Colombian Documentary ‘Alis’ Wins IDFA Forum Award for Best Project

Colombian documentary feature “Alis,” from directors Nicolas van Hemelryck and Clare Weiskopf, has won the Forum Award for best project at IDFA, one of the world’s leading documentary film festivals, which is running as a virtual event until Dec. 6. IDFA’s Forum section is a co-financing and co-production market for “creative” documentaries.

“Alis” follows eight teenage girls living in Bogota, who dream up Alis, a fictional character. “Their soulful narrative reveals an amazing perseverance to break the cycle of violence and embrace a better future,” according to the festival.

The jury, comprising Gitte Hansen, Lisa Kleiner Chanoff and Luis González Zaffaroni, said the filmmakers’ aim was to “facilitate, capture, and show the process of empowerment of young female protagonists coming from the harshest life-conditions on the streets of Bogota.”

They added: “The filmmakers’ artistic vision is organically connected with an original and playful method in documentary filmmaking by using imagination. We believe there is a great potential for a film giving audiences a chance to empathize and grasp that there really is a hope for a better future.”

The award for the best rough cut project went to Lebanon’s “We Are Inside,” directed by Farah Kassem. The film centers on 31-year-old Farah, who returns to her hometown, Tripoli in Lebanon, after more than a decade away. She finds her city and country in crisis. Staying with her widowed aging father Mustapha, Farah realizes this is her last chance for a conversation, and that is only possible through poetry, his passion.

The jury said the film offered the viewer “access to an intimate and personal world from a woman’s point of view, using the poetry of the words and the cinema as a key to look at a society, a culture and a relationship between daughter and father, while the Lebanese October revolution emerges outside.”

A special mention in the category was handed to Brazilian filmmaker Maria Ramos for “Justice Under Suspicion.” Brazil is flirting with fascism, the film assert. It follows three journalists from the El País newspaper who investigate “this dangerous evolution and the decisive role the judiciary plays in this process,” according to the festival.

The jury commented: “With unique access and courageous characters and filmmaking, this important investigative drama uncovers the use of ‘lawfare’ in Brazil and tells the story of the power of journalism and the danger of the politicization and weaponization of a justice system, a story that all too sadly resonates […] in countries around the world.”

In IDFA’s DocLab Forum – a section dedicated to interactive projects – the U.K.-Canadian project “Inside: A Journey into the World of Outsider Artist Judith Scott,” directed by Sacha Wares, won the best project award.

According to the festival, the exhibition “brings to life the biography of artist Judith Scott through installation and virtual reality film, revealing connections between her work and the extraordinary circumstances of her life.”

The jury, which consisted of João Inada, Margaux Missika and Janine Steele, said the project “spoke to us on multiple levels: clarity and conciseness in presentation, supported by beautiful visuals.”

The jury praised its “innovative multi-tiered approach in bringing Judith and Joyce’s story to light and reflecting Judith’s lived reality in the storytelling and design; and its emotional resonance.”

It added: “The heart of this artwork remains an unbreakable bond between two sisters, and it truly moved us, in this time where family and personal connection is so important.”

The jury also decided to give an honorable mention to Aubrey Heichemer’s project “The Pulp.”

“The Pulp,” from Germany, is a virtual and augmented reality experience of “shared visions from activists who are redefining our world,” the festival said. “It is a communal speech that weaves together our fragmented future.”

The jury said the project “really set itself apart in its goals to push the boundaries of expanded realities and combine cutting-edge technology with social impact.”

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