Documentary film Taste of Cement wins anniversary Doc Alliance Selection Award 2017

6. 10. 2017

Author: Marta Jallageas

This year’s 10th edition of DAS Award, awarded by 7 key European festivals, knows its winner: Taste of Cement by Syrian director Ziad Kalthoum. The film follows Syrian construction workers in Beirut damaged by civil war. They are building a new skyscraper while their own houses at home are being shelled. The empathetic film portrays exiles coping with their past without knowing their future. Watch an exclusive video interview with the film’s director.

Winner of DAS Award 2017: Taste of Cement
Taste of Cement is a documentary essay about Syrian refugees in Lebanon where they try to make a living. It tells of the traces of war outside the war zone; about the imprints of conflict in the minds of those who survived. Cement and its taste are familiar to the construction workers both from the war in their homeland and from the construction of new buildings in Beirut. In the evenings after work, when they are under curfew, they try to get news from their homeland. The international coproduction film, produced by Lebanon, Germany, Syria, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, thus addresses not only the current war in Syria but also conflict and its aftermath in general. Taste of Cement has already won the main award at the Alliance festival Visions du Réel and is among 15 nominees for the European Film Awards to be announced in Berlin.

“What is more important here? The walled daily life of the Syrian construction workers in Beirut or the ghostly, terrified projection of their thoughts and feelings on their country? The film finds a tough, unexpected balance between these two points, i.e. a construction/destruction dialectic which tends to the absurd and despair. ”
Francisco Ferreira, jury member, Expresso, Portugal

Directed by: Ziad Kalthoum
Production: Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, Tobias Siebert (BASIS BERLIN Filmproduktion GmbH), Bidayyat for Audiovisual Arts
Country: Germany, Lebanon, Syria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar

Film trailer:
Video interview with the director:

All nominees for DAS Award 2017
95 and 6 to Go, dir. Kimi Takesue (nominated by Doclisboa)
Convictions, dir. Tatyana Chistova (nominated by DOK Leipzig)
Childhood, dir. Margreth Olin (nominated by CPH:DOX)
Spectres Are Haunting Europe, dir. Maria Kourkouta, Niki Giannari (nominated by Ji.hlava IDFF)
Taste of Cement, dir. Ziad Kalthoum (nominated by Visions du Réel)
Those Shocking Shaking Days, dir. Selma Doborac (nominated by FIDMarseille)
When Will This Wind Stop, dir. Aniela Astrid Gabryel (nominated by Docs Against Gravity FF)

Best of DAS Award online
On the occasion of the 10th anniversary of DAS Award, we have prepared a selection of films nominated in the past decade. What themes do they address and what documentary approaches did their directors choose? What development has documentary film undergone in the past 10 years? See for yourselves; online at until October 8!

For instance, one of this year’s nominees and last year’s Ji.hlava IDFF winner Spectres Are Haunting Europe tells about Idomeni refugee camp in Greece and its inhabitants’ struggle to maintain their dignity. The Syrian crisis is also addressed in Haunted by director Liwaa Yazji. The film follows nine Syrians who decide whether to escape, when to leave and what to leave in their homes. Illusion, Audience Award winner at Doclisboa 2015, offers a theatre staging of texts by world-famous poet Federico García Lorca.

About Doc Alliance Selection Award
Seven films, seven festivals, seven critics. The Doc Alliance Selection Award has been awarded since 2008 by Doc Alliance, an independent platform of seven documentary festivals. The award traditionally goes to the best documentary of the past year. In 2017, too, the festivals selected seven outstanding creative documentaries that deserve attention and that can win the main award. Along with the award, the film director also receives a financial prize of 5.000 euro.

Each of the participating festivals has nominated one film that they consider worthy of notice. The selection of seven competition films focuses primarily on film debuts by emerging filmmakers whose work should definitely not be overlooked. At the same time, the festivals also nominate a local film critic who takes part in the final decision-making process.

Doc Alliance is a creative partnership of seven documentary festivals: CPH:DOX, Doclisboa, Docs Against Gravity FF, DOK Leipzig, FIDMarseille, Ji.hlava IDFF and Visions du Réel. The award represents a key project of the Alliance (along with the documentary portal whose goals include collaboration between film festivals, support of quality documentary projects as well as looking for new solutions of their public presentation.

Jury members 2017
Denise Bucher (FRAME)
Jakub Demianczuk (Dziennik. Gazeta Prawna)
Nanna Frank Rasmussen (Jyllands-Posten)
Francisco Ferreira (Expresso)
Jiří Anger (Iluminace)
Luc Chessel (Libération)
Hanne Biermann (Kreuzer Leipzig, mephisto 97.6)

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