International Feature-Length Competition Interview with Jury Members: Driving through Mythology to Enter Reality

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FFD 2023

Festival Film Dokumenter 2023 presents International Feature-Length Competition and involves three jury members to assess and appreciate the selected film. The films in this category come from a wide range of countries, including Spain, Mexico, Syria, Argentina, Norway, Belgium, Myanmar, and Thailand. The selected films have first gone through a selection process by practitioners, academics, and experts.

The three jury members of the International Feature-Length Competition program are Sunah Kim, Wood Lin, and Mella Jaarsma. After watching all 12 selected films, the jury had an intensive meeting to decide on the winner of this category.

Here is a summary of our interview session with the jury.

How do you see the twelve selected films in this category? Is there any uniqueness in the films that pops and differentiates one to another film?
(Lin) All the films come from different cultures and different countries. So, for us it’s very important to know more about what is happening in this world.
(Kim) There are many films that have many cross-national and cross-cultural elements that take us into the lives that haven’t been told many times. There are so many films that not only serve a story about people living in a short term point, in a short term location, but their stories also take us into many different layers about the diverse cultures that could have been lost in the contemporary era.
(Jaarsma) It also reflects the current issues. So, we learnt a lot through this film about how people have different perspectives about their lives and how they can find solutions to deal with short term issues. It’s very diverse.

How do you assess the strengths of the selected films?
(Lin) I would say that most films are quite powerful and interest me. I can always see the relationship between the filmmaker and the protagonist. I think that’s very valuable. So, I appreciate that.
(Kim) They really reflect what’s happening now. We also see how the young generation is facing new challenges and trying to cope with the lost generation.
(Jaarsma) Yeah. I also see that there is a starting point of the documentaries where the story is driven through mythologies and then enters reality. I find it interesting.

How do you deliberate to decide what is the film winner?
(Lin) We fight. Yeah, we fight but we have a very good exchange of opinions.
(Kim) Right. I think we all have different opinions about the films, but at the end of the day, we agree on the basic that documentary should celebrate excellence in filmmaking, but also appreciate the film for preserving what they have under the very dire situations they are facing. So, that’s why we were able to come up with an agreement.
(Jaarsma) Yeah, that was an interesting discussion. I am happy that we finally found common grounds. So, we have a clear conclusion about the winner of the competition.

What is the very reason this film is decidedly to be a winner?
(Jaarsma) I think the main character of the film is very clear. It’s about a woman, who as a singer during the military regime, steps out from that row and now she still sings songs. The poetry of her songs are very strong and she really shouts up the struggle in her life and it’s also related with what’s going on in this moment. It’s also a very sensitive way of filmmaking.
(Lin) Ya, totally agree.
(Kim) Her song is not just a personal story… The songs feel like the history and culture of these people who went through so much and there is the definite value.

Festival Film Dokumenter 2023 is proud and honored to present Song of Souls (2023) directed by Sai Naw Kham as the awardee of the Best International Feature-Length Documentary. We would like to thank all the selection committees and jury members who have been involved in this year’s festival.