Prizes also go to Kifaru, Mossville: When Great Trees Fall, and more
One Child Nation, the documentary by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang that shows the devastating social impact of China's one child policy, has won its second major award of 2019.
The film was honored with the Grand Jury Prize at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in Durham, North Carolina on Sunday, a little over two months after it won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary at Sundance.
"This film personalizes the political by taking us deeper into the personal costs of that policy," jurors Peter Nicks, Marshall Curry and Jennifer Redfearn noted in their citation. "The level of inquiry in the film is vital--the film raises profound questions about personal responsibility, morality, and government abuses. One Child Nation resonates with an authentic voice that allows us to examine the world around us and ourselves in new ways."
China’s one child policy touched millions of lives and we hope this film will survive as a true record of what the policy meant for people affected by it.
"This is incredible. Thank you to the jury and to Full Frame," producer Carolyn Hepburn said as she accepted the award. "[Full Frame is] such an incredible celebration of documentary and community."
Hepburn read a note from the directors, who were not present at the ceremony.
"China’s one child policy touched millions of lives and we hope this film will survive as a true record of what the policy meant for people affected by it," the directors wrote. "As filmmakers we believe once the film is finished it doesn’t belong to the filmmakers anymore. It belongs to anyone who sees it. Our story becomes part of the audience’s memory and it’s them who will help us keep the story and history alive. So thank you to all of you who watched the film, and now the film is yours."
The policy, implemented in 1979 to slow China's population growth, limited most couples to a single child. As the film reveals, government authorities enforced the policy by sterilizing untold numbers of mothers and mandating abortions for others who were pregnant with a second child. The policy was relaxed in 2015 to allow couples to have a second child, partly to address a demographic shift that has left few children to care for aging parents.
Amazon acquired the film shortly after Sundance wrapped. Theatrical distribution plans haven't been announced.
Full Frame awarded prizes to several other films, including Kifaru, which centers on efforts to protect the last male northern white rhinoceros in existence. The documentary by David Hambridge won the Audience Award as well as the 2019 Full Frame Environmental Award, presented by the International Fund for Animal Welfare.
Mossville: When Great Trees Fall won the Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award, "given to a film that addresses a significant human rights issue in the United States." The human rights issue in question here is the eradication of a town in Louisiana founded by freed slaves. Petrochemical companies have built huge operations in the area, allegedly poisoning the ground water and air, with devastating impacts on the townspeople. When the South African company SASOL started building a plant there it forced out the last remaining residents, except for one brave man, Stacey Ryan.
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.