by Talal Derki | Syria, Lebanon, Germany 2017 | 98 Min.

Jury statement: Providing a rare and unfiltered insight into a radical Islamist family, the film shines a powerful new light on the radicalization of young children and the near impossibility to escape the mechanisms of extremism and the cycle of violence in such circumstances. We award the 2019 ethnocineca International Documentary Award to an extremely courageous and uncompromising work, committed to document the brutal impacts of radicalisation and war on human lives from up-close.

by Simone Mestroni | India, Italy 2018 | 61 Min.

Jury statement: This year’s EVA – Excellence in Visual Anthropology Award goes to a film that goes straight to the heart of the topic of this year’s festival: “At Risk”. This film is not only made in conditions of risk but it also addresses the lives of individuals who are constantly at risk, exposed to the continuous expressions of structured and unstructured, physical and psychological violence that make up the everyday life of large parts of today’s Kashmir. Addressing the 30-year long struggle for an independent Kashmir, the film combines a careful attention to ethnographic detail with a poetic aesthetical form that is embedded both in the composition of the images as well as in the narrative structure and rhythm of the film. It therefore perfectly combines the two key aspects that make anthropological knowledge visible.

by Richard Wilhelmer | Germany, Austria 2018 | 82 Min. 

Jury statement: Based on an exhaustive research, the awarded filmdraws an intense picture of the complex relation between the diagnosis of mental anomaly and the diverse anomalies of the medical and social apparatus through which such diagnosis is articulated. The highly considered arguments are cleverly expressed by means of an equally empathic and experienced visual articulation. The film succeeds very well in its main purpose: to make us think about what “normal” means, and to ask who has the authority to define what normal is. To instill fresh thought about this question, the film consults two different kinds of experts on the topic of ‘normality’, and it innovatively treats their two forms of expertise as radically equal. The ‘authority’ form of the static interview is consistently used to grant authority to both. So, the psychiatrist gets to diagnose the defiant, but the defiant also gets to diagnose the psychiatrist and the world he or she represents – each thinking the other is the problem. On both sides, there are also moments of internal reflection and (self-)doubt, which then invite us not to accept any of the perspectives at face value but to have our own thoughts about the reflections of both. A thought-provoking film.

by Pascal Giese | USA, Germany 2018 | 38 Min.

Audience Award

by Lidija Burcak | Great Britain 2018 | 24 Min.

Audience Award


Welcome to cutting edge documentary cinema! From 23. – 29. May 2019, ethnocineca – International Documentary Film Festival Vienna presented the diversity of international documentary film art in Vienna. The 13th festival edition presented a programme that addresses current issues of political, social and cultural coexistence. With 59 films, numerous film talks and an extensive side programme, international filmmakers and social scientists, we invited you to engage with the world through the medium of film.

This year’s festival focus AT RISK attendeded to politically controversial, socially critical and deeply personal documentaries. Often filmmakers and their protagonists take high personal risks and endanger themselves to get their stories on screen. It is precisely these courageous productions that allow us to learn about the personal destinies of „others“ and to look beyond our own familiar life-worlds.

We have chosen films that respond to burning questions of our time and negotiate controversial topics in all their complexity: political hierarchies and power are juxtaposed with social utopias, economic principles with envisioned alternatives. Questions of future ecologies are met with visionary insight and cultural and religious boundaries are challenged by personal stories. Gender equality and sexuality are negotiated multi-dimensionally. What does it mean for people to be involved in front of and behind the camera and how can they address these questions from their respective life situations? These are some of the questions we address in this year’s side-programme.

We opened with a keynote lecture by Dr. Eva van Roekel, filmmaker and anthropologist at the University of Amsterdam. In her talk Filmmakers at Risk she discussed opportunities and dangers of shared documentary filmmaking in politically precarious circumstances. Based on her own research with convicted Argentine military personnel, she invited us to critically questioning collaborative filmmaking. In this year’s masterclass, Ziad Khaltoum, who is visiting ethnocineca for the second time, allowed us to gain insight into his experiences and challenges as a filmmaker in the Syrian war. He demonstrated how one can create politically significant and deeply personal contemporary documentaries about war and its consequences.

In the World Museum Vienna, filmmakers Giorgio Ferrero and Alexander Hick will engaged in a discussion about the risks of globalisation and the capitalist growth paradigm. We explored aesthetic, narrative and cinematic approaches to discuss a globalised economy, its implications for our climate and the people affected by it. In a film talk on After Prayers with filmmaker Simone Mestroni and cultural and social anthropologist Ulrike Davis-Sulikowski we explored the flows from poetry to riots, resistance and memory through historical and deeply personal experiences that are embedded in Mestroni’s documentary. Finally, on the last day of the festival six films of this year’s ethnocineca filmworkshop At Risk in the City celebrated their world premiere in the presence of the workshop participants.

Thank you so much to all our partners and sponsors, to all filmmakers and guests who came to Vienna and to our audience for a successful festival 2019! We are looking forward to ethnocineca 2020! See you!