11th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival – Awards 2019

dmzdocs2018logoWe present the list of winners of the 11th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival which took place from September 20th – 27th, in Goyang & Paju, Korea.

About the festival:
Over the past decade, DMZ International Documentary Film Festival has grown into the leading documentary festival in Korea and Asia. Now it presents its vision and direction more clearly with the documentary selections and program events. In overall, the number of Korean and Asian films has significantly increased in overall. Also, the quality and number of submitted Asian documentaries introduced in Global Vision and Showcase, as well as International and Asian Competitions, have increased considerably. DMZ DOCS intends to discover and introduce talented filmmakers and Asian documentaries that are actively progressing, and serve as a bridge between the world and Asia. It will be the year to confirm the status of DMZ DOCS as a significant platform to meet Asian documentaries and build partnerships. (DMZ Web)

International Competition
Grand Prize / White Goose Award

143 Sahara

143 Sahara Street by Hassen Ferhani – Algeria, France, Qatar | 2019 – 100 minutes

In the middle of the Algerian Sahara, in her relay, a woman writes her History. She welcomes, for a cigarette, a coffee or eggs, truckers, wandering beings and dreams… Her name is Malika.


What the Jury said: “A loving portrait of a fiercely independent woman and her roadside teahouse in the Algerian desert, filled with respectful human interaction and shot in a perfect observational distance with striking camerawork.”



Special Jury Award


Kabul, City in the Wind by Aboozar Amini
Netherlands, Germany, Afghanistan | 2018 – 88 minutes

In Kabul, Abas drives his bus and is always looking for terrorists who target him. Teenage Afshin and his little brother, Benjamin, go with their father to put pictures of bomb victims on a memorial. When their father goes to Iran for his safety, Afshin steps into his shoes as head of the household.

What the Jury said: “A documentary of the precarious daily life in Kabul, always in the shadows of past violence and constant threat of terrorist attacks, with revealing details that show the resilience of the city and its residents.”



Special Mention


Lapü by Juan Pablo Polanco, César Alejandro Jaimes – Colombia | 2019 – 75 minutes

In the middle of the Guajira Desert, Doris, a young indigenous Wayuu woman, exhumes her cousin’s remains in order to meet her for the last time. Through a sensory journey, this ritual leads her to confront death and blend the world of the dreams with the world of the living.


What the Jury said: “Sensuous and experimental, the film pushes the boundaries of conventional documentary”




Asian Competition
Asian Perspective Award

About Love

About Love by Archana Phadke – India | 2019 – 91 minutes

Three generations of the Phadke family live together in the 102-year-old Phadke Building in downtown Mumbai. Cruel and comic in equal measure, the film vignettes the vagaries of affection across generations within this family- tied together by something stranger than love.


What the Jury said: “In About love, a house somewhere in Mumbai becomes an universal place. We could see the meaning of family through eating, sleeping, shouting and laughing. We admire the motivation and patience of the young director Archana PHADKE who shows us what is love, home, marriage, what is death and what is life.”




Korean Competition
Best Documentary Award

Shadow Flowers

Shadow Flowers by Yi Seungjun – Korea | 2019 – 107 minutes

Ryun-hee Kim, a North Korean housewife, was forced to come to South Korea and became its citizen against her will. As her seven years of struggle to go back to her family in North Korea continues, the political absurdity hinders her journey back to her loved ones.


The life of her family in the North goes on in emptiness, and she fears that she might become someone, like a shadow, who exists only in the fading memory of her family.

What the Jury said: “The film captures the life of a woman who has a politically complicated status in the fast-changing inter-Korean relations. The judges agreed unanimously to select this film and pay homage to the boldness of the director and the crew. The film conveyed the irony of a family being separated against their will, while keeping them coexist in the film beyond the border between North and South. It is the film that never existed before and showed the essence of a documentary film. And it is also a courageous work that shows the way we should go.”


Special Jury Award


Evaporated by Kim Sungmin – Korea | 2019 – 126 minutes

A girl was missing, and her father has searched for her whereabouts for 17 years. The film depicts the life of families left behind. They can’t give up nor keep searching. Their lives should go on. The film asks what is left after someone is evaporated.


What the Jury said: “This is the film with heavy contemplation, following the lives of people who experienced a sudden disappearance of a family member. It depicts the courage to overcome tragedy by capturing their lives long after the disappearance, not when the incident happened. We want to express more significant support as it is the work of a young director.”



ADF Award
Best Documentary

Over the Rainbow

Over the Rainbow by Park Yeong-I, Kim Gongchol – Japan, Korea | 2019 – 80 minutes

Japan is a close but distant country. The film tells the past and present of Zainichi Koreans and pro-North Korean schools in Japan. Through the close-down order, protests, and withdrawal of the order, the schools remained steady for 70 years. The film doesn’t focus only on the past, but calmy depicts the lives of Zainichi Koreans. What is different today compared to 70 years ago?


What the Jury said: “Over the Rainbow is full of affection to remember the beginning of Zainichi Korean School in Japan about 70 years ago. With the solidarity, we applaud the bright-faced young people and the blood, sweat, and tears of Korean Japanese who want to protect the Korean language and the school in crisis.”


Best Short Documentary

Room 19

Room 19 by Hong Hyemi – UK | 2019 – 9 minutes

I temporarily stay in a small town in the UK. Since I left my parents’ house in 2001, I go on with my life. Room 19 is my 19th place. I pull down and rebuild my life day by day. I left my home country to be free, but the reality I face as an Asian woman escalates anxiety. The film portrays the contradictory feelings between the comfort of one’s own room and the instability of temporary life.


What the Jury said: “In Room 19 Imagery glides in humaneness and philosophy while the soundscape does not only deliver emotions but ground the film to the visceral. In its beauty, deep pain that is relevant to world politics from the Asian experience in the West oozes with such control, that we are not simply carried in it but also encounter once again the concentrated power of cinema in short form.”


The Sea Recalls

The Sea Recalls by Aekaphong Saransate – Thailand | 2018 – 27 minutes

In 2016, Aekaphong’s uncle was murdered in his house alongside his wife. A year later, Aekaphong returns to his hometown to investigate the man’s past and come to terms with his absence.

What the Jury said: “The Sea Recalls navigates with delicateness and humility the inherent ethical issues in a documentary dealing with real people and the filmmaker’s own family. In the sensitive space of family, home and death, the filmmaker takes his time to unravel an inner feeling, with honesty and warmth, without selfishness, expanding a family’s confrontation of its past into a consoling universal embrace.”


Special Mention (Short Film)

Hand Remember Mosaic

Hand, Remember, Mosaic by Park Eunsun – Korea | 2019 – 24 minutes

An illustrator Eunseon has ignored difficult things but has done only what she liked. Her friends don’t shy away from candlelight protests and the Sewol ferry incident. She feels ashamed and isolated, and introspects herself. She confronts her trauma related with the Gwangju Uprising and pulls up courage to overcome it. When she visits the place after 20 years, she realizes things won’t get better so quickly.


What the Jury said: “The short pushes the boundaries of what and who cinema addresses. Beyond a story of trauma told in the personal voice, it is an attempt to shout out to a world that often does not listen, to time which wouldn’t stop, to the unfathomable finality of death. The jury thinks that this film is an act of hope which, in solidarity as fellow women documentary filmmakers, we would like to give a welcome hand to. This film gives light to how the fluid and cruel political history in South Korea can flood through the fragility of singular human bodies and leave lasting traces that can only yearn for healing.”



Youth Film Showcase
Muhan-sangsang Award

The Awkwardness of a Room

The Awkwardness of a Room by Lee Sungbin – Korea | 2018 – 15 minutes

When I was young, I was afraid of my father, but we were pretty close. When I became a teenager, I felt awkward around him, not that our relationship was bad. There was no problem when other people or family members were around. However, when I was with him alone in a car or home, I felt uncomfortable. This made me wonder if I was the only one who felt awkward with my father or other friends felt the same way.


What the Jury said: “The story was quite impressive as the director attempts to expand his awkward relationship with his father from the problem of ‘me’ to ‘me and my father”


Sangsang-isang Award

About Q

About Q by Jeong Soo-in – Korea | 2018 – 8 mintues

I intend to talk about Q.


What the jury said: “Director Jeong Soo-in, which carefully and boldly presented the story of a sexual minority Q in church.”


Jayu-yeonsang Award

Day Footprint

Day, Footprint by Kim Hee-jun – Korea | 2018 – 21 minutes

This is Hee-kwon’s day. Camera is just an addition to the places he goes to every day. They are different from the places where ordinary high school students go. Still, viewers can see his passion for dream. After listening to people’s opinion of him, the film reveals how Hee-kwon thinks of himself and his future.


What the Jury said: “It describes the director’s dream and determination to become a film director by following a friend’s day who wants to be a skateboarder. For Jayu-yeonsang Award, we selected the following films”.


304 Stars

304 Stars by Yue Si-on – Korea | 2018 – 14 minutes

April 2014 reminds us of the Sewol Ferry incident. Even after five years, the truth hasn’t been revealed, and the incident becomes forgotten from people. The film speaks why we shouldn’t forget the tragedy and how we can remember it. Through the stories of bereaved families and young people, the film tries to help us not forget 304 victims who must have been loved by someone.

What the Jury said: “304 Stars by director YUE Si-on firmly stated a strong message of ‘Never forget Sewol Ferry.”


The Fan

The Fan by Jeong Ho-eun – Korea | 2018 – 8 minutes

As the K-pop grows, the fandom has now become a culture. The film tells this special kind of love from fans to K-pop idols and the culture they create.

What the Jury said: “Director Jeong Ho-eun captured the fans who fell in love, based on the affection for fandom culture.”


Find Lost Pieces

Find Lost Pieces by Lee Hyeonjeong – Korea | 2019 – 19 minutes

There is a song that everyone might have heard at least once. The song makes us recall our bright youth. Let’s go search the lost pieces of children’s song kept deep in our hearts.

What the Jury said: “director LEE Hyeonjeong and her team is about a cheerful and practical journey to find the meaning of ‘children’ songs’”.


A Man of National Merit

A Man of National Merit by Sa Jingyoung – Korea | 2019 – 20 minutes

Celebrating the 100th anniversary of March First Independence Movement, I started to inquire men of national merits and heard from neighbors about my grandfather who used to be a veteran of the Vietnam War and passed away last year.

What the Jury said: “The short depicts the pain of war along with the history of the family”.


Special Mention

Day Footprint

Day, Footprint by Kim Hee-jun – Korea | 2018 – 21 minutes



Special Awards
Brave New Doc Award

Ordinary Life

Ordinary Life, -70 by Kang Se-jin – Korea | 2019 – 199 minutes

An old couple settles down in Miryang to spend time on their latter half of life. It is said that power transmission towers will be built for Kori nuclear power plant. Their plan has been ruined badly. The couple goes up to a mountain to join the residents for protest. In this heaven, where the duality of law is used for good and evil, can the old couple settle down safely?


What the Jury said: “The captures the minds of residents who struggled against building power transmission tower in Miryang, which was remembered only as an event. Beautiful New Docs Award is for the film with aesthetic experiments and outstanding visuals”.


Beautiful New Docs Award


Under-ground by Wook Steven Heo – Korea | 2019 – 72 minutes

A documentary about the underground structures scattered around East Asia and their history. Starting from the underground ghost station in Seoul, it searches for traces of underground structures in areas of World War II, Jeju 4.3 uprising and DMZ. It captures the air of the underground in which the monumental structures became sightseeing spots.


What the Jury said: “Under-ground brought the historical spirits into the empty space of the past, that has turned into just a tourist destination”


Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award


Evaporated by Kim Sungmin – Korea | 2019 – 126 minutes

A girl was missing, and her father has searched for her whereabouts for 17 years. The film depicts the life of families left behind. They can’t give up nor keep searching. Their lives should go on. The film asks what is left after someone is evaporated.


What the Jury said: “It warmly observed and recorded the pain that a family is going through because of an incident that people can never deal with.”



Audience Award

Patriot Game 2

Patriot Game 2 – To Call a Deer a Horse by Kyung Soon – Korea | 2019 – 95 minutes

The most controversial but forgotten issue in the progressive side is the LEE Seok-ki’s sabotage plot. The film highlights the case. Regarding the dissolution of the leftist Unified Progressive Party, the film unfolds different thoughts and positions, public opinions, false information, the Constitution, democracy, and our perception of North Korea. What have we missed in the midst of all this?




Supporting Theatrical Release Award

Shadow Flowers

Shadow Flowers by Yi Seungjun – Korea | 2019 – 107 minutes

What the Jury said: “The narrative of Shadow flowers has inspiring sentiments and stories that can reach even the generations who never experienced the separated families of North and South Korea. As the protagonist says that we can’t meet now but soon we will, we hope that the film could be released and meet the audience soon”



Old Fighters Story

Old Fighter’s Story by Shin Imho – Korea | 2019 – 100 minutes

This is the first documentary on the hottest issue of part-time lecturers at universities. The right to work for intellectuals is a serious topic but hasn’t been discussed openly. The film portrays the 11-year struggle of an old lecturer couple and doesn’t hide complex issues in and out of the battle.

What the Jury said: “With a balanced and warm view, the film depicts a life story of two teachers, KIM Dong-ae and KIM Young-gon. They have struggled for 12 years in a street tent demanding the reinstatement of the teaching position for part-time lecturers in university. The film describes the resistant lives and beliefs of the teachers, and it also has the timeliness as it covers the new ‘Legislation for part-time lecturers’ which was implemented last August. The scenes captured through detailed observations are aesthetically pleasing and showed outstanding work depicting the complex characters. The judges selected the film as if we put a mast on an artistically outstanding work that is hard to reach the audience in the market. We hope that this film will meet more audiences while theaters can serve as a forum for public discussions.”



DMZ Arts Contribution Award


Nocturne for the Cinematography – Jeong Kwanjo, Lim Kangbin, Jang Gunho, Cho Yongkyou (directed by Jeong Gwanjo) – Korea | 2019 – 95 minutes

Sung-ho has Savant syndrome and pursues music. His mother supports him to encourage his talent. His brother Gun-ki feels neglected by his mother who is busy with taking care of his brother. The film is a story of the brothers. Their candid words raise questions about the meaning of family.


What the Jury said: “At one point, it was mostly the power of photography that made the audience immerse in protagonists as the story unfolds. The natural cinematography helped the audience to hopefully observe the conflicts of the family, even in the cramped and cluttered space filled with furniture.”

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