“Special Flight” took two top awards at the 2012 Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, which screened 102 films in its run April 12-15 in Durham, NC.
Directed by Fernand Melgar, “Special Flight” won the Anne Dellinger Grand Jury Award and the Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award. The film focuses on a Swiss detention center where tensions build as rejected asylum seekers await their forced removal from the country. The awards are sponsored by Chuck Pell, CSO Physcient, Inc. and Alpha Cine Labs, Seattle, and by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University.
Representatives from the Center for Documentary Studies jurors were Randy Benson, Katie Hyde, Marc Maximov, Lynn McKnight, Dan Partridge, Tom Rankin, Elena Rue, Teka Selman and April Walton.
The grand jury, comprised of Judith Ehrlich, Eric Metzgar, and Marco Williams, said, “Director Fernand Melgar takes us deep inside the world of detained immigrants in Switzerland. With incredible access and patient observation, we experience the complex and powerful relationships between the captives and their captors. An exceptional work of vérité filmmaking, “Special Flight” forces us to confront the contradictions of humane incarceration.”
A Special Jury Award was also presented to “The Law in These Parts (Shilton Ha’Chok),” directed by Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, a meticulously constructed exploration of the complex military laws imposed by Israel on citizens in the occupied territories.
The jury commented, “The Law in These Parts” we honor with a Special Jury Award. We admire its intelligence and unique Brechtian treatment of a very controversial subject.”
The Full Frame Jury Award for Best Short was given to “The Time We Have (Den tid vi har),” directed by Mira Jargil, a beautiful, intimate, and deeply tender look at saying goodbye to the love of your life after 67 years of marriage. The Full Frame Jury Award for Best Short is provided by Drs. Andrew and Barbra Rothschild.
The jury, comprised of Steven Ascher, Jessica Edwards, and Edwin Martinez, said: “The Jury Award goes to an elegantly realized portrait of a marriage that tenderly explores a husband’s last days with his wife. Beautifully observed, expertly paced, “The Time We Have” intimately captures the power of simple gestures between two people who will always be in love.”
The jury also awarded an honorable mention to “Sivan,” directed by Zohar Elefant, a minimalist portrait of an Israeli soccer fan in thrall to a team and an obsession,describing the film as employing “an innovative directorial approach to a fascinating character to capture a myriad of themes and emotions from one camera angle.”
“Trash Dance,” directed by Andrew Garrison, received the Full Frame Audience Award. The film documents an unusual partnership between a dancer and the Austin Department of Solid Waste Services to stage a public performance starring man, music, and machine. Sponsored by Merge Records, the Audience Award is determined by counting audience ballots filled out during the festival.
An Honorable Mention was presented to the short with the highest score, “Fanuzzi’s Gold,” directed by Georgia Gruzen. The film focuses on Ed Fanuzzi, a Staten Island inventor, treasure hunter, and eternal optimist, who sees gold where others see trash.
“Waiting Room,” directed by Peter Nicks, was awarded the Charles E. Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award. This gripping vérité film is a symphony of patients, caregivers, and loved ones, bureaucracy and hard choices, in an Oakland ER’s waiting room. Provided by the Charles E. Guggenheim family,this prize honors a first-time documentary feature director. Natalie Bullock Brown, Heather Courtney, and Mark Elijah Rosenberg participated on the Jury.
“Mr. Cao Goes to Washington,” directed by S. Leo Chiang, received the Full Frame Inspiration Award. The film captures rookie congressman Joseph Cao of Louisiana as he angers fellow Republicans by befriending President Obama. Sponsored by the Hartley Film Foundation, this award is presented to the film that best exemplifies the value and relevance of world religions and spirituality. Jim Klein, Sarah Masters, and Fiona Otway participated on the jury.
The Full Frame President’s Award was presented to the “Grandmothers (Abuelas),” directed by Afarin Eghbal. This animated documentary about Argentina’s Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo features stories of women who search for their missing grandchildren. Sponsored by Duke University and aimed at recognizing up-and-coming filmmakers, this prize is awarded to the best student film.
“ESCAPE FIRE: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare,” directed by Susan Froemke and Matthew Heineman, received The Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights. Provided by the Julian Price Family Foundation, this award is presented to a film that addresses a significant human rights issue in the United States. Representatives from the Kathleen Bryan Edwards family juried the prize: Anne Arwood, Laura Edwards, Clay Farland, Margaret Griffin, and Pricey Harrison.
The Nicholas School Environmental Award was presented to “Chasing Ice” directed by Jeff Orlowski. In this film, scientific fact and aesthetic beauty merge in monumental and dramatic time-lapse photos illustrating global warming’s chilling ravages. The Nicholas School Environmental Award honors the film that best depicts the conflict between our drive to improve living standards through development and modernization, and the imperative to preserve both the natural environment that sustains us and the heritages that define us. Representatives from the Nicholas School of the Environment juried the Prize: Cindy Horn, Stephen Nemeth, Rebecca Patton, and Tom Rankin.