Magazine article Screen International

'Syrian Love Story' Wins Sheffield Doc/Fest Prize

Magazine article Screen International

'Syrian Love Story' Wins Sheffield Doc/Fest Prize

Article excerpt

Sean McAllister's A Syrian Love Story has won the Grand Jury prize at Sheffield Doc/Fest (June 5-10).

Acclaimed British documentary filmmaker McAllister, whose credits include The Liberace in Baghdad and The Reluctant Revolutionary, shot the feature over four years.

It follows the plight of one Syrian family as they are forced to leave the war torn country and the impact it has on the family's relationships. During the filming process, McAllister himself spent time in a Syrian jail when the authorities seized his camera.

On behalf of the jury, Ruby Chen of CNEX China said: "The jury were enamoured by this Bergmanesque portrait of a relationship and love, taking place against an ever-changing and tumultuous backdrop.

"Delivering unusual gender portraits it explores vulnerabilities, looking at the concept of belonging, providing a unique and intimate portrait of disillusionment."

The awards, presented by comedian Jeremy Hardy, were announced this morning at The Crucible Theatre, Sheffield.

ENVIRONMENTAL AWARD

The Environmental Prize was awarded to Jerry Rothwell's How to Change the World, a Canada-UK co-production that centres on the early years of Greenpeace.

Speaking for the jury, Sagafilm's Margret Jonasdottir said: "The strength of mind and willpower of the filmmaker to recapture and recreate the archive was poetically echoed in the film itself.

"From powerful images of protagonists standing arm-in-arm in front of a moving ship, cracking through the ice, to a man prepared to handcuffhimself to the fruits of the harvest at risk of his life, gave meaning to how hard it is to change the world.

"And yet the film dealt with both success - the mind bomb - and with ultimate failure. The complicated relationships were captivatingly Shakespearean, a powerful dramatic narrative of how individual passion is transformed into organisational activism."

A special mention went to Landfill Harmonic, about a rubbish picker and a music teacher in South America begin to make instruments from materials scavenged from the heart of a dump.

The jury said it was "an inspirational, emotional and passionate film recalling the power of music to raise its protagonists above and beyond their physical circumstances: living in a landfill susceptible to floods.

"Strong characters in this longitudinal study demonstrates the tenacity of the human spirit is overcoming the impossibility of their circumstances."

The US-Brazil-Norway-Paraguay co-production was co-directed by Brad Allgood and Graham Townsley.

YOUTH JURY

The Sheffield Youth Jury Award was given to US documentary 3½ Minutes, 10 Bullets, directed by Marc Silver. …

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