Art and Experience: Alexander Abaturov’s “Paradise,” Eugenio and Mara Polgovsky’s “Malintzin 17” and Lola Arias’ “Reas” triumphed at the 2020 Visions du Réel Industry Awards, taking three of its weightiest prizes.

Also winning big at project forum Pitching du Réel was Petter Aaberg and Sverre Kvamme’s “Nightcrawlers,” “Mashtat” and “In the Name of Roses.”

“The Mission,” “Voice of Baceprot” and “A Little Love Package” will segue from Visions du Réel to three of the next major gatherings on Europe’s doc fest circuit: May’s Thessaloniki Documentary Festival, June’s Cannes Docs Award, both now online, and late October’s  DOK Leipzig.

Most of the 13 prizes comprise services or further festival invites. As smaller art-house companies face cashflow problems in much of the world, and need to look towards countries which look set to ride the COVID-19 crisis best  – France, Germany and Switzerland, for example –  any prize is currently mannah from heaven.

At a time, fir example, when subsidy-strapped Argentine films desperately need co-finance, the Head-Genéve Post-Production Award is a big win for celebrated Argentine playwright Arias’ documentary on a group of women and trans inmates at Buenos Aires’ Ezeiza Prison.

Further Festival play, such as that for Doc Leipzig-bound project “The Mission,” the chronicle of young American Mormons attempting to win converts in Finland, opens up new possibilities for cash or significant service-sector prizes.

Awards can go also some way to fill financing voids. The RTS Prix Perspectives d’un Doc 2020, won by Daniel Wyss’ “In the Name of Roses,” about the exploitative global rose business, is a “pretty important” award since RTS, Switzerland’s French-language public broadcaster, does not have development financing for documentaries, RTS’ Gaspard Lamunière sad at the Industry Awards’ online ceremony.

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Voice of BaceprotVisions du Réel

RTS’ second prize, a pre-buy for “Nightcrawlers,” a take on despairing Norwegian youth, sets a precedent for other pubcaster to board a project looking for some $220,000 in completion finance.

As for deals, in one significant pick-up, Visions du Réel buzz project “Paradise,” an attempt by Abaturov to capture the danger, and fascination, of an out-of-control Siberian forest fire, won The Party Film Sales Award. Consisting of acquisition of international sales rights, the prize sees the doc feature receive the clout of the Berlin Festival-launched Paris sales company, merging Doc & Film International and Jour2Fête.

Also sparking great word-of-mouth, “Malintzin 17,” the tale of loving but ruptured parental nurture – a father-filmmaker and his five-year old daughter; a nesting Incan dove – and quiet aghastment at contemporary society, caught in vignettes of urban nature and urban life, emerged as the only title to secure two prizes, one the Visions Sud Est Award, which guarantees distribution in Switzerland.

Of further buzz titles, “Voice of Baceprot” proved a Pitching du Reél standout in its tale of 17-year-old schoolgirls Firdsa, Siti and Widi, a hijab-wearing heavy metal trio from Indonesia.

Also sparking good word of mouth, Farrah Kassem’s “We Are Inside,” chronicles the filmmaker’s return from Western Europe to a far more conservative Tripoli, and the radical disconnect between life in the city’s interiors and the outside, until Lebanon’s sudden October revolution gives public space back to the people, as Kassem observes.

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ReasVisions du Réel

The DAE Encouragement Award went to Belgium’s “The Miracle of Almería,” an exposé, mixing hangdog dramedy, documentary footage and factoids, of Almería’s extraordinary white plastic vegetable garden expanses, as if the sun-baked Spanish province has suddenly been covered by gleaming snow. Heavily contaminated, Almeria’s greenhouse economy survives, however, on cut-price immigrant labor, living in favela squalor.

Among project winners, one of Pitching du Réel’s most singular titles, Vienna-set female-centric comedy “A Little Love Package” marks the latest installment of social irony from Argentina’s Gaston Solnicki (“Suden,” “Papirosen,”  “Kékszakállú”).

Directed by Chile’s multi-prized Ignacio Agüero, one of Latin America’s preeminent documentarians, ”Notes for a Film” analyzes Chile’s conquest and devastation of its Mapuche South, meshing past and present via the percipient book of Belgian engineer Gustave Verniory, “10 Years  in Araucania, 1889-99.”

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Dark Red ForestVisions Du Réel

Another Asterix Marketing Award winner at Docs in Progress, Jin Huaqing’s “Dark Red Forest” turns on the daily life and beliefs of Tibet’s Buddhist nuns, their faith unbroken by the Chinese government’s monastery eviction in Summer 2019.

A portrait of Tunisian women who escape the hardship of their lives by working as summertime wedding musicians, “Machtat,” the second feature film from Sonia Ben Slama (“Maktoub”), took the MFI Script2Film Workshops Project Development Award.

The the Raggioverde Subtitling Award went to Rough Cut Lab title “Last Days at Sea,” an IDFA Bertha Fund Classic awardee relating a boy’s last days of childhood in his Philippine fishing village.

Pictured, (top): “Malintzin 17”

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Last Days at Sea,Visions Du Réel

Visions de Reel Industry Awards Announced For 2020


The Party Film Sales Award

“Paradise,” (Alexander Abaturov; Rebecca Houzel; Petit á Petit Production, France, Russia)

RTS Award – Pre-buy

“Nightcrawlers,” (Petter Aaberg & Sverre Kvamme; Carsten Aanonsen; Indie Film, Norway)

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NightcrawlerVisions Du Réel

Head-Genève Postproduction Award

“Reas,” (Lola Arias; Gema Juarez; Gema Films, Argentina)

MFI SCRIPT2FILM Workshops Project Development Award

“Machtat,” (Sonia Ben Slama; Elise Hug, Cécile Lestrade, Tania El Khoury; Alter Ego Production, France ; Khamsin Films, Lebanon)

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MachtatVisions Du Réel

Cannes Doc Award

“Voice of Baceprot,” (Yosep Anggi Noen; Yulia Evina Bhara; KawanKawan Media, Indonesia)

DOK Leipzig Talent Development Award

“The mission,” (Tania Moilanen; Isabella Karhu; Danish Bear Productions, Finland)

Thessaloniki Documentary Festival Award

“A Little Love Package,” (Gastón Solnicki; Paolo Calamita; Little Magnet Films, Austria; Filmy Wiktora, Argentina)

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The MissionVisions Du Réel



Freestudios DCP Delivery Package Award

“Malintzin 17,” (Eugenio Polgovsky; Mara Polgovsky; Tecolote Films, Mexico)

Asterisk* Marketing Award

“Dark Red Forest,” (Jin Huaqing; Xinyu Li; Jin Huaqing Studio, China)

“Notes for a Film,” (Ignacio Agüero; Tehani Srai; Agüero & Asociado LTD, Chile; Fulgurance, France)

“We are inside,” (Farah Kassem; Cynthia Choucar; Road2films, Lebanon; Al-Jazeera, Qatar; Good Company Pictures, Denmark)

DAE Encouragement Award

“The Miracle of Almeria,” (Moon Blaisse; Emmy Oost; Cassette for timescapes, Belgium; Baldr Film, Netherlands; Lomotion, Switzerland)

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Notes for a FilmVisions Du Réel


Raggioverde Subtitling Award

“Last Days at Sea,” (Venice Atienza; Anna Magdalena Silva; Svemirko Film Productions, Philippines)



Visions Sud Est Award

“Malintzin 17,” (Eugenio Polgovsky; Mara Polgovsky; Tecolote Films, Mexico).

Source: Variety