2021 FINALISTS

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

PHOTOGRAPHER OF WAR
Directors: Boris Benjamin Bertram
Producers: Katrine Sahlstrøm
78 min | Mosul, Copenhagen, Iraq

Jan Grarup lives a life in a state of emergency: As a war photographer, he often risks his life, while he back home in Copenhagen is a father of four. He suddenly finds himself the sole parent when his ex-wife falls seriously ill with cancer. His work in the urban war zone of Mosul, where Jan Grarup follows the advance of the Iraqi forces against Islamic State, must be balanced with his life as a father and sole provider. Jan has to rebuild the trust of his children after many years of living a fleeting lifestyle, but he still wishes to be the best war photographer in the world. But how do IEDs and snipers fit into being responsible for four children? And being an ordinary family? Photographer of War is a psychological portrait of a man that has documented the horrors of war for 25 years, but who suddenly has to face a new, internal struggle.

IL MIO CORPO
Director: Michele Pennetta
Producers: Joëlle Bertossa and Giovanni Pompili
80 min | Sicily

Oscar, not quite a child anymore, scavenges for scrap metal for his father. He spends his life in improvised landfills among what remains of leftovers. Worlds apart, yet close-by, there is Stanley. He tidies the church in exchange for a monetized hospitality, picks fruits, herds sheep: anything that keeps his foreign body busy. Oscar, the young Sicilian, and Stanley the Nigerian don’t seem to have much in common. Except for the feeling of being thrown into the world, to suffer the same refusal, the same overwhelming wave of choices imposed on them by others.

REUNITED
Director: Mira Jargil
Producers: Kirstine Barfod
78 min | Denmark, Turkey, Canada

Having fled from Syria two doctors and their kids get separated. The kids bravely live on their own in Turkey, while their parents make it to Canada and Denmark. Now they’re stuck in a Kafkaesque system that reduces their family life to Skype calls. Will they manage to reunite?

CODED BIAS
Director: Shalini Kantayya
Producers: Shalini Kantayya p.g.a., Sabine Hoffman
86 mins | USA

Modern society sits at the intersection of two crucial questions: What does it mean when artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly governs our liberties? And what are the consequences for the people Al is biased against? When MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini discovers that most facial-recognition software does not accurately identify darker-skinned faces and the faces of women, she delves into an investigation of widespread bias in algorithms. As it turns out, artificial intelligence is not neutral, and women are leading the charge to ensure our civil rights are protected.

ALL IN – THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY
Director: Liz Garbus, Lisa Cortés
Producers: Liz Garbus, Lisa Cortés, Stacey Abrams, Dan Cogan
102 mins | USA

In anticipation of the 2020 presidential election, ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY examines the often overlooked, yet insidious issue of voter suppression in the United States The film interweaves personal experiences with current activism and historical insight to expose a problem that has corrupted our democracy from the very beginning. With the perspective and expertise of Stacey Abrams, the former Minority Leader of the Georgia House of Representatives, the documentary offers an insider’s look into laws and barriers to voting that most people don’t even know is a threat to their basic rights as citizens of the United States.

WELCOME TO CHECHNYA
Director: David France
Producers: Alice Henty, Askold Kurov
107 mins | Russia

Since 2017, Chechnya’s tyrannical leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has waged a depraved operation to “cleanse the blood” of LGBTQ Chechens, overseeing a government-directed campaign to detain, torture and execute them. With no help from the Kremlin and only faint global condemnation, activists take matters into their own hands. In his new documentary, David France uses a remarkable approach to anonymity to expose this atrocity and to tell the story of an extraordinary group of people confronting evil.

FAMILY IN TRANSITION 
Director: Ofir Trainin
Producers: Ofir Trainin & Tal Barda
70 min | Israel

A story of the only transgender family in a small town in Israel who’s lives change completely after their father decides to become a women. Their mother chooses to stay with him through the whole process but as it seems that life is back to normal, she takes a sharp turn and shifts everything upside down.

PERFECT
Director: Yaniv Segalovich
Producers: Dafna Danenberg & Aviram Avraham
90 min | Israel

Perfect is a documentary series of 3 episodes revolving the real lives of disabled people. The show was created by Asaf Greenbaum. Asaf was injured when he was 5 years old and since then has been living with his left hand and leg paralyzed. Alongside Asaf are five other heroes who handle disabilities of their own. During the show the viewers are exposed to the personal stories of each one of the participants who tell about their day to day experiences with an exceptional amount of honesty while talking about their journeys from the moment of injury to this day.

BELLY OF THE BEAST
Director: Erika Cohn
Producer: Angela Tucker, Christen Marquez, Nicole Docta, Erika Cohn
81 min | USA

When a courageous young woman and radical lawyer discover a pattern of illegal sterilizations in California’s women’s prisons, they wage a near-impossible battle against the Department of Corrections. With a growing team of investigators inside prison working with colleagues on the outside, they uncover a series of statewide crimes – from inadequate health care to sexual assault to coercive sterilizations – primarily targeting women of color. This shocking legal drama captured over 7-years features extraordinary access and intimate accounts from currently and formerly incarcerated people, demanding attention to a shameful and ongoing legacy of eugenics and reproductive injustice in the United States.

KISS THE GROUND
Director: Josh Tickell, Rebecca Tickell
84 min | USA

Narrated and featuring Woody Harrelson, Kiss the Ground is an inspiring and groundbreaking film that reveals the first viable solution to our climate crisis.
Kiss the Ground reveals that, by regenerating the world’s soils, we can completely and rapidly stabilize Earth’s climate, restore lost ecosystems and create abundant food supplies. Using compelling graphics and visuals, along with striking NASA and NOAA footage, the film artfully illustrates how, by drawing down atmospheric carbon, soil is the missing piece of the climate puzzle.

THROUGH THE NIGHT
Directors: Loira Limbal
Producers: Loira Limbal, Jameka Autry
76 mins | USA

To make ends meet, people in the U.S. are working longer hours across multiple jobs. This modern reality of non-stop work has resulted in an unexpected phenomenon: the flourishing of 24-hour daycare centers. THROUGH THE NIGHT is a verité documentary that explores the personal cost of our modern economy through the stories of two working mothers and a child care provider – whose lives intersect at a 24-hour daycare center.

PUBLIC TRUST
Director: David Byars
Producers: Jeremy Rubingh
96 min | USA

Today, despite support from voters across the political spectrum, our public lands face unprecedented threats from extractive industries and the politicians in their pockets. Part love letter, part political exposé, Public Trust investigates how we arrived at this precarious moment through three heated conflicts—a national monument in the Utah desert, a mine in the Boundary Waters and oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge—and makes a case for their continued protection.

HEALING FROM HATE
Director: Peter Hutchison
Producers: David Kuhn, Lucas Sabean
84 min | USA

Documenting a stunning era of hatred in America, Healing From Hate follows ex-hate group members in their work to de-radicalize White Nationalists, and heal communities torn apart by racism.

IN CASE OF EMERGENCY
Director: Carolyn Jones
Producers: Lisa Frank
80 min | USA

In Case of Emergency is a documentary that paints a startling picture of our ERs stretched to the breaking point and exposes the extent of our nation’s broken safety net. Our biggest public health crises—from COVID-19 to opioids to gun violence to lack of insurance—collide in ERs, where emergency nurses tackle patients’ physical and emotional needs before sending them back through the healthcare system’s revolving door.

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

HOW FAR IS HOME
Directors: Apo Bazidi
21 min | USA

In the midst of Trump’s immigration ban, a teenage refugee Ahmed and his sister Ruba find a home at a Cleveland school for immigrants. Will they be able to reach their dreams?

MY BROTHER’S KEEPER
Director: Laurence Topham
Producers: Laurence Topham
21 min | Mauritania

A former Guantánamo detainee and his American prison guard reunite in Nouakchott, Mauritania – rekindling an unlikely friendship that changed both of their lives forever.

EL INFIERNO
Director: Raúl de la Fuente Calle
23 min | Freetown, Sierra Leona

At the age of 15, Chennu committed his first crime: being a street child. And he walked into hell: Pademba Road. The adults prison in Freetown. Hell is ruled by Mr. Sillah, and the prisoners abandon all hope. Chennu got out after 4 years. And now he wants back.

GROUNDED
Director: Annie Leclair
Producers: Annie Leclair
7 min | Canada

In painting and dance, Marie-Hélène, a respected figure on the Canadian contemporary art scene, finds an outlet for her creativity and her resilient spirit, after losing both her legs as a child. The arrival of her daughters sparks a new sense of freedom, pushing herself to let go self-censorship and to fully bloom.

FAULT LINES – MOMENT OF RECKONING
Director: Kavitha Chekuru
Producers: Laila Al-Arian
25 min | USA

Do police reforms work? Under the banner of Black Lives Matter, 2020 has seen what is likely the largest wave of protests in United States history: all centred on the crisis of police killing Black people. or years, officials have introduced police reforms. But reforms have failed to stop police from killing Black people in astonishingly high numbers, people like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Marqueese Alston – shot in Washington, DC in 2018. The failure of reforms has driven protesters to a more radical demand: defund the police.

WITNESS – ELEPHANTS IN MY BACKYARD
Directors: Vikram Singh
Producers: Emile Guertin, Aloke Devichand, Fiona Lawson-Baker
25 min | India

Elephant habitats across India are shrinking at an alarming rate, leading to conflict with local residents. In the southern region of Hassan, the conflict has been particularly intense. But accountant-turned-conservationist Vinod Krishnan is part of a team, led by Dr Anand Kumar, pioneering a radically new approach to deal with the conflict based on strategies of co-existence. If successful, they could help revolutionise the way India deals with one of its most urgent and complex conservation challenges.

HUNGER WARD
Director: Skye Fitzgerald
Producers: Michael Scheuerman, Skye Fitzgerald
40 min | Yemen

Filmed inside two of the most active therapeutic feeding centers in Yemen, HUNGER WARD documents two women health care workers fighting to thwart the spread of starvation against the backdrop of a forgotten war. The film provides an unflinching portrait of Dr. Aida Alsadeeq and Nurse Mekkia Mahdi as they work to save the lives of hunger-stricken children within a population on the brink of famine. With unprecedented access within a sensitive conflict-zone, HUNGER WARD reveals a world of bravery and commitment-to-care for war-stricken children.

THE GENDER LINE
Director: T.J. Parsell
Producer: Bill Brimm
13 min | South & New England

The Gender Line is about a transgender rock star, Cidny Bullens (formerly Cindy Bullens) who once sang in Elton John’s band and had recording contracts with three major labels and two independents. Cidny is fortunate to have been both a wife and husband in the same lifetime. He reflects on his personal as well as his professional lives having lived on both sides of the gender line.

WHAT ABOUT OUR FUTURE? 
Director: Cláudio Cruz & Jaime Leigh Gianopoulos
25 min | Canada

What About Our Future? chronicles the Sustainabiliteens, a group of young environmental activists who organized the largest strike in Vancouver’s history.
The film takes a unique look into the movement while the youth organize protests, pressure politicians and educate younger teens about environmental justice.

SIONA: AMAZON’S PROTECTORS UNDER THREAT
Director: Tom Laffay
Producer: Emily Wright
10 min | Colombia

Adiela Jinet Mera Paz, a leader of the Siona people, has taken up the effort to remove mines from the tribe’s ancestral land, following decades of armed conflict that has left them facing extinction.

THE BEST AND WORST OF US
Director: Jasyn Howes
Producer: Jasyn Howes and Anna Telford
16 min | South Africa

A photojournalist, during lockdown in Cape Town, documents a strange and conflicted society and discovers his own sense of morality during a time of great hardship.

VIRTUAL REALITY/ 360

LUTAW
Directors: Samantha Quick
Producers: Michaela Holland, Averie Timm, Lauren Burmaster, Paula Cuneo, Amy Seidenwurm
8 min | USA, Philippines

Step into Geramy’s world, a scrappy, budding inventor, who is trying to find a better way to commute to school. Based in the Philippines, this story highlights the students that swim between the small islands in order to travel to the nearest elementary or high schools in their remote areas.

A MISCARRIAGE OF JUSTICE
Directors: Atalanti Dionysus
Producers: Atalanti Dionysus
17 min | Australia

A Miscarriage of Justice, a VR docudrama which brings history to life by transported the spectator to the 1960’s to bear witness to one of the most political executions in Australian history, the hanging of Ronald Joseph Ryan. Ronald Ryan’s execution became significant in many ways and went on to contribute to the abolishment of capital punishment in Australia. When the spectator enters the experience, they arrive as the apparition of Jean Lee, the last woman executed in Australia in 1951. Minutes before the hanging the spectator’s role switches to that of Ryan and they are faced with the unimaginable.

“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.

FIRST 360
Director: Elliot V. Kotek
Producer: Elliot V Kotek, Kevin Walther
6 min | USA

The FIRST Robotics Virtual Reality Experience is an immersive introduction into FIRST’s hands-on robotics programs, offering a glimpse into the thrilling robotics programs at FIRST, and how students within FIRST are being prepared for a better future.

IMPACT VIDEOS

CAMBODIA BURNING
Director: Sean Gallagher
6 min | Cambodia

Using a mix of drone cinematography and Cambodian poetry, this film explores the changes in Cambodia’s landscapes, brought about by deforestation and forest fires, and the emotional impact it has had on Cambodian people. Deforestation has been accelerating across Cambodia and there is only 3% of primary forest left throughout the country. In 2018, fires burnt in record numbers throughout the forests of north and central Cambodia. At their peak during the dry season, it is estimated up to 1,800 fires were burning in the country, more than in any other country throughout South East Asia at that time.

UNBROKEN
Director: Andrew Hida
Producers: Amber Whiteside
9 min | USA

Youth turn to Side by Side when others have given up on them. Facing a variety of challenges in their lives–whether gang violence, emotional disabilities, or aging out of the foster care system–each program tailors their approach to address every client’s specific needs. Three youth find themselves rafting the American River, navigating motherhood, and finding a sense of belonging and self-worth at school.

INTRANQUILLITES
Director: Edward Owles
Producers: Kasia Mika / Ed Owles / James Noël
20 min | Haiti

Lyrically narrated by award-winning Haitian poet James Noël, ‘IntranQu’îllités’ interweaves the work of several Haitian artists who want to redefine how their nation is perceived. From a tree-based sculpture responding to the earthquake of 2010, to a video artist’s interpretation of a vodou waterfall festival, the film explores the role of art in society and the timeless importance of creativity.

THE RED DOOR PROJECT
Directors: Natalie Taylor
Producers: Whitney Bradshaw
9 min | USA

Blue Chalk worked with The Red Door Project to create a film that showcases its unique participatory process as they work to stage a series of monologues called “Evolve,” which tackles the fraught relationships between communities of color and law enforcement. In the face of seemingly insurmountable conflict, the show takes monologues drawn from law enforcement perspectives as well as from communities of color and puts that conflict on stage. This film captures the hard work and deep consideration that actors, directors, and even audience members suffuse throughout the show.

VIRTUALLY FREE
Director: André Robert Lee
Producers: Susan MacLaury, Alexandra Blaney
39 mins | USA

Unlikely allies work together to transform the juvenile justice system and stop mass incarceration in Richmond, VA. In the film, we meet Sid, Tae, and AR, three teens currently being held in a Richmond, VA detention center who are offered the chance to become activists speaking truth to power. Participating in a local arts organizations’ program, Performing Statistics, they are taught by different artists to deliver their powerful, authentic messages to the public, law enforcement, and government officials using their art, including a virtual reality jail cell they’ve helped create.

IS DIFFERENT CRAZY?
Director: Ducko Chan
Producer: Sharon Pereira & Victor Sinaga
6 min | Indonesia

In Indonesia where 14 million people suffer from mental health disorders and shackling is still practised, this story is about how a man’s decade-long struggle with schizophrenia almost cost him his family and how he reclaimed his life with the help of Rumah Berdaya (meaning Home of Empowerment). The volunteers at this non-profit in Bali, Indonesia teach their schizophrenic members new skills in an effort to help them make a living. They also provide a safe space for their members to interact, and raise awareness of mental health issues by fostering closer ties with their families and the larger community.

MANRIQUE
Director: Luis Barreto
Producer: Luis Barreto, Durley Montoya
15 min | Colombia

Yoiner Machado – The founder of a dance academy in Manrique, teacher and professional in dance as well as creator of methodologies for the coexistence and peace-building through dance. For 13 years he has been dedicated to the transformation of communities and has impacted 1,500 lives. He empowers young people and adults so that each one is capable of creating his or her life project in favor of the community. His motto that spreads throughout the world is: “we are a family”.

COVER/AGE
Director: Set Hernandez Rongkilyo
Producer: Set Hernandez Rongkilyo, Almas Sayeed, Sarah Dar, Shervan Sebastian, Jyotswaroop Bawa
25 min | USA

The Affordable Care Act explicitly denies undocumented immigrants access to healthcare. While laws in California have now made healthcare available for undocumented young people, undocumented adults continue to be excluded. COVER/AGE follows an elderly caregiver and a policy advocate in the campaign to expand healthcare to include all people, regardless of immigration status or age.