The hybrid documentary “Like an Island” wins first prize at Visions du Réel


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

The first feature 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. In total, seven first feature films are among the winners. This is the first time since 2013 that a Swiss film has won the festival’s first prize.

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“A small urban island becomes the metaphor of contemporary Europe and lends itself to a deep reflection on the absurdity of borders, rules, fences and barriers. A brilliant observation, a surprising interrogation, which rewrites the coordinates of geographical spaces in universal terms”, declared the jury, composed of the filmmaker Jessica Beshir, winner of the Grand Prix last year, Beatrice Fiorentino, general delegate of the section Reviews of the Venice Film Festival. Week, and Jovan Marjanović, director of the Sarajevo Film Festival.

The second Special Jury Prize went to Emelie Mahdavian’s “Bitterbrush”, a documentary about two high-end horsewomen in the American West, which caused a stir when it premiered in Telluride, “for its cinematically triumphant, raw, but tender. of the nomadic existence of two women in this retelling of the classic Western genre,” the jury said.

Russian director Marusya Syroechkovskaya’s feature debut ‘How to Save a Dead Friend’ received special mention, for its ‘punk rock attitude in skillfully piecing together the history of another lost generation in Russia’, according to the jury .

The more experimental Burning Lights section of the festival was judged by MUBI Content Director Chiara Marañón, Switzerland’s Cyril Schäublin, who won Best Director for his debut feature ‘Unrest’ in this year’s Berlinale Encounters section. , and Argentinian producer Gema Juarez Allen (“Lina De Lima”).

They awarded their grand prize to another first feature film, “A Long Journey Home”, by Wenqian Zhang, a family portrait about cohabitation, emancipation and the search for one’s place within the family.

“With an equally tender and formally spare approach, the film humbly draws our attention to the intimacy of a household. With precise cinematic decisions, domestic situations unfold in front of the camera, weaving together a family portrait with strong emotional resonance, which raises important questions about the ties that bind us, as it bridges an intergenerational gap in contemporary China and the beyond,” the jury said.

The special jury prize in the Burning Lights segment was awarded to “Herbaria” by Argentinian Leandro Listorti, which delicately combines archival and fresh images to chronicle the immense work of classification and preservation of plants.

“A film of extraordinary lucidity, declared the jury, which brings together two worlds – plants and cinema – in a revealing game of analogies. Taking time to explore the multi-layered nature of preservation, the film finds an unsuspected warmth in scientific and methodical processes, made visible in an act of poetic justice.

A special mention was awarded to “Europe” by Philip Scheffner, “for having dealt with the subject of immigration in an unprecedented way and with a great sense of humanity, while showing that silence and the ‘outside the frame’ are remarkable tools for discussing the fiction of borders.”

In national competition, Swiss-Japanese filmmaker Julie Sando won the jury prize for “Fuku Nashi”, a moving encounter between two lonely souls that tells the story of Yukiei who returns to her grandmother after years of absence. . Sando also won the Zonta Prize for “a filmmaker whose work reveals mastery and talent”.

The Special Jury Prize in the National Competition went to “Le Film de mon père”, the first feature film by Jules Guarneri, described by the jury as “the intimate portrait of a family whose members live close to each other and yet seem distant. The filmmaker manages to make an honest and entertaining film that tells about the spirits of the house and the control freaks, the search and the cutting of his 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 pet dog, won the jury prize in the international competition for medium and short films.

The prize for best short film went to “Aralkum” by Daniel Asadi Faezi and Mila Zhluktenko, the story of the last inhabitants of the shores of the Aral Sea, who lost their way of life due to desertification – “a film that opens a door to a landscape swept away by human excess,” said the jury.

“Jaime” by Francisco Javier Rodriguez, the portrait of a young man with a mental disorder, received a special mention in the short and medium category.

The Interfaith Prize was awarded to Iranian artist and director Vida Dena for “My Life in Paper”, in which drawings she shares with the daughters of a Syrian refugee come to life to tell the memories, dreams and fate of the family in exile.

Swiss photographer Manuel Bauer’s debut feature, ‘Steel Life’, a fascinating journey through the Peruvian Altiplano to the shores of the Pacific Ocean, won the FIPRESCI International Critics Award.

The audience award went to Sara Dosa’s poetic archival montage “Fire of Love,” which has been blazing through the festival circuit since its premiere at Sundance.

The festival’s artistic director, Emilie Bujès, hailed the awards, which she says reflect the rich diversity of Visions du Réel. “New voices rub shoulders with films by established filmmakers and interact 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 has been rewarded and praised by the public and the juries,” she said.

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

“We made the bet to reinvent the festival, and we won it – thanks to a very strong return to face-to-face events and an increased virtual dimension acquired during the pandemic”, declared the president of the festival Raymond Loretan, for whom Visions du Réel team “transformed a crisis into an opportunity in an exemplary way”.

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

International feature film competition
Grand Jury Prize
“The Island” by Tizian 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
“Herbarium” by Leandro Listorti

Special mention
“Europe” by Philip Scheffner

National competition
Jury Prize
Fuku Nashi by Julie Sando

Special Jury Prize
My Father’s Movie by Jules Guarneri

International Medium and Short Film Competition
Jury Prize for Best Medium Length Film
Sans by Luka Papić

Jury Prize for Best Short Film
“Aralkum” by Daniel Asadi Faezi & Mila Zhluktenko

Special mention
“Jaime” by Francisco Javier Rodriguez

Special Young Jury Prize for a Medium Length Film
“Churchill, Polar Bear Town” by Annabelle Amoros

Special Youth Jury Prize for Best Short Film
“Marianne” by Rebecca Ressler & Lara Porzak

Interfaith Award
“My Life in Paper” by Vida Dena

Zonta Price
Fuku Nashi by Julie Sando

International Critics Prize – FIPRESCI Prize
Life of Steel by Manuel Bauer

Perception Change Award
“Children of the Mist” by Hà Lệ Diễm

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