The Special Youth Jury Award at the 6th edition of the South Korean event went to ‘Holy Bread’ from Iran.
Made by the late documentarian Rahim Zabihi and produced by Touraj Aslani, the Iranian documentary is about some cross-border couriers who try to make ends meet by smuggling goods into Iran.
On foot, they carry their loads along mountain paths that are rocky, steep, and either slippery due to snow or blisteringly hot. Along the way, many of them suffer injuries, die in blizzards, or are shot by border police.
The powerful scenes of the men’s journeys are matched by their harrowing stories. No one chooses to become a cross-border courier; it is simply an unavoidable consequence of not having any other form of work.
The documentarian followed the workers for nine years to document the impact of living like a human pack mule. ‘Holy Bread’ gives exposure to a group of mostly men, who, driven by poverty, hunger, and despair, operate in the margins of society.
Set to vie at the Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival in Canada and the Trento Film Festival in Italy, ‘Holy Bread’ has gone on screen at some global events, including the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam in the Netherlands and the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in the US.
Earlier on, the organizers of the Ulju Mountain announced that ‘Bandar Band’ by Iranian filmmaker Manijeh Hekmat received the NETPAC Award.
‘The Wall of Shadows’ by polish director Eliza Kubarska and a co-production from Poland and Germany won the festival’s Grand Prize.