Skip to main content

David L. Wolper Student Documentary Achievement Award Nominees 2011

By IDA Editorial Staff

This award recognizes exceptional achievement in nonfiction film and video production at the university level and brings greater public and industry awareness to the work of students in the documentary field.

Guanape Sur (*winner)
Director/Writer: János Richter
Producer: Georg Zeller
Executive Producers: Heidi Gronauer, Lorenzo Paccagnella, János Richter
ZeLIG School for Documentary; Andanafilms; Icarus Films

A barren rock island off the coast of Peru: No soil, no water, but hundreds of thousands of birds. For a period of ten years, only two guards may live on Guañape Sur. In the 11th year, though, hundreds of workers arrive for the harvest of the birds' excrement.


Director/Writer: Mark Olexa
Producers: Georg Zeller, Nadia Caruso
Executive Producers: Heidi Gronauer, Lorenzo Paccagnella
ZeLIG School for Documentary

Shpresa is a native of Kosovo. She's 26 years old and has five children. This is the first time she's ever been outside her country. Shpetim, her youngest son, has a serious heart problem. His only hope lies in a hospital in Milano, Italy. While his mother awaits his release from the hospital by herself, her husband from Kosovo demands that she return home.


River of Victory
Director: Trevor Wright
Producers: Trevor Wright, A. Todd Smith, Jordan Augustine
Executive Producer: Jack Emery
Brigham Young University, Full Mountain Pictures

River of Victory explores the complex love-hate relationship between Sang Ly, a young Cambodian mother, and the Stung Mean Chey ("River of Victory") landfill where she lives. While the dump provides her with a source of income, it's killing her son. After failing at numerous attempts to heal him, Sang Ly leaves the dump in search of a Cambodian witch doctor in her homeland. In a haunting encounter with this healer, Sang Ly must put her faith in her culture on the line, in hopes that it can keep her son alive. Her experiences in the countryside cause her to re-evaluate her relationships--not only with those she loves, but also with the dump she has come to abhor.


Smoke Songs
Director/Producer/Writer: Briar March
Stanford University, On the Level Productions

Blackfire is an Arizona-based Dine (Navajo) punk-rock band, comprised of two brothers, a sister, dad and a mom/manager. They have played in areas as remote as the Sahara Desert and were most recently awarded "Group of the Year" at the Native American Music Awards. Smoke Songs takes place during a high school tour in which Blackfire nobly conducts workshops and performances for young people in their native land. With a music that is angry and redemptive, traditional and modern, the band and family attempt to transfer their dark history of forced relocation, racism and human rights violations into a form of creative expression and youth empowerment.


Director: Regina Tan
Producers: Haley Quartarone, Juvia Chua, Emily Manheim
Writers: Regina Tan, Eysham Md Ali
Chapman University Singapore

SRI, a Muslim and an aspiring dancer, comes to grips with the difficult consequences of being an outcast in his culture and within his own family while making a decision to transition to a woman-a lifestyle that is socially unacceptable and a taboo in his country of Singapore.