One of Europe’s first 2021 on-site festivals, held at Guía de Isora on the west coast of Tenerife in Spain’s Canary Islands, top Spanish doc festival MiradasDoc awarded its best film prize on Saturday to Argentina’s “Shady River,” directed and lensed by Tatiana Mazú González.
The 14th MiradasDoc’s festival awards were unveiled Saturday as its heads reported substantial growth in its MiradasDoc Market. That can be put down in part to the market’s online edition, which allowed many more decision-makers to view projects, hiking both one-to-one meetings and festival-sponsored prizes at the event, said David Baute, MiradasDoc artistic director.
Produced by Argentina’s Antes Muerto Cine, “Shady River,” Mazú González’s third feature, which took the Prix Georges de Beauregard at last year’s FIDMarseille, plumbs the collective misogyny of Patagonia’s mining towns where men are miners and women silent and legend still has it that one woman’s entering a mine could provoke its collapse.
A Berlinale Forum player produced by the Canary Islands’ El Viaje Films and Cuba’s Autonauta Films and sold by Tenerife-based Bendita Film Sales, “Between Dog and Wolf” — the new docu-fiction feature from Irene Gutiérrez (“Hotel Nueva Isla,” “Diarios del exilio”) — won MiradasDoc’s best Spanish feature award.
Portraying “a certain spirituality that, regardless of the feasible results and paradoxes of history, no longer exists” as Gutiérrez told Variety last year, “Between Dog and Wolf” chronicles the life of a real posse of former Cuban Angola War soldiers who still hide out and train in Cuba’s Sierra Maestra, as if the war and the revolution aren’t over.
Early fruit of new Chilean indie production house Juntos Films, Francisco Bermejo’s “The Other” proved a standout at 2020’s virtual Visions du Réel in Switzerland, where it won the Burning Lights section for innovative titles. Straddling fiction and reality and made over nine years, it notches up the remarkable achievement of dramatizing the madness of a hermit, Oscar, who makes ends meet in a primitive shack by a thundering ocean shore, where he reads “Moby Dick.” The film suggests that he survives because of – and not despite – his lunacy.
Its biggest and most successful edition, said Baute and its coordinator, Valentín Romero, the 2021 MiradasDoc Market prized 11 projects, a record. Building its online industry audience to 60 decision makers, with first-time attendees including the IDFA Bertha Fund, Sundance Institute and The Wickers Award, MiradasDoc delegates also took in Pierre-Alexis Chevit, head of the Cannes Film Market’s Cannes Docs, as well as reps from top doc events and fests in Europe, Latin America and Africa.
One highlight this year was a focus on impact campaigns, said Romero. Another proved to be the prizes, given to doc projects in the event’s three sections, DocSur, Africa-Latin America-Spain co-pro forum Afrolatam, and AnidocsSur for animated and VR titles.
Puerto Rican Pati Cruz’s “Simon Was Born” scooped the MiradasDoc Development Award. The feature weighs in as portrait of Lisette/Simon, a mother by day of two children and Drag King Simón by night, an artistic figure and life which allows Lis/Simón to question binomial sexuality and toxic masculinity.
Among double prize winners, the MontevideoDoc Prize and Cali Festival’s Premio Ficcali went to Leticia Simoes’ “The Secret Life of My Three Men,” a doc which asks why went wrong with Brazil and answers profiling the lives of her godfather, grandfather and father.
Like “Simon Was Born,” Harry Paul Oglivie Valles’ “Baba” won a Tree Line Distribution Prize and Diaspora Conecta Award for a work in which the director, in search of his sense of a place in the world, sets out to find traces of his great-grandfather in islands of Guna Yala in north-east Panama.
Underscoring their building local industry, Canary Islands docs had a good run at the Market prize ceremony, with two projects sharing the DocsMX Prize, awarded by one of Latin America’s foremost doc festivals: “La Berma,” a personal portrait of a Sahari woman mine clearance expert directed by Agustín Domínguez Cordero and Rita Vera García and produced by Gran Canaria’s Gran Angular; and “I Had a Life – ” a study of homelessness from Elisa Torres and Octavio Guerra, produced by Las Palmas-based Calibrando Producciones.
“I Had a Life” addresses “a common reality in our region, and a profound social crisis in our countries which lack public-sector policies to deal with it,” said Inti Cordero, longtime head of DocsMX.
Also featuring a conversation with Gianfranco Rossi, a panel on the political and social in African documentaries and a talk with doc festivals around the world, 2021’s online MiradasDoc Market ran Feb. 10 – March 5.
BEST INTERNATIONAL FEATURE AWARD
“Shady River,” (Tatiana Mazú González, Argentina)
BEST SPANISH FEATURE AWARD
“Between Dog and Wolf,” (Irene Gutiérrez, Spain, Cuba)
“Up at Night,” (Nelson Makengo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, France)
BEST FIRST FEATURE
“The Other” (Francisco Bermejo, Chile)
SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
“A Rifle and a Bag,” (Cristina Hanes, Isabella Rinaldi, Ayra Rothe, India, Romania, Italy, Qatar)
MIRADASDOC MARKET PRIZES
MIRADASDOC DEVELOPMENT AWARD
“Simon Was Born” (Pati Cruz, Puerto Rico)
“Baba,” (Harry Paul Oglivie Valles, Brazil, Senegal, Ghana, France, Cuba)
“The Secret Life of My Three Men,” (Letícia Simões, Brazil)
DURBAN FILM MARKET PRIZE
“Doxandem, the Dream Chasers,” (Saliou Sar, Senegal)
“The Berm,” (Agustín Domínguez Cordero, Rita Vera García, Spain)
“I Had a Life,” (Elisa Torres, Octavio Guerra, Spain)
“The Margin Color,” (Mariana Luiza, Brazil)
“Tropical Gothic” (Camila José Donoso, Chile)
“Exit Tale,” (Mariana Cadenas, Catarina Sobal)