“The Doll” from Iran named best short at Hot Docs

Short Film News (SFN)- Iranian filmmaker Elaheh Esmaeili’s “The Doll” has been selected as best short documentary at the Canadian documentary festival Hot Docs in Toronto.

The film is about 14-year-old Asal, whose father consents to her marriage. Through a series of astoundingly frank interviews, the secrets and indiscretions of Asal’s father are slowly revealed and his true intentions come to light.

The documentary received the award “for its complex and nuanced portrait of a family caught between traditions and personal values,” the jury said on Sunday in its statement on the closing day of the festival, which was held online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“With a sensitive and attentive look at her subjects, the filmmaker offers us a film of incredible richness on a human experience that would be easy to judge from a Western point of view. Unsettling, endearing and sometimes even shocking, this film will not leave anyone indifferent,” the jury added.

The award for best international feature documentary went to “Ostrov – Lost Island” directed by Svetlana Rodina and Laurent Stoop from Switzerland.

Once home to a thriving fishing collective farm, the island of Ostrov in the Caspian Sea has fallen into despair. Caught between political turmoil after the fall of the USSR, the few remaining inhabitants have been abandoned by the government of Russia and must rely on poaching to survive. With no jobs and no electricity or gas, the fishermen are forced to illegally fish the heavily patrolled seas, risking both their lives and freedom.

“School of Hope”, a co-production from Finland, France and Morocco directed by Mohamed El Aboudi, won the special jury prize in the international feature documentary category.

In the expansive desert east of the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, where seasonal rain and snow once supported livestock and nomadic traditions, an extended drought caused by the climate crisis never seems to end. Despite generating a tiny carbon footprint, the Oulad Boukais tribe deal with the threat of environmental collapse every day. So, to ensure their children's future, they establish a school.

Annabel Verbeke received the emerging international filmmaker award for “Four Seasons in a Day”, a co-production by Belgium, Norway and Croatia.

It may only take 15 minutes to cross the lough between British-controlled Northern Ireland and EU member Republic of Ireland, but this refreshingly politics-free look at Brexit’s brand-new border covers a huge gulf of public confusion. Filmmaker Verbeke placed cameras on board Carlingford ferry to eavesdrop on tourists and locals from both sides as they discussed what boundaries mean to them.

“Silent Voice”, a co-production between France and Belgium was selected as best mid-length documentary.

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