12th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival – Winners 2020

We present the list of winners of the 12th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival which took place from September 17th – 24th, in Goyang and Paju (South Korea).

About the festival:
The DMZ International Documentary Film Festival, as one of leading international documentary film festivals in Asia, aims to provide opportunities for growing Korean and Asian documentary filmmakers to have a field that cineastes and audience together celebrate the festival through documentaries for promoting ‘peace’, ‘life’ and ‘communication’ with DMZ.

White Goose Award

Aswang by Alyx Ayn Arumpac – Philippines, France | 2019 – 84 minutes

When Rodrigo Duterte is voted president of the Philippines, he sets in motion a machinery of death to execute suspected drug peddlers, users, and small-time criminals. Aswang follows people whose fates entwine with the growing violence during two years of killings in Manila. (DMZ Docs 2020)


Special Jury Award

i-Documentary of the Journalist by Mori Tatsuya – Japan | 2019 – 113 minutes

A renowned documentary filmmaker Mori Tatsuya follows the real-life inspiration for the well-received fiction film, THE JOURNALIST, Mochizuki Isoko, who is not afraid of asking tough questions to high-rank government officials. Her commitment as a dedicated journalist casts a bigger question about the individuals’ roles and the way it relates to the society.


Special Mention

Of Land and Bread by Ehab Tarabieh – Palestine, Israel | 2019 – 88 minutes

Offering an unmediated view of reality under Israeli occupation, the film is a series of vignettes about Palestinian daily life governed by state violence and the whims of Israeli settlers. It is a story of a vulnerable life, where your only defense is the camera.​


Asian Perspective Award

You and I by Fanny Chotimah – Indonesia | 2020 – 72 minutes

Kaminah(70) and Kusdalini(74) have living together for more than 50 years since their first encounter in prison, they were political detainee. Both of them taking care of each other. But, since Kusdalini has stroke and been hospitalized, Kusdalini becomes very dependent on Kaminah. They are no longer doing things together, and Kaminah has to prepared herself for the loss of her life time partner.


Next Award

If We Burn by James Leong, Lynn Lee – Hong Kong | 2020 – 90 minutes

Presented as a work-in-progress, this version of If We Burn follows pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong as they storm the Legislative Council building on July 1, 2019.

Best Korean Documentary Award

Men who won’t pick up guns 2: Breaking a Taboo by Kim Hwantae – South Korea | 2020 – 101 minutes

Ko Eun-young, a thirty, non-naitive Jeju Island woman with no experience in politics, runs for Jeju governor in the 2018 local elections. The bumpy ride Ko and her colleagues undergo during the election campaign moves and changes them. Above all, as their voices unexpectedly cause quite a stir among the electorate, they begin to discover new sides of themselves. 

Special Jury Award

I am Chosun People by Kim Cheolmin – South Korea | 2020 – 97 minutes

After 15 years of knowing Chosun people in Japan I met on Mt. Geumgang in 2002, I face the history of colonization and division that I had not known before. They’ve been to North Korea many times, but never to South Korea. They tell us why they want to live as Chosun people despite the discrimination in Japanese society.

DMZ Short Documentary Award

The Way We Wait by Park Jiyoon – South Korea | 2020 – 11 minutes

While waiting for another loss, a woman is building something up.  But many things break down as the time quickly passes by. Perhaps the important things are not spoken of. The director, who moved for the 22nd time, hears that his grandmother living afar is seriously ill. As the director builds up relationship with his grandmother in the last minute, an apartment is being built on sand somewhere.

Asian Development Foundation Award – Short

Water Child (Mizuko) by Kira Dane, Katelyn Rebelo – US | 2019 – 15 minutes

In Japan, there is a special way to grieve after having an abortion. This Buddhist ritual, called the water child memorial, allows people to metaphorically return their lost children to the sea. Told through the Japanese American filmmaker’s personal story of abortion in the US, Mizuko is a reckoning with the impact of this cultural context.

Asian Development Foundation Award – Feature

The Birth of Resonance by Lee Jeongjun – South Korea | 2020 – 93 minutes

Lim Seonbin is the Gyeonggi Intangible Cultural Asset No. 30 Akgijang. At his mentor’s factory, he made drums all his life to produce drum sounds that resemble his mother’s embrace. One day, Seonbin has a problem with his ear and realizes that he’s running out of time. Then along with his kid, Dongguk, his successor, he takes out the timber he has kept for 20 years and starts making a big drum.

Best New Docs Award

Comfort by Lee Hyerin – South Korea | 2020 – 65 minutes

Known as ‘Yankee Princess’ and ‘UN Madame’, women who were sexual laborers for the US military Camptowns, filed a lawsuit against Korean government and called themselves ‘US military comfort women’. Chasing forgotten voices and erased traces, this film tells you a story about comfort women system in Korea, which have lasted since World War II.​

Beautiful New Docs Award

Comfort by Emmanuel Moon-Chil Park – South Korea | 2020 – 73 minutes

Kim Soonak was a survivor of sexual slavery by the Japanese military. After the war, her life was yet another battle. She drifted into the red-light district, engaged in sex trade around the US military camp town, and peddled goods from the US military. Then she raised her two children by working as a live-in maid. The film reconstructs the life of the late Ms. Kim through interviews, archival footage, animation.

Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award

People in Elancia by Park Yunjin – South Korea | 2020 – 71 minutes

Launched in 1999, Nexon’s Elancia celebrates its 20th birthday this year. Due to a lack of management, all sorts of macros and nuclei are rampant. Yet, quite a few users still remain in the game. Why are they unable to leave Elancia?

DMZ Arts Contribution Award

Great Contract: Paju, Book, City by Jung Dawoon, Kim Jingshin– South Korea | 2020 – 103 minutes

During the pre-democracy era when publications were under oppression, some people dreamed of a city for books and some architects came along to dream together. Then, they created an one-and-only ecological city for books in an abandoned swamp in the military border of Paju. This is the story of book and culture that dreams of peaceful unification, and its building process over 30 years.

Distribution Support Award

Cats’ Apartment by Jeong Jae-eun – South Korea | 2020 – 96 minutes

In eastern Seoul, an apartment complex is soon to be demolished. The residents wanted new homes and left without hesitation when the reconstruction plan was passed. The abandoned complex belonged to cats for a short time. There was only peace and quiet. Meanwhile, residents worried about the cats that remain there gather together and seek ways to keep them happy.

Yellow Ribbon by Ju Hyunsook – South Korea | 2019 – 86 minutes

How have we dealt with the five years that have passed since the Sewol ferry disaster? The protagonists recall that fateful day five years ago and share the scars that have remained in them. Perhaps we will be able to face the trauma of Sewol and write a new story.

Infinite Imagination Award

Blemish by Kim Do-ye – South Korea | 2019 – 16 minutes

My family faced difficulties as my dad’s store closed. I used to be ashamed by his store. Scorning the old me, I realize that his store isn’t something to be ashamed of, but something to be proud of. On a family trip, I talk about family conflicts as well as things I wasn’t able to share before. My childish perspective about my dad’s store ends in maturity.

Beyond Creativity Award

Reply Passion Era by Park Hyebeen – South Korea | 2019 – 28 minutes

One thing I can confidently say about myself is that I fangirl. As a junior in high school, I have concerns about my future. Then suddenly a thought popped in my head: what are the fangirls from the 90’s doing now? I decide to film this process as a documentary, and interview the adults that were once teenage fangirls, cross-editing their present and past.

Young Perspective Award

Way by Jo Minhee – South Korea | 2019 – 8 minutes

I’m a high schooler in Korea. Naturally, my head is about to explode thinking about my future career. I can’t choose between my childhood dream of becoming a police or Taekwondo master that I recently became interested. I listen to my friends’ comments and ponder upon them. What would my future look like?

Are you taking a good rest? by Han Kyoung-yun – South Korea | 2019 – 8 minutes

While going back and forth to school and academy, a few questions popped in my head. In search of the answers, this story reflects what my friends and other students think about “a good rest” and what it entails for them.

Joyfall by Yang Joo-yeon – South Korea | 2019 – 12 minutes

I talk about wounds from some time ago. I talk about obscure pressure and untraceable hatred. I shed tears, saying I’m scared to be loved. And all of this leads to mom. I look right into the camera and ask, “do you hate your mom, then?”. And I respond, “no, I don’t”. “Actually, maybe I do.” In my head, love and hatred rush into each other.

¹®±úÁü½ºÆ® by Kim Hae-eun – South Korea | 2019 – 15 minutes

Mom is a housewife. Dad comes home from a tiring work day, and has dinner that Mom prepares. The repetitive daily routine indicate how Mom and Dad have lived so far. I could easily read different days, habits, and lives of other bodies here and there. And I, I wanted to become a body that was hard to read.

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