Culture Representation: Taking place in Afghanistan, Denmark, Russia, Estonia and Sweden, the animated documentary “Flee” features a group of Middle Eastern people and white European people (in animated form) representing the working-class and middle-class.
Culture Clash: A real-life Afghan man, who happens to be gay and living in Denmark, tells the harrowing story of what he and his family have experienced as refugees.
Culture Audience: “Flee” will appeal primarily to people who are interested in unconventional and emotionally impactful movies about the Afghan refugee crisis.
There have been many documentaries and news reports about the devastating traumas experienced by Afghan refugees and other people affected by war and political unrest in Afghanistan. But “Flee” is perhaps one of the most unforgettable and emotionally moving accounts that someone can see in a movie. At first glance, it might seem that telling this story in the format of an animated movie might lessen the impact, but it does not. In many ways, it increases the impact because animation can do things that actors and real-life locations cannot do in a recreation. Animation can add visuals to enhance the tone and meaning of the storytelling.
“Flee” (directed by Jonas Poher Rasmussen) uses a real-life audio interview of a Syrian refugee named Amin Nawabi (which is an alias) telling his life story, and the movie recreates what he says through animation. Based on what he says in the interview, Nawabi was born in the early 1980s. He did not want to appear on camera for the documentary, and he did not want to use his real name, out of lingering fear that he and his family members would be targeted for persecution. And so, Rasmussen suggested that the story be told through animation.
“Flee” had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival, where it won the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize. The movie also made the rounds at several other international film festivals, including the Toronto International Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and DOC NYC. “Flee” has gotten overwhelmingly positive responses at every film festival where it has been. It’s the type of movie that audiences will most likely discover through recommendations, rather than through a flashy marketing campaign.
At the time of the documentary interviews for “Flee,” Nawabi (who is openly gay) was living in Demark’s capital city of Copenhagen and was engaged to marry his Danish boyfriend Kasper, who is occasionally heard in parts of the movie. Nawabi and Kasper were also looking for a new place to live in Copenhagen. The movie includes Nawabi’s account of his “coming out” journey as a gay man in environments where homophobia is rampant and often sanctioned by the government.
Rasmussen has known Nawabi since they were teenagers who went to the same high school. They met when Rasmussen was 15, and Nawabi was living in a foster home in “my sleepy Danish hometown,” according the Rasmussen’s director’s statement in the production notes for “Flee.” Rasmussen can be heard asking some questions in “Flee” during the interview process.
The rest of the voices in the movie are actors portraying the people who are talked about in Nawabi’s narration. Other names have been changed to protect people’s privacy and identities. All of this is explained in the beginning of the movie, so that audiences know that although the names have been changed, and actors are providing most of the voices, it’s a true story based on a real person’s narrative account.
“Flee” begins with Rasmussen asking Nawabi: “What does ‘home’ mean to you?” Nawabi answers, “Home? It’s someplace safe. Somewhere you know you can stay, and you don’t have to move on. It’s not someplace temporary.” It’s that feeling of permanent safety that Nawabi says he has been seeking for most of his life so far.
Nawabi begins by talking about his earliest childhood memories when he was living in Kabul, Afghanistan. He describes being the youngest child in his family and being raised by a loving and attentive mother. His older siblings are brothers Saif and Abbas and sisters Fahima and Sabia. Amin remembers that, as early as 3 or 4 years old, he would wear his sisters’ nightgowns in public. “I think I always had a tendency to be a little bit different,” Amin says.
In “Flee,” the voice actors that portray the family members are Daniel Karimyar (the voice of Amin, ages 9 to 11); Fardin Mijdzadeh (the voice of Amin, ages 15 to 18); Milad Eskandari (the voice of Saif, at age 8); Elaha Faiz (the voice of Fahima, ages 13 to 18); Zahra Mehrwaz (the voice of Fahima, at age 28); and Sadia Faiz (the voice of Sabia, ages 16 to 26). Many of the voice actors in the cast are listed as “Anonymous” in the end credits. It’s probably an indication that they also fear retribution for being involved in telling this story.
Amin’s father Akhtar Nawabi was a pilot, but he died tragically. He was killed because he was considered to be a threat to the Communist government, according to Amin. He also says that his mother told him that Ahktar was one of 3,000 people who were rounded up in a day raid and imprisoned. Most of the people didn’t make it out alive from their imprisonment.
According to what Amin’s mother told him, Akhtar was expecting this raid. Akhtar’s family was able to visit him in jail. But then, three months later, he disappeared and was never seen alive again. The family’s life was never the same. And things continued to get worse for them.
“Flee” intersperses the animation with occasional real-life archival footage of news events going on during the times that are described by Amin in his story, which is told in chronological order. There’s disturbing footage of the Taliban invading villages in Afghanistan. There’s also footage of then-Afghanistan president Mohamad Najibullah saying that Afghanistan could be the U.S.’s next Vietnam if the U.S. chooses to interfere in the conflict. (Najibullah was assassinated in 1996.)
Under all of this chaos and strife, Amin and his mother were forced to separate from the rest of the family, and they both fled to Moscow together in the early 1990s. The rest of Amin’s story is a painful and horrifying account of long family separations; living in poverty; and being detained, shunned or incarcerated for being refugees. Amin also details Abbas’ struggles to earn enough money to pay for human traffickers to smuggle family members over certain borders, with the hope of having everyone reunited. Fahima and Sabia experienced nightmarish abuse from evil and corrupt human traffickers.
The Nawabi family’s journey separates them and takes them down different paths in various countries, such as Russia, Estonia, Sweden and Denmark. There’s a part of the story where Amin confesses that in order to get through certain national borders, he had to lie and say that all of his immediate family members are dead. He fears that this lie will come back to haunt him and might affect his current immigration status.
Although this story is told primarily in an animation format, there’s no mistaking the real rollercoaster of emotions that can be heard in Amin’s voice when he tells the story. The wonderfully expressive animation also conveys the emotions of the characters. The voice actors also do an admirable job in their roles.
At times, the interview setting is recreated, as Amin is shown being so overwhelmed when telling his story, he has to lie down on a carpet at some point, just like a therapy patient lying down on a couch during a therapy session. Because make no mistake: The interview does start to be like a therapy session, with a lot of raw emotions and excruciating memories.
Although there’s so much sadness in Amin’s personal story, there is also some joy. His experiences with coming out as gay weren’t easy, but he describes finding acceptance about his sexuality in some unexpected places. Amin says he knew he was gay since he was about 5 or 6 years old. One of his earliest celebrity crushes was actor Jean-Claude Van Damme.
One of the funniest parts of the movie is how Amin describes his family’s surprising reaction when he told them that he’s gay. He also talks about what it was like to live in a country for the first time where he didn’t have to worry about being arrested for being gay. And, of course, Amin finding true love with Kasper is an indication that this documentary is not completely depressing.
Like all relationships, there are some challenges in Amin and Kasper’s romance. During the making of this documentary, Amin (who is highly educated) was invited by a Princeton University professor to complete Amin’s post-doctoral studies at Princeton. Therefore, Amin and Kasper had to have a long-distance relationship for a while. It took a toll on their romance, and it tested the strength of their commitment to each other.
“Flee” is not the most technically dazzling animated movie you’ll ever see. The movie is not a fun-filled adventure, like most animated films are. However, “Flee” is one of the best animated films you’ll ever see, because the true story behind it is so powerfully moving, it will have an impact on you that you will never forget.
Neon released “Flee” in select U.S. cinemas on December 3, 2021.
With four prizes, including Best Feature, the Netflix drama film “The Lost Daughter” was the top winner for the 31st annual Gotham Awards (formerly known as the IFP Gotham Awards), which were presented November 29, 2021, at Cipriani Wall Street in New York City. The Gotham Awards are produced by the Gotham Film & Media Institute, formerly known as the Independent Filmmaker Project. As of 2020, the Gotham Awards added categories for television programs.
“The Lost Daughter” won the Gotham Awards for Best Feature, Bingham Ray Breathrough DIrector Award (for Maggie Gyllenhaal); Best Screenplay (for Gyllenhaal); and Best Leading Performance (for Oliva Colman), an award that was also given in a tie to Frankie Faison of “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain.”
Other multiple winners included the Apple TV+ comedy/drama film “CODA,” which won two Gotham Awards: Outstanding Supporting Performance (for Troy Kotsur) and Breakthrough Performance (for Emilia Jones).
In the TV categories, the winners were Netflix’s “Squid Game” (Outstanding Series – Long Form); FX’s “Reservations Dogs,” (Outstanding Series – Short Form); and Topic/PBS’s “Philly D.A.” (Breakthrough Nonfiction Series). There was a two-way tie in the category of Outstanding Performance in a New Series: Ethan Hawke of Showtime’s “The Good Lord Bird” and Thuso Mbedu for Amazon Prime Video’s “The Underground Railroad.”
For the first time, the Gotham Awards eliminated gender-based prizes for performances. These gender-neutral categories for performances have been expanded to have up to 10 nominations per category, instead of five nominations for actor categories and five nominations for actress categories.
These are the new Gotham Awards categories for movies: Outstanding Lead Performance, Outstanding Supporting Performance and Breakthrough Performer. In addition, there are two new Gotham Awards categories for TV: Outstanding Performance in a New Series and Breakthrough Nonfiction Series.
In non-competitive award categories, the honorees are announced in advance. They are Kristen Stewart (Performer Tribute); Eamonn Bowles (Industry Tribute); the cast of “The Harder They Fall” (Ensemble Tribute); and Jane Campion (Director’s Tribute).
Here is the complete list of winners and nominees for the 2021 Gotham Awards:
“The Green Knight” David Lowery, director; Toby Halbrooks, James M. Johnston, David Lowery, Tim Headington, Theresa Steele Page, producers (A24)
“The Lost Daughter”* Maggie Gyllenhaal, director; Osnat Handelsman Keren, Talia Kleinhendler, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Charles Dorfman, producers (Netflix)
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, director; Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent, David Dinerstein, producers (Searchlight Pictures, Onyx Collective, Hulu)
Best International Feature
“Azor” Andreas Fontana, director; Eugenia Mumenthaler, David Epiney, producers (MUBI)
“Drive My Car”* Ryusuke Hamaguchi, director; Teruhisa Yamamoto, producer (Sideshow and Janus Films)
“The Souvenir Part II” Joanna Hogg, director; Ed Guiney, Emma Norton, Andrew Low, Joanna Hogg, Luke Schiller, producers (A24)
“Titane” Julia Ducournau, director; Jean-Christophe Reymond, producer (NEON)
“What Do We See When We Look at the Sky?” Alexandre Koberidze, director; Mariam Shatberashvili, producers (MUBI)
“The Worst Person in the World” Joachim Trier, director; Thomas Robsham, Andrea Berentsen Ottmar, Dyveke Bjørkly Graver, producers (NEON)
Bingham Ray Breakthrough Director Award
Maggie Gyllenhaal for “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)* Edson Oda for “Nine Days” (Sony Pictures Classics) Rebecca Hall for “Passing” (Netflix) Emma Seligman for “Shiva Baby” (Utopia Distribution) Shatara Michelle Ford for “Test Pattern” (Kino Lorber)
Best Screenplay “The Card Counter,” Paul Schrader (Focus Features) “El Planeta,” Amalia Ulman (Utopia Distribution) “The Green Knight,” David Lowery (A24) “The Lost Daughter,” Maggie Gyllenhaal (Netflix)* “Passing,” Rebecca Hall (Netflix) “Red Rocket,” Sean Baker & Chris Bergoch (A24)
Outstanding Lead Performance
Olivia Colman in “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix)* (tie) Frankie Faison in “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain” (Gravitas Ventures)* (tie) Michael Greyeyes in “Wild Indian” (Vertical Entertainment) Brittany S. Hall in “Test Pattern” (Kino Lorber) Oscar Isaac in “The Card Counter” (Focus Features) Taylour Paige in “Zola” (A24) Joaquin Phoenix in “C’mon C’mon” (A24) Simon Rex in “Red Rocket” (A24) Lili Taylor in “Paper Spiders” (Entertainment Squad) Tessa Thompson in “Passing” (Netflix)
Outstanding Supporting Performance
Reed Birney in “Mass” (Bleecker Street) Jessie Buckley in “The Lost Daughter” (Netflix) Colman Domingo in “Zola” (A24) Gaby Hoffmann in “C’mon C’mon” (A24) Troy Kotsur in “CODA” (Apple TV+)* Marlee Matlin in “CODA” (Apple TV+) Ruth Negga in “Passing” (Netflix)
Emilia Jones in “CODA” (Apple TV+)* Natalie Morales in “Language Lessons” (Shout! Studios) Rachel Sennott in “Shiva Baby” (Utopia Distribution) Suzanna Son in “Red Rocket” (A24) Amalia Ulman in “El Planeta” (Utopia Distribution)
Breakthrough Series – Long Format (over 40 minutes)
“The Good Lord Bird,” Ethan Hawke, Mark Richard, creators; James McBride, Brian Taylor, Ryan Hawke, Ethan Hawke, Jason Blum, Albert Hughes, Mark Richard, Marshall Persinger, David Schiff, executive producers (Showtime)
“It’s a Sin,” Russell T Davies, creator; Russell T Davies, Peter Hoar, Nicola Shindler, executive producers (HBO Max)
“Small Axe,” Steve McQueen, creator; Tracey Scoffield, David Tanner, Steve McQueen, executive producers (Amazon Studios)
“Squid Game,” Kim Ji-yeon, Hwang Dong-hyu, executive producers (Netflix)*
“The Underground Railroad,” Barry Jenkins, Colson Whitehead, creators; Barry Jenkins, Adele Romanski, Mark Ceryak, Brad Pitt, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Colson Whitehead, Jacqueline Hoyt, executive producers (Amazon Studios)
“The White Lotus,” Mike White, creator; Mike White, David Bernad, Nick Hall, executive producers (HBO Max/HBO)
Breakthrough Series – Short Format (under 40 minutes)
“Blindspotting,” Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs, creators; Rafael Casal, Daveed Diggs, Jess Wu Calder, Keith Calder, Ken Lee, Tim Palen, Emily Gerson Saines, Seith Mann, executive producers (STARZ)
“Hacks,” Lucia Aniello, Paul W. Downs, Jen Statsky, creators; Jen Statsky, Paul W. Downs, Lucia Aniello, Michael Schur, David Miner, Morgan Sackett, executive producers (HBO Max/HBO)
“Run the World,” Leigh Davenport, creator; Yvette Lee Bowser, Leigh Davenport, Nastaran Dibai, executive producers (STARZ)
“We Are Lady Parts,” Nida Manzoor, creator, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Surian Fletcher-Jones, Mark Freeland, executive producers (Peacock)
Breakthrough Nonfiction Series
“City So Real,” Jeff Skoll, Diane Weyermann, Alex Kotlowitz, Gordon Quinn, Betsy Steinberg, Jolene Pinder, executive producers (National Geographic)
“Exterminate All the Brutes,” Raoul Peck, Rémi Grellety, executive producers (HBO/HBO Max)
“How to With John Wilson,” John Wilson, creator; Nathan Fielder, John Wilson, Michael Koman, Clark Reinking, executive producers (HBO/HBO Max)
“Philly D.A.,” Ted Passon, Yoni Brook, Nicole Salazar, creators; Dawn Porter, Sally Jo Fifer, Lois Vossen, Ryan Chanatry, Gena Konstantinakos, Jeff Seelbach, Patty Quillin, executive producers (Topic, Independent Lens, PBS)*
“Pride,” Christine Vachon, Sydney Foos, Danny Gabai, Kama Kaina, Stacy Scripter, Alex Stapleton (FX)
Outstanding Performance in a New Series
Jennifer Coolidge in “The White Lotus” (HBO Max/HBO) Michael Greyeyes in “Rutherford Falls” (Peacock) Ethan Hawke in “The Good Lord Bird” (Showtime)* Devery Jacobs in “Reservation Dogs” (FX) Lee Jung-jae in “Squid Game” (Netflix) Thuso Mbedu in “The Underground Railroad” (Amazon Studios)* Jean Smart in “Hacks” (HBO Max/HBO) Omar Sy in “Lupin” (Netflix) Anya Taylor-Joy in “The Queen’s Gambit” (Netflix) Anjana Vasan in “We Are Lady Parts” (Peacock)
DOC NYC, America’s largest documentary festival, revealed the 2021 award winners for its juried U.S. Competition, International Competition, Metropolis, Kaleidoscope, Shorts, Short List: Features, and Short List: Shorts sections. Winners of the inaugural IF/Then Shorts x Redford Center Nature Access Pitch competition were also announced. A complete list below.
The in-person portion of the festival’s hybrid 12th edition continues through November 18 with screenings and panels at New York’s IFC Center and Cinépolis Chelsea, along with a special closing night presentation of The First Wave at The Beacon Theatre. DOC NYC’s online screenings run through November 28, with some 100 features available to stream across the United States, including almost all the award winners. Select winners also have in-theater screenings during the festival’s final two days in person in New York.
Online DOC NYC Live conversations, presented on Facebook Live, will take place on November 22 with the filmmakers from the Short List: Shorts section, and on November 23 with talent behind the films in the festival’s Short List: Features section. For a full schedule of films and events, see www.docnyc.net. Ticket and pass information is below.
For DOC NYC’s competitive sections, five juries selected films from the festival’s new U.S. Competition, International Competition, and Kaleidoscope sections, as well as its long-running Metropolis and Shorts lineups, to recognize for their outstanding achievements in form and content. The Short List: Features program—a selection of nonfiction films that the festival’s programming team considers to be among the year’s strongest contenders for Oscars and other awards—vied for awards in four categories: Directing, Producing, Cinematography, and Editing, with a Directing prize also awarded in the Short List: Shorts section. The Short List awards were voted on by two juries of filmmaker peers.
Winners of the 2021 Grand Jury Prize in the U.S., International, Kaleidoscope, Metropolis, and Shorts competitions will each receive a deliverables package provided by PostWorks New York.
Voting for the festival’s Audience Award continues through November 18; the winner of the award will be announced on November 19.
U.S. Competition: The jury selected from among twelve new American nonfiction films in this section. Remaining screening: Wednesday, November 17 at 9:40pm at Cinépolis Chelsea.
Grand Jury Prize: Once Upon a Time in Uganda, directed by Cathryne Czubek, co-directed by Hugo Perez, and produced by Gigi Dement, Cathryne Czubek, Matt Porwoll, Hugo Perez, and Kyaligamba Ark Martin.
Juror’s statement: “We choose Once Upon a Time in Uganda for illustrating the transformative capacity of film to bridge cultures and change lives. We are inspired by the charming, original method the filmmakers took in documenting the creative joy of Wakaliwood, a community that relies on ingenuity and imagination to overcome the economic obstacles of global audiovisual production; and we appreciate how Once Upon a Time in Uganda demonstrates the connective power of international film festivals in asserting that ‘the audience is our family.'”
Special Mention: Refuge, directed/produced by Erin Berhardt and Din Blankenship.
Jurors’ statement: “We give an honorable mention to Refuge for addressing one of the U.S.’s most urgent problems — the lack of civil dialogue, or any dialogue, between our warring cultural factions.”
Jurors: Jaie Laplante (Executive Director, Miami Film Festival); Amy Nicholson, filmmaker; Valerie Torres (Director of Theatrical Sales and Exhibitor Relations, Shout! Factory)
Films featured in the U.S. Competition section: Anonymous Sister, Be Our Guest, Boycott, Exposure, Grandpa Was an Emperor, Newtok, Objects, Once Upon a Time in Uganda, Refuge, The Slow Hustle, A Tree of Life, United States vs. Reality Winner.
International Competition: The jury selected from among twelve new international productions in this section.
Grand Jury Prize: On the Other Side, directed by Iván Guarnizo, produced by Jorge Caballero.
Jurors’ statement: “With its exquisite directorial vision and restraint, On the Other Side deeply affected us, the jury. The film is testament to a courageous, emotional, and deeply personal endeavor by filmmaker Iván Guarnizo, elegantly bypassing the heavy handed tropes of trauma and violence to instead craft a work of art that is poetic and profound. In a world increasingly polarized, where constant battlelines are being drawn, the nuances of this film’s journey and care towards its participants show us the power and hope of redemption, forgiveness, and humanity.”
Special Mention: After the Rain, directed by Jian Fan, produced by Richard Liang, S. Leo Chiang.
Jurors’ statement: “We would also like to recognize After the Rain by Jian Fan, a standout among a strong group of international contenders. The jury appreciated the dedication to the story over a decade and the steady, observational lens of the filmmaking team to craft a deeply intimate and haunting film.”
Jurors: Samara Chadwick (Executive Director, The Flaherty); Aseem Chhabra (Festival Director, New York Indian Film Festival); Bao Nguyen, filmmaker.
Films featured in the International Competition section: After the Rain, Be My Voice, Comala, The Bubble, Come Back Anytime, The Devil’s Drivers, [email protected] This Job, The Forgotten Ones, Go Through the Dark, The Mole, On The Other Side, Young Plato.
Kaleidoscope: The jury selected from among seven films in this section, which showcases essayistic and formally adventurous documentaries.
Grand Jury Prize: Nude at Heart, directed by Yoichiro Okutani, produced by Asako Fujioka, Eric Nyari
Juror’s statement: “The jury awards its top prize to a film of risky and decisive filmmaking, a film that documents with confidence an insular world, and builds an intelligent, purposeful distance between the filmmaker and the characters. This is a film that trusts its own images to lead us into a complex world and community of work and collective support—a film that doesn’t moralize, sexualize, or objectify its subjects, but instead models a careful gaze, offers a subtle entry into a fascinating universe, and gives space and presence to its inhabitants.”
Special Mention: Nothing But the Sun, directed by Arami Ullón, produced by Pascal Trächslin
Juror’s statement: “The jury would also like to award a Special Mention to a film that provides a gateway to a diverse and complex history, and helps to salvage and give a form to a common memory. This is a choral film, one full of speaking that prioritizes the collective, rather than an individual voice, and explores the fragility of media in preserving oral histories, encounters, emotions, and the residue of trauma.”
Jurors: Daniela Alatorre, producer; Cíntia Gill (Festival Director, formerly of Sheffield DocFest, Doc Lisboa), Leo Goldsmith (The New School)
Films featured in the Kaleidoscope section: Cow, Edna, Invisible Demons, Nothing But the Sun, Nude at Heart, The Man Who Paints Water Drops, Three Minutes: A Lengthening.
Metropolis: The jury selected from among seven films in this section, which is dedicated to stories about New Yorkers and New York City.
Grand Jury Prize: Hold Your Fire, directed by Stefan Forbes and produced by Tia Wou, Fab Five Freddy, and Amir Soltani.
Jurors’ statement: “The filmmaker elegantly and impactfully uses the past to illuminate the social and political issues that are still critical to consider today. The black and white archival footage comes colorfully to life with masterfully edited sequences and music that pull you into the moment. The interviews highlight their emotionally conflicted responses and challenge us to consider the differing points of view. In this contemporary contemplation of violence and race relations in our culture, we are left to consider the possibility of redemption and hope.”
Special Mention: Charm Circle, directed and produced by Nira Burstein and produced by Betsy Laikin.
Available online through Sunday, November 28.
Jurors’ statement: “The honesty and bravery of the filmmaker are powerfully felt in approaching the subject of family dysfunction in a candid and uncensored way. With strong character development, the narrative patiently/lovingly unfolds with moments of humor and creativity to build compassion for a family’s hopes and dreams as well as a profound sense of loss.”
Jurors: Beth B, filmmaker; Denise Greene (Director of Programs, Black Public Media); Lucila Moctezuma (Program Director, Chicken & Egg Pictures).
Films featured in the Metropolis section: Charm Circle, End of the Line, Hold Your Fire, Mimaroğlu: The Robinson of Manhattan Island, Mr. Saturday Night, The Photograph, The Reverend.
Shorts Competition: All new short films playing at the festival were eligible for the Shorts Grand Jury Prize, with the exception of DOC NYC U showcases and Short List: Shorts selections.
Shorts Grand Jury Prize: NASIR, directed by Nasir Bailey and Jackson Kroopf and produced by Jackson Kroopf.
Jurors’ statement: “For its lucid and lyrical portrait of an artist as a young man, the 2021 DOC NYC Shorts Grand Jury Prize is presented to Nasir Bailey and Jackson Kroopf’s exquisitely crafted NASIR. The film finds its soulful subject in a state of transition, proudly granting the audience permission to witness his slow, steady, hard-won glow up. Energized by the subject’s effortless charisma and potent musical gifts, the film emerges as a deeply human study of self-actualization and personal evolution. Intimately assembled with an eye for luminous, delicate imagery and direction, the film unfurls with a quiet confidence, flowing elegantly between moments of pathos and poetry—ultimately standing tall as a beacon of transmasculine resilience and joy.”
Special Mention: American Scar, directed and produced by Daniel Lombroso, and produced by Yara Bishara, Melissa Fajardo, Stephania Taladrid.
Jurors’ statement: “American Scar turns a well-mined, seemingly completed Trump-era story into a compelling call-to-action by creatively cataloging the environmental impact of the abandoned US-Mexico border wall. Startling images capture the destruction caused by humanity’s hubris and serve as a harbinger of things to come. The film presents a stark reminder of the devastating impact of human action on the natural world and offers a rousing and immediate call for change.”
The 2021 winning Short film qualifies for consideration in the Documentary Short Subject category of the Annual Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run (provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules).
Jurors: Faridah Gbadamosi (Artistic Director, Outfest); Robin Robinson (festival programmer, True/False); Robert John Torres (festival programmer, Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival).
Short List: Features: DOC NYC’s Short List for Features puts the spotlight on 15 documentaries representing the best of the year.
Directing Award: In the Same Breath, directed by Nanfu Wang
Jurors’ statement: “Nanfu Wang cracks open the story of the global COVID-19 pandemic using an incredibly personal and political lens to reveal China’s propaganda machine — and America’s. The jury celebrates Wang’s unwavering, skillful and persistent command of the documentary craft that it takes to make such a complex and emotional film.”
Producing Award: Flee, produced by Monica Hellström, Signe Byrge Sørensen, Charlotte De La Gournerie.
Jurors’ statement: “Among the many strengths of Flee, the jury recognizes the enormous task of producing the film. Whether securing funding for expensive animation, fostering groundbreaking creativity, or managing an intricate post-production phase, the producing team’s critical role made Flee the vital, touching, artistic achievement it is.”
Editing Award: Ascension, edited by Jessica Kingdon
Jurors’ statement: “Ascension never stops surprising, despite its leisurely pacing and seemingly straightforward construction. The jury applauds Jessica Kingdon’s patient and astute editing that weaves striking imagery of China’s gaping social divides into a poetic reflection on — and quiet critique of — consumption and capitalism.”
Cinematography Award: Faya Dayi, cinematography by Jessica Beshir
Jurors’ statement: “Jessica Bashir’s cinematography in Faya Dayi is both an aesthetic and spiritual achievement. Bashir has a bare awareness that holds wisdom, her visual translation so elevated it feels as if operating from the subconscious. The cinematography in Faya Dayi reminded the jury how much we can learn from simply watching.”
Special Jury Prize for Cultural Treasures: Summer of Soul (… Or When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), directed by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, produced by Joseph Patel, Robert Fyvolent, David Dinerstein
Jurors’ statement: “For its directorial vision, fantastic editing, and overall funky beats that weave history and culture into the colorful fabric of one summer festival in Harlem, the jury awards a Special Jury Prize for Cultural Treasures to Summer of Soul. If we could, the jury would travel back in time to release this film 50 years ago so it would have informed our collective memory. Instead, we hope this award will encourage audiences to imagine the collective history we should have had.”
Short List: Shorts: DOC NYC’s Short List for Shorts highlights 12 documentary shorts that the festival’s programming team considers the year’s leading awards contenders.
Directing Award: Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma, directed by rubberband, Topaz Jones, produced by Luigi Rossi
Jurors’ statement: “For its innovative structure and immediacy, we selected Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma as our winner. The playful editing combined rich visuals, moving personal archival material, and thought-provoking interviews to give audiences a full sense of the filmmaker and his community. The storytelling successfully nails both personal experience and political history.”
Special Jury Mention: The Queen of Basketball, directed by Ben Proudfoot, produced by Elizabeth Brooke, Abby Lynn Kang Davis, Gabriel Berk Godoi, Brandon Somerhalder, Sarah Stewart
Jurors’ statement: “We also chose to recognize The Queen of Basketball with a Special Mention. Viewers fall in love with Lusia because the filmmakers deftly convey her deep strength and fragility at the outset. We are immersed in the experience of a pathfinding woman athlete whose remarkable career was cut short by the racial and gender barriers of her time. Bringing the film full circle to the next generation – a little girl shooting hoops in Lusia’s driveway – opens this storytelling to the future.” Jurors: Mirra Bank, filmmaker; Kirstine Barfod, producer; Alison Klayman, filmmaker.
IF/Then Shorts x The Redford Center Nature Access Pitch:The Redford Center and IF/Then Shorts announced Between Earth and Sky as the winner of the inaugural IF/Then Shorts x The Redford Center Nature Access Pitch event at DOC NYC, celebrating stories that spotlight the benefits of time spent outdoors.
Between Earth and Sky, directed by Andrew Nadkarni and pitched by Nadkarni and producer Swetha Regunathan, will receive a $25,000 production grant and a year of wraparound mentorship from IF/Then Shorts. Also selected as honorable mentions by the jury of the Nature Access Pitch were Fruit of Soil and Makana o ke Mele (Gift of Song), each of which will receive a $5,000 grant and distribution consultation from IF/Then Shorts. Upon their completion, all three films will be featured as part of The Redford Center’s Nature Films Program.
After announcing the winning films live at DOC NYC Festival, Jill Tidman, Executive Director of The Redford Center shared, “This day reminded me that there’s so much vital work taking place that most people don’t know about. Amazing individuals and communities are working to solve the problems of nature access, and their stories are just incredible. I am so inspired and honored to have these new documentaries as part of The Redford Center family of films. We are going to support them, in many ways, to make sure their work is shared with the world. I couldn’t be happier with the outcome of this inaugural Nature Access Pitch, our partnership with IF/Then Shorts, and the platform of DOC NYC.”
TICKETS AND PASSES:
Festival tickets and passes may be purchased at docnyc.net/tickets-and-passes or at venue box offices. Online tickets and passes are available for purchase online only.
In-person Screenings: $19 General Admission/$17 Seniors & Children/$16 IFC Center Members, unless otherwise noted.
All screenings in the Short List: Features, Short List: Shorts, Winner’s Circle and DOC NYC U sections, as well as all Monday-Friday screenings starting before 5:00pm: $12 General Admission/$10 IFC Center members
$12 General Public/$9 IFC Center Members
Passes and Ticket Packs:
Online Film Pass $250
Grants access to all the films screening on the festival’s virtual platform, November 10-28.
Five-Ticket Package for Online Screenings $45
Ten-Ticket Package for Online Screenings $80
A package of 5 or 10 online tickets at a special discount price.
The festival is made possible by:
Leading Media Partners: New York Magazine; The WNET Group
Major Sponsors: A&E; Apple Original Films; Netflix; WarnerMedia
Supporting Sponsors: discovery+, National Geographic Documentary Films; SHOWTIME® Documentary Films
Signature Sponsors: Amazon Studios; Bloomberg Philanthropies; Cquence; Hulu; National Geographic; NBC News Studios; NYC Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment; Participant; PostWorks; Sony; XTR
Signature Media Partners: IndieWire; The New Republic; WNYC
Event Sponsors: 30 for 30 / ESPN Films; Cinépolis Luxury Cinemas; Consulate General of Canada in New York; Cowan, DeBaets, Abrahams & Sheppard LLP; Fox Rothschild LLP; Frankfurt Kurnit Klein & Selz PC; IF/Then Shorts; Impact Partners; JustFilms | Ford Foundation; MTV Documentary Films; Reavis Page Jump LLP; SVA’s MFA Social Documentary Film; The Redford Center; TIME Studios; Wheelhouse Creative
Friends of the Festival: Agile Ticketing; Cinesend; Essentia, Ptex; Shiftboard; Telefilm Canada
DOC NYC is produced and presented by IFC Center, a division of AMC Networks.
Complete DOC NYC program information can be found at: www.docnyc.net
To inquire about sponsor or partnership opportunities for DOC NYC, please contact Raphaela Neihausen, Executive Director, at [email protected]
The winners of the 2021 Sundance Film Festival were announced in its annual award ceremony, held this year as a virtual event (hosted by Patton Oswalt) on February 2 in Park City, Utah. The annual festival, which is presented by the Sundance Institute, runs from January 28 to February 3 this year. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the entire festival was virtual.
“CODA” won top prizes in the U.S. Dramatic categories, as not only the Grand Jury winner, but also the Audience Award winner. The comedy/drama, which is about a Massachusetts teenager who has deaf parents and a deaf brother, also broke the record for the highest monetary acquisition for a movie that premiered at Sundance. The movie’s cast includes Emilia Jones, Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur.
Apple TV+ purchased “CODA” for a reported $25 million, breaking the previous record held by the Andy Samberg comedy “Palm Springs,” which Hulu purchased for $17.5 million (and 69 cents) acquisition in 2020. “CODA” also won the Sundance prizes for and Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic (for director Siân Heder) and U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast.
In the World Dramatic Feature categories, director Blerta Basholli’s drama “Hive” was the top winner with three prizes, for the Grand Jury Award, Audience Award and Best Director. The movie is about a woman in Kosovo who starts an ajvar business after her husband goes missing.
The top U.S. documentary winner was “Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” about the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival. “Summer of Soul” received the Grand Jury Award and the Audience Award. The documentary is the directorial debut of Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson. The animated film “Flee,” about a Afghanistan immigrant living in Denmark, was the winner of the World Documentary Grand Jury Award. “Writing With Fire,” about the only Indian newspaper operated by Dalit women, received the World Documentary Audience Award.
Here is the complete list of winners:
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Grand Jury Prize: “CODA”
Audience Award: “CODA”
Directing: Siân Heder, “CODA”
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch, “On the Count of Three”
Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast: “CODA”
Special Jury Best Actor Award: Clifton Collins Jr., “Jockey”
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Grand Jury Prize: “Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”
Audience Award: “Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)”
Directing: Natalia Almada, “Users”
Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker: Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt, “Cusp”
Special Jury Award for Editing: Kristina Motwani and Rebecca Adorno, “Homeroom”
Special Jury Award for Nonfiction Experimentation: Theo Anthony, “All Light, Everywhere”
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION
Grand Jury Prize: “Hive”
Audience Award: “Hive”
Directing Award: Blerta Basholli, “Hive”
Special Jury Award for Acting: Jesmark Scicluna, “Luzzo”
Special Jury Award for Creative Vision: Baz Poonpiriya, “One for the Road”
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Grand Jury Prize: “Flee”
Audience Award: “Writing With Fire”
Directing Award: Hogir Hirori, “Sabaya”
Special Jury Award for Editing: Kristina Motwani and Rebecca Adorn, “Homeroom”
Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking: Camilla Nielsson, “President”
Special Jury Award for Impact for Change: Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh, “Writing With Fire”
Grand Jury Prize: “Lizard”
U.S. Fiction Jury Award: “The Touch of the Master’s Hand”
International Fiction Jury Award: “Bambirak”
Nonfiction Jury Award: “Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma”
Animation Jury Award: “Souvenir Souvenir”
Special Jury Award for Acting: “Wiggle Room”
Special Jury Award for Screenwriting: “The Criminals”
NEXT Audience Award: “Ma Belle, My Beauty”
NEXT Innovator Award: “Cryptozoo”
Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize: “Sons of Monarchs”
Sundance Institute NHK Award: Meryman Joobeur, “Motherhood”
Sundance Institute/Amazon Studios Producers Award for Fiction: Natalie Qasabian, “Run”
Sundance Institute/Amazon Studios Producers Award for Nonfiction: Nicole Salazar, “Philly D.A.”
Sundance Institute/Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Nonfiction: Juli Vizza
Sundance Institute/Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Fiction: Terilyn Shropshire