The top prizes of the 2017 Atlas Awards International Film Festival, hosted by Atlas & Aeris, were selected by an independent jury of award-winning filmmakers. These Jury Prizes included the Atlas Aeris Prize for the year’s best film, the Atlas Vitri Prize for the year’s best foreign language film, the Jury Prize for the year’s best work by an emerging filmmaker, and the Peace Prize, for the film that advances peace to the greatest degree. The Atlas Awards Jury democratically selected the prize winners from amongst finalist films nominated by the magazine.
Members of this year’s jury boast impressive accomplishments in filmmaking, and are producing work around the world. Headed by the President of the Jury, Nina Gilden Seavey, members of the jury are leaders in documentary filmmaking, dramatic and experimental works, as well as academia and research. Their works have premiered at places like Cannes SFC, have found international distribution, and have received critical acclaim and recognition, including multiple Emmy awards. Their contributions to independent film in diverse areas and fields qualify their selection to decide the top prizes at the 2017 Atlas Awards.
DTM Pictures | Istanbul, Turkey
After completing her primary and secondary education in French, Mervé Gezen studied Spanish literature and drama at Ankara University. She worked with Ecder Akışık in a production of García Lorca’s Bloody Wedding at the Ankara National Theatre and played the role of Lucinde in Molière’s The Love Doctor under the direction of Jean-Jacques Bellot.
Gezen continued her drama and cinema studies at the Paris National Superior Conservatory advised by Daniel Mesguish and at the University of Paris III, Sorbonne Nouvelle, where she received an MFA. At Paris III she took part in projects including Master Class, Don Giovanni, Le Dindon, and Andromaque under the supervision of Daniel Meguish, Patrice Chereau, Richard Demarcy, and Bruno Gillet.
Gezen is the director of The Conversations of Loo (2012), Where Are You My Love? (2014 — Cannes SFC premiere and winner of the Human Rights Prize at the 2016 Atlas Awards), Scrabble (2016), and is currently working on her first feature film, Lives Smell Naphtalene, and on a documentary project, Roland Garros, un certain regard.
Based in Istanbul, Gezen continues her drama and film work in France and the U.S.
Freedom From Choice AB Stockholm, Sweden
Mattias Löw is a Swedish documentary filmmaker known for The Referee (2010), The Other Sport (2013), All the World in a Design School (2015 — Best Documentary Film, 2016 Atlas Awards), The Indian Priest (2016), Ice Carosello (2010) and Wounderland (2002). He has won acclaim from critics and audiences alike, and been the recipient of international television, film, and journalism awards for his sport-, educational- and social-themed documentaries made for Swedish public TV broadcaster SVT – Sveriges Television.
Nuno Sá Pessoa
Skookum Films | Lisbon, Portugal
Nuno de Sá Pessoa Costa Sequeira began university at Universidade Moderna Lisboa and graduated from The European Film College in Denmark. Upon graduating he returned to Portugal, where he directed his first independent work. Two feature-length documentaries directed by Californian Kenneth Payton followed, for which he did the cinematography and editing, and while in California Pessoa edited a total of three feature-length documentaries. It was also in California that he did the cinematography for a documentary series directed by Gwyneth Horder-Payton.
Pessoa eventually invited his former colleagues Kris Skovmand and Samuel Anderson to move to Portugal from their native countries, Denmark and the U.S. respectively, to start a production company — now Skookum Films. Pessoa has since directed the short film The Headless Nun (2012), an international collaboration narrated by Patrick Carlin, George Carlin’s brother, and featuring a song by Frank Zappa. He has also directed an experimental music video starring the New York duo Tribal Baroque. In partnership with the actor João Craveiro, Pessoa directed the short film Bílis Negra (2013 — Best Special and Visual Effects, 2015 Atlas Awards), and in Brazil he edited the short film Passagens (2013) by Maria Emília. In Brazil, he also directed the Brazilian-Portuguese short film A Lagoa (2013), written by and starring João Craveiro, and then returned to Portugal to shoot the science fiction short film Earth 2084 (2014 — Best Writing, 2015 Atlas Awards).
Pessoa has served as a guest lecturer and as a member of the juries of several film festivals. His award-winning films have screened in over 30 countries. He continues his work between Brazil, Portugal, and California, in keeping with his philosophy that in both art and the world, there are no boundaries.
Nina Gilden Seavey
President of the Jury
The George Washington University Washington, D.C.
Nina Gilden Seavey is an Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and a nearly 30-year veteran of the documentary world. Her films can be seen in theaters, on television, in ancillary media, and in museum exhibitions across the globe.
Some of her films include: A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America, The Ballad of Bering Strait, The Matador, A Short History of Sweet Potato Pie and How It Became a Flying Saucer, The War at Home, and 4th & GOAL. Her most recently completed film is Parables of War (2014 — Best Documentary Short Film, 2016 Atlas Awards), and she is currently in production on My Fugitive.
Seavey is the director of The Documentary Center in the School of Media and Public Affairs at The George Washington University, which she founded in 1990. She concurrently serves as the Co-Director of the Center for Innovative Media. She holds the academic rank of full Research Professor of History and Media and Public Affairs with appointments both in the Department of History and in the School of Media and Public Affairs in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at GW.
In 2002, Seavey became the Founding Director of SILVERDOCS: AFI/Discovery Channel Documentary Festival (now AFI Docs). She continued with the festival as Executive Producer, strand programmer, and senior member of the management team until 2009.
Seavey’s films have appeared in domestic and international festivals and have won numerous awards including 5 National Emmy nominations (one statue awarded), the Erik Barnouw Prize for Best Historical Film of the Year, The Golden Hugo, Cine Special Jury Prize, The Italian National Olympic Cup for Best Sports Film, among many others.
In addition to awards for her films, Seavey has received a number of professional accolades including being named one of the top 50 professors of journalism in the U.S. Further, she was named a ‘Woman of Vision’ by Women in Film and Video. And she received a commendation for ‘Outstanding Service to the Industry’ by Discovery Communications.
Seavey regularly serves as panelist and advisor to many projects including efforts on behalf of the International Documentary Association, the Duke Ellington School for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, The John Heinz Family Foundation, The Anthony Radziwill Documentary Fund of the IFP, and the Southern Humanities Media Fund. Seavey was the 2006 Woman of Vision for Women in Film and Television in Washington, D.C.
Prior to becoming a filmmaker, Seavey had a career in politics from 1972 until 1980. She served on the Missouri campaign staff for the presidential campaigns of George McGovern and Morris Udall and for the senatorial campaign for Thomas Eagleton (D-MO). Seavey moved to Washington and served as foreign and military policy advisor to Congresswoman Patricia Schroeder (D-CO) and in 1979 became a political appointee in the Office of the Secretary of Defense during the Carter Administration.
Seavey earned her BA in History and French Literature from Washington University in St. Louis and an MA in History, with an emphasis on late 19th Century American social history, from George Washington University. ■
For more information about the Atlas Awards, visit our Awards page.