later endured the grinding publicity machine of Hollywood. Doc had its world premiere at Annecy 2022.
Announcing their choice, the jury made up of Hicham Falah, Jane Mote and Ricardo Acosta, described “Aurora’s Sunrise” as “a convincing story elegantly told, through archives, animation and fiction, about a little-known genocide that sheds light and awareness on today’s political tensions and challenges.”
Morocco’s “Fragments from Heaven” by Adnane Baraka, which follows a nomad and a scientist as they traverse the Moroccan desert in search for meteorites, snagged the best first film award. Jury members Alejandro Salgado, Mariana Barassi and Yvette de los Santos cited the film’s “courage to take on a project that speaks of the past, the present and the future in a spiritual timelessness, in which religion and science are part of a whole.”
The best Spanish documentary award went to “La mala familia” by Nacho A. Villar and Luis Rojo, which chronicles the reunion of a group of friends, after one of them is released from jail. The aforementioned jury praised the docu “for creating a collective portrait of current masculine fragility, showing a defiant youth through different narratives in an unprejudiced and dynamic way.”
The Audience Award went to another Spanish doc, “Inshallah” by Paula Bilbao, which tells the story of the migrants who fled Africa to end up detained for months at the Las Raíces refugee camp in Tenerife, Canary Islands.
Meanwhile, the MiradasDoc Market celebrated its first in-person edition after two years as an online-only event.
Said MiradasDoc Market head Valentín Romero: “We are very satisfied with this year’s in-person edition because in the end we had a large number of decision makers attending. We held more than 300 industry meetings in two days, with media that had not been with us until now, such as BBC Storyville and The New York Times with Op-Docs. They were keen to find projects that tap the special connection we have here in the Canary Islands with Africa and with Latin America.”
Romero added that MiradasDic had “strengthened the presence of prestigious funds,” with the first in-person attendance of Hot Docs, IDFA and IDA heads.
“This year, the laboratories that are set up here weeks before, the Pitches, Afrolatam, DocSur and Anidocs, have grown in strength because the online experience has been extended and here in situ, which optimized the quality of the presentations of the pitchers and of the projects themselves,” he added.
The Jury made up of Inti Cordera (DocsMX), Markus Nikel (RAI), Nathalie Giboire Labid (GAD Distribución), Theresa Hill (Afridocs) and Melanie de Vocht (IDFA Bertha Fund) gave the most coveted Premio MiradasDoc Desarrollo award to “Millionaire” by José and Felipe Isla, a documentary about a humble farmer who wins the lottery but inadvertently destroys the winning ticket. Together with his friends and family, he sets out on a long, arduous odyssey to reclaim his prize.
The 16th MiradasDoc ran Jan. 27-Feb. 4.
XVI MIRADASDOC WINNERS
Best International Feature Award
“Aurora’s Sunrise,” (Inna Sahakyan, Armenia, Germany, Lithuania)
Best International Feature, Special Mention
“Where Do You Go With Your Dreams?,” (KasperKiertzner, Denmark)
Best First Feature
“Fragments from Heaven,” (Adnane Baraka, Morocco)
Best Short Film
“Camino de Lava,” (Gretel Marin, Cuba)
Best Spanish Film
“La mala familia” (Nacho A. Villar y Luis Rojo, Spain)
Best Spanish Film, Special Mention
“Hafreiat,”(Alex Sardà, Spain)
“Inshallah” (Paula Bilbao, Spain)
MIRADASDOC MARKET PRIZES
Miradasdoc Development Award
“Millionaire” (José y Felipe Isla, Chile)
“Lugar seguro” (Magdalena Hurtado and Milena Castro, Chile)
Durban Film Market Prize
“Djeliya, Memoire du Mandingue,” (Boubacar Sangaré, Burkina Faso, Ivory Coast, Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Mali and Senegal)
“Boy,” (Michel Carvalho, Brazil)
“Boy,” (Michel Carvalho, Brazil)
“Casas Muertas,” (Rosana Matecki, Venezuela)