Ousmane Samassekous Malian Film The Last Shelter Wins Main Prize at CPH:DOX

Malian filmmaker Ousmane Samassekou’s “The Last Shelter” won the top prize in Danish doc fest CPH:DOX’s main international competition on Friday, picking up the Dox:Award.

A total of 11 films garnered prizes in the festival’s six international competitions, including five special mentions.

“The Last Shelter” centers on the House of Migrants, located in the Malian city of Gao, on the edge of the Sahel desert, where the director meets travelers and migrants who find a temporary home there.

“The Dox:Award goes to a profound film which transports us to a vast landscape of questioning,” the jury said. “Through its tender portraiture it populates an epic vista with unforgettable individuals on the cusp of choosing whether they will risk being obliterated in search of a dream.”

The jury’s special mention in the category went to “Our Memory Belongs to Us,” by Rami Farah and Signe Byrge Sørensen, which reunites three exiled journalists on the 10th anniversary of the Syrian uprising to watch footage from the beginning of the war.

“When a City Rises,” an inside look at the Hong Kong protests by young activists, took the F:act Award for its directing collective, comprised of Cathy Chu, Iris Kwong, Ip Kar Man, Huang Yuk-kwok, Evie Cheung, Han Yan Yuen and Jen Lee.

“If there was one underlying thread connecting all the films nominated for this award, it is courage,” the jury said. “The film we chose has the narrative tension of an action adventure film, is propelled forward by a powerful score and skillful editing and perhaps most importantly, pierces the depth of our emotions in its raw and honest portrayal of this real-life David and Goliath battle.”

American filmmaker Theo Anthony nabbed a special mention for “All Light, Everywhere,” which examines technology and power and how new tools – from arms company Axon’s Taser gun to the surveillance of Black residents in Baltimore – are re-inventing old prejudices.

The Nordic:Dox Award went to Nina Hobert’s “Julia&I,” which spans four intense years in the lives of two friends who live on the edge in Copenhagen.

The jury decribed “Julia&I” as a “personal and brave” film that is both “a portrait and self-portrait of two memorable characters struggling with inner turmoils and the place they’re expected to occupy in society.”

The jury also awarded a special mention to Cille Hannibal and Christine Hanberg for “He’s My Brother,” a Danish film about the relationship between Christine and her older brother Peter, who was born without the ability to hear, see or speak and experiences life through touch, smell and taste.

The Next:Wave Award went to Fanny Chotimah’s Indonesian film “You and I,” the moving story of two ageing women and their unusual, lifelong relationship.

Liesbeth de Ceulaer’s Belgian entry “Holgut,” a hybrid film that takes viewers on an immersive journey deep within the Siberian tundra, was awarded a special mention.

“All of Your Stars are But Dust on My Shoes,” by Lebanese artist Haig Aivazian, took the New:Vision Award, for his digital mosaic of video clips that build a timeline spanning two centuries, from the days of seafaring whalers to smart cities, surveillance and urban guerilla warfare.

Maxime Jean-Baptiste and Audrey Jean-Baptiste of France snagged a special mention for “Listen to the Beat of Our Images,” a film based on audiovisual archives from France’s National Center for Space Studies (CNES).

Celebrating local productions and filmmakers, the Politiken Danish:Dox Award honored Frigge Fri’s “Dark Blossom,” which centers on three young Goth friends in the Danish province as they deal with the trials of growing up.

The festival’s CPH:Forum financing and co-production event, meanwhile, gave the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award to “Tata/Father,” from Romanian director Radu Ciorniciuc and Moldovan filmmaker Lina Vdovîi and produced by Monica Lazurean-Gorgan’s Bucharest-based Manifest Film.

The film follows a young journalist who, after leaving Moldova to escape her abusive father, returns to confront him, only to learn that he is being violently abused by his employer in Italy.

All of the award-winning films are available for Danish audiences at doxonline.dk and will be screened in cinemas in Copenhagen from May 6 to May 12, along with all 120 films from CPH:DOX’s competition program, following the reopening of theaters in Denmark.

“This year’s festival has been a great digital experience for us,” said Niklas Engstrøm, CPH:DOX’s head of program. “A lot of new possibilities are opening up in the digital space, and our audiences are supporting the festival by watching films online on our streaming platform.”

Engstrøm added: “At the same time, we are all really longing to return to the cinemas, so I am truly happy that we’ll be able to show no less than 120 highlights from this year’s CPH:DOX, including all films in competition, on the big screen next week. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate the reopening of cinemas here in Denmark.”

The theatrical lineup will also include an additional world premiere: Gabin Rivoire’s “Laurent Garnier: Off the Record,” which follows one of the godfathers of house music, tracing his career as a mixer, DJ and producer from his start the 1980s to the present.

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