‘Puntasacra,’ ‘The Other One,’ ‘Sapelo’ Top Visions du Reel

Punta Sacra
Courtesy of True Colours

Francesca Mazzoleni’s “Puntasacra,” Francisco Bermejo’s “The Other One” and Nick Brandestini’s “Sapelo” scooped the top prizes in the three major sections at Switzerland’s Visions du Réel prize ceremony Sunday night, held online as the whole of the documentary festival.

Major plaudits in the festival’s main International Feature Film Competition also went to Markku Lehmuskallio and Johannes Lehmuskallios “Anerca, Breath of Life,” Afsaneh Salari’s “The Silhouettes,” Mo Scarpelli’s “El Father Plays Himself” and José Permar’s “Off the Road.”

The Audience Award, one of the key prizes for distributors,was nabbed by Chines-German feature “Mirror Mirror on the Wall.”

Acquired by Italy’s True Colours for world sales, “Puntasacra” won Visions du Réel’s top Sesterce d’Or la Mobilière for a doc feature that portrays the resilient inhabitants of the last triangle of habitable land at the mouth of the Italy’s Tiber River through one all female family as they proclaim their rights to remain where they live.

“Children and mothers in the heart of a no-man’s land, a universe of women in search of happiness in front of a sea on which they depend, resolved to defend their right to live in this desolate place they revere,” a jury made up of producer Marco Alessi, programmer Frédéric Boyer and director Ursula Meier commented in a written statement.

“A people torn between the desire for change and the need to settle down, proudly assuming his identity. Late romantic combatants forgotten in their outpost,” they added.

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The Other One BERMEJO/Juntos Films

Francesca, the matriarch of the family featured in “Puntasacra,” appeared in a videoclip to thank the jury for its prize. “I hope we can soon celebrate together,” she said, a common sentiment expressed by prize winners at the online ceremony.

Burning Lights, an international competition dedicated to “new vocabularies and expressions,” the category descriptions runs, was won appropriately enough by “The Other One,” the first feature out of the gate from new Chilean production house Juntos. A portrait made over nine years of a weather-beaten man, Oscar, who makes ends meet in a primitive shack by the thundering ocean shore. “The Other One” – which lies like so many other films in Visions du Reel on the hazy borderlands between fiction and documentary – shows Oscar living under the spell of reading “Moby Dick,” and surviving not despite but because of his lunacy, as critic Rebecca De Pas points out. The film establishes Bermejo as a talent to track.

The festival’s National Competition winner, “Sapelo,” turns on two boys growing up on the idyllic island of Sapelo with adoptive mother Cornelia, one of the last Geechee African-Americans whose community struggles to maintain its world as traditions fade fast.

“Anerca, Breath of Life,” Markku and Johannes Lehmuskallio’s vision of the daily life and dance and music of the Arctic Circle’s inhabitants, took the festival’s effective second prize, the Nyon Region Jury Prize for most innovative feature film.

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Off the Road Courtesy: Guillermo Zouain

The jury described “Anerca” as a “free reflection on colonialism in the magic footsteps of Jean Rouch.”

Two special mentions in the international competition – “the program was so good it was hard to know what it choose,” said Boyer – were shared by Afsaneh Salari’s “The Silhouettes,” Eastern Promises’ Docs in Progress award winner at last year’s Karlovy Vary, the chronicle of a young Afghan emigre’s challenged return to his native land, and “El Father Plays Himself,” Mo Scarpelli’s documentary which follows a father and son as they shoot a film in which the Father plays himself, in the middle of the Amazonian Jungle.

The Signis Interreligious Award went to José Pelmar’s Baja California set, and multi-layered “Off the Road,” the story of three men who see the possibility of changing their life stories narratives through the Baja 1000 road race. But maybe, the documentary suggests in its final stretches, there is more to life than that.

Accepting the award, Permar said the award celebrates a film that highlights the search for a sense in life and pride at a sense of belonging.

“Mirror Mirror on the Wall,” a portrait of Chinese plastic surgeon Dr Han, a rock star in his native land, as the beauty enhancement industry booms, won the festival’s coveted Audience Award.

Shot against a stunning background of desolate high Swiss Alps, Aldo Gugolz’s redemption-themed “Cows on the Roof,” centering on a cheesemaker struggling with deep guilt at the death of an employee as his business faces tougher times, won the Suissimage Prize in the National Competition.


International Feature Film Competition 

Best Feature Film

“Puntasacra,” (Francesca Mazzoleni, Italy)

Most Innovative Feature Film

“Anerca, Breath of Life,” (Markku Lehmuskallio, Johannes Lehmuskallio, Finland)

Special Mention

“The Silhouettes,” (Afsaneh Salari, Iran, Philippines)

“El Father Plays Himself,” (Mo Scarpelli, Venezuela, United Kingdom, Italy, U.S.A.)

Interreligious Award

“Off the Road,” (José Permar, Mexico, U.S.A.)

Burning Lights International Competition 

Best Medium Length or Feature Film

“The Other One,” (Francisco Bermejo, Chile)

Jury Prize Société des Hôteliers de la Côte

“Pyrale,” (Roxanne Gaucherand, France)

Special Mention

“The Disqualified,” (Hamza Ouni, Tunisia, France, Qatar)

National Competition

Best medium length or feature film

“Sapelo,” (Nick Brandestini, Switzerland)

Jury Prize SSA/Suissimage)

“Cows on the Roof,” (Aldo Gugolz, Switzerland)

Special Mention

“Privé,” (Raphaël Holzer, Switzerland)

Grand Angle Audience Award

Best Feature Film

“Mirror Mirror on the Wall” (Sascha Schubert, China, Germany)

International Medium Length & Short Film Competition 

Best Medium Length Film

“Jungle,” (Louise Mootz, France)

Jury Prize Clinique de Genolier

“An Ordinary Country,” Tomasz Wolski, Poland)

Special Mention

“Trouble Sleep,” (Alain Kassanda, Nigeria, France)

Best Short Film

“My Own Landscapes.” (Antoine Chapon, France)

Special Mention

“Bella,” (Thelyia Petraki, Greece)

Youth Jury Prize Mémoire Vive

“On Hold,” (Laura Rantanen, Finland)

Opening Scenes

IDFA Talent Award

“The Golden Buttons,” (Alex Evstigneev, Russia)

Tënk Award

“Without You, Without Me,” (Adèle Shaykhulova, France, Russia)

Meta Cultural Foundation Awar

“Mat and Her Mates,” (Pauline Pénichout, France)