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The end of 15th WATCH DOCS Festival. Human Rights in Film

“Behemoth” and “A Syrian Love Story” have been named the ex aequo winners of the WATCH DOCS prize. The juries singled out the works of Sean McAllister and Zhao Liang because, as they wrote in the justification, both documentarians address important and topical themes in an extraordinary and surprising way.

In “A Syrian Love Story” Sean McAllister accompanies a family experiencing upheaval, war and exile and allows the viewers to closely follow their journey through love, fear, loss and – ultimately – alienation.

Zhao Liang’s “Behemoth” takes us to the Dantesque inferno of a Chinese coal mine and the surrounding industrial complex. With eerie images, a delicately crafted soundtrack and masterful editing, the director creates an amazing piece of art about human dignity and survival and in times of greed and destruction.

The audience’s award was bestowed to the Polish document “Call me Marianna” directed by Karolina Bielawska. The winner was followed by “Something Better to Come”, “Cartel Land”, “The Man Who Mends Women” and “How to Change the World”, the films that won the next largest number of viewer’s votes.

The special award of the Board of the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights, the Marek Nowicki Prize, went this year to Nick Broomfield, the director whose films were featured in a summary retrospective.

Fifteen films competed for the WATCH DOCS prize, and during the seven festival days more than 60 documentaries were presented at nearly 100 screenings.

On 10 December, the final day of the Warsaw festival, the first WATCH DOCS festival started in Minsk, Belarus. Thanks to the involvement of the Belorussian NGO Zvyano, Minsk audience could watch 17 films from the last year’s edition of the Polish festival and meet with the festival’s guests. WATCH DOCS in Minsk is a grassroots initiative based entirely on volunteer service. The Travelling Festival is kicking off soon, too, and is to visit many Polish cities and towns over the next year.

Thanks to everyone for being with us!

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