The 2017 Sundance Film Festival's awards ceremony on 28 January brought about a top award to "Last Men in Aleppo." The Danish-Syrian film, directed by Feras Fayyad and co-directed by Steen Johannessen, won the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in the category for international documentary films.
The film, which is made to a large extent from footage by video journalists from the independent Aleppo Media Center, places its audience in the midst of the daily life of rescue workers from the White Helmets helping their fellow citizens in the war-torn city of Aleppo.
"We do our best to fight for the freedom of speech, for humanity, for justice," Fayyad said upon receiving the award, followed by co-director Johannessen: "I just want to send my great thanks to our photographers in Aleppo. When you see the film you'll see that they risk their lives many times." See live blog from the awards ceremony.
"Last Men in Aleppo" was applauded by international critics, including a four-star review from the Guardian commending the film as
"one of the most difficult documentaries you'll see this year," while Screen singles out how "the work of Fayyad and his dedicated team stands as a testament to what Syria, and the world, has lost through this conflict."
"Last Men in Aleppo" is directed by Feras Fayyad. Steen Johannessen is co-director and editor of the film. The film is produced by Søren Steen Jespersen for Larm Film and Kareem Abeed for Aleppo Media Center. International sales are handled by DR Sales.
Read our interview with the filmmakers Among Aleppo's White Helmets
Fares Fares plays the lead as a police detective in Sundance winner "The Nile Hilton Incident," co-produced by Final Cut for Real. Photo: Atmo Rights
Awards to co-productions
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in the Dramatic competition went to "The Nile Hilton Incident," a Swedish-German-Danish thriller directed by Tarik Saleh and set in Cairo in the weeks leading up to the 2011 revolution. On the Danish team is editor Theis Schmidt, costume designer Louize Nissen and visual effects supervisor Peter Hjorth. Monica Hellström and Signe Byrge Sørensen of Final Cut for Real are on board as Danish co-producers.
The American-Danish documentary "Strong Island" by Yance Ford took home the Documentary Special Jury Award for Storytelling in the competition for US documentaries. The film, which examines the violent death of the filmmaker's brother and the judicial system that allowed his killer to go free, is edited by Janus Billeskov Jansen and co-produced by Signe Byrge Sørensen, again from Final Cut for Real.
"Strong Island," winner of an Award for Storytelling, is director Yance Ford's cinematic enquiry into the killing of his brother William in 1992. Photo from the film.