Maja Doroteja Prelog’s “Cent’anni” won this year’s Docs-in-Progress Award given out by the Cannes Film Market with the support of the Intl. Film Talent Assn. (IEFTA), which was presented at a ceremony on Tuesday in Cannes.
Prelog’s feature was chosen out of the 32 works-in-progress that were presented this week during the Cannes Market. The award includes a €10,000 ($11,800) cash prize and professional project follow-up.
“Cent’anni” is a personal confession about the impact of illness on a relationship, following Prelog’s partner, Blaž, a leukemia survivor who embarks on an extraordinary cycling journey to heal from the traumatic experience. The jury described it as “a courageous step in an unknown journey that dives into a couple’s struggle through a fight for life and love, with a promising cinematic approach.”
The film is produced by Rok Biček (Cvinger Film, Slovenia), Alessandro Leone (Agresywna Banda, Poland), and Massimo Casula (Zena Film, Italy). It was presented as part of the CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator Showcase.
“‘Cent’anni’ is more than a film to me. It’s me. It’s my life,” Prelog said at the ceremony by video call. “When I started on this project three years ago, I wasn’t exactly sure where it would take me. But I promised myself that no matter what would happen, I would always stay honest. And it turns out that this promise that I gave to myself was harder to keep, and more challenging, than I thought it would be.
“It takes a lot of courage and heart,” she continued. “It’s really hard to do a personal film, because nobody can tell you what to do. You have to figure it out yourself. So this award is a confirmation for me that I’m on the right path.”
Each year, Cannes Docs partners with leading festivals and organizations from across the world to showcase curated selections of docs-in-progress for industry decision makers, including festival programmers and sales agents. The projects are in the final stages of editing and are aiming to hit the circuit within the coming weeks and months.
The eight showcases this year were presented by Telefilm Canada, in partnership with Hot Docs and the Montreal Intl. Documentary Festival; Sheffield DocFest; Chiledoc; the Festival dei Popoli – Intl. Documentary Film Festival, in collaboration with the Toscana Film Commission and the Piemonte Film Commission; the CIRCLE Women Doc Accelerator; ParisDOC, the professional platform of Cinéna du Réel; the Palestine Film Institute; and the Intl. Film Initiative of Bangladesh.
Earlier in the day, the Doc Alliance hosted its 14th annual award ceremony during a special lunch reception in Cannes. Doc Alliance is the network of seven of Europe’s leading documentary film festivals: CPH:DOX (Denmark), Doclisboa (Portugal), DOK Leipzig (Germany), FIDMarseille (France), Ji.hlava IDFF (Czech Republic), Millennium Docs Against Gravity (Poland) and Visions du Réel (Switzerland).
The Doc Alliance Award for best feature went to “The Blunder of Love,” by Rocco Di Mento, which was nominated by DOK Leipzig and produced by Valeria Venturelli at the German Filmuniversität Babelsberg Konrad Wolf. Through old 8mm home movies, an unpublished novel, love letters and a host of long-suppressed feelings, Di Mento sets out to explore the myth of his grandparents’ romance and tries to honor his deceased grandfather on film, assisted by their surviving relatives, only to discover that things might not have gone as family lore depicted.
The jury said that while “The Blunder of Love” isn’t the first film in which a director turns the camera on their own family, “it is done with a charming curiosity that evolves into a genuine deconstruction of myth and a discrete revelation of family secrets and trauma and how it is passed on from generation to generation.”
The Doc Alliance Award for short film went to “Bless You!” (Zdrastvuyte!), directed by Tatiana Chistova and nominated by Millennium Docs Against Gravity. Against the backdrop of Saint Petersburg’s courtyards during the COVID-19 lockdown, the film fuses recordings of the almost empty city and calls to a municipal hotline designated for the elderly, after the government imposed a strict round-the-clock curfew on them.
The jury said the film “captures the feeling of anxiety, isolation, boredom and confusion in the pandemic and finds a very simple, but powerful and honest way to do it.” “Bless You!” is produced by Maciek Hamela for Impakt Film, with sales handled by Berlin-based MAGNETFILM.
“The Blunder of Love” received a €5,000 ($5,900) cash prize, and “Bless You!” a €3,000 ($3,500) cash prize, for the directors to spend on their next projects. Additionally, the Doc Alliance festivals have committed to screen at least three of the nominated films at their next editions.
Other awards handed out on Tuesday include:
The Think-Film Impact Award was given to “Munni,” which is directed by Tahrima Khan and produced by Abu Shahed Emon (Batayan Productions, Bangladesh). The film was presented as part of Showcase South Asia. The jury said the prize is “to support the main character on her mission to make this world a better place, and because as Munni says, ‘Girls are helpless in every place.’” The award comes with a personalized consultation on the ﬁlm’s impact and outreach strategy courtesy of Think-Film.
The DAE – Documentary Association of Europe Award was given to “Gwetto,” which the jury praised “for a powerful presentation of a strong and gifted author.” The film, which is directed by Michaël Andrianaly and produced by Michaël Andrianaly (IMASOA FILM, Madagascar), was presented as part of the Showcase ParisDOC – Cinéma du Réel. The award includes free DAE membership and rough cut consultation.
The Alphapanda Award was given to Yousef Srougi’s “Three Promises,” which is produced by Marielle Olentine and Zein Khleif (U.S.) and was presented as part of Showcase Palestine. The jury praised it “for a personal take on a story that takes place in the past and remains very current.” The award includes two private tailored consultations on film marketing.
The Cineli Digital Award went to “Of Dogs and Gods,” which is directed by Laurent Van Lancker and produced by David Borgeaud (Roue Libre, Belgium). Heralded by the jury “for its outstanding cinematographic vision,” the film was presented as part of Showcase ParisDOC – Cinéma du Réel. Paris-based Cineli Digital will provide the filmmakers with a professional DCP.
The VOSTAO Award, which offers French and English subtitles from the Paris-based lab, went to Roberto Baeza’s “Meeting Point,” which is produced by Paulina Costa (La Toma, Chile). The film was presented as part of Showcase Chile. The jury selected it “for a very emotional experience that affected us profoundly.”
Honorary mentions were given to “Devi,” which is directed by Subina Shrestha and produced by Rosie Garthwaite (Mediadante, U.K.), which was presented as part of the Showcase South Asia; and “Savoia,” directed by Beatrice Surano, Dunja Lavecchia and Morena Terranova and produced by Stefano Cravero and Enrico Bisi (Base Zero, Italy), which was presented as part of the Showcase Italy.