Ever since the earthquake of December 2003, Bam in Southern Iran is nothing but rubble and ruin. Not only have its walls crumbled, exposing kitchens and courtyards, the hearts of its people too, appear to have fallen open. Like a ghost, the camera drifts through the town, recording the everyday events of Bam’s inhabitants and picking up the intimate, inner conversations they have with their dear departed. In doing so, the film also touches upon the relationship between men and women in Iran and their relationship to God. Above all, ‘Voices of Bam’ is an ode to the indefatigable life-force embodied by the people of this town. The film is inspired by photographs that were recovered from the town’s debris…the only tangible mementoes left of life before the earthquake.
The Interreligious Jury awards its prize to Voices of Bam by Aliona van der Horst and Maasja Ooms for reminding us, that after the news cameras have gone, natural disasters leave behind shattered lives to rebuild, difficult questions about God, and decisions to be made, physical and ethical tasks to endure, and losses to be mourned and remembered, as life goes on. The film impressed the jury by its artistic use of photos and voices which bring the dead back to us. (Jury report NYON.)
Dutch director Aliona van der Horst has directed four international award-winning documentaries. She was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1970 and studied Russian literature at the University of Amsterdam and film at the Dutch Film and Television Academy. She began her career in 1997 with the much-acclaimed The Lady with the White Hat and since then has received multiple awards for most of her films, among them the Special Jury Prize at the Tribeca film festival for Voices of Bam (2006), and the Grand Prix of the FIFA Montreal for The Hermitage Dwellers (2004). Recently she has received the Jan Kassies award by the Dutch Cultural Broadcasting Fund, for outstanding achievement. For her latest documentary Boris Ryzhy (2008) she received the ‘Silver Wolf Award’ at the IDFA 2008, Best Documentary Award at Edinburgh Filmfestival 2009 , the Award of the Dutch Filmjournalists and the Special Jury Prize at the FIFA, Montréal.
Screenplay and director: Aliona van der Horst
DoP and co-director: Maasja Ooms
Camera assistant and focus puller: Nina da Costa
Sound: Rik Meier
Interpreter and assistant director: Nafiss Nia
Editor: Stefan Kamp
Sound design: Jeroen Goeijers
Composer: Harry de Wit assisted by Tomas Postema
Producer Iran: Bahram Farhadtooski
Producer the Netherlands: Laura Bronkers.
In coproductie met NTR. With the support from Dutch Media Fund, the Netherlands Film Fund and CoBO fund.