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Denmark Sweeps IDFA Awards

Monday, December 4---- The 19th edition of the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA) came to a rousing end on Saturday evening, with the awarding of the IDFA prizes in a number of categories. Films from Denmark made a remarkably strong showing, winning several major prizes at the Awards Ceremony held at De Zwijger, an Amsterdam hotspot.

The VPRO Joris Ivens Award for the best long documentary was presented to Danish director Pernille Rose Grønkjær for her documentary THE MONASTERY--MR. VIG & THE NUN.

The film, which also won a prize at the cph:dox International Documentary Film Festival last month in Copenhagen, is the story of a former priest who buys a rundown castle on a remote island, with the dream of transforming it into a Russian Orthodox monastery. When church authorities send two nuns to inspect the property,
sparks fly.

The VPRO Joris Ivens Award includes a cash prize of €12,500 ($16,000). The Joris Ivens jury also gave out a Special Jury Award to the film TENDER'S HEAT, WILD WILD BEACH, a film about vacationers in the Black Sea resorts, directed by the Russian trio of Alexander Rastorguev, Vitaly Mansky and Susanna Baranzhieva.

The Silver Wolf, the award for the best short documentary, was awarded to ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS by Danish director Eva Mulvad. The film follows the determination of a woman struggling to get a seat in the Parliament in Afghanistan. The Silver Wolf is made available by the NPS and consists of a cash prize of €10,000($14,000). Furthermore, the NPS will broadcast this winner in its Het uur van de Wolf programme.

The Silver Cub (with a cash prize of €5,000/$6250), awarded to the best documentary shorter than thirty minutes, was given to another Danish film, MY EYES, by Erlend E. Mo. The 20 minute film captures the sensory experiences of two blind girls.

The First Appearance Award, which honors a directorial debut,and has a cash prize of €5,000/$6250, was awarded to UK director Paul Taylor, for his inspirational documentary WE ARE TOGETHER. The film follows a group of South African orphans who draw strength from choral singing, set againt the backdrop of the devastating AIDS epidemic which has killed their parents. The film also was chosen by the public for the IDFA Audience Award, which also has a cash prize of €5,000/$6250, and is organised by the Alter Ego Foundation.

The jury of the Movies that Matter Award chose the US film NEW YEAR BABY from a group of ten nominated titles. The film, directed by Socheata Poeuv, follows the director and her parents and brother, who return to their native Cambodia to unravel the fates of her relatives killed and displaced during the Pol Pot regime. The Movies That Matter Award includes a cash prize of €2,500/$3200.

The MovieSquad DOC U! Award, the award for the best youth film, was given to Polish director Miroslaw Dembinski, for his A LESSON OF BELORUSSIAN, about young political activists in Belarus, who organize opposition to the ruling government party, in the Presidential elections of March 2006. This Award includes a cash prize of €2,000/$2800, that is used to bring the winning film to the attention of the youth audience through distribution.

The Dutch Cultural Broadcasting Fund Award for Documentary was awarded to Catherine van Campen for her film plan for EUWIGE MOES. The award, a sum of €125,000 ($185,000)is made available annually by the Dutch Cultural Broadcasting Fund and is awarded for the production of the best film plan developed as part of the IDFA Documentary Workshop.

After the awards announcements, it was time to party, and revelers were busy at it through the night. After ten days of films that stimulated the mind, touched the heart and motivated the spirit, IDFA came to a climactic close, further cementing its reputation as THE supreme showcase of international documentary film in the world.

Congratulations to all the IDFA Winners, the IDFA organization and to the enthusiastic public that made this such an enjoyable, exciting and stimulating event to attend.

Sandy Mandelberger
Online Festival Dailies Editor


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