Film festival in Geneva showcases youth migrant struggles in top honours

The international film festival largely took place online with an audience of around 45,000. Keystone / Salvatore Di Nolfi

The International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights in Geneva handed out several awards on Sunday to films that not only push cinematic boundaries but bring to light stories of youth struggles and injustice.

This content was published on March 14, 2021 - 16:01

The Grand PrizeExternal link of Geneva for a creative documentary went to the film “Shadow Game” directed by Dutch filmmakers Eefje Blankevoort et d’Els Van Driel. The film follows young migrants on their way to Europe, “playing their game" by trying to cross the borders that stand in their way. The documentary uses videos and social media content produced by the teenagers themselves. Shadow Game also won the Youth Jury Award.

When announcing the award, a member of the youth jury said that the film created an intimate connection between the viewers and the young migrants in the film. “We felt immersed in the game and saw echoes of ourselves in this reality parallel to our own,” she said.

The Grand Prize winner in the fiction and human rights category was “Veins of the World” by Mongolian filmmaker Byambasuren Davaa. Through the story of a nomadic Mongolian boy and his family, the film brings to light themes of the forced displacement of nomads, water pollution, gold mining and child labour. In a press release, the jury praised the film for its “delicate layering of social and cinematic elements”. The film also won the Youth Jury award in the fiction category.

Climate activism was also recognised at the festival with the film “Dear Future Children” by Franz Böhm, which won the Public Award. The film follows three young climate activists in different countries. A special award was given to the film “Petite Fille” for its portrayal of a transgender youth. The film was voted on by children at the Geneva University Hospitals psychiatry centre.

The 2021 edition of the festival also awarded the film “72 hours” for the impact award – which is handed out to the film with the greatest chance to bring about social change. The film tells the story of a man sentenced to death in Belarus.

The 19th edition of the festival largely took place online with organized debates and video content available.

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