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The hybrid documentary “Like an Island” wins the top award at Visions du Reel

“Like an Island” (“L’îlot”), a hybrid documentary fable with magical realism by Swiss director Tizian Büchi, has won the Grand Jury Prize at the international documentary film festival Visions du Réel in Nyon, Switzerland.

The debut film had its world premiere at the festival, testifying to the event’s reputation as a springboard for new talent and its tradition of hybrid fiction-reality films. A total of seven debut films are among the winners. For the first time since 2013, a Swiss film has won the main prize at the festival.

“A small urban island becomes a metaphor for contemporary Europe and lends itself to deep reflection on the absurdity of borders, rules, fences and barriers. A brilliant observation, a surprising wonder that rewrites the coordinates of geographic spaces in universal terms,” said the jury, composed of filmmaker Jessica Beshir, winner of last year’s Grand Prix, Beatrice Fiorentino, Delegate of Critics General of the Venice Film Festival. Week, and Jovan Marjanović, director of the Sarajevo Film Festival.

The second-placed Special Jury Award went to Emelie Mahdavian’s “Bitterbrush,” a documentary about two horsewomen in the American West that caused a stir when it premiered in Telluride, “for its cinematically triumphant, raw, yet delicate depiction of the nomadic existence of two women.” in this reimagining of the classic Western genre,” according to the jury.

Russian director Marusya Syroechkovskaya’s debut film, How to Save a Dead Friend, received a Special Mention for its “punk rock attitude, skillfully pieced together the story of another lost generation in Russia,” according to the jury.

The festival’s more experimental Burning Lights section was co-directed by Chiara Marañón, Director of Content at MUBI, Swiss resident Cyril Schäublin, who won an award in this year’s Berlinale Encounters section for his debut film Unrest, and Argentinian producer Gema Juarez Allen (Lina From Lima”).

They awarded their main prize to another feature film premiere, “A Long Journey Home” by Wenqian Zhang, a family portrait about living together, emancipation and the search for one’s own place in the family.

“With an approach that is as tender as it is formally sober, the film humbly draws our attention to the intimacy of a household. With precise cinematic choices, domestic situations unfold in front of the camera, weaving a family portrait of strong emotional resonance that raises important questions about the ties that bind us as it bridges a generational divide in contemporary China and beyond Jury.

The Special Jury Prize in the Burning Lights segment went to Argentinian Leandro Listorti’s Herbaria, which cleverly combines archival and fresh images to chronicle the immense work that goes into classifying and preserving plants.

“A film of exceptional clarity,” said the jury, “which brings together two universes – plants and cinema – in a revealing game of analogies. Taking the time to explore the complexities of conservation, the film finds untold warmth in scientific and methodological processes made visible in an act of poetic justice.”

A Special Mention went to Philip Scheffner’s Europa, “for tackling the issue of immigration in novel ways and with a great sense of humanity, while showing that silence and the ‘out of frame’ are remarkable tools to Fiction of borders to discuss.”

In the National Competition, Swiss-Japanese filmmaker Julie Sando won the Jury Prize for “Fuku Nashi,” a touching encounter between two lonely souls that tells the story of Yukiei, who returns to her grandmother’s house after years of absence. Sando also won the Zonta Award for “a filmmaker whose work reveals mastery and talent.”

The Special Jury Prize of the National Competition went to “Le Film de mon père”, Jules Guarneri’s first feature film, which the jury described as “an intimate portrait of a family whose members live close together and yet seem far apart. The filmmaker succeeds in making an honest and entertaining film that tells of house ghosts and control freaks, of searching for and cutting off roots, and at the same time asks the question: what does family mean?”

The absurd comedy “Without” by Serbian filmmaker Luka Papić, about an eccentric artist who goes in search of his dog, won the Jury Prize of the International Medium-Length and Short Film Competition.

Best Short Film went to “Aralkum” by Daniel Asadi Faezi and Mila Zhluktenko, the story of the last inhabitants on the shores of the Aral Sea who lost their way of life to desertification – “a film that opens a door to a landscape swamped with human excess”, according to the jury.

Francisco Javier Rodriguez’s ‘Jaime’, a portrait of a young man struggling with a mental disorder, received a special mention in the Short and Medium category.

The Interreligious Award went to Iranian artist and director Vida Dena for Ma vie en papier, in which drawings she shares with the daughters of a Syrian refugee come to life, telling the memories, dreams and fate of the family in exile.

Swiss photographer Manuel Bauer’s debut film, Steel Life, a fascinating journey across the Altiplano from Peru to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, won the International Critics’ FIPRESCI Award.

The audience award went to Sara Dosa’s poetic archive montage “Fire of Love”, which has been burning through the festival scene since its premiere in Sundance.

The festival’s artistic director, Emilie Bujès, welcomed the awards, which she says reflect the richness of diversity at Visions du Réel. “New voices meet the films of established filmmakers and enter into a dialogue with the works of our guests Marco Bellocchio, Kirsten Johnson and Hassen Ferhani. We are particularly pleased that the diversity of film genres, generations, approaches and geographies that guide us have been rewarded and welcomed by audiences and juries,” she said.

The 53rd edition of Visions du Réel took place from April 7th to 17th. The first full physical edition of the festival in three years – the event was one of the first to go fully online in 2020 and hosted a limited hybrid edition on-site last year – drew an estimated 45,000 people, about the same number as 2019.

“We bet to reinvent the festival and we won – thanks to a very strong return to face-to-face events and an increasing virtual dimension acquired during the pandemic,” said festival president Raymond Loretan, for whom the Visions du Réel team ” has turned a crisis into an opportunity in an exemplary manner.”

View the full list of Visions du Réel 2022 awards below:

International Feature Film Competition
Grand Jury Prize
“L’Îlot” by Titian Büchi

Special Jury Prize
Bitterbrush by Emelie Mahdavian

Special mention
“How to save a dead friend” by Marusya Syroechkovskaya

Burning Lights Contest
Jury Prize
“A Long Journey Home” by Wenqian Zhang

Special Jury Prize
“Herbaria” by Leandro Listorti

Special mention
“Europe” by Philip Scheffner

National Competition
Jury Prize
“Fuku Nashi” by Julie Sando

Special Jury Prize
“Le Film de mon pere” by Jules Guarneri

International medium-length and short film competition
Jury Prize for the best medium-length film
“Without” by Luka Papić

Jury Prize for the best short film
“Aralkum” by Daniel Asadi Faezi & Mila Zhluktenko

Special mention
Jaime by Francisco Javier Rodriguez

Special prize of the youth jury for a medium-length film
Churchill, Polar Bear City by Annabelle Amoros

Special prize of the youth jury for the best short film
“Marianne” by Rebecca Ressler & Lara Porzak

Interfaith Prize
“Ma vie en papier” by Vida Dena

Zonta Award
“Fuku Nashi” by Julie Sando

International Critics’ Prize – FIPRESCI Prize
“Life of Steel” by Manuel Bauer

Perception Alteration Price
“Children of the Mist” by Hà Lệ Diễm

https://variety.com/2022/film/global/like-an-island-visions-du-reel-1235233983/ The hybrid documentary “Like an Island” wins the top award at Visions du Reel

Charles Jones

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