f.l.t.r.: A Matter of ACT activists Yves Yomb, Meron Estefanos, Agripina Perea, Andrei Sannikov, Ala’a Basatneh, Inna Sjevtsjenko and Any Benitez
The festive award ceremony of the 2014 Movies that Matter Festival was held on Wednesday evening, 26 March. The documentaries Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus, Miners Shot Down, #chicago Girl – The Social Network Takes on a Dicatator and the feature film La jaula de oro won awards this year. The VARA Audience Award went to the gripping documentary Sound of Torture. The winning films share a key characteristic: they all zoom in on the courageous acts of people all over the world who are dedicated to fighting injustice and risking their lives for a better tomorrow. LGBT activist Yves Yomb received the A Matter of ACT Award - the festival’s human rights award - for his unflagging efforts to promote gay rights in Cameroon.
Many international guests attended the festival again this year, including former presidential candidate Andrei Sannikov from Belarus, Syrian activist Ala'ah Basneth, the chairman of the UN Committee for Human Rights, Sir Nigel Rodley, and several dignitaries from the Netherlands, including Minister Lilianne Ploumen, former politician Joris Voorhoeve and human rights advocate Theo van Boven.
A Matter of ACT
A Matter of ACT Awards In the main programme for Amnesty International, A Matter of ACT, an international jury chose the winners of the two awards associated with the programme: the Golden Butterflies. This year’s first Golden Butterfly, the A Matter of ACT Human Rights Award (€5,000), went to activist Yves Yomb from Born This Way. Gay rights activist Yves Yomb and the centre he runs, Alternatives-Cameroon, works to protect the rights of sexual minorities and promote the prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS. The second Golden Butterfly (€ 4,000), the award for the best documentary from the A Matter of ACT competition, went to Dangerous Acts Starring the Unstable Elements of Belarus by Madeleine Sackler. Dangerous Acts follows the Belarus Free Theatre group from Minsk around the time of the controversial election of Alexander Lukashenko at the end of 2010. The jury described the film as "A wonderful mix of emotional, artistic and political expression" and "A celebration of art’s power to change the world for the better".
Camera Justitia Award The Camera Justitia jury awarded the Silver Butterfly (€ 5,000) for the best film about human rights and justice to director Rehad Desai for Miners Shot Down. Including previously unreleased footage, this documentary offers a reconstruction of the events leading up to the violently suppressed Marikana strike in South African mines in 2012. Miners Shot Down won awards earlier this month as well, receiving the Václav Havel Jury Award at the One World Festival in Prague. A Special Mention in this category went to Narco Cultura by Shaul Schwarz, about the spiral of violence in the Mexican drug war and a culture of music that glorifies such violence.
MovieZone MtM Award
This year’s MovieZone MtM Award, the youth jury award, went to the festival’s opening film La Jaula de oro by Diego Quemada-Diez. This gripping road movie follows three teenagers without papers who travel from Guatemala to the promised land of America. The jury, which consisted of five young people aged 14-18, had this to say about La Jaula de oro: "This film displays a stark contrast in the carefree life of a child who simultaneously has to find a way to deal with the dramatic events around him." The winner of the Movie Zone MtM Award 2014 receives € 1,500, and the film has a chance of being incorporated into one of the educational film programmes at the EYE film museum. La Jaula de oro will be showing in Dutch cinemas from 3 April on.
Students’ Choice Award
A jury of students from The Hague University of Applied Sciences gave #chicago Girl – The Social Network Takes on a Dictator by Joe Piscatella the Students’ Choice Award, worth € 1,000. The jury members found the film "highly inspiring and emotional". The footage from Syria itself was particularly moving. "Ala’a Basatneh uses every means at her disposal to try to make a difference for the Syrian people. Let this film be one of those means."
VARA Audience Award
The festival attendees chose Keren Shayo’s intense documentary Sound of Torture as this year’s festival favourite. The film depicts how radio presenter and human rights activist Meron Estefanos fights to free hundreds of Eritrean refugees held hostage in the Sinai Desert in Egypt. The VARA Audience Award consists of a cash prize of € 1,500 and the film being broadcast on VARA television.