The competitions of the 54th edition of Visions du Réel came to a close this evening, Friday 28 April, at the award ceremony. Swiss-Canadian director Peter Mettler won the Grand Prix of the International Feature Film Competition with While the Green Grass Grows, an extraordinary project that will consist of seven parts once completed – two of which were presented as a world premiere. This is the second time Peter Mettler has won this award. The Burning Lights Competition was won by Knit’s Island, shot entirely from inside a video game, as further proof of the section’s future-oriented positioning. The National Competition’s chosen winner was Chagrin Valley, a debut film that offers a disconcerting immersion in the evanescent daily life of retirement home residents. Visions du Réel will continue until Sunday evening at Nyon theatres, and online until Monday 6pm. The Prix du Public and the first figures from the edition will be announced tomorrow.
“The wealth of artistry on display at this edition made it a particularly enjoyable occasion. The list of winners – which includes a number of female-directed films (11 out of 18) – helps paint a picture of a Festival whose exceptional Guests of Honour and Special Guests will linger long in the memory. Lucrecia Martel and Alice Rohrwacher, alongside Jean-Stéphane Bron, will have made this Festival a place for dialogue that is at once inspiring, open and accessible. The 2023 edition will have been dominated by women. It is also an honour and a pleasure that the Grand Prix will once again be awarded to a Swiss production, which – and this is already a certainty – will go down in the history of cinema.”Visions du Réel’s artistic director Emilie Bujès
A diverse and inspiring list of winners
Alongside the Grand Prix awarded to Swiss-Canadian filmmaker Peter Mettler for While the Green Grass Grows, the Jury’s Prix Spécial went to the disturbing Korean production Defectors, while the special mention went to the meticulous In Ukraine by Piotr Pawlus and Tomazs Wolski, a Festival regular. The Jury was made up of director Kleber Mendonça Filho, programme director Florence Almozini and producer David Epiney. The winning films in the Burning Lights Competition – Knit’s Island by trio Ekiem Barbier, Guilhem Causse and Quentin L’helgoualc’h, shot entirely in a video game, as well as the astonishing portrait of a young woman in This Woman by Chinese director Alan Zhang – are proof of the section’s desire to embrace the formal and narrative audacity of contemporary non-fiction cinema. These films were also the winners of two additional prizes. Finally, the National Competition – composed almost entirely of works by women and a large number of young filmmakers – was won by Nathalie Berger’s debut film Chagrin Valley, which immerses itself in the daily life of a retirement home, and director Emmanuelle Antille’s philosophical exploration The Wonder Way. All the award-winning films had their world premiere at the Festival.
Talented Swiss directors presents in the Competition
The Swiss competition awarded “Chagrin Valley”, a first film by Nathalie Berger from Zurich. The viewer is immersed in an artificial village, created in a warehouse in the suburbs of Cleveland, where the residents of a retirement home suffering from dementia live.
The special jury prize goes to “The Wonder Way” by Emmanuelle Antille. The Lausanne-based visual artist turned filmmaker takes the viewer on a journey from her grandmother’s garden through unusual territories in the four corners of the planet and space.
The special mention was to “La Maison”, the first film of another woman director from Lausanne, Sophie Ballmer. It is the ordinary story of a house in the process of renovation, inherited in the Vallée de Joux. Sophie Ballmer sees in this renovation the opportunity to try her hand at documentary and autofiction.
Among the other prizes awarded by Visions du Réel, we can also mention “Pure Unknown”, a Swiss co-production (with Italy and Sweden), directed by Valentina Cicogna and Mattia Colombo, which received the Inter-religious Prize.
Every night, nameless bodies land in Dr. Cristina Cattaneo’s autopsy room. She calls them the “pure unknowns”. They are homeless people, prostitutes, teenagers running away. Lately, they are mostly migrants, rejected by the Mediterranean Sea on the Italian coasts. The doctor is concerned about their right to dignity.
All the award-winning films had their world premiere. The Audience Prize will be awarded again on Saturday, while the 54th edition will close on Sunday with the screening in Nyon of the various award-winning films.
Prize list of Visions du Réel 2023
International Feature Film Competition
Jury:Florence Almozini, Senior Director of Programming, USA
David Epiney, Producer, Switzerland
Kleber Mendonça Filho, Filmmaker, Brazil
Grand Jury Prize offered by la Mobilière
CHF 20 000
While the Green Grass Grows, of Peter Mettler (Switzerland, Germany)
Special Jury Award offered by Région de Nyon
CHF 10 000
Defectors, of Hyun kyung Kim (Republic of North Korea, United States)
In Ukraine, of Piotr Pawlus and Tomasz Wolski (Poland, Germany)