Penny Woolcock: officially an inspiration

UK director wins top DocFest award.

by Jennie Kermode

She directed its opening film, From The Sea To The Land Beyond, and now veteran British director Penny Woolcock has won Sheffield DocFest's Inspiration Award. Receiving the prize at a ceremony this morning, she commented "My instinct is to walk towards things that most people would run away from." Given her pedigree, with films like Mischief Night and One Mile Away, it's hard to argue with that.

The award was one of seven announced today. Art documentary Marina Abramović The Artist Is Present took the Special Jury Prize, beating off tough competition from controversial Chinese story Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry and Call Me Kuchu, which tackles issues around homosexuality in Uganda.

Photographic Memory was the youth jury's choice, with spokesperson Rhys Holland commenting "We admired how this film's self-shot form illustrates to young filmmakers the ability for anyone to tell honest and heartfelt stories without the necessity for big production values." Law Of The Jungle won the Green award, with a special mention going to runner-up The Island President.

The Innovation award was won by Bear 71, which follows one of the ursine inhabitants of Banff National Park in Canada. The Betrayal won the Student Doc award and Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami won the Alliance of Women Film Journalists' Best Female Director award for Up The Stairs. Unable to attend due to visa complications, Maghami thanked the Alliance in a statement and said "I wish the world could be directed in a female way."

Today's event was also marked by the announcement of a new award that will be launched next year. Sponsored by Dogwoof, it is named for Tim Hetherington, the war journalist and director of Restrepo who was killed last year while covering the Libyan Civil War.

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