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JURY 2020




Director, cinematographer, producer, and actor. Best known for his brave socio-political and at the same time poetic films, filmed mainly in Africa and Cuba. He earned worldwide recognition for his film’s expression, content, and aesthetics. His work has received worldwide recognition for its expressiveness, content and aesthetics. A member of: Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, European Film Academy, and Academie Francaise du Cinema.


Studied photography in the US, then film directing at the University of Fine Arts in Vienna, and the Universite de Paris. He was also a guest student at the Femis. His Cinema thesis, published in Vienna, was entitled: «Film as testament», and focused on the three last films of the directors Cyril Collard, Andrey Tarkovsky, and Joris Ivens. Sauper graduated with a special mention as director from film school, receiving a Bachelor of Arts.


Sauper has lived in Italy, USA, Great Britain, Tanzania, Congo, Sudan. His permanent home is since 1995 in France. He acted in several short films and two feature-length movies: In The Circle Of The Iris (1992) by Peter Patzak and Blue Distance (1994) by Peter Schreiner. He has taught as a visiting professor at Harvard, Yale, UCLA, Columbia University, Colorado University, Universidad de Caracas, Universidad de la Havana, FEMIS, Istanbul University, Southern Mediterranean Cinema School, and others.


His mid-length Kisangani Diary (1998), filmed in the south of former Zaire and addressing several thousand refugees from Rwanda, was screened at the Berlinale and won prizes at many film festivals, including Karlovy Vary and Cinéma du Réel.


Darwin’s Nightmare (2004) dealing with the environmental and social effects of the fishing industry around Lake Victoria in Tanzania. It premiered at the 2004 Venice Film Festival, and was nominated for the 2006 Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.


The next film shot in Africa, Darwin’s Nightmare (2004), tells the story of the tragic situation unfolding in Tanzania on the shores of the largest tropical lake in the world. A local environmental disaster, business at the cost of human life, the poverty of ordinary people and the atmosphere of an impending war — everything is intertwined into a terrible and contradictory plot. The film blew up world festivals — it has traveled all over the world, won more than 20 prestigious awards, including the Special Prize of the Venice Film Festival, César Award, European Film Academy Awards for Best Documentary, Viennale Film Prize, Copenhagen Dox for Best Film, and many others. In 2006, the film was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature.


The third ’African’ film, We Come as Friends (2014) is a modern odyssey into the Sudan, the continent’s biggest country, which is being divided now into two nations. Other continents have their own goals here, and everyone comes as friends, offering peace, but leaving a war behind. The film has also won leading World festivals, including World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award at Sundance, 29th Peace Film Prize at Berlinale, Austrian Film Award, Werner Herzog Film Award and others.


This year, was released Epicentro (2020), an immersive portrait of «utopian» Cuba and its resilient people a century after the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana, the event that ushered in the American Empire alongside a modern form of world conquest: cinema itself. The World Premiere of the film took place at Sundance Film Festival, where Epicentro won World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize.

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