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‘Piano’ Tops Tenerife’s MiradasDoc

Docu fest registers a strong African presence

TENERIFE  — “Piano,” directed by Poland’s Vita Maria Drygas, took the main award at Spain’s 11th MiradasDoc, one of Spain’s top documentary meets, a festival-market that takes place at Guia de Isora, a small village on the Canary Island of Tenerife. MercaDoc focuses on documentaries tackling social issues and North-South dynamics, as well as factual fare produced or shot in developing countries.

In the documentary winner, a piano becomes a revolutionary symbol when it is used to reinforce a barricade during Kiev’s human rights Euromaidan protests. Every night, the revolutionaries gather around the piano to sing the Ukrainian national anthem ignoring the ice and the snow. Prize comes with a cash prize of €6,000 ($6,471).

Brazil’s “Jonas and the Backyard Circus” claimed the First Feature award. World premiering at Amsterdam’s IDFA fest in November and directed by Paula Gomes, “Jonas” is a coming-of-age tale following a 13-year-old kid who dreams of having his own circus in his home’s backyard.

MiradasDoc’s official section featured 17 documentaries, selected out of 199 submissions. Other contending features included Wojciech Staron’s “Brothers” (Poland), Olivier Jourdain’s “The Sacred Water” (Belgium), Tomer Heymann’s “Mr. Gaga” (Israel) and Tin Win Naing’s “In Exile” (Myanmar). Countries with the most entries were Poland and France, both with four each.

Scoring a record, the MiradasDoc market showcased 122 projects, 25 from Africa.

The market pitching sessions introduced 12 projects –seven out of them directed by women. Six projects were European productions –Spain, Poland and Italy-, three from Latin America –two from Uruguay and one from Chile– and three from Africa –Zimbabwe/South Africa, Senegal/France/Belgium, and Kenya/Spain.

The top plaudit at the market’s pitching session, worth $3,775 in

pre-production funding went to o Spain’s “Inside,” directed by Isabel de Ocampo, a best first director at 2012 Goyas Awards for “Evelyn.” “Inside” explores the origins in cultural and education of modern-day machismo through six characters’ lives, and talking-head comments from famous figures and experts.

Other market pitching awards took in Ng’endo Mukii’s “My Normal Kenyan Family” (Kenya, Spain), Irene Gutierrez’s “Man Between Dog and Wolf” (Spain), Carolina Campo Lupo’s “Land of Children” (Uruguay), and Haukur M. Hrafnsson’s “Cult of Concrete” (Poland).

“Kenyan Family” is a cartoon portrait of “a family of polygamists, missionaries,  alcoholics, single mothers, Mau Mau freedom fighters, colonial informants (…) and myself, a filmmaker,” –per Mukii’s words. It is set during after the end of the British Empire,  and will be co-produced by Mukii Films and Spain’s Manuel Cristobal, producer of Ignacio Ferreras’ “Wrinkles.”

Produced by El Viaje Films, a Locarno’s Special Jury Prize winner in 2015 for Marco Herce’s “Dead Slow Ahead,”, “Wolf” tracks a gang of veterans from Angola’s war now holing up in Cuba’s Sierra Maestra, ignoring change in the island and once more preparing for battle.

“Children” turns on sad children from the ages of five to 15 who are put into care in Children Villages, looked after by substitute mothers. Lobo Hombre will produce.

“Cult” pictures youth from 1989 in Łódź’, the third-largest city in Poland, where post-industrial unemployment is rampant, and the young cling to a Californian skateboarding culture. Łódź-based NUR produces.

At the fest’s market, Eduardo Cubillo’s “Isleños, a Root of America,” was picked up for international sales by Colonia-based 3boxmedia. “Isleños” traces the history of 2,000 Canary islanders who sailed to Louisiana in 1777 to strengthen the Spanish colony defenses and settled on the outskirts of New Orleans preserving their old Canary traditions for over 200 years.

Two projects at the market –Jan van den Berg, Lenny Schouten and Martijn Schroevers’ “The Laws of Silence” and Jennifer de la Rosa’s “Tierra y Raíces” (Land and Roots) — were chosen by broadcaster Señal Colombia to participate directly in the seventh co-production market Proyecta, organized by the pubcaster.

Premiered at Sundance to an excellent audience reaction, Neasa Ní Chianáin and David Rane’s docu “In Loco Parentis,” is an example of a project benefitted from the Tenerife fest. Developed over four years and produced in two, the Irish-Spanish production clinched a co-production partnership between    Spanish pubcaster TVE and Ireland’s Soilsiu Films at MiradasDoc.

Tel Aviv-born docu-essayist Avi Mograbi (“Z32,” “August: A Moment Before the Eruption”) took an honorary award and was feted with a showcase. MiradasDoc ran Jan. 30-Feb. 4.

And the 2017 MiradasDoc winners are:

BEST INTERNATIONA FEATURE DOCUMENTARY

“Piano,” (Vita Maria Drygas, Poland)

BEST INTERNATIONAL SHORT DOCUMENTARY

“The Tree,” (Roya Eshraghi, Cuba, Costa Rica)

MENTION TO

“Close Ties,” (Zofia Kowalewska, Poland)

FIRST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY

“Jonas and the Backyard Circus,” (Paula Gomes, Brazil)

FIRST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY MENTION TO:

“Caribbean Fantasy,” (Johanné Gómez Terrero, Dominican Republic)

BEST NATIONAL FEATURE DOCUMENTARY

“Os Días Afogados,” (César Souto Vilanova, Luis Avilés Baquero)

BEST NATIONAL FEATURE DOCUMENTARY MENTION

“The Travel Agent,” (Niccolò Bruna)

BEST CANARY ISLANDS FEATURE DOCUMENTARY

“Dead Slow Ahead,” (Mauro Herce Mira)

BEST CANARY ISLANDS FEATURE DOCUMENTARY MENTION

“Juana,” (Silvia Navarro, Miguel G. Morales)

MIRADASDOC PITCHING AWARDS

DEVELOPMENT PRIZE: MIRADASDOC

“Dentro,” (Isabel de Ocampo, Spain)

MIRADASDOC/SUBBABEL PRIZE FOR TRANSLATION AND SUBTITLING

“Cult of Concrete,” (Haukur M. Hrafnsson, Poland)

TREE LINE CONSULTING DISTRIBUTION PRIZE

“Man Between Dog and Wolf,” (Irene Gutiérrez, Spain)

ELAMEDIA POST-PRODUCTION PRIZE

“My Normal Kenian Family,” de Ng’endo Mukii (Kenya, Spain)

IFIC PRIZE FOR PROJECT CONSULTANCY

“Fallen Leaves,” (Macu Machin, Spain)

CANARY ISLANDS CONNECTION INTERNATIONAL DISTRIBUTION AWARD

“Land of Children,” (Carolina Campo Lupo, Uruguay)

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