CPH:DOX reveals the films nominated for F:ACT Award, the competition for investigative documentary journalism.
The full line-up for CPH:DOX 2017 will be announced March 1.
F:ACT Award is dedicated to films in the field between documentary filmmaking and investigative journalism. This year, 11 films are nominated in this prestigious competition, consisting of six World Premieres and five International Premieres.
See all the competition nominees here
The winner of the F:ACT Award will be selected by a jury and announced at CPH:DOX’s Award Ceremony on Friday, March 24 at Kunsthal Charlottenborg. The winner will receive 5.000€.
The nominees are:
Accidental Anarchist (John Archer & Clara Glynn. UK). World premiere.
Carne Ross is a former diplomat with a CV that includes everything from political attaché for the British Foreign Office in the 1990s to declared anarchist with a mission to promote democracy in its most direct form. In the years around the Iraq war, Ross had a rock-solid faith in the institutions of Western democracy. He was himself instrumental in creating the foundation for the fatal war, which has destabilised world peace over the past fifteen years. But his experience of corruption and inertia sent the disappointed Ross in a direction he never believed he would go. Today, he still travels around the world. But now, the journey is going from Wall Street to Noam Chomsky’s office, and from Spain to an autonomous enclave in Syria to investigate alternatives to a society based on hierarchical power structures. Anarchism is not a social system based on chaos, but a radical, collectivist form of democracy. Agree with him or not, there is plenty of food for thought and debate in the encounter with the in all respects well-versed Ross. And there is no doubt that ‘Accidental Anarchist’ is a film of our times.
Cause of Death: Unknown (Anniken Hoel. Norway). World premiere.
When her older sister suddenly dies of cardiac arrest as a result of antipsychotic medication, Anniken Hoel embarks on an investigative detective mission that takes her right into the dark heart of parts of a pharmaceutical industry, where the manipulation of researchers, scientists and politicians is an everyday fact. And where dollars have more to say than the respect for human life. Hoel travels around the world to obtain testimony from experts, patients and (after many attempts) representatives of the pharmaceutical industry, and she presents her complex research in an impressively level-headed way. But behind her systematic stubbornness is a smouldering anger about the tragic fate of her sister and thousands of others. An anger you will soon end up sharing in this shocking but also deeply moving and phenomenally captivating journalistic film, which fights cynicism and greed to the hilt.
Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas (Joakim Demmer. Sweden). World premiere.
Why does a famine-ravished country such as Ethiopia export tonnes of food to the West, when it can hardly feed its own population? And why does the World Bank spend billions of dollars on sustainable development aid, when millions of farmers are at the same time being deprived of the right to use their land? Hoping to achieve high export earnings and secure future prosperity, the Ethiopian government has decided to lease millions of hectares of land to foreign investors. Land that formerly belonged to the locals and local farmers, who now lose everything without any prospect of getting a share of the money the government earns. The harsh and unequal struggle for the green gold of the future – the planet’s farming lands – is fought between speculators and farmers on two different continents. Joakim Demmer sets out to uncover the widely sprawling battlefield where it’s at, and ‘Dead Donkeys Fear No Hyenas’ is investigative journalism that will make you jump up from your chair – and shout with anger. Demmer’s film is produced by Margarete Jangård who also produced the veteran director Fredrik Gertten (‘Bananas!’ and ‘Bikes vs. Cars’), and is sure to bring out the activist in all of us.
Radio Kobanï (Reber Dosky. The Netherlands). International Premiere.
An exceptionally captivating story about a stubborn young woman’s struggle for her local radio station in the war-torn Kurdish city Kobanï in Syria. In the shadow of Islamic State’s bloody battles, the 21-year-old radio reporter Dilovan tries to rekindle the inhabitants’ spirits with her daily radio reports. She interviews both young and old, and attentively listens to the stories of the survivors. But even though the local troops in Kobanï have driven away ISIS, the brutal executions, countless dead and the rotting corpses have left their indelible mark on the city’s inhabitants. As Dilovan herself says: ‘There are no winners in war’. ‘Radio Kobanï’ is a report from the front line of an almost unbearable disaster. But it is also a deeply inspiring story about initiative, courage and love. And about how a single woman is able to track down life’s little pleasures, even under the remains of a bombed and war-torn city.
The Unforgiven (Lars Feldballe-Petersen. Denmark). World premiere.
Can one, as a war criminal, come to terms with the past, when one has committed what is possibly the worst of all crimes: torturing and executing innocent victims in the unholy name of war? This is a question that Esad Landzo has asked himself for years. But now he has arrived at a realisation. He has to meet the people he victimised during the civil war in former Yugoslavia almost 25 years ago. For it is only through reconciliation and forgiveness that Esad can set himself free. And, like he says when he sits with a picture of himself as an 18-year-old and can barely recognise himself: ‘I simply don’t know where all the evil came from.’ But can Esad Landzo be forgiven – and should he? ‘The Unforgiven’ confronts Esad with his victims and with himself as a young man in a dark, personal tale of evil, self-hatred and forgiveness. But the psychology of war is a bleak and inaccessible landscape that stretches far beyond Esad’s own, heartbreaking story.
Return of a President (Lotte Mik-Meyer. Denmark). World premiere.
In 2009, Madagascar’s president Marc Ravalomanana was deposed from power in a coup which replaced him with a young radio DJ and his private army, and which sent the population into abject poverty. From his exile in South Africa, Ravalomanana is now determined to regain power by peaceful means. But the road back to his native country and to democracy is a minefield of political intrigue and international economic interests. A hard path, which the Danish filmmaker Lotte Mik-Meyer has documented over the course of five years, with unique access to the diplomatic power play – and to Ravalomanana himself. For more than political ideals are at stake. The former colonial power France is just one of the countries that has socio-economic interests in the African island nation, and which secretly but actively supports the new regime. A film about the fragility of democracy and about a determined man’s mission to defend it.
The New Radical (Adam Bhala Lough. USA). International premiere.
Cody Wilson gained a place on Wired Magazine’s list of the world’s 15 most dangerous people when he invented a gun you can make with a 3D printer. Together with the likes of Julian Assange and the British hacktivist Amir Taaki, Wilson belongs to a new generation of charismatic crypto-anarchists, who with an angry self-image as freedom fighters engage in a digital battle to wrest power from the hands of the world’s governments. Whatever the cost may be. ‘The New Radical’ takes us right into the heart of their project, and explores a new form of radicalisation, which has unforeseeable consequences. For what will the new anarchists replace the ruins of the old order with? And is the ultimate freedom they are dreaming of a real possibility or a dangerous, totalitarian utopia? No matter what, the new order can turn the world as we thought we knew it – at least before Trump came to power – completely upside down. Adam Bhala Lough follows their example and leaves reaching conclusions to us.
Vape Wave (Jan Kounen. Switzerland). International premiere.
Jan Kounen is the man behind films as diverse as the cult classic ‘Dobermann’ and the rosy romance ‘Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky’ – but this time he has made a documentary, and it is dedicated to the lowbrow lifestyle symbol of them all: the e-cigarette! ‘Vape Wave’ is the first film about electronic tobacco, which has replaced the acrid cigarette with a chemical alternative, where nobody can quite foresee the consequences. In an obstreperous montage of animation, quaint archive footage and real studies of the worldwide success of e-cigarettes, Kounen blows away the smokescreen and looks at the serious effects of ‘vaping’. Both health researchers and dedicated raw-smokers get to say their bit in an entertaining and quite scary film about the sublime puff, that is likely to give the modern Marlboro man (and woman) some food for thought. Ceci n’est pas une pipe!
The Force (Pete Nicks. USA). International premiere.
Step inside ‘The Wire’ of reality. Corruption, violence and abuse of power are commonplace in the historically tense divide between Oakland Police Department and the community that the police force has been created to serve and protect. The newly appointed police chief, Chief Sean Whent, comes to the city filled with idealism and an ambition to build bridges between the citizens and the police officers. But Whent is quickly forced to face the harsh realities in the form of new accusations of brutality, police violence and sexual harassment in his own department. The question is whether he can find a method to break the vicious circle – a question that is highly topical, far beyond the police force’s own ranks. The director Peter Nicks’s view from the back seat of the police car is both cool and concentrated throughout the entire film, as innocent civilians are being interrogated, detained and even assaulted by police officers who are otherwise outwardly trying to shed their tarnished image. The film is a unique opportunity to experience one of America’s most criticised police forces from the inside, at a time when civil rights movements are waiting outside and are no longer willing to tolerate the long-standing abuse of power from the long arm of the law.
The Devil’s Trap (Mitchell Stafiej. Canada). World premiere.
When he was 18, the now 25-year-old Lane was kicked out of the fundamentalist Christian cult that his family is still a member of, and they haven’t spoken to him since. ‘The Exclusive Brethren’ is a powerful, rich and extremely sealed off cult that rejects everything – and by that we mean everything! – except themselves as being satanic. Now, Lane decides to visit them on a road trip through fanaticism’s USA and Canada. A dark and nightmarish world of neon crosses, militantly organised sects, deadly alcoholism and drug abuse. And a journey where the outwardly strong and re-socialised Lane confronts the demons of his past with the director Mitchell Stafiej on the passenger seat of his car. But when he finally manages to meet his brother, it is till far from a happy ending. ‘The Devil’s Trap’ is the first film about the notoriously secretive but extensive and extremely well-organised ‘Exclusive Brethren’, but also tells a frightening and far more universal story about how radical parallel societies can dominate their members. Lane’s story about how he as a teenager for the first time saw a film in a cinema is nothing less than a staggering image of the clash between two realities.
Trophy (Shaul Schwarz & Christina Clusiau. US). International premiere.
Africa’s endangered species are big business. Heavily armed American tourists on a safari dream of killing a lion, an elephant or one of the other ‘big five’, which idealistic biologists are trying to protect. But it is an inconvenient truth that reality is incredibly more complex, which the tough ‘Trophy’ reveals with a unique journalistic overview. And with a sense for telling its story in such a compelling way that you are about to fall of your seat. From the director Shaul Schwarz (‘Narco Cultura’).