Danish documentary Songs of Repression (Undertrykkelsens sang), directed by Marianne Hougen-Moraga and Estephan Wagner, was presented with the CPH:DOX 2020 main award and a prize of 5,000 Euro during an online ceremony on Friday as the festival temporarily moved into a virtual space this year in response to the Coronavirus.
At the foot of the Andes Mountains in Chile lies an idyllic German colony called Villa Baviera. However, the beauty of the place – formerly known as Colonia Dignidad – hides a grim past. Systematic child-abuse, medical experiments, torture chambers and mass graves are part of its history.
Today, 120 inhabitants still live their lives in the colony which has since changed its name to Villa Baviera and where a disturbing blend of religious fanaticism and extreme conservatism still holds sway. This film explores the different strategies that the haunted community uses to deal with its trauma over a period of 18 months.
The CPH:DOX jury, consisting of Brenda Coughlin from the Sundance Institute, DOK Leipzig Festival Director Christoph Terhechte, Romanian filmmaker Alexander Nanau and Danish filmmaker Pernille Rose Grønkjær, said in their deliberation:
“The film takes us into a universe of great contrast where victims live side by side with the history and descendants of their oppressors. The film is told with a delicate balance not falling for the easy solution of tabloid overtelling but leaves the subtle narrative to do its thorough job and slowly but surely leaving the audience as repressed as the characters themselves.”
“It is through a sensitive and authentic relationship to their characters, that the filmmakers create a space in which the characters reflect, sometimes it seems for the first time, upon the most private and hidden moments of their past… This is documentary film directing at its best.”