ELBE DOCK 2021: Award statements


ELBE DOCK Award for The Best Central European Feature Film Debut



Amel Alzakout and Khaled Abdulwahed (Germany, 2020)


The film we have chosen to award is an uncompromising, raw and honest visual testimony of a major topic of our times: immigration and the right to live life with dignity. While too often the tragedies that befall asylum seekers are portrayed by outsiders, in this film, the two directors reclaim the narrative by taking up the camera and telling their story, thus bringing the viewer with them in the middle of their story of despair, dreams and survival.

Though difficult to watch, the film PURPLE SEA reflects the panic and exhaustion that director Amel Alzakout experienced when the boat on which she was fleeing Syria capsized. Her poetic voiceover tells us of her life before the fateful journey, breaking anonymity to give us an intimate account of a terrible reality. This is a courageous, visually unique and thought-provoking documentary.


Special Mention:

Salome Jashi (Switzerland, Georgia, Germany, 2021)


A tree is travelling over the sea.
Poetry or Reality?

Georgian filmmaker Salomé Jashi follows the unexpected voyage of trees, as they are being relocated from their homeplace, close to the coastline, to a newly installed park from one of Georgia's richest men and former prime minister Bidzina Ivanishvili. The latter created over the last years a very special parc- dedicated to endemic trees and plants from the area.

She follows the people who sold their trees, the workers. Dogs. Opposing the power of the machines, needed to do all these operations, finding its revelation in the  silence of the sea, when the tree is finally on the ship.

Salome Jashi's photography combines the old techniques of the masters of baroque paintings and the approaches of contemporary still photographers such as Andreas Gurski to reveal in one picture vertical and horizontal meanings of a situation. Beautifully composed, full of life that slowly develops.

TAMING THE GARDEN reflects through a very subtle montage and photography  the necessities to finish this undertaking and at the same time gives an insight into Georgia's society and its needs and longings. TAMING becomes subtle and brutal simultaneously - beautifully, strange and wild. An extraordinary documentary filled with love and dedication. Therefor the jury decided unanimously to give a special mention to TAMING THE GARDEN.



ELBE DOCK Award for The Best Central European Short Film Debut



Agnieszka Nowosielska (Poland, 2020)


The short film award goes to Wyraj. The title refers to the place where birds go for winter time and souls go after death.

Agnieszka Nowosielska succeeded in creating a stunningly beautiful fiction film dealing with the supernatural in a delicate, sensual way.