Davids and Goliath wins Viewster Online Film Fest (#VOFF4)

Canadian, UK and Brazilian films are winners of most popular festival edition to-date

The Viewster Online Film Fest #VOFF , the world’s largest online film festival, has announced the winners for its charity edition, #VOFF4: Share It Forward - live on www.viewster.com until December 15, 2014.

The first prize winner is Canadian documentary film Davids and Goliath, about two Nobel Prize nominees’ fight against one of the most horrendous human rights abuses in the modern world.

A million online visitors, over a hundred press articles on participating films, and thousands of shares and engaged comments made this edition the most watched festival edition to-date.

Kai Henniges, CEO, Viewster, says: “#VOFF4 was our most successful online film fest yet. It exposed pressing issues that desperately need our attention. This was an amazing experience. We are happy to support the winning filmmakers and their causes and give the charity award to The Climate Response Project. Thanks to everyone who participated and made their cause visible to the world.”

#VOFF4’s jury comprised of independent film producer Ted Hope (21 Grams, American Splendor, Martha Marcy May Marlene), Timo Vuorensola (Iron Sky) and award-winning German actress Nora Tschirner (Keinohrhasen).

#VOFF 4 Winners

First place and the top prize of $50,000 was awarded to Leon Lee of Canada for Davids and Goliath, a documentary shining a light on the trade of organ harvesting in China. Nobel Prize nominees, Canadian human rights lawyer David Matas, and former Canadian Secretary of State, David Kilgour, inspired the creation of the film from Lee, following their the report and books they wrote on how organ harvesting under conditions of torture has become a state-sanctioned practice for the Chinese military, courts, and hospitals to profit from Falun Gong practitioners detained for their beliefs.

 

Davids and Goliath

Davids and Goliath

Leon Lee

Director Leon Lee

The #VOFF 4 jury praised the film, saying it is a “well-focused and choses well-informed individuals with a first hand knowledge of the dire situation in China, putting their cases forward in a clear and gripping manner“.

In his winner’s statement, Lee added: “Documentary film is a powerful tool for change. When you first hear about the systematic corruption and terrifying human rights abuses currently taking place in China it’s almost so terrible that it’s hard to believe. When I started looking into the the irrefutable evidence produced by the two Davids, it shook me and compelled me to tell this story. Getting this kind of exposure will do great things for the cause and the prize money will help to further promote Davids & Goliath, so we can keep spreading this story around the world. We are releasing the film worldwide in 2015 under the title Human Harvest, along with an interactive site that will help educate and create additional awareness on the subject.  The prize will also go toward a new project I am working on is Jing Tian’s Escape, about one woman’s terrifying escape from a labour camp in communist China. It’s an important story that I am honoured to be able to tell with the help of Viewster.“

Second place and $20,000 was awarded to Chris Godwin for Deafening Silence, a ICVA Award-winning drama short showing the trauma of still birth from the mother’s perspective. The film was originally made for charity Abigail’s Footsteps, set up with the aims to improve bereavement services in UK hospitals for families which have suffered the emotional trauma of a stillbirth, and has been shown to midwives in the UK as part of their training to better understand their patients’ perspective and emotions.

The jury hailed it as a “very simple, beautiful, well-acted, well-shot film – which is a whole package“.

 

Deafening Silence

Deafening Silence

Cacau Rhoden of Brazil has won third place and $10,000 for Drops of Joy, a documentary which focuses on the importance of maintaining one’s playful spirit from childhood into one’s adult years, to live a full and balanced life in the face of the modern world. The title refers specifically to prescription drugs and the over-medicalisation of our lives, which the film touches upon.

The judges admired the film’s subject matter and style, saying that “the concept of playfulness is illuminated in some amazing, convincing and interesting ways. It is also a big part of the films visual style and tonality, which makes for a wonderful fusion“.

 

Drops Of Joy

Drops Of Joy

 

#VOFF 4 Audience Award

US documentary Baja’s Secret Miracle won the festival’s Audience Award, which resulted in a $20,000 donation to The Climate Reality Project – the global environmental organisation set up by Nobel Laureate and former Vice-President of the US, Al Gore. The filmmakers of #VOFF4 chose a charitable organisation out of a list of 14 to be attached to their film, and the Audience Award was for the most shared, voted for, and commented on, film.

 

Baja's Secret Miracle

Baja’s Secret Miracle

“Our organization is dedicated to making both climate impacts and solutions real for people in their everyday lives”, said Ken Berlin, President and CEO, The Climate Reality Project. “We simply could not do that without storytellers like Ms. Martinez and platforms like #VOFF connecting us with passionate audiences who can, in turn, help us win the climate fight.”

The festival had 230 films from 47 countries, which raise awareness around human rights, social, economic and environmental issues. Each film in #VOFF4: Share It Forward was organised under 10 editorial strands: Different Perspectives, Economic Crisis & Disparity, Environmental Crisis, Human Rights, Making a Change, Mental & Physical Health, Moral Dilemmas, Social Prejudice, The Modern World, and War & Asylum.