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Maria Ressa Film ‘A Thousand Cuts’ Wins Top Prize at New Zealand’s Doc Edge Festival

A Thousand Cuts Review
Courtesy of Sundance Institute

A Thousand Cuts,” a film that chronicles how Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte uses social media to spread disinformation, was Friday named the best international feature at New Zealand’s Doc Edge International Documentary Film Festival. The festival is being held online only due to the effects of the coronavirus outbreak.

In an unforeseen real-world twist, earlier this week saw the conviction of Maria Ressa editor of a Philippines online newspaper that has been critical of Duterte, and the core subject of “Cuts,” on cyber libel charges. Many media and human rights organizations have criticized the prosecution as trumped up, politically-motivated and illogical given that the offence occurred before the law existed.

“Elementa” from director Richard Sidey was named as best New Zealand feature. It is a visual meditation of all that is wild, that was filmed over five years on seven continents. “’Elementa’ stands out as a film that pushes the boundaries of the documentary form through innovative artistic and stylistic choices that leave a lasting emotional impression,” said the judges. “Elementa” also won the prize for best NZ cinematography.

Director Felicia Taylor won the best international short award with “Far From Home,” a film that follows a young Senegalese boy whose existence has been forever altered by climate change. “Pluck,” which tracks a family journey to the Chatham Islands, by Kirsty Griffin and Viv Kernick won the award for best NZ short award.

The wins mean that these four films now qualify for consideration for the 2021 Academy Awards, to be held on 25 April 2021.

The festival also presented its Superhero award to former chief executive of NZ On Air, Jane Wrightson.

Doc Edge Awards 2020 Winners:

New Zealand Competition
Best New Zealand Feature: “Elementa”
Best New Zealand Director: Sally Williams for “Stevenson: Lost and Found”
Best New Zealand Editing: Deborah Peretz for “Stevenson: Lost and Found”
Best New Zealand Cinematography: Richard Sidey for “Elementa”
Best New Zealand Emerging Filmmaker: Yeshe Hegan for “Return to Gandhi Road”
Best New Zealand Short: “Pluck”

International Competition
Best International Feature: “A Thousand Cuts” (U.S.)
Special Mention: “The Forum” (Germany, Switzerland)
Best International Director: Hind Meddeb, Thim Naccache for “Paris Stalingrad” (France)
Special Mention: Pawel Wysoczanski for “Long Day Tomorrow” (Poland)
Best International Short: “Far From Home” (Senegal)
Special Mention: “Blackfeet Boxing: Not Invisible” (U.S.)

Doc Edge Superhero: Jane Wrightson