The first ever DocPoint-Yle awards have been presented

The winner of the national competition is John Webster’s Donner – Private, while the award for the international competition goes to Elvis Sabin Ngaïbino’s Makongo. 

The winners were announced today in an awards ceremony that was held without an audience. At the ceremony, DocPoint announced Marika’s Passing by Peter Wallenius as the winner of the audience vote, alongside several other special mentions. The festival films are still available to watch today and tomorrow. 

Celebrating its 20-year anniversary, DocPoint – Helsinki Documentary Film Festival awarded the festival’s best documentaries and their directors today. Two competition series, which made DocPoint history by being held for the first time ever this year, were each awarded a 5 000 euro DocPoint-Yle prize for best national and international documentaries. Alongside choosing the winners, two juries made up of international film industry professionals also presented special mentions to an additional film from each series. At the ceremony, held without a live crowd, the Aho & Soldan Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to film editor Tuuli Kuittinen, and the winner of the audience vote was announced.

THE NATIONAL COMPETITION SERIES’ award for best documentary was given to the John Webster-directed and Bufo-produced DONNER– PRIVATE. Picturing the last interview with Donner before his passing, the award-winning cultural icon was in a situation where he could no longer escape his inevitable death, nor his long-lived life. The international jury explained their decision as follows: “A unique portrait with outstanding use of archive material and a carefully structured pace, constructing and deconstructing its protagonist, using interviews, private photographs and memories of close companions all beautifully edited, managing to bring us close to a person that wants to stay distant. The documentary gives a rare chance to see this controversial cultural and political figure also from his vulnerable and gentle side”.

A total of seven new national documentaries took part in the National Competition series. In addition to the winner, the jury also presented a special mention to Mohamed El Aboudi’s directed SCHOOL OF HOPE. Produced by Illume, the film follows a small nomad community as they try to ensure an education for their children in a small clay hut, whilst simultaneously trying to survive a drought brought on by climate change. The jury explained their choice as follows: “A film that takes us to a different world in the middle of the desert, full of warmth and intimate moments, while showing us with urgency that education is still not a given in today’s world. We applaud the filmmaker’s approach and striking cinematography”.

THE INTERNATIONAL COMPETITION SERIES was won by Elvis Sabin Ngaïbinon’s directorial debut MAKONGO. The film follows a small community with a big heart: Pygmies living in Central African Republic who resiliently strive to fund an education for their community’s children by selling their local speciality; baked caterpillars. The jury detailed their decision as follows: The DocPoint YLE Award for Best International Documentary goes to a film that touched our hearts and portrayed the protagonists’ resilience and strength of purpose against many obstacles. With strong camera direction and a feeling of humanity, the filmmaker brought us close to the people in his story. This access brings to light how it can be possible to change the future of a people who are largely hidden from view and discriminated against for their ethnicity. Importantly it is an African story told from the viewpoint of an African filmmaker who provides agency to his characters and not as subjects of a film”.

The international competition was composed of a total of eleven films. The jury’s special mention was awarded to PURPLE SEA by Syrian directors Amel Alzakout and Khaled Abdulwahed. When Syrian artist Alzakout was stranded in the Mediterranean sea with 300 other refugees, Alzakout’s camera captured the entire terrifying ordeal. The jury described their choice as follows: “We would like to give a Special Mention to a film of poetry and emotion, a film that can stand as a document in the future for the events of our time. This film is both very intimate and personal, but at the same time concerning the whole European immigration policies.  It turns the numbers in the news into real people in sweat pants and jeans floating in the Mediterranean waiting if someone might be interested in getting them out of there. We all know this is happening all the time, but this film makes us feel what it is like to be there – with such beauty and urgency that is almost unbearable to watch.

The film that received the highest points in the audience vote was Peter Wallenius’s MARIKA’S PASSING, which was awarded a 1 000 euro prize by The Finnish Documentary Guild.

THE NATIONAL ONLINE FESTIVAL DOCPOINT offers the most current and engaging documentaries from both Finland and abroad. The festival’s films are still available to watch tomorrow. Tickets for online screenings are bought through Festhome’s website.