National Geographic Announces Film and Photography Award Winners

National Geographic’s All Roads Film Festival announced the winners of its fifth annual film and photography awards at a gala reception in Washington, D.C., on Friday, Oct. 3. The theme for this year’s festival was “Images and Stories: A New Generation.”

“Welcome to Enurmino!,” by director Aleksei Vakhrushev (“Time When Dreams Melt,” “Birds of Naukan”), of Chukchi descent, won the audience favorite award for best feature-length film; “A Sketch of Wathone,” by director Kyi Phyu Shin [“Hna Khan Htat Ka Dar Thwar (The Sharp Knife on the Lips)”], of Burmese heritage, won for best short; and “As We Forgive,” by director Laura Waters Hinson, won the audience choice award.

Feature documentary “Welcome to Enurmino!” explores the plight of Russian villagers struggling to maintain their traditional Chukchi culture, while challenged by the changing landscape and their increasing isolation. The film screened at All Roads in Los Angeles and Washington and will screen as part of the All Roads program at the Santa Fe Film Festival, Dec. 3-7, 2008.

“A Sketch of Wathone” profiles Wathone, one of Myanmar’s best known painters, as he shares his thoughts on life, art and family. The film is Kyi Phyu Shin’s second documentary completed through the Yangon Film School. “A Sketch of Wathone” made its U.S. debut at All Roads in Los Angeles and Washington and will also be screened in Santa Fe.

“As We Forgive,” which also earned a Student Academy Award from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences earlier this year, tells the story of two women as they come face-to-face with the men who slaughtered their families during the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Waters Hinson, founder of Image Bearer Pictures, recently launched the Living Bricks Campaign, a multimedia viewer project to support reconciliation efforts in Rwanda. “As We Forgive” made its U.S. debut at All Roads in Los Angeles and Washington and will be screened in Santa Fe.

All Roads also honored four featured photographers with seed money and photography equipment to assist in their fieldwork. They are Khaled Hasan (Bangladesh), Farzana Wahidy (Afghanistan), Alejandro Chaskielberg (Argentina) and Rena Effendi (Azerbaijan).

Hasan’s photo essay, “Living Stone: A Community Losing Its Life,” focuses on the India-Bangladesh border community of Jaflong, whose inhabitants are struggling with the environmental, political and physical effects of the region’s stone-crushing industry. Wahidy’s exhibit, “Afghan Women,” explores the enormous pressures and perils faced by the women of her native land, who enjoy far fewer rights today than they did 30 years ago. Chaskielberg’s photo essay, “The High Tide: Native Islanders and the Community of the Paraná River Delta,” beautifully depicts a new culture — with its own laws and codes, a byproduct of unemployment and immigration — that has formed in this unique estuary, with a dense forest full of water and silence. Effendi’s essay, “Khinaliq Village — A Staircase to the Sky 2003-2006,” explores the effects of urbanization on the ancient village of Khinaliq in Azerbaijan, a village whose unique ancient culture is being threatened by the development of a luxury ski resort.

The All Roads film awards are based on audience scores taken from the All Roads Film Festival in Los Angeles. The photography program awards are evaluated by the All Roads Photography Program selection committee. The All Roads Film Festival is sponsored by InterContinental Hotels.

The All Roads Film Festival is part of the All Roads Film Project, a National Geographic initiative to provide a global platform for indigenous and under-represented minority-culture storytellers around the world to showcase their talents and teach a broader audience about their cultures. In addition to providing a venue for the filmmakers’ and photographers’ work, All Roads offers them networking opportunities with leaders of the film and photographic community. The All Roads Film Project awards a minimum of 10 seed grants a year to support the development and production of film and video projects by or about indigenous and under-represented minority cultures. Seed grant recipients are considered for inclusion in the All Roads Film Festival and other National Geographic-affiliated broadcast venues.

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