The winners of CPH:DOX 2019 are…

The winners of the 16th edition of the international documentary film festival CPH:DOX have been announced at an Award Ceremony taking place at Kunsthal Charlottenborg Friday evening. The main award DOX:AWARD went to ‘Ridge’ by Swedish John Skoog while ‘Searching Eva’ by German Pia Hellenthal received the jury’s Special Mention.

Today, CPH:DOX announced the winners of the festival’s six international competitions: DOX:AWARD, NEW:VISION, F:ACT AWARD, NORDIC:DOX, NEXT:WAVE and Politiken Audience Award.

Winners at CPH:DOX 2019

  • DOX:AWARD: ‘Ridge’ by John Skoog (Sweden)
  • NEW:VISION: ‘A Moon for My Father’ by Mania Akbari og Douglas White (Iran)
  • FACT:AWARD: ‘Dark Suns’ by Julien Elie (Canada)
  • NORDIC:DOX: ‘The Men’s Room’ by Petter Sommer & Jo Vemund Svendsen (Norway)
  • NEXT:WAVE: ‘Kabul, City in the Wind’ by Aboozar Amini (Afghanistan, Netherlands, Japan, Germany)
  • Politiken Audience Award: ‘Push’ af Fredrik Gertten (Sweden)
  • Eurimages Co-Production Development Award: ‘Four Brothers’ by Peter-Jan de Pue and Vincent Metzinger (Belgium, Germany)
  • DR Talent Award: ‘Secrets Between Lovers’ by Kathrine Skibsted, Andrine Moland and Caroline Salic (Denmark)


Winner: RIDGE (John Skoog, Sweden)
International premiere

The festival’s main prize, DOX:AWARD 2019, went to ‘Ridge’ by Swedish John Skoog – a supernaturally beautiful hybrid film from the Swedish summer. ‘Ridge’ is produced by Erik Hemmendorff for Plattform Produktion, and it held its international premiere at CPH:DOX.

On their motivation for choosing ‘Ridge’, the jury says:

“We would like to honor a film that takes formal virtuosity to new heights, yet never loses sight of the human experience. If Tarkovsky had played video games and was a Swedish farmer, this might be what his films would have looked like. Sculpting with time and space, this new director creates a unique field of experience for the audience, steering away from familiar dichotomies such as man versus machines, science versus nature, immigrant versus local. Instead this film creates a haunting environment where all of these elements are playfully activated, and the result approaches a uniquely jagged kind of sublime. The DOX: Award goes to Ridge by John Skoog.”

The Swedish summer is the true protagonist of the enigmatic ‘Ridge’, where every single one of the beautiful and sensual images is imbued with an inner life. Polish rural workers arrive by ferry to Sweden to work on the farms. The locals celebrate the harvest long into the night, and the youngsters have drinking rituals in the forests. The summer sun casts long shadows, and in the twilight everything comes to life. A unique work born in the triangle between visual art, abstract fiction and documentary materiality from northern Skåne, where the director and artist John Skoog himself grew up. A few of the characters are actors, the rest are all amateurs, family members and locals. Skoog has previously shown a number of short conceptual works at CPH:DOX, ‘Ridge’ is his first feature.

The winning film can still be seen at CPH:DOX on Monday April 1, 3pm at Cinemateket.

Special Mention

SEARCHING EVA (Pia Hellenthal, Germany).
International premiere

The jury also gave a Special Mention to German Pia Hellenthal’s performative film ‘Searching Eva’ about the 25-year-old outsider diva, Eva, in the age of the internet. ‘Searching Eva’ had its international premiere at CPH:DOX.

The jury states:

“The jury would like to make a special mention for a film that takes an innovative approach to a profile of an artist. Its cinematographic language is very much in line with the artistic and life experience of a character who continuously searches for alternative approaches to everything, constantly detaching from common reference points and notions of stability. And so does the film, which adopts its own playful ethos, never falling into expectations for how this story, or this life, should be told. Above all, it’s a film of great risk, on screen and behind the camera, and we found that both commendable and compelling. The special jury award goes to Searching Eva, by Pia Hellenthal.”

‘Searching Eva’ is screening Saturday March 30, 10pm at Empire.

The DOX:AWARD jury consisted of Danish producer Katrin Pors, American filmmaker and curator Eric Hynes, Syrian filmmaker Soudade Kaadan, French filmmaker Frédéric Tcheng and Spanish programme director Paz Lázaro.

12 films were nominated for the festival’s main competition DOX:AWARD 2019, celebrating strong personal expressions and cinematic quality, and a cash prize of 5,000€.

DOX:AWARD is presented in collaboration with DR.


Winner: A MOON FOR MY FATHER (Mania Akbari & Douglas White, Iran)
World premiere

The winner of NEW:VISION AWARD 2019 is Iranian Mania Akbari and British Douglas White’s raw and performative video work ‘A Moon for My Father’, which held its world premiere at the festival.

On their motivation, the jury says:

“‘A Moon For My Father’ is a complex and generous film about bodies. Bodies of work, bodies of politics and history – an extraordinary artist’s body as host of disease and transformation under pressure – and as the subsequent carrier and giver of life.  

Like a punch in the gut or a needle in the abdomen, this film demonstrates that as a viewer, the medium of moving images is far more than a retinal and cognitive experience, but one of strong affect and of somatic involvement of your very own body.”

Mania Akbari’s own body is the primary medium and material in her and Douglas White’s raw and courageous film, which with a performative and sculptural materiality documents – and reflects upon – Akbari’s experience with breast cancer, and since then with pregnancy. Akbaris connects her own body to Iran’s political history, and examines the traumas of both as she lives through her illness. Life, death, language, censorship and the artistic process – the abstract suddenly becomes concrete in the face of the possible ending of life, and the beginning of a new life.

‘A Moon for My Father’ can still be seen Monday April 1, 6.30pm at Cinemateket.

The NEW:VISION jury consisted of British artist Ed Atkins, American curator and producer Lauren Boyle and Danish artist Mathias Kryger.

The 15 nominated films in the NEW:VISION competition features experiments in the borderland between documentary and artistic reflection.


Winner: DARK SUNS (Julien Elie, Canada)
European premiere

The F:ACT AWARD 2019 went to ‘Dark Suns’ by Canadian Julien Elie – investigating the epidemic wave of killings of, above all, women in Mexico. ‘Dark Suns’ had its European premiere at CPH:DOX.

The jury states:

“The F:ACT AWARD goes to a film that gives voice to people who have suffered unbearable losses and have been neglected and ignored and forgotten by their government and authorities. In fact, the film convincingly suggests that those very authorities are themselves deeply involved in the immense tragedy that has been quietly unfolding through more than 20 years. The filmmaker has invested almost as many years of his life and work to bring the story to us and he does it with a huge solidarity with his characters and with a patience that gives the audience a deep sense of the complexity of this tragedy. He does not seek easy answers but lets one witness after the other take us deep into the heart of darkness. The F:ACT AWARD 2019 goes to DARK SUNS by director Julien Elie.”

‘Dark Suns’ is an investigative, dark and atmospheric film about the epidemic wave of killings of, above all, women in Mexico. A phenomenon with a complex web of causes, from drug crime and trafficking to a misogynous culture and serial killers. Julien Elie’s black and white film captures the complex topic with an almost anthropological thoroughness, which leaves a great impression – not least in the encounter with the courageous people who risk their own lives trying to do something about the brutal epidemic of violence. Women, journalists, activists and students. The violence goes all the way to the top of a corrupt system, where fear and power are closely related.

‘Dark Suns’ will be screening one last time Sunday March 31, 1pm at Palads.

Special Mention

MIDNIGHT FAMILY (Luke Lorentzen, Mexico, US)
European premiere

The jury also gave a Special Mention to Luke Lorentzen’s Midnight Family’ – a gripping film about a family running a private ambulance service in Mexico City.

The jury states:

“We are honored to present a special mention to a film, that is both shocking and moving at the same time. It takes us in high and bumpy speed through an urban jungle, were the crucial task of saving injured people are left to an untamed and ruthless competition that cost lives on a daily basis. The special mention goes to MIDNIGHT FAMILY by director Luke Lorentzen.”

Nine million people live in Mexico City, and they have to share 45 ambulances. A new industry of private ambulances has sprung up, and they race each other through the chaotic streets to be the first to arrive when an accident occurs. One of them belongs to the Ochoa family. With 17-year-old Juan behind the wheel, they try to save lives and earn some pesos in the process, as long as their patients survive the trip and are willing to pay for it. The young documentary filmmaker Luke Lorentzen manages to capture the smallest details of the drama. Details that come together in a sensory study of a systemic disaster, in all its tragic wholeness.

‘Midnight Family’ screens at Saturday March 30, 8pm at Empire and Tuesday April 2, 9pm at Gloria.

The F:ACT AWARD jury consisted of Hungarian filmmaker, screenwriter and producer Eszter Hajdu, Tunisian producer Lynda Belkhiria and Danish director Søren Steen Jespersen.

11 films were nominated to the festival’s F:ACT AWARD, dedicated to films in the field between documentary filmmaking, investigative journalism and activism.

F:ACT AWARD is presented in collaboration with the Danish Union of Journalists and International Media Support, IMS.


Winner: THE MEN’S ROOM (Petter Sommer & Jo Vemund Svendsen, Norway)
International premiere

The winner of the NORDIC:DOX AWARD 2019, which represents the best and brightest in cinema from the Nordic countries, is ‘The Men’s Room’ by Norwegian Petter Sommer and Jo Vemund Svendsen. The film had its international premiere at CPH:DOX.

The jury states:

“We agreed unanimously on the winner. The NORDIC:DOX AWARD goes to a film that made us both laugh and cry. A tribute to friendship and male vulnerability. A film that powerfully conveys the basic human needs for belonging propelled by a clear cinematic vision and a big heart.The NORDIC:DOX AWARD goes to THE MEN’S ROOM directed by Petter Sommer and Jo Vermund Svendsen.”

Every Tuesday, 25 men in their prime get together in a bar in Oslo to sing in a choir and drink beers. They have joked that they will sing at each other’s funerals and now it looks like the choir’s conductor will be the first to be sung out. The doctor has given him just a few months to live. Which is roughly the time that the male choir has to prepare for its biggest gig to date: a warm-up job for Black Sabbath.

‘The Men’s Room’ can be seen on Tuesday April 2, 5.30pm at Empire.

Special Mention

MATING (Lina Mannheimer, Sweden)
International premiere

The jury also gave a Special Mention to Swedish Lina Manheimer’s ‘Mating’ which held its international premiere at CPH:DOX.

The jury states:

“The special mention goes to a film that we felt could be best described by the word ‘sassy’. We looked it up to be sure we had the right definition and it felt perfect: lively, bold, and full of spirit; cheeky. It is a film that intimately portrays a modern day relationship between two young people that the director actually never met. It’s a fascinating exploration of contemporary gender dynamics with no filter and a great sense of humour. Our special mention goes to MATING by Lina Mannheimer.”

Naomi and Edvin agree to participate in Lina Mannheimer’s film about identity and the online reality we all live in. But when they become romantically involved – and they do so right away! – the social experiment changes shape. ‘Mating’ documents their relationship through chat threads, Skype calls and social media without Mannheimer actually ever meeting them. A very special intimacy develops between the two youths, whose intimate friendship survives both crises, conflicts and geographic distances. ‘Mating’ is also a film about how we perceive ourselves in the 21st century, and how we meet and negotiate in the chaotic universe of performative mirror images, which the internet and social media both reflect and amplify.

‘Mating’ is screening Monday April 1, 4.30pm at Cinemateket.

The NORDIC:DOX jury consisted of British festival programmer Laure Bonville, Danish director Andreas Koefoed and Brazilian festival programmer Anna Glogowski.

13 films were nominated for the NORDIC:DOX AWARD 2019.


Winner: KABUL, CITY IN THE WIND (Aboozar Amini, Afghanistan, Netherlands, Japan, Germany)
International premiere

Aboozar Amini’s ‘Kabul, City in the Wind’ is this year’s winner of NEXT:WAVE AWARD, the festival’s competition for emerging, international filmmakers.

On their motivation for choosing ‘Kabul, City in the Wind’, the jury says:

For us in the jury it’s been an immense pleasure to experience the incredible variety in the NEXT:WAVE category and we’ve been traveling around the world in the cinemas of Copenhagen. Our main award goes to a movie that took us to the heart of a hurt city that we’ve never experienced like this before. An impressive, artistic and breathtaking documentary that goes beyond war and death and is a deep, devastating and deeply moving portrait of life and characters which you won’t forget. This is only the debut feature of the director but it shows an incredible sense of artistic ambition and a brilliant, bold use of cinematography, editing and sound. A wonderful film that shows that hope will survive. The award for best film in the NEXT:WAVE category goes to KABUL, CITY IN THE WIND.

One easily forgets that life always continues its course even in the places where life is toughest. In Kabul, the philosophical bus driver Abas is fighting a daily battle to keep his worn-out bus alive in the midst of traffic chaos. At another end of the ravaged city, the young Afshin must take over the role of father for his younger brother, when their father exiles himself in Iran. Abas keeps his problems at bay with songs and a hash pipe. The brothers do whatever they can to stay together during their everyday lives. To contrast the impressionistic scenes of the city’s chaos, the director Aboozar Amini lets his protagonists speak directly to the camera – and to us – about their dreams, fears and hopes for the future.

‘Kabul, City in the Wind’ screens Sunday March 31, 2.15pm at Dagmar and Monday April 1, 9.15pm at Gloria.

Special Mention

INLAND (Juan Palacios, Spain)
World premiere

‘Inland’ by Spanish director Juan Palacios received a Special Mention from the jury. The film had its world premiere at CPH:DOX.

The jury states:

“We’re giving the Special Mention to a film that feels like a prayer in the form of a film – shot with a meditative camera and an extraordinary textured soundscape. It’s both an intense and surprisingly funny journey into a village by a very sensitive film director who’s looking beyond the picture, beyond the eyes of the main characters to reveal their souls, their humanity, their passions. The filmmaker succeeds in telling a vulnerable, vivid and sprawling story about the challenging present of a group of farmers in a remote beautiful village. Our Special Mention goes to Meseta – INLAND!”

Two young girls are looking for Pokémons in the sun-drenched landscapes, while two elderly gentlemen are playing the guitar and singing heroic hymns to the local lorry drivers. We are in the vast inland of Spain, and the stories reflect each other in Juan Palacios’s slightly surreal field trip through the ancient kingdom. But the magical moments come from the eccentric local folklore, which is rooted in dry lands. The method reflects the motif, and freely alternates between poetic observation and artistic intervention. Palacios sees his film as a living map. But the territory is boundless, as is the state that Palacios’s film puts you in.

‘Inland’ can still be seen on Monday April 1, 8.30pm at Cinemateket.  

The jury for NEXT:WAVE AWARD consisted of Sudanese director and producer Marwa Zein, Italian curator Nico Marzano and the Danish sound designer Peter Albrechtsen.

15 short and feature films were nominated for NEXT:WAVE 2019, presented in collaboration with Normann Copenhagen.


Winner: PUSH (Fredrik Gertten, Sweden)
World premiere

Swedish Fredrik Gertten’s ‘Push’ received the Politiken Audience Award 2019 – exploring the skyrocket housing prices around the world. The film held its world premiere at the festival.

Housing prices have exploded in the world’s major cities. But the salary levels have not, and today you can spend almost all your income on a place to live, which you never have the time to spend in, because you have to be at work to pay the rent. What happened, and what can be done? Leilani Farha from the United Nations is working to push governments all over the world to secure a fundamental human right to housing, and in ‘Push’ she travels to some of the world’s biggest cities to examine the scale and causes of the housing crisis. What she finds is appalling. But in an alliance with mayors from Berlin to Barcelona, a new project comes about that might turn the trend.

CPH:DOX and Politiken celebrate freedom of expression with the Politiken Audience Award.

10 films have been nominated circling the subject of freedom – personal, artistic or economic.

You can still catch ‘Push’ at the cinema on Sunday March 31, 8pm at Empire and Monday April 1, 9.30pm at Grand Teatret.

Other award winners

The winners of the Eurimages Co-Production Development Award for best pitch and the DR Talent Award were also handed out during the festival. The former went to Peter-Jan de Pue and Vincent Metzinger for ’Four Brothers’ while the Talent Award went to Kathrine Skibsted, Andrine Moland and Caroline Salic.