Festivals' Awards

  •     Marek Nowicki Prize

Since 2003 the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights has been awarding documentary filmmakers with the festival prize for excellent achievements in showing human rights in film.

This year the Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights awards the Marek Nowicki festival prize to Maria Ramos.

 Born in Brasilia, Maria Augusta Ramos studied in her hometown, then in London and Paris before moving to Holland in 1990, where she entered the Netherlands Film Academy. Her first longer film already brought her recognition – "Brasilia, A Day in February" won an award at the prestigious Its All True festival. Her subsequent films, made in both Holland and Brazil, have garnered awards at some of the most important international documentary film festivals. Within her oeuvre her so-called justice trilogy occupies a special place. The three films ("Justice," "Behave," and "Hill of Pleasures") paint a panorama of the police and the judicial system of social control in contemporary Brazil.

The third film in the trilogy, "Hill of Pleasures," will be the opening film at this year’s WATCH DOCS. The two earlier parts have also been well exposed at the festival in past years: in 2008, the festival jury awarded its prize to "Behave," and in 2010, for the 10th anniversary of WATCH DOCS, her film "Justice" was selected as one of the 10 best films in the history of the festival.

Ramos’s work situates itself amongst one of the most interesting achievements in contemporary documentary filmmaking. It is difficult to categorically assign her to the tradition of observational documentary, although she is undoubtedly continuing it, at the same time however, not shying away from the solutions characteristic more of creative documentary ("Behave") and, first and foremost, developing her own intense visual style. In her films, the camera is non-invasive, very often static, it films with long, esthetically sophisticated and precisely framed takes. The pictures are captivating, with their intense beauty and depth of field. Much of this is certainly due to the contribution of  great cinematographers from the excellent Dutch school, with whom Ramos works with.
This beauty does not refer to a strategy of beautification, or, even worse, to the type of exploitation of the visual "beauty of misery" that is a real plague among commercial "social documentaries." Instead it owes very much to her simple and sober observation of reality, one is tempted to say –  her films are beautiful because they are true.
Ramos does not exploit her protagonists either, thereby avoiding the second great plague of the "engaged documentary." This rare respect for the people being filmed manifests itself in everything, including, as the critics have rightly pointed out, in maintaining a certain distance from her subjects.   
And finally, Ramos’s films are free of preconceptions, of preconceived ideas about what reality will show us. As a result, it sometimes happens that her films confirm the viewer’s convictions, and sometimes they contradict them. And while her documentaries are always penetrating and lucid, sometimes they also do not bring clear results. This builds our trust in them. Their strength stems from the deep values of documentary craft – following the reality and finding an image for it in form of cinematic art.

Ramos is an outstanding documentary maker because she truly cares for both – reality and art. 

  •     WATCH DOCS Award for the best feature-length documentary
  •     Audience Award


Laureates of the Marek Nowicki Prize:

2003 - Kim Longinotto,

2004 - Fabrizio Lazzaretti,

2005 - Maciej Drygas,

2006 - Marcel Łoziński,

2007 - Rithy Panh,

2008 - Errol Morris,

2009 - Wiktor Daszuk,

2010 - Frederick Wiseman,

2011 - Zhao Liang,

2012 - Jafar Panahi


WATCH DOCS Award for the best feature-length documentary winners:

2006 - Avenge But One Of My Two Eyes dir. Avi Mograbi and On a tightrope dir. Peter Lom

2007 - Losers and Winners dir. Ulrika Franke, Michael Loeken

2008 - Juízo dir. Maria Augusta Ramos

2009 - Les Arrivants dir. Claudine Bories, Patrice Chagnard

2010 - Winds of Sand. Women of Rock dir. Nathalie Borgers

2011 - Special Flight dir. Fernand Melgar

2012 - Anton's Right Here dir. Ljubow Arkus


Audience Award winners:

2005 - The children of Leningradsky dir. Hanna Polak, Andrzej Celiński

2006 - Street Fight dir. Marshall Curry

2007 - Bridge Over the Wadi dir. Barak Heyman, Tomer Heymann

2008 - Kites dir. Beata Dzianowicz,

2009 - Tibet in Song dir. Ngawang Choephel.

2010 - Presumed guilty dir. Roberto Hernandez, Geoffrey Smith

2011 - Belarussian Dream dir. Ekatarina Kibalchich

2012 - Call Me Kuchu dir. Katherine Fairfax Wright, Malika Zouhali-Worrall