Al Jazeera Documentary Award

The Naked Room

El cuarto desnudo

The Naked Room shows a whole world without leaving a single space: the examination room in the psychiatric wing of a Mexico City children’s hospital. Here the traumas and nightmares of a generation of Mexican youth are revealed in all their painful reality. The youth suffer from issues including severe depression, schizophrenia, post-traumatic stress disorder from assault and more. Many of the children in the film pose a danger to themselves or others; and the care they receive in this office may be their last hope.

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Blanco

In the breathtaking mountain region of Constanza, Dominican Republic, albinism is being passed down through multiple generations. This genetic condition manifests as an absence of pigmentation in the skin, eyes and hair, leaving those affected without any natural protection from the sun. Blanco portrays the daily life of six Dominican albinos of different ages, who strive to carry on with their lives as normal, in spite of their physical vulnerability.

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Quebranto

Coral Bonelli began life as “Pinolito,” a child actor in the rough-and-tumble film industry of 1970s Mexico. The son of a mariachi and an actress, he was a natural performer—a passion his adoring stage mother, Lilia, soon steered into a winning film career. After the movies gave way to the demanding cabaret circuit, “Pinolito” announced he would henceforth be a woman—surgery and hormone treatments to follow.

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Gorgona, Stories on the Run

La Gorgona, historias fugadas

Twenty-five years of stories from a tropical island prison. An inmate who harvested oranges, another who clandestinely sold coconuts. A birthday in solitary confinement and a dead body on the beach. An inmate who polished shoes while another distilled moonshine in secret. Several prisoners attempted, but just one escaped; dozens of sharks lurked in the waters, but only one attacked. From 1960 to 1985, a maximum security prison operated on the paradisiacal island of Gorgona, 35km off the Pacific Coast of Colombia.

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The Last Station

La última estación

“Good morning, grandmas and grandpas. Today I want to share with you the sounds I recorded on a rainy day,” says the radio announcer, the residents of Father Hurtado’s nursing home listening quietly to the daily broadcast. They wait patiently to hear news of those who have passed away, like a tired passenger awaits the arrival of the last train. Poetic and deeply human, The Last Station is an insightful portrait of life in a Chilean nursing home, where residents embark with determination upon their every chore.

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Icaros

Icaros explores the spiritual universe of the Shipibo, an Indigenous people who live by the Ucayali river, one of the main tributaries of the Peruvian Amazon. Mokan Rono, a young Shipibo man, sets out on a journey to discover the ancestral knowledge of ayahuasca, a hallucinogenic tonic made from plants that is known for its cathartic and life-changing powers. He is mentored by an elder shaman who instructs him how to prepare for the experience, and his mother, a master healer.

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Refugees in Their Own Land

Refugiados en su tierra

The immediate impact and dramatic photos from natural disasters dominate the media. But what about the period afterwards? This quietly powerful documentary captures the devastation and heroism of a community in those months and years after such a crisis. Filmed during four years in Chaitén in the south of Chile, it tells the story of a group of people who re-occupy their town, which was partly buried by a volcanic eruption and flood, in order to stop the authorities from forcing them to abandon it.

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The Shark’s Eye

El ojo del tiburón

In the remote village of Greytown, Nicaragua, surrounded by the jungle and the ocean, Maicol and Bryan are nearing adolescence. Soon, instead of swimming in the river and making slingshots to kill birds, they will be shark hunting in the sea with the older men of the village. The Shark’s Eye captures their daily lives and quietly leads the viewer into the local reality, partly masked by the humour and innocence of late childhood.

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The Girl from the South

La chica del sur

In 1989, just three weeks after the Tiananmen Square massacre, José Luis García attended the World Festival of Youth and Students in Pyongyang, North Korea. He documented the event with a VHS camera, inspired by the presence of Lim Su-Kyung, a student activist from Seoul who was boldly speaking out in favour of the peaceful reunification of North and South Korea. Su-Kyung created a further stir by announcing that she would cross the Panmunjom military border on foot, an act that would put her in danger of imprisonment or even death.

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The Bella Vista

A football club, a transvestite brothel, and finally, the Jesus of Mercy Catholic chapel. Director Alicia Cano Menoni restages the happenings that led rather distinct tenants to occupy the same building at different points in time in the small Uruguayan village of Garbanzo. The Bella Vista blurs the boundaries between documentary and fiction, truth and acting, offering the audience a candid and good-humoured story. The film carries a compelling metaphor, diving into the lives of a few specific characters while at the same time, playing with the medium of documentary filmmaking.

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