Two Latin American films were the top winners at the 49th edition of the Vision du Réel, the influential documentary film festival in Switzerland. The Brazilian film The Trial / O Processo by Maria Augusta Ramos was the winner of the Best Film Award in the International Competition, while the Mexican film The Still Life of Harley Prosper / The vida suspendida of Harley Prosper by Juan Manuel Sepúlveda was the winner of the Best Film Award in the Burning Lights Competition.
The Trial follows the impeachment process of President Dilma Rousseff, which was kickstarted by the speaker of Brazil’s lower house of Congress, Eduardo Cunha, charged for pocketing at least 40 million dollars in a plot at the state-owned oil company Petrobras. Cunha, with the help of Michel Temer, acting president of Brazil, started the impeachment process after the decision made by government allies that they would not prevent investigations in the Congressional ethics committee that could lead to his ousting.
Rousseff, daughter of a Bulgarian immigrant, was the first woman democratically elected to hold the Brazilian presidency. Jailed and tortured from 1970 to 1972 under the military dictatorship, she has become a symbol for the quest of democracy of the Brazilian people. The award for Best Film comes with a cash price of $20,000.
Sepúlveda's film follows Harley Prosper, who as a child was designated the “medicine man”, a significant role for the spiritual conscience of his Native American community, which is fighting the abandonment of its ancestral traditions. But the chosen one fled his destiny. He descended into alcoholism and is letting himself die in Vancouver, in a hospital for the terminally ill.
Locked up in this voluntary exile, Prosper defies the spirit that lives within him, confronting the inner voices that constantly remind him that it is impossible to escape his destiny. And even less so his history.
Other Latin American winners at the Swiss competition include the Brazilian film Music When the Lights Go Out / Musica para quando as luzes apagam by Ismael Caneppele, which was the winner of the Jury Prize for most innovative film in the Burning Lights Competition, the Cuban short film Plastic / Plástico by Sissel Morell Dargis, which won a local Swiss broadcasting award.
Additionally, the Chilean-Colombian co-production Lemebel by Joanna Reposi was the winner of the Audience Award in the Docs in Progress industry section of the film festival for projects in postproduction.
The 49th edition of Visions du Réel took place April 13-21 in Nyon, Switzerland.