Armenian ”1489” by Shoghakat Vardanyan‘s, which follows the director’s family after her brother goes missing while serving in the Armenian army fighting against the Azerbaijani attacks during the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War in 2020 won documentary festival IDFA‘s best film prize on Thursday.
The jury members of the International Competition said about ”1489”: “A film that acts as a piercing light that makes visible the vast hidden interior landscape of grief, and creates a tangible presence from unbearable absence. Cinema as a tool of survival—to allow us all, to look at the things we would rather not see. And ultimately, an unforgettable example of cinema as an act of love.”
The title ”1489” refers to the anonymous number of a “body of an individual missing in action.” 1489 was assigned to Soghomon Vardanyan. He was a 21-year-old student and musician who reached almost the end of his mandatory military service when the the Second Nagorno-Karabakh War launched by Azerbaijan against his Armenia over Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) started in September 2020.
Soghomon calls his family on the 7th day of the war for the last time. His sister Shoghakat takes a decision to film her and her parents’ search and their emotional process with her mobile. After six months of search they found bones but the DNA research is needed to know for sure if the remains are actually those of Soghomon. They have to wait a year and a half for the results. Shoghakat keeps on filming even very vulnerable and intimate moments. She sees her parents ageing due to pain. She sees her family changing for always. The intense pain and sadness caused by the loss of the beloved brother, and son are deeply felt depicting a dramatic situation of the Armenian nation.
The jury members of the International Competition section were Emilie Bujès, Francesco Giai Via, Tabitha Jackson, Ada Solomon and Xiaoshuai Wang.