Verzió 17 Film Festival Award Recipients

Verzió awarded six creators of outstanding documentary films at the annual awards ceremony on 20 November. The online film festival will continue through Sunday night. Until then, all of this years’ films, including our award winners, will remain available for viewing. This year, over 20,000 viewers attended the festival virtually, which exceeds both the number of previous Verzió festival attendees and the expectations of the organizers.

Thanks to the online nature of the festival, the films this year have been accessible to more people than ever before. Virtual visitors have come not only from throughout Hungary, but from around the world, especially the United States, Romania, the United Kingdom and Austria.

The Award Recipients of the 17th Verzió International Human Rights Documentary Film Festival are the following. Heartfelt congratulations to the filmmakers! You can read the full jury statements here. 

Human Rights Film Award: Welcome to Chechnya (USA, d. David France)

Student/Debut Film Award: Sonny (Poland, d. Paweł Chorzępa)

Best Hungarian Film Award: Give Me Shelter (Hungary, d. Mihály Schwechtje)

Audience Award: Terminal Stage (Hungary, d. Ilona Gaal and Balázs Wizner)

Human Rights Special Award: The Earth is Blue as an Orange (Ukraine, Lithuania, d. Iryna Tsilyk)

Student/Debut Special Award: Stunned, I Remain Alert (Brazil, d. Lucas H. Rossi dos Santos and Henrique Amud)

The winner of the Human Rights Film Award was chosen by a student jury. The members of the jury were selected on a competitive basis following a call by Verzió. This year, the jury consisted of five international university students: Marilia Arantes, Bohdan Herkaliuk, Lucie Janotová, Danial Shah and Kristóf Süll. After watching, discussing and evaluating the films of the international program, they awarded Welcome to Chechnya, which confronts viewers with the unbearable brutality and persecution suffered by the LGBTQI+ community in Chechnya on a daily basis; “David France’s documentary […] speaks of a great danger that any unprotected minority might face due to the global rise of authoritarian practices.” The winner of the Human Rights Film Award received a prize of 1,000€.

Phot: Welcome to Chechnya

The Student Jury also handed out a special award to The Earth is Blue as an Orange, saying: “The film’s depiction of daily intimate scenes of a family in war-torn Ukraine sheds light on processing the trauma of war through creative filmmaking.”

Photo: The Earth Is Blue as an Orange

The Student/Debut competition was evaluated by an international jury comprised of Nenad Puhovski, Teréz Vincze and Giedre Žickyte, all renowned in the field of film. Above all, the jury considered professional excellence and a creative approach to the film’s theme. The winner, Sonny, is a film about family, conflict management and the power of forgiveness. The director of the award-winning film, Paweł Chorzępa, received 1,000€ to support his professional advancement.

Photo: Sonny

A Student/Debut Special Award was given to Stunned, I Remain Alert, in which Brazilian journalist Dermi Azavedo witnesses the ghostly return of the past to the present while using archive footage to recall his former career.

Photo: Stunned, I Remain Alert

For the first time in the festival’s history, a jury comprised of international experts gave a separate award to the best film in the Hungarian competition. The jury’s members were: María Carrión, director of the FiSahara festival; Csilla Kató, program manager of the Astra Film Festival; and Péter Kerekes, filmmaker, producer and teacher. The 1,000€ prize for the best Hungarian documentary was awarded to Give Me Shelter. Mihály Schwechtje’s film follows social worker Renáta Toszeczky as she carries out her everyday duties as manager of a Hungarian women’s shelter. The shelter is home to victims of human trafficking who were once forced into prostitution. The social workers there try to help redirect these women's lives and enable them to start anew with their children.

Photo: Give Me Shelter

The Audience Award was given to Terminal Stage by Ilona Gaal and Balázs Wizner, which follows the last three days of a terminally-ill cancer patient in a Hospice House, and guides the viewer through the spiritual process of reconciling with death. This award was given by viewers who voted on the festival website. As a result, the film will be included in the School Verzió program, and will be nationally available for high schools and/or film clubs following the festival.

Photo: Terminal Stage

The films will be available until Sunday night, allowing those interested to watch the award-winning works.