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‘Le Spectre de Boko Haram,’ a View of Terrorism Seen Through Children’s Eyes, Wins Rotterdam’s Tiger Award

By Rafa Sales Ross,


Cyrielle Raingou ’s documentary “Le Spectre de Boko Haram” won the Tiger Award, the top prize of the International Film Festival Rotterdam , Friday. The film follows a group of children in the north of Cameroon, an area dominated by the terrorist organization Boko Haram. Raingou is from the area herself.

“When I received this unforgettable call, I started crying. I couldn’t believe it. This recognition means the world to me and my people,” Raingou said on a video message played during the awards ceremony.

The jury deemed Raingou’s feature debut “a story that centers on its filmmakers’ patient and honest gaze on the hovering presence of violence, seen through the eyes of innocents.”

The Tiger Award, which aims to “raise the profile of and reward up-and-coming international film talent,” is accompanied by a €40,000 cash prize, to be shared between the film’s director and producer. This year’s Tiger jury is composed of Sabrina Baracetti, Lav Diaz, Anisia Uzeyman, Christine Vachon and Alonso Díaz de la Vega.

The Special Jury Awards went to Visakesa Chandrasekaram’s “Munnel,” a reflection on the post-war consciousness of Sri Lanka’s ethnic minority, and “New Strains” by Artemis Shaw and Prashanth Kamalakanthan, a semi-improvised, homemade rom-com observing the rhythms of lockdown life. The jury found “Munnel” to be “a great simple story about a young man caught between revolution and authoritarianism,” and considered “New Strains” “an original vision of life during the pandemic with the actors/directors putting themselves on the line to tell a harrowing and hilarious story of confinement.”

“By sharing these stories we are actually exercising our freedom of expression and by doing so we are protecting our democracies,” Chandrasekaram said in his thank-you speech. “This platform gives us validity so when we come back to our countries we are protected.”

The winner of the VPRO Big Screen competition was Abbas Amini’s “Endless Borders,” a story about an exiled Iranian teacher who helps an Afghan refugee family. “This is the second [piece of] good news today. Jafar Panahi is free!,” exclaimed an emotional Amini while accepting the award, taking the opportunity to celebrate the recent release of the lauded Iranian filmmaker.

The jury statement read: “The minimalist scenography and the effective use of silences enhance the focus on the unspoken dynamics within the community. The underlying current of tension, due to the harrowing situation in which the main characters find themselves, keeps you engaged throughout the whole film. We hope that the viewers will gain a deeper understanding of the complexity of making choices in difficult situations.”

This year’s Big Screen Competition jury was made up of Heike Bluthardt, Wayne de Boer, Didi van der Burg, Annelies van den Houten and Han Nguyen. The film received a theatrical release in the Netherlands, a broadcast on Dutch TV by VPRO and NPO, and a €30,000 prize.

The FIPRESCI award went to “La Palisiada” by Philip Sotnychenko, a “conceptual, visually arresting exploration of the history of 1990s Ukraine.” The jury, composed of international film journalists, said of the film: “This outstanding feature debut by Philip Sotnychenko is as elusive as it is a direct tale that is connecting past and present in a harrowing way. Skilfully using different aesthetics and mediums, ‘La Palisiada’ masterfully reflects on cinema as an instrument of intent and its ability to create, multiply and erase different versions of truths.”

The Ammodo Tiger Short Competition winners were announced earlier in the week. They were “Natureza Humana” by Mónica Lima, “Tito” by Kervens Jimenez and Taylor McIntosh, and “What the Soil Remembers” by José Cardoso.

The 52nd edition of the festival is its first fully in-person event since the festival was forced to move online by the pandemic in 2021.

Full list of winners below:

Tiger Award to “Le Spectre de Boko Haram” by Cyrielle Raingou (Cameroon)
Special Jury Award to “Munnel” by Visakesa Chandrasekaram (Sri Lanka)
Special Jury Award to “New Strains” by Artemis Shaw (U.S.) and Prashanth Kamalakanthan (India)

VPRO Big Screen Award to “Endless Borders” by Abbas Amini (Iran)

The FIPRESCI Award to “La Palisiada” by Philip Sotnychenko (Ukraine).

NETPAC Award to “Whispering Mountains” by Jagath Manuwarna

The KNF Award to “Aqueronte” by Manuel Muñoz Rivas

“Natureza Humana” by Mónica Lima (Portugal, Germany)
“Tito” by Kervens Jimenez and Taylor McIntosh (Haiti)
“What the Soil Remembers” by José Cardoso (South Africa, Ecuador)

The fourth annual Robby Müller Award was received by Hélène Louvart.

The Audience Award and the IFFR Youth Jury Award will be announced on Sunday with the festival’s close.

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