Camden International Film Festival: 'Erde (Earth)' Takes Top Prize; 'Lovemobil' Wins Cinematic Vision Award
Feras Fayyad's The Cave, short documentary Exit 12 also earn recognition
The prestigious Camden International Film Festival has awarded its Harrell Award for Best Documentary Feature prize to Erde (Earth), by director Nikolaus Geyrhalter.
The environmental-themed film observes the process by which "several billion tons of earth are moved annually by humans – with shovels, excavators or dynamite... in a constant struggle to take possession of the planet."
CIFF jurors praised the film "for capturing a rare and epic sense of scope and scale that demonstrates the magnitude of mankind’s imprint on the earth."
Erde held its world premiere at the Berlin Film Festival in February, where it won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury. It went on to win awards at the Sheffield International Documentary Festival and at Diagonale, Festival of Austrian Film, in Graz.
The three-person jury for the Harrell Award was made up of Carrie Lozano of the International Documentary Association, editor Nels Bangerter (Cameraperson) and filmmaker Sabaah Folayan (Whose Streets?).
The jury awarded a special mention to Syrian filmmaker Ferras Fayyad's documentary The Cave, his follow up to the Oscar-nominated Last Men in Aleppo. The Cave focuses on a heroic woman doctor in Syria who works in a makeshift underground hospital to escape the relentless bombing above ground from Russian warplanes and Syrian government forces.
Jurors hailed the documentary for "its immediacy, urgency and humanity." The Cave also won the 2019 Camden International Film Festival Audience Award.
The Cave will be released theatrically by National Geographic Documentary Films on October 18.
Among other prizes, the all-documentary festival in coastal Maine bestowed its Cinematic Vision Award on Lovemobil, directed by Elke Margarete Lehrenkrauss, a film that focuses on a vulnerable group largely obscured within "a society at the hardest end of a globalized capitalism."
"When night falls in rural Germany, old VW-caravans decorated with flashy lights line the country roads which lead through potato fields and dark forests. Inside theses buses prostitutes from Eastern Europe and Africa await their clients who are passing by," CIFF notes in its description of Lovemobil. "The film portraits these women who came from far away in search for money and a better life. Until one day, in the ghostly atmosphere, a murder [of] one of the prostitutes happens and shakes up the whole scenery causing everybody to take action."
Jurors in the Cinematic Vision section - editor Lindsay Utz, Jason Ishikawa of Cinetic Media and filmmaker Sky Hopinka - called Lovemobil a "haunting and evocative film. Intimately shot, artfully realized, and sensitively told, this film is not only a powerful story that gives voice to sex workers and the impossible realities they must negotiate, but it is also an unforgettable cinematic journey that stays with you long after the film ends.”
The Camden Cartel Award for Best Short went to Exit 12, by Mohammad Gorjestani.
"Using New York City as its dancing stage, the film masterfully weaves together a story of veterans' recovery from PTSD told through the medium of dance," CIFF said of Exit 12. "With poetry and gracefulness, the film's lyrical scenes unfold like a performance."
CIFF is among a select group of Academy-qualifying festivals for short films, so Exit 12's win makes it eligible for consideration this year in the Oscar category of Best Documentary Short.
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.