29 June, 2010

European Documentary Award Winners at SILVERDOCS

By Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival announced its award winners at a typically low-key awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon, culminating the weeklong festival activities that included the screening of 102 films representing 54 countries, a free outdoor screening, live performances, and a five-day concurrent International Documentary Conference.. Several European films were awarded.

This year's Sterling Award for Best World Feature was given to the Swiss documentary THE WOMAN WITH THE 5 ELEPHANTS directed by Vadim Jendreyko, which chronicles eighty-five-year-old Svetlana Geier who has dedicated her life to language. Considered the greatest translator of Russian literature into German, Svetlana has just concluded her magnum opus, completing new translations of Dostoevsky's five great novels-known as the five elephants. The director will receive $5,000 cash.

The Writers Guild of America, West and the Writers Guild of America, East have named Yael Hersonski as the winner of the WGA Documentary Screenplay Award for the German-Israeli co-production A FILM UNFINISHED, the story of never before seen footage from a lost reel of an incomplete Nazi-produced propaganda film about Warsaw's Jewish ghetto in 1942. The film captures images of manipulated and staged ghetto life mixed with stunning photographic evidence and testimony-all making for a riveting experience.

Two European films captured the coveted Audience Award prizes. The Feature Film Audience Award went to MEN WHO SWIM directed by Dylan Williams. The film follows a British man living in Sweden on the brink of turning 40, who combats his mid-life crisis by joining a mens' synchronized swimming team. Composed of middle-aged men from all walks of life, what started as an escapist hobby evolves into a committed brotherhood as the team competes at the unofficial All Male World Championship in Milan.

The Short Film Audience Award was won by the Irish film BYE BYE NOW, directed by Aideen O'Sullivan and Ross Whitaker. The film offers a charming look at the gradual disappearance of phone booths in Ireland. With the advent of modern technology, the phone booth has all but vanished all over the world. In a loving tribute to this soon-to-be relic of the past, the film is a nostalgic reminder of yesteryear.

The Festival hosted over 25,000 attendees, including more than 1,000 filmmakers, film and television executives and media professionals exploring the documentary in action, with a particular emphasis on youth, education and next generation media artists. For more information on the films and the events, visit the Festival's website:

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