Top industry awards at the 53rd edition of the international documentary film festival Visions du Réel have gone to “La Bonga,” “Anatomy of the Night,” “The Other Profile,” “Noor” and “Becoming Roosi.”

A total of 27 projects were invited to participate in three key forums – VdR-Pitching, VdR-Work in Progress and VdR-Rough Cut Lab – that ran as part of the festival’s industry activities in Nyon from April 10-14.

Seventeen awards were handed out to 16 docs-in-the-making, two of which won a double award: “La Bonga,” by Sebastián Pinzón Silva and Canela Reyes, took the Visions Sud Est and Raggioverde Subtitling trophies, and “Mailin” by Maria Silvia Esteve won both the TËNK Post-Production and Party Film Sales awards.

Considered to be the festival’s top industry prize, the Vision Sud Est award comes with a 10,000 CHF ($10,700) cash prize handed out to the best project from the Southern or Eastern Europe, and is the only award that takes in titles in both of the festival’s main industry sections: the VdR-Pitching and the VdR-Work in Progress segment.

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Courtesy of Bocalupo Films

Handing out the prize, jury member Delphine Jeanneret, programmer and curator at the Internationale Kurzfilmtage Winterhur in Switzerland, said: “We decided to award a highly promising collective work that will have a broad impact on a community that took an active part in a portrait empowering them to reclaim their community through filmmaking.”

Pinzón Silva and Reyes’ debut feature, “La Bonga” is about a displaced Afro-Colombian community that embarks on a symbolic journey through the jungles of the Caribbean to resurrect a home that exists only in their memories. “Mailin” is the story of Mailin, who for 15 years suffered the abuses of a priest, and embarks on a quest to recover the memory of her past, told through a collage of archive and childhood drawings.

The VdR-Pitching trophy for the most promising project went to “Anatomy of the Night” by Swiss director Lionel Baier (“La Vanité”), about a filmmaker suffering from sleep loss who sets off in search of the perfect night, and, as he leaves the city in his VW Combi, becomes aware of the violence of artificial lighting.

Berlinale artistic director Carlo Chatrian, a member of the jury, said: “We were mesmerized by the performance of the pitch – all we had to do was close our eyes.”

Receiving his award, Baier joked: “Really? You mean now I’m going to have to go out in the cold and the night and make this film?!”

“The Monsters” by Manuel Abramovich (“Blue Boy,” “Pornomelancholia”) picked up another top industry prize, the HEAD-Geneva Post-Production Award, for his project aimed at challenging gender norms and rethinking the institution of the family, where trans and non-binary protagonists will be invited to create a film together through performance and debate.

The coveted RTS Award, which consists of a pre-buy of TV rights by Switzerland’s French-language public broadcaster, went to two projects: “Noor” by Jérôme le Maire (“Burning Out,” “Le Thé ou l’électricité”) and “Becoming Roosi” by Margit Lillak (“The Circle”), a coming-of-age film about a feisty young girl who grows up as the child of an environmental activist.

“Noor,” which means “light” in Arabic, is the name of the largest solar power plant in the world to produce green energy. The film tells the story of a young nomad torn between tradition and the promise of modernity as he witnesses its construction in the southern Morocco desert.

The main prize for films in post-production presented at Visions du Réel, the VdR-Work in Progress Award, went to “The Other Profile” by Armel Hostiou, who, after discovering two Facebook profiles in his name, decides to go in search of his other self in this film.

The VdR-Industry jury was composed of Israeli director Avi Mograbi, Chatrian and film producer Isabelle Glachant.

With more than 2,100 participants from more than 80 countries, the festival saw industry attendance grow by more than a quarter compared to last year’s hybrid edition.

“We are absolutely overwhelmed by the historic success of this edition. Considering that in 2019, the last industry edition before the global pandemic, we counted just over 1,400 accredited participants, the signal is even more encouraging,” said Madeline Robert, head of industry, who announced during the awards ceremony that she would be stepping down after this edition.

The festival’s main competition awards will be announced on April 16.

Visions Sud Est Award
“La Bonga” by Canela Reyes, Sebastian Pinzón Silva
Production: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo (La Bonga)

VdR–Pitching Award
“Anatomy of the Night” by Lionel Baier
Production: Agnieszka Ramu (Bande à Part Films)

The Party Film Sales Award
“Mailin” by Maria Silvia Esteve
Production: Laura Mara Tablón (Rita Cine)

RTS Award
“Noor” by Jérôme le Maire
Production: Isabelle Truc (IOTA Production), Enrica Capra (Tag Film)
“Becoming Roosi” by Margit Lillak
Production: Margit Lillak & Karolina Veetamm (Tiny Desk Productions)

HEAD–Genève Postproduction Award
“The Monsters” by Manuel Abramovich
Production: Juan Pablo Labonia & Manuel Abramovich (Ruido)

TËNK Post-production Award
“Mailin” by Maria Silvia Esteve
Production: Laura Mara Tablón (Rita Cine)

Unifrance Doc Award
“A Dog’s Life” by Diane Sara Bouzgarrou, Thomas Jenkoe
Production: Jean-Laurent Csinidis (Films de Force Majeure)

Cannes Docs Award
“Karatara – “Place of Deep Shadows”” by Teboho Edkins
Production: Don Edkins (Day Zero Films)

DOK Leipzig Award
“To Use a Mountain” by Casey Carter
Production: Colleen Casingham (To Use a Mountain LLC)

EFM Award
“Wider Than the Sky” by Valerio Jalongo
Production: Milena Stokar (Aura Film sagl)

DAE Encouragement Award
“Girl-Tubers” by Tali Yankelevich
Production: Leonardo Mecchi (Enquadramento Produções)

VdR–Work in Progress
VdR-Work in Progress Award
“The Other Profile” by Armel Hostiou
Production: Jasmina Sijercic (Bocalupo Films)

Lightdox Award
“5 Seasons of Revolution” by Lina
Production: Diana El Jeiroudi (No Nations Film GmbH), Torstein Grude (Piraya Film)

Raggioverde Subtitling Award
“La Bonga” by Canela Reyes, Sebastian Pinzón Silva
Production: Gabriella Garcia-Pardo (La Bonga)

Freestudios Award
“Against the Tide” by Sarvnik Kaur
Production: Koval Bhatia (A Little Anarky Films), Sarvnik Kaur (Snooker Club Films Pvt Ltd), Quentin Laurent (Les Films de l’œil sauvage)

Opening Scenes Awards
TËNK Award
“Le Cercle vide” / “The Empty Sphere” by Stéphanie Roland
Production: Natalia Trebik, Fresnoy – Studio National des Arts Contemporains

Docs Up Award
“Le Thé et le Temps” by Salah El Amri
Production: Gabriela Bussmann, Yan Decoppet – GoldenEggProduction / HEAD – Genève