The DOXA Documentary Film Festival has given one of its big awards to a documentary about a 12-year-old Vietnamese Hmong girl who facing the prospect of being kidnapped as a child bride.
Children of the Mist, directed by Diễm Hà Lệ, received the DOXA Feature Documentary Award from jurors Igor Drljaca, Arman Kazemi, and Mila Zuo.
The protagonist, Di, lives in the mountains of North Vietnam. Like many preteens, she’s connected to the modern world with her cellphone.
But she also must navigate through ancient traditions that can impose a wretched price on young girls.
It’s Diễm’s first feature-length documentary. In a videotaped message, she said thanked the festival and the jury, saying it means a lot to herself, the protagonist and her family, and her friends from the Hmong community who supported the film from the beginning.
The jury gave honourable mention in the feature documentary category to Stefanos Tai’s We Don’t Dance for Nothing, which is about a young domestic worker who dreams of running away with a woman she loves.
Jurors Elisa Gonzalez, Elfred Matining, and Sophy Romvari chose Colin Askey’s Love in the Time of Fentanyl as winner of the Colin Low Award for Best Canadian Director. It’s a riveting look at how staff and volunteers with the Overdose Prevention Society are saving lives with grace and courage in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Like Diễm, Askey was also honoured for his first full-length documentary.
Honourable mention for the Colin Low award went to Luke Gleeson’s DƏNE YI’INJETL – The Scattering of Man, which examined the impact of B.C.’s massive W.A.C. Bennett Dam on Indigenous people in the Peace River region.
Norwegian director Kenneth Elvebakk’s Hello World won the Nigel Moore Award for Youth Programming. It’s an uplifting film offering a glimpse into what it’s like to be the only openly queer kid in school.
Jury members Maya Biderman, Teagan Dobson, and Steven Hawkins stated that Hello World “has the capacity to act as a catalyst for social change and fundamentally alter people’s behaviour”.
Finally, DOXA’s Short Documentary Award went to Marseilles-based director Abdessamad El Montassir’s Galb’Echaouf, which explores amnesia in the context of war in the Western Sahara.
Jurors Jocelyne Chaput, Amar Chebib, and Lyana Patrick gave honourable mention in this category to Tainoo human-rights activist Siku Allooloo’s Spirit Emulsion. The University of Victoria grad shot this film about her mother with a Super 8 camera.