2019 FINALISTS

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

BEAUTIFUL THINGS
Directors: Federico Biasin, Giorgio Ferrero
Producers: Federico Biasin
93 min | Italy
Trailer

A symphonic journey into our obsessive consumption. The many objects we accumulate begin their production journey in silent secluded industrial site where borderline men work in isolation without any interference. These men trigger, unconsciously, the long chain of creation, transport, commercialization and destruction of the objects feeding our bulimic lifestyle.

 

KANGAROO A LOVE-HATE STORY
Director: Mick McIntyre, Kate McIntyre Clere
Producers: Mick McIntyre, Kate McIntyre Clere
103 mins | Australia, Russia, China, US
Trailer

From the heart of Australia comes this comprehensive and controversial documentary that focuses on one of the world’s most recognisable icons, the kangaroo.

This groundbreaking film reveals the truth surrounding Australia’s love-hate relationship with its beloved icon. The kangaroo ‘image’ is proudly used by top companies, sports teams and tourist souvenirs, yet as they hop across the vast continent many consider them pests to be shot and sold for profit.

 

LETTER FROM MASANJIA
Director: Leon Lee
Producers: Leon Lee
75 min | Canada, China
Trailer

When a woman in Oregon opens a box of Halloween decorations and finds a distressing letter written by a political prisoner from inside a Chinese labour camp, her discovery makes waves across major news outlets worldwide. Meanwhile, the author of the letter, Sun Yi, breaks through internet firewalls to learn about the attention his letter has received and joins forces with an underground network of journalists and Chinese dissidents to reveal his entire story. From Peabody Award-winning director Leon Lee, Letter From Masanjia takes us deep into the horrific realities of China’s labour camps through the eyes of Sun Yi, who’s determined to expose these unthinkable human rights violations. Despite being hotly pursued by local authorities, he stops at nothing to find justice, ultimately leading to large-scale reform of China’s labour camp system.

 

METAMORPHOSIS
Director: Nova Ami, Velcrow Ripper
Producers: Lauren Grant, Nova Ami, Velcrow Ripper, Bonnie Thompson, David Christensen
85 mins | Canada, USA, Vanuatu, Spain (Canary Islands), Italy, Germany
Trailer

METAMORPHOSIS bears witness to a moment of profound change: the loss of one world, and the birth of another. Forest fires consume communities, species vanish, and entire ecosystems collapse. Economic growth, tied to increased speed of resource extraction, has created a machine with the capacity to destroy all life. ​But this crisis is also an opportunity for transformation. ​Through a tidal flow of stunning images, Metamorphosis carves a path from the present to the future. ​Woven together with stories of creativity and reinvention from artists, scientists, thinkers, and young children are creative, systemic solutions for our planet, and for our communities. Metamorphosis cinematically delves into how humanity is being transformed in new ways by the environmental crises we have created.

 

NAE PASARAN
Director: Felipe Bustos Sierra
Producers: Felipe Bustos Sierra
96 mins | UK, Chile, Scotland
Trailer

The true story of the retired factory workers from the small town of East Kilbride, Scotland who refused to repair Chilean warplane engines in protest against Pinochet’s brutal military coup in 1973. 40 years later, to the surprise of the Chileans and the Scots, they discover the incredible consequences of their solidarity.

 

ON HER SHOULDERS
Director: Alexandria Bombach
Producers: Hayley Pappas, Brock Williams, Bryn Mooser, Matt Ippolito, Marie Therese Guirgis, Adam Bardach, Alison Klayman
95 mins | USA, Germany, Canada, Greece, Middle East
Trailer

Twenty-three-year-old Nadia Murad’s life is a dizzying array of exhausting undertakings—from giving testimony before the U.N. to visiting refugee camps to soul-bearing media interviews and one-on-one meetings with top government officials. With deep compassion and a formal precision and elegance that matches Nadia’s calm and steely demeanor, filmmaker Alexandria Bombach follows this strong-willed young woman, who survived the 2014 genocide of the Yazidis in Northern Iraq and escaped the hands of ISIS to become a relentless beacon of hope for her people, even when at times she longs to lay aside this monumental burden and simply have an ordinary life.

 

PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF DESIRE
Director: Hao Wu
Producers: Hao Wu
95 min | USA, China
Trailer

In a real-life Black Mirror story, two live streamers seek fame, fortune and human connection in China’s digital idol-making universe, ultimately finding the same promises and perils online as in their real lives.

 

ROLL RED ROLL
Director: Nancy Schwartzman
Producers: Nancy Schwartzman, Steven Lake, Jessica Devaney
80 min | USA

ROLL RED ROLL is a true-crime thriller that goes behind the headlines to uncover the deep-seated and social media-fueled “boys will be boys” culture at the root of high school sexual assault in America. ROLL RED ROLL uncovers the engrained rape culture at the heart of the incident, acting as a cautionary tale about what can happen when teenage social media bullying runs rampant and adults look the other way. The film unflinchingly asks: “why didn’t anyone stop it?”

 

THE JUDGE
Director: Erika Cohn
Producer: Erika Kohn
82 min | USA, Palesine
Trailer

With unparalleled access, THE JUDGE presents a unfolding vérité legal drama with rare insight into both Islamic law and gendered justice. When she was a young lawyer, Kholoud Al-Faqih walked into the Palestine’s Chief Justice’s office and announced she wanted to join the bench. He laughed at her. But a few years later, Kholoud became the first woman judge appointed to the Middle East’s Shari’a (Islamic law) courts. THE JUDGE offers a unique portrait of Judge Kholoud—her brave journey as a lawyer, her tireless fight for justice for women, and her drop-in visits with clients, friends, and family.

 

THE PRICE OF FREE
Director: Derek Doneen
Producers: Davis Guggenheim, Sarah Anthony
92 mins | USA, India

The Price of Free (formerly titled Kailash), a suspenseful yet intimate look at one man’s groundbreaking struggle to liberate every child possible from slavery. From director Derek Doneen and Oscar winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim (“An Inconvenient Truth,” “He Named Me Malala”), the film follows Nobel Peace Laureate Kailash Satyarthi and his team of leaders around the world through gripping secret raids and quests for missing children in the hopes of ending the cycle of poverty which forces them and their families into dreadful circumstances. Refusing to be daunted by the impossible, they have succeeded in rescuing over 80,000 children and created a global movement which has resulted in legislation which helps protect young children.

 

TRANSMILITARY
Directors: Fiona Dawson, Gabriel Silverman
Producers: Jamie Coughlin
92 mins | USA, Afghanistan

The 2018 SXSW Audience Award-winning feature film debut by Gabriel Silverman & Fiona Dawson, TransMilitary follows the Emmy-nominated short film Transgender, at War and in Love. Around 15,500 transgender people serve in the U.S. military (notably the largest transgender employer in the U.S.), where they must conceal their gender identity because military policies ban their service. TransMilitary chronicles the lives of four individuals (Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace & First Lieutenant El Cook) defending their country’s freedom while fighting for their own. They put their careers and their families’ livelihoods on the line by coming out as transgender to top brass officials in the Pentagon in hopes of attaining the equal right to serve. The ban was lifted in 2016, but with President Trump now trying to reinstate it, their futures hang in the balance again.

 

UNSETTLING
Director: Iris Zaki
Producers: Iris Zaki, Osnat Saraga
70 min | UK, West Bank/Israel
Trailer

Tekoa is a trendy West Bank Jewish settlement, where none of the residents want to speak to the media. From the moment Zaki arrives, tension fills the air. She sets up a pop-up film studio in the middle of Tekoa, and stays put for a month in order to meet settlers. A simple intervention, which creates a complex chain of reactions from those who eventually agree to talk. ‘Unsettling’ is made by Zaki alone as a social experiment that highlights the contrasts and contradictions of the settlers’ self-perception, but does so in something as rare as an active conversation with them.

 

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

COME AND TAKE IT
Directors: PJ Raval, Ellen Spiro
Producers: Ellen Spiro, PJ Raval, Robert J. Barnhart, Sarah Garrahan, (Associate Producer) Neha Aziz (Associate Producer)
25 min | USA

This short documentary film captures the transformation of a young woman to leadership of America’s most irreverent anti-gun violence movement called #CocksNotGlocks. After concealed carry of handguns is legalized on the University of Texas campus, Jessica Jin posts clever humor on social media, and with the help of a tight-knit group of young female students, a movement is born: The Great Texas Dildo Revolt.

 

INDIA’S FORBIDDEN LOVE
Director: Sadhana Subramaniam
Producers: Anna Murphy, Harri Grace (Grain Media)
25 min | UK, India

In March 2016 Kausalya and her husband Shankar were brutally attacked on a crowded street in southern India. Shankar, who came from a lower Dalit caste, died of his injuries. Kausalya survives and accuses her parents of orchestrating an honour killing. She fights for justice through the courts, testifying against her parents in a trial where they face the death penalty. Her now estranged grandparents and brother Gautham also await the verdict, desperately hoping Kausalya’s mother and father will be released. This is the story of a family torn apart by a caste hierarchy deeply rooted in India’s social fabric.

 


LIFEBOAT
Director: Skye Fitzgerald
Producers: Skye Fitzgerald, Bryn Mooser
35 min | USA, Mediterranean

Volunteers from a German non-profit risk the waves of the Mediterranean to pluck refugees from sinking rafts pushing off from Libya in the middle of the night.

LIFEBOAT puts a human face on one of the world’s greatest contemporary, global crises and provides a spark of hope surrounding how civil society can intervene in the refugee crisis in a meaningful way.

 

LITTLE PYONGYANG
Director: Roxy Rezvany
Producers: Roxy Rezvany, Aya Kaido, Matt Diegan
24 min | UK

Joong-wha Choi, a former soldier in the DPRK, lives with his wife and kids in a sleepy London suburb. Despite enjoying the new found comforts of his British life, and being emancipated from the pressures of the North Korean state, his dilemma lies in a desire to return to the land that betrayed him, but is undoubtedly his true home. The film tracks his reflections on both why he left North Korea and the state of his day to day life over the course of several months, in what is ultimately a portrait of the complexities of healing from trauma.

 

ONE LEG IN, ONE LEG OUT
Director: Lisa Rideout
Producers: Lauren Grant, Lisa Rideout
15 min | Canada

After a decade as a sex worker, Iman attempts to pursue her dream of becoming a social worker to help her fellow transgender community members. As she explores the option of going back to college, One Leg In, One Leg Out questions whether tenacity, ambition and a life long dream are enough to overcome one’s situation.

 

PRISONER OF SOCIETY
Director: Rati Tsiteladze
Producers: Rati Tsiteladze, Nino Varsimashvili
16 min | Georgia (Caucuses Region)

What it means to be a stranger in your own home and country? Prisoner of Society is an intimate journey into the world and mind of a young transgender woman, trapped between her personal desire for freedom and traditional expectations of her parents that threatens their unity.

 

THE FUTURE OF IRAQ
Directors: Thee Yezen Al-Obaide, Mats Muri
Producers: Ingvil Giske
28 min | Norway, Iraq

One in six children today are living in war zones, in this film we meet three of them. The Future of Iraq is a poetic documentary about the future generation of Iraq facing their future while trying to cope with their war experiences.

 

THE MESS
Director: Dorothy Allen-Pickard
Producers: Lauren Pringle
4 min | UK

As Ellice gets low, her room gets messy – she never sees it coming, but it always happens. There seems to be no way to break out of the endless highs or lows that make up bipolar, or even to pick up her clothes up off the floor.

 

TRANSIT
Director: Mariam El Marakeshy
Producer: Mariam El Marakeshy
26 min | Turkey, Europe, MENA

Powerful intimate stories of young refugees who risked their lives crossing the Aegean Sea to Europe, only to get trapped on the Greek Island of Lesvos with no future and closed borders. It was supposed to be only their “transit” stop, but it turned out where they ended.

 

VIRTUAL REALITY/ 360

ANOTE’S ARK
Director: Matthieu Rytz
Producers: Bob Moore, Matthieu Rytz
10 min | Canada, Kiribati

“Have you ever heard of the Republic of Kiribati? With almost no environmental footprint? This Pacific Island nation is one of the most remote places on the planet, yet it is one of the first countries that must confront the main existential dilemma of our time: imminent annihilation from sea level rise. Anote’s Ark VR takes you on a journey to Kiribati to bear witness to one of the biggest challenges facing humanity.”

 

AUTHENTICALLY US: SHE FLIES BY HER OWN WINGS
Directors: Jesse (Jesus) Ayala, Connor Lonning
Producers: Anna Therese Day, Amy Seidenwurm, Paula Cuneo, Lauren Burmaster
10 min | USA

Shannon Scott driven by the military tenet of “Leave No One Behind,” pulls the levers of democracy urging freedom and justice for all be secured from the marbled halls of Washington D.C. to the hallowed ground of those who championed LGBTQ and transgender equality before her.

 

HOME AFTER WAR
Directors: Gayatri Parameswaran | Creative Producer/ Co-creator: Felix Gaedtke
Producers: Sandra Bialystok, Amy Seidenwurm, Paula Cuneo, Laren Burmaster
20-25 min | Germany, Iraq

What if your home becomes the place you fear? An Iraqi father returns to Fallujah to face the threat of improvised explosive devices (IEDs). Join him in his home and discover the unfolding of a tragic event.

“Home After War” is a room-scale, interactive virtual reality experience that takes you to Fallujah, a city that was under Islamic State (IS) control. until recently The war against IS has ended but the city is still unsafe. There’s one looming fear for returning refugees – booby trapped homes and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) in the neighbourhoods. Since the end of the war, thousands of civilians have died or been injured by IEDs. Ahmaied Hamad Khalaf and his family returned home after the fighting subsided. Experience what it’s like to fear the home you once loved.

 

LIVES ON HOLD IN LEBANON
Director: Negin Allamehzadeh
Post-Producer – Stina Hamlin, East Coast Digital
8 min | USA, Lebanon

Beirut’s Shatila camp was built in 1949 for 3,000 Palestinian refugees, but now hosts up to 40,000 people, including many Syrians displaced by war. Appalling conditions and bleak prospects for the future leave families longing for their lost homes. Three generations of a Palestinian family describe how the camp has evolved into an urban slum. A Syrian father recalls the shelling of his home and the dangers that drove him to flee the country with his four young children.

 

THE HIDDEN
Directors: Annie Lukowski, BJ Schwartz
Producer: Charles R. Uy
15 min | USA

“The Hidden” is a political thriller that literally drops you in the middle of a high stakes game of cat and mouse without telling you who is hunting whom. In a manner only possible in VR, “The Hidden” will have you experience the pulse-pounding fear and turmoil of an ICE Raid from every perspective.

 

WE ARE ROHINGYA
Director: Melissa Pracht
Executive and Field Producer – Melissa Pracht; Post-Production – Stina Hamlin and East Coast Digital
16 min | Georgia (Caucuses Region)

Mohammed and his family awoke one morning to the sound of gunfire in their village in Myanmar. The father of three describes how his son Ismail went from having a relatively normal life playing soccer with his friends, to trekking through rain-drenched forests to escape Myanmar, and falling sick with diphtheria while trying to settle into life at a refugee camp in Bangladesh. Mohammed and Ismail’s story echoes those of some 700,000 other Rohingya, members of an ethnic Muslim minority forced to flee their homes and their country following a violent campaign by the Myanmar military starting in August 2017. They join hundreds of thousands of other Rohingya people in Bangladesh, uprooted by earlier cycles of violence and persecution.

 

IMPACT VIDEOS

A TURN FOR THE BETTER
Director: Judith Madigan and Mark van Luyk // BRANDOUTLOUD
8 min | Bolivia

“Food is so fundamental to make a population a lot stronger and healthier. It is an axis that should not be neglected.” In Bolivia, people eat poorly and more of the same. Local old grains as canuhua are about to be forgotten. Three women take a turn for the better. This video was commissioned by Hivos and IIED for their programme “Sustainable Diets for All”. BRANDOUTLOUD travelled and worked in Bolivia. Portraying various Bolivians about why food diversity counts. These are their stories.

 

ART FOR PEACE
Director: Shanshan Chen
Producers: Georgina Cooper, Nicky Milne, Shanshan Chen
15 min | UK

The world’s youngest county, South Sudan, plunged into civil war just two years after being formed. Can it actually be poetry, film and music that will end the cyclical violence in this part of east Africa? Meet the brave young people turning their backs on hatred – are they the ones to truly form a new, peaceful nation.

 

BLAIR GLENCORSE MEETS TWENTYTHIRTY
Directors: Witja Frank, Andrew James Benson
Producers: Maja Heinrich, Witja Frank
4 min | South Africa

Blair Glenrose fights for a world in which those in power act with integrity and accountability. Sometimes a TV show can be helpful.

 

BREAKING THE SILENCE ON CHILD SEXUAL ABUSE
Executive Producers: Von Tan, Ashima Thomas
10 mins | India

Fighter, mother and a survivor of child sexual abuse, Nusrat is determined to ensure no other child experiences the physical or emotional trauma of such horrendous acts. Together with husband, she founded Cactus Foundation to teach children in schools in India, how to recognise and report abuse, as well as to challenge society to recognise the problem, and take action. The volunteer-driven movement has even become a safe space for survivors to reach out and share their stories, giving voice to an issue too often swept under the carpet.

 

DIGNITY WITH FLOWERS
Executive Producer: Von Tan
Producer: Lin Yanqin
5 min | India

HelpUsGreen is a unique social enterprise based in Kanpur, India. It collects four tonnes of waste flowers everyday from temples and turns it into sustainable products such as organic fertiliser and incense sticks. In doing so they prevent pesticide laden flowers from entering the river Ganges thereby stopping an important polluting element. The waste is hand sorted by marginalised Dalit women previously working mostly as sanitation workers who often faced social discrimination, exploitation and violence. The company provides them with bank accounts, health benefits and insurance, not to mention fair wages. Financial incentives aside, their lives have transformed through this employment. The women feel relieved to have left work that brought them indignity and insecurity. Dignity With Flowers is a film that reveals the story of one such woman Ranjana, who feels her life has turned around. If others do the same Ranjana says, there will be positive change everywhere.

 

HEAL PARADISE
Director: Prem Anand
Producer: Amar Ramesh
5 min | India

Pristine nature, widespread school campuses, Institute for visually challenged, a health center, an artificial limb center, a neatly built food mess, spacious dorms, open playground and more – well this is how HEAL PARADISE looks like. No one would believe this to be an orphanage when they enter in for the first time. HEAL PARADISE is a model village that breaks the stereotypes of how the livelihoods of orphans are looked at by the society. With health and education as the focus, this institution is certainly a role model for many across the globe.

 

MEGOLONYO: WITH A MOTHER YOU ARE RICH
Director: Justice Nnanna
Producer: Justice Nnanna
15 min | Uganda, USA

Set in a rural village in Northern Uganda, this short-doc tells the story of a Women’s Empowerment Group started by female survivors of the Northern Ugandan War in search of rehabilitation, economic stability, and emotional support.

OUT OF PLASTIC
Director: Line Hadsbjerg
19 min | Balearic Islands, Spain

“Out of Plastic” is a documentary film that sets out to explore the obscure depths of plastics in the Mediterranean. The film is set in the Balearic Islands, and offers viewers a moment to reflect on the profound presence of plastic in our lives and in our natural environment. The film also offers sweeping landscapes and mystic ocean depths – the point-of-encounter between man and nature – and intends to demonstrate how our over consumption of single-use plastic has tipped the scales, to the detriment of nature, and ultimately ourselves.

 

PIZZA, DEMOCRACY AND THE LITTLE PRINCE
Directors: Alessandro Leonardi, Elena Horn
Producers: Alevtina Nepomniatchtchikh, Andras Kapuvari
10 min | UK, Turkey

A group of Syrian refugee children now living in Istanbul wanted to learn more about the lives of international high school students. This film documents their discoveries.

 

R.V
Directors: Will Hawkes, Melissa Center
Producers: Will Hawkes, Melissa Center
11 min | USA

Stripped of her rights, a woman’s life changes when she ventures with her husband to remedy an impossible situation.