Peter Mettler’s While the Green Grass Grows topped the Canadian winners at this year’s Montreal International Documentary Festival (RIDM). The film is part of a longer episodic work by Mettler that examines grief and loss. While the Green Grass Grows previously won the Grand Prix at Visions du Réel. The RIDM screening marked the film’s Canadian premiere. Mettler also held a master class at this year’s festival.
“Through a fine balance between the persistent capturing of reality while holding a firm grasp on creative freedom, this film takes on the notion of our becoming by turning the camera on the ones who have brought us into this world, and ultimately accompanying them in their own departure,” remarked the jury in statement. “With great complexity and cinematic elegance, an intimate world takes on epic proportions in this diaristic structure, where image and sound, sequence and time remind us of the continuous flow of life, and in turn, its inextricable connection to death knowing that as always, there is beauty in the endless cycle of highs and lows.”
The top prize for international documentary at the awards handed out on Saturday went to Knit’s Island, a French production by Guilhem Causse, Ekiem Barbier and Quentin. The film captures the goings on in a virtual world in which residents of an isolated island perform mundane tasks like farming and surviving the zombie apocalypse. “Through their ability to immerse us in an unlikely community and bear witness to the human condition in the digital era, the directors manage to transcend the anonymity of the virtual by giving us access to the secret life of their characters,” noted the jury.
Other RIDM winners on the Canadian front included Má Sài Gòn (Mother Saigon) by Khoa Lê and La Guardia Blanca by Julien Elie. Both docs won two prizes. Mother Saigon received a Special Jury Prize for the National Feature Competition and the Women Inmates Award, while La Guardia Blanca won the Magnus Isacsson Award, named for the late filmmaker and documentary advocate, and the Student Jury Award.
The full list of 2023 RIDM award winners is as follows:
Grand Prize for National Feature Competition: While the Green Grass Grows – Peter Mettler (Switzerland/Canada)
Special Jury Prize for National Feature Competition: Má Sài Gòn (Mother Saigon) – Khoa Lê (Canada)
Grand Prize for International Feature Competition: Knit’s Island–– Guilhem Causse, Ekiem Barbier and Quentin L’helgoualc’h (France)
Special Jury Prize for International Feature Competition: Crowrã – João Salaviza and Renée Nader Messora (Brazil/Portugal)
Special mention: This Woman – Alan Zhang (China/Malaysia)
New Visions Award: Meezan – Shahab Mihandoust (Canada/Iran)
Best International Short or Medium Length: Ever Since, I Have Been Flying – Aylin Gökmen (Switzerland)
Special mention: Aqueronte – Manuel Muñoz Rivas (Spain).
Best National Short or Medium Length: Jill, Uncredited – Anthony Ing (Canada/United Kingdom)
Special Jury Prize National Short or Medium Film: Holiday Native Land – Nicolas Renaud and Brian Virostek (Quebec/Canada)
Magnus Isacsson Award: La Guardia Blanca – Julien Elie Canada)
Student Jury Award: La Guardia Blanca – Julien Elie (Canada)
Women Inmate Award: Má Sài Gòn (Mother Saigon) – Khoa Lê (Canada)
People’s Choice Award: Éviction – mathilde capone (Quebec/Canada)
Soirée de la relève Radio-Canada Award: Juliette Balthazard – Where Motion Has Not Yet Ceased (Canada/Czech Republic)