13th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival – Winners 2021

We present the list of winners of the 13th DMZ International Documentary Film Festival which took take from September 9th – 16th, 2021 in Goyang City and Paju City, Gyeongii Province, 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.

International Competition

White Goose Award

Soup and Ideology by Yang Yong-hi – Japan, Korea | 2021 – 118 minutes

When the father passed away in 2009, only the mother and their daughter were left in Japan. The daughter, who lives in Tokyo, is worried about her aged mother living alone, so she visits her home in Osaka every month. One day, the mother suddenly tells her daughter that she experienced the Jeju uprising. The memories of her that she had buried deep in her heart without telling anyone came back to life. She begins to talk specifically about how she got involved in the Jeju uprising, as she asks her daughter never to tell her anyone… (DMZDocs 2021)

Special Jury Award

President by Camilla Nielsson – Denmark, US, Norway, Zimbabwe | 2021 – 116 minutes

Zimbabwe is at a crossroads. In the first election since the removal of Robert Mugabe, the new leader of the opposition Nelson Chamisa is challenging the dictator’s corrupt legacy, and his successor Emmerson ‘the crocodile’ Mnangagwa. The election will be the ultimate test for both sides. How they interpret the principles of democracy, if they can inspire trust among the citizenry, not succumb to violence, and foster faith in institutions, will set the course for the future for the country. President is a riveting and epic reminder that, while specifics may differ, the fight for democracy is of universal relevance. (DMZDocs 2021)

Special Mention

Room without a View by Roser Corella – Austria, Germany | 2020 – 73 minutes

The film chronicles the dire reality of foreign domestic workers in Middle Eastern countries such as Lebanon. By combining a multitude of perspectives, it offers intimate insights into the private lives of employers, agents and maids. By examining the structure of power and control that is conducive to corruption and abuse, it exposes modern forms of slavery and reflects on the role of women and domestic work at large in capitalist societies. (DMZDocs 2021)

Asian Perspective Award

Ushiku by Thomas Ash – Japan | 2021 – 87 minutes

On the eve of Japan’s recent–and highly contentious–immigration reform efforts, the filmmaker eludes press embargoes the government has imposed on its immigration facilities, bringing viewers into immediate contact with the detainees, many of whom are refugees seeking asylum. Detainees are held indefinitely and subject to physically violent deportation attempts by Japanese authorities against a background of the ensuing COVID-19 pandemic and with the spectacle of the Tokyo Olympics looming on the immediate horizon. (DMZDocs 2021)

Next Award

The Silhouettes by Afsaneh Salari – Iran, Philippines | 2020 – 80 minutes

At the height of the USSR’s invasion of Afghanistan in 1982, 1.5 million Afghans took a long journey to the border of Iran to flee war. TAGHI, born after that generation, and unwilling to inherit the limitations of his parents’ refugee status, navigate outside the protective walls of his family to trace his identity and the doors to his future in the homeland he never knew. (DMZDocs 2021)

Korean Competition

Best Korean Documentary Award

Boundary: Flaming Feminist Action by Yun Gahyun – Korea | 2021 – 102 minutes

After the Gangnam Station Toilet Murder Case in 2016, my friends and I started a new campaign by moving from the labor movement to the women’s movement. We make Flaming Feminist Action projects that promote feminist movements with women’s bodies and sexuality, such as “Liberation of armpit hairs” and “Liberation of nipples”. Four years after our feminist manifesto, we open the diary of those four years that were hot, bitter, and damp like a sweltering summer.  (DMZDocs 2021)

Short Competition

Best Short Documentary Award

Sad Film by Vasili – Myanmar, Netherlands | 2021 – 12 minutes

A courageous autobiographical short documentary, made by an anonymous filmmaker, about living in fear under the military junta in Myanmar, and about making films, which has become virtually impossible since the country’s military coup on February 1st. (DMZDocs 2021)

Special Jury Award

Paraffin Dream by Kwon Soonhyeon – South Korea | 2020 – 39 minutes

I am fascinated by candlelight. If the world finally came to an end, I imagined it would be like a candlelight. People laughed, cried, and shouted in the square. Thanks to a small spark in my hands, I was able to imagine a new world to come after the apocalypse. Fascinated by the roaring flame, I didn’t think of those who couldn’t afford to hold candlelight, those who couldn’t occupy the square. (DMZDocs 2021)

Asian Development Foundation Award

Discrimination by Kim Jiwoon, Kim Dohee – Korea | 2021 – 84 minutes

Since 2013, Japan has implemented the free high school policy. However, only 10 Chongryon Korean high schools are excluded from this policy. The reason is that there are suspicions that the grant for free education will be misused by Chochongryon and others. Five of these schools protested about this measure and filed a claim for damages against the government in 2013. After four years of hearings, the first trial decision was made on July 19, 2017, starting with the case of Hiroshima Chongryon Korean high school. (DMZDocs 2021)

Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award

The Man Who Paints Water Drops by Oan Kim, Brigittle Bouillot – France, South Korea | 2020 – 79 minutes

The late artist Kim Tschang-yeul built his deep world of works around one motif: water drops. An artist’s enigmatic world and a collaboration with his son, the film’s co-director, who seeks to understand it, has created this meditative yet serene film. His water drops are a symbol  representing the sad history of Korea and Asia, and they quietly but powerfully resonate with the world through his lifelong works and lives with his family. (DMZDocs 2021)

Brave New Docs Award

Coming to You by Byun Gyuri – Korea | 2021 – 93 minutes

Firefighter Nabi one day hears her child Hangyeol coming out. “I want to have breasts removed.” Meanwhile, flight attendant and working mom Vivian weeps over Yejun’s letter that begins, “Mom, I’m gay.” Before the two mothers can fully understand their children’s identity, Hangyeol and Yejun begin to confide in the real problems they faced. Another new world of women who are mothers in their 50s who take up new challenges in the face of their children’s coming out. (DMZDocs 2021)

Beautiful New Docs Award

I am More by Lee Ilha – South Korea | 2021 – 90 minutes

The neon sign of the Itaewon club “Trans” lights up. When the show of More, a dancer with 20 years of experience, begins, the audience cheers and tips pour over the stage. More’s dream was to be a “ballerina”. People said to him, “Abandon your femininity,” and his dreams were thwarted. John Cameron Mitchell of 「Hedwig and the Angry Inch」, who visited Korea for a performance, accidentally saw More’s show and left him with the meaningful words, “Let’s meet in New York.” Then one day, an invitation for performance arrives from New York… (DMZDocs 2021)

Arts Contribution Award

Song of the Poet by Goh Youngjae – South Korea | 2021 – 120 minutes

“Song of the Poet is his freedom and his soul full of sunlight, but Song of the Poet just bounces around the birdcage···.” JUNG Taechoon quitted singing long ago. Song of the Poet was like a monologue from his utter despair. However, on the 40th anniversary of his debut, he again stood in front of the public. His music life is not just his story, but also ours. This music documentary gives the chronology of our times, revolving around the music and thoughts of a veteran artist who has walked his own path for 40 years without compromising with reality. (DMZDocs 2021)

Audience Award

Burning Flower by Won Ho-yeon – Korea | 2021 – 83 minutes

Lim Seonn-yeo, 68, has never left a deep mountain village in Samcheok, Gangwon Province. Her husband, the protector of the illiterate Seonn-yeo, passed away, leaving her a will to “learn to read and write.” She says that she has lived her life without any regrets because ignorant people have no dreams, but now she prepares for breaking up. She bids farewell to the cow she had been with all her life and to the house where she lived with her husband. (DMZDocs 2021)

Infinite Imagination Award

Like a Student by Lim Chaemin – Korea | 2021 – 19 minutes

During my 12 years of schooling, I often asked questions like, “Is this school rule necessary?” I thought that students should be respected enough to exercise their basic rights as human beings. However, society and schools seemed to say that students can only be guaranteed their human rights when they are decent students. From then on, I started finding ways to promote student human rights. And I found out. There is no “Student Human Rights Ordinance” in “Daegu” where I live. Why? Daegu students are no different from Seoul students! (DMZDocs 2021)

Beyond Creativity Award

The Invisible by Park Yerin – South Korea | 2021 – 10 minutes

What does excluding someone mean to us? Why is it wrong to exclude someone? It is easy to perform exclusion and elimination. But taking the easy way out, it always brings problems. Those who are considered “non-existent.” Among them, children are the most easily discriminated against. A story about a No-Kids Zone that prohibits children from entering, and about children that society wants to consider as “non-existence.” (DMZDocs 2021)

Young Perspective Award

Back to the Basics by Kang Chaerin – Korea | 2021 – 21 minutes

I lost my passion for filmmaking after becoming a film major. However, I regain my passion by meeting my peers and a film director and listening to their stories. (DMZDocs 2021)

Container for Courage by Song Jihyun – South Korea | 2021 – 12 minutes

Recognizing the seriousness of the problem of garbage caused by food delivery, I decided to practice the #container_for_courage challenge, an environmental movement that has recently spread, for a week.   (DMZDocs 2021)

Dandelion for Industry by Lee Seunghoon, Cho Do-young, Kim Jaemin, Ahn Dasol – South Korea | 2020 – 18 minutes

The space where people live is not just a place to feed and house themselves. It means a place where the emotions of life are accumulated and melted for a long time. Therefore, we call it home or hometown. Home or hometown, which expresses coziness and comfort to people, is just an unfamiliar expression to those who live in Onsan. The people of Onsan resemble dandelions, who cannot take root in their place of living and float like dust. (DMZDocs 2021)

Man Man Mia by Lee Yong-gil – Korea | 2020 – 30 minutes

Hollywood musicals on a massive scale are pleasing to our eyes and ears. But the more I watch them, the more I wonder why there aren’t many musical films in Korea. This documentary goes to meet the directors who researched and made musical films in Korea, a wasteland of musical films, and also tells the story of a student who takes on the challenge of filming a musical from the perspective of young people, based on his research and interviews with those directors. (DMZDocs 2021)

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