INTERNATIONAL DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Gold Hugo: “The Echo” (Mexico, Germany), Dir. Tatiana Huezo
Tatiana Huezo presents an engrossingly cinematic and poetic portrait of modern family life in rural Mexico. Huezo’s nuanced, observational storytelling weaves a rich tapestry of a family and community who live off the land in a mountainous terrain, herding sheep. The film is a meditation on cycles of life, birth, death, work, home, a deep and profound respect for nature, and the inevitable clash between cultural tradition and the modern world. Through the eyes of three generations, the film presents a deeply moving portrait that subtly reveals the flashpoints of struggle in everyday life, observations of shifting gender roles and the ever-encroaching pull of a world outside of their own. The power of the storytelling is in the smallest details, and Huezo’s directorial choices displayed an intentionality that elevated the narrative from thoughtful to profound. The textured cinematography and the immersive sound design create a cinematic landscape that is expansive and breathtakingly intimate.
Silver Hugo: “In the Rearview” (Poland, France, Ukraine), Dir. Maciek Hamela
In another stellar example of vérité storytelling, the ravages of war are written on the faces of evacuees as they flee their homes and lives amid escalations in the war in Ukraine, viewed through the ‘rear view’ perspective of our director as he drives group after group out of danger and into new and uncertain lives ahead. Views of the passing, war torn landscape outside the windows of the vehicle are continuous glimpses into the horrors of war that most people can only imagine. This emotionally-driven journey into the unknown for the film’s subjects, passengers of the camera-wielding caravan, captures the humanity of each face and the rawness of their experience in moments charged with fear, empathy, love, pain, grief and even, at times, humor.
Special Mention: “Four Daughters” (France, Saudi Arabia, Germany, Tunisia, Cyprus), Dir. Kaouther Ben Hania
We all felt that this film was formally inventive and appreciated the bold directorial perspective. The “writing” of the narrative in Four Daughters was a unique collaboration between the subjects, actors and the filmmaker–a co-created, singular portrait of a broken family coping with unimaginable loss.
Gold Q-Hugo: “Monster” (Japan), Dir. Hirokazu Kore-eda
A true gem, “Monster” cinematically reveals how false accusations on both the level of gossip and unjust stigma of homosexuality resonate to shape people’s lives. Superb individual performances weave together to provoke the unstable positions everyone takes as they confront their own version of events. A visually gorgeous film of reversals and surprises, “Monster” unfolds the magic of personal truth in everyday life.