The 20th edition of Sheffield Doc/Fest drew to a close with its awards ceremony, presented by Jeremy Hardy. The seven awards for 2013 were: Inspiration Award; Special Jury Award, Sheffield Innovation Award, Sheffield Green Award, Sheffield Youth Jury Award, Sheffield Student Doc Award, the first ever Sheffield Short Doc Award and The Tim Hetherington Award presented by Dogwoof and Doc/Fest.
Previously announced, Sheffield Doc/Fest’s Inspiration Award, now in its fourth year, went to BBC Storyille Editor Nick Fraser. Producer Simon Chinn said, “I can’t think of anyone more deserving of an award for inspiration than Nick Fraser. He has inspired me more than anyone I can think of to make documentaries, to believe documentaries can be the highest form of storytelling, and to be ambitious with them.” In accepting the award, Fraser said, “Docs – the great ones, I mean, but also docs in small pieces – have the ability to tell us things we don’t know. They’re also, in their own way, truthful. And they can have their own worldly beauty. Of course they must be worldly, coming from what we see, but the greatest docs are oddly innocent, too – as if they and we who watch them are seeing things for the first time”.
The Special Jury Award was awarded to The Act of Killing (Dir. Joshua Oppenheimer, Den/Nor/UK 2012, 158mins). A special mention went to Mothers (Xu Huijing, China 2013, 68mins)
The Sheffield Youth Jury Award went to God Loves Uganda (Dir. Roger Ross Williams, US 2013, 83mins). Youth jury spokesperson Curtis Holland said, “In 2013, kids are activists and revolutions are being started via social media. We had a long talk about what we young people think makes a good documentary and we decided that it is simply telling a good story and telling it well. There was one film that ticked all of these boxes. Delivering an important message, with humour, tact and humanity, one film stood out from the crowd. That film was, without a shadow of doubt, God Loves Uganda.
The Sheffield Innovation Award was awarded to Alma, a Tale of Violence, (Dirs: Miquel Dewever-Plana & Isabelle Fougère / Fr, 2012, 40 mins). Anna Higgs, spokesperson for the Innovation Jury said, “We’re at a really interesting time in understanding storytelling. We are beyond supporting innovation for the sake of innovation, it’s about recognising what audiences are doing and making work that builds on, and stretches that. We need to build sustainable models for digital storytelling. The work we liked developed techniques that other storytellers can learn from and use in their work. So for this reason we give the Innovation Jury award to Alma: A Tale of Violence.”
The Sheffield Green Award is awarded to Pandora’s Promise, (Dir. Robert Stone, USA 2012, 87 mins) with a special mention to Fuck For Forest (Dir. Michał Marczak, Germany 2012, 90mins) . Jury spokespeople, Charlotte Cook & Rajendra Roy said, “If you believe fundamentally in the dangers of nuclear power [the winning film] encourages you to interrogate that view. Applying techniques more commonly found in left-wing polemic to a seemingly contradictory view, Pandora’s Promise is a great piece of filmmaking. It left us with questions and a desire to explore the issues more.”
The Student Doc Award was awarded to Boys (Dir. Marc Williamson, 2013 UK, 42 mins)
The Sheffield Short Doc Award went to Slomo (Dir. Josh Izenberg, US 2013 16 mins). Spokesperson for the Short Doc, Kate Trancard, said, “The Smalls is an online community of over 7,500 short filmmakers. We are delighted to be a partner of this year’s Sheffield Doc/Fest. We really believe in short-form filmmaking as a unique medium to tell a small story with big ideas. For us, this year’s winning short doc was exactly that.”
The new Tim Hetherington Award, presented by Dogwoof and Doc/Fest, is a new award that celebrates the life and legacy of photojournalist and humanitarian Tim Hetherington, whose objectives as a filmmaker were to highlight the plight of people so often ignored by the world and mainstream media. A cash-prize of £1,000 was presented to the film in the festival that best reflected Tim Hetherington’s legacy. The film was selected by a jury incluing Tim Hetherington’s mother Judith, and representatives from Doc/Fest and Dogwoof, the UK distributor of Tim’s Oscar-winning Restrepo. The Tim Hetherington Award was given to The Square (Al Midan) (Dir. Jehane Noujaim, Egypt/United States 2012, 90mins).
The EDA Award for Best Female-Director, awarded by the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, went to Rafae Solar Mama (Dirs. Mona Eldaief, Jehane Noujaim/ Jord/USA/Den/India, 76 mins). The jury included movieScope’s editor, Nikki Baugham.
For the second year, the EDA Best Female-Directed award included a special award for outstanding achievement that was presented to Doc/Fest director Heather Croall. In receiving the award Heather said, “This week so many filmmakers have told me that their film first found traction at Sheffield Doc/Fest – either in MeetMarket, or as a germ of an idea at an informal conversation, or because they won one of the pitch competitions. Filmmakers often tell me their screenings at Sheffield lead to sales or new opportunities. Some have told me Sheffield changed their life! It is incredibly gratifying to me to know that Sheffield nurtures talent and makes a difference for filmmakers, not just during the festival but throughout the year. Thank you so much for this award, I like to see it as being for the Sheffield team as a whole.”
The Sheffield Doc/Fest Audience Award will be announced Tuesday 18 June.