Lixin Fan's "Last Train Home" won the award for best feature length documentary at the International Documentary Festival Amsterdam today. A Chinese Canadian documentary by a first time director, the film examines international issues by telling the story of mother and father factory workers who are trying to get home to reunite with their family for the new year,.
"The jury is of the opinion that this is a striking, honest film about a topic that is of relevance to the entire world," the festival said today, in a statement.
Reporting on the stunningly photographed and expertly constructed film in indieWIRE earlier this week from IDFA, we noted that the documentary features the work of a filmmaker who has immersed himself in the lives of his subjects - the Zhangs - to explore the story of their fractured family. Many moments in this intimate movie are incredibly striking and ultimately so symbolic of a much broader situation. The drama of the Zhang's personal story - and their specific struggle to simply get back home for a few days in 2006 - represents the plight of some 130 million Chinese workers who travel home from the nation's cities just once a year to be with their families. And, it speaks to a much deeper international situation.
"I would like my audience to think about the relationship between themselves and these migrant workers," Fan recently said in an interview. "The whole world today is interconnected. We're all one. How we live our life in the West has a very close tie to how people live their lives in developing countries."
Louie Psihoyos's "The Cove," a Sundance '09 hit, won the IDFA audience prize for its look at the capturing and killing of dolphins in Japan.
Bong-Nam Park's "Iron Crows," winner of the prize for best mid-length doc, is described as the story of the largest ship-breaking yard in the world in Bangladesh.
The festival's First Appearance award, for an emerging documentary filmmaker, went to Ross McDonnell and Carter Gunn for "Colony," a look at the Colony Collapse Disorder which is endangering bee colonies.
COMPLETE LIST OF WINNERS
VPRO IDFA Award for Best Feature-Length Documentary:
"Last Train Home" (China/Canada), directed by Lixin Fan
Special Jury Award: "The Most Dangerous Man in America" (USA), directed by Judith Ehrlich & Rick Goldsmith
NPS IDFA Award for Best Mid-Length Documentary:
"Iron Crows" (South Korea), directed by Bong-Nam Park
IDFA Award for Best Short Documentary:
"Six Weeks" (Poland), directed by Marcin Janos Krawczyk
IDFA Award for First Appearance:
"Colony" (Ireland/USA), directed by Ross McDonnell and Carter Gunn
Nederland 2 IDFA Audience Award:
"The Cove" (USA), directed by Louie Psihoyos
Dioraphte IDFA Award for Dutch Documentary:
"The Player," directed by John Appel
IDFA Award for Student Documentary:
"Redemption" (Germany), directed by Sabrina Wulff
IDFA DOC U! Award
"The Yes Men Fix the World" (USA), directed by Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno