‘Planet of Snails’ tops IDFA awards

South Korean feature tops documentary fest

”Planet of Snails,” South Korean helmer Seung-Jun Yi’s feature docu about the daily life and love of a deaf and blind man, has won the VPRO IDFA award for best feature at the 24th annual International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), it was announced at a ceremony Friday night. IDFA’s top prize comes with a ?12,500 (U.S.$16,546) cash prize.

”Snails,” which received its international preem here, is produced by CreativEast. Paris-based CATandDocs is handling world sales.

IDFA’s five-person feature competish jury also gave its special award to Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi’s world-preeming ”5 Broken Cameras,” a portrait of a Palestinian village resisting encroaching Jewish settlements over several years. Pic also nabbed IDFA’s aud award and $6,619 cash.

The world’s largest docu fest and mart, which opened Nov. 16 with ”The Ambassador” from helmer Mads Brugger (”The Red Chapel”) and concludes Sunday, saw a record public aud of an estimated 200,000+, up from 2010’s count of 180,000.

Other IDFA competish winners include Jorge Gaggero’s ”Montenegro” (best mid-length docu), Xun Yu’s ‘The Vanishing Spring Light (best first film) and Jessica Gorter’s ”900 Days” (best Dutch docu).

Micha X. Peled’s feature ”Bitter Seeds,” about the plight of Indian cotton farmers and the third in a trilogy about globalization, won best Green Screen (environmental) docu as well as the Oxfam Global Justice award.

Last weekend ”Last Days Here,” from Phillie’s Don Argott and Demian Fenton, won best music documentary. Pic was screened in IDFA PLAY, the fest’s first ever music docu sidebar.

IDFA presented 340 film and trans-media docus to public and industry auds this year.

The opening weekend was mostly about preems and parties, but a posse from ”Focus Forward”-the innovation-themed series of three-minute docs launched last September by video publisher Cinelan in partnership with GE-took the stage to announce it has added seven filmmakers to its roster.

On Monday IDFA moved into full-on biz mode with the start of the three-day Forum. The prestige international co-financing event has adapted in recent years to reflect changes in the market (fewer windows, tighter budgets), the emergence of third-sector funders and new ways of telling and viewing non-fiction stories. This year’s slate included 57 projects (features, series, trans-media) looking for funding partners or future buyers in the round-tables and individual meets.

This year IDFA reports 2,670 local and international guests (producers, buyers, filmmakers etc.) , an upswing from 2010’s headcount of 2,477. More than 200 U.S. guests attended IDFA 2011.

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