Al Jazeera English’s Witness documentary commission, Blood On Our Side, won the Best Documentary Short Jury Award at the Austin Film Festival, qualifying the film for the Academy Awards 2021.
This is the third AJE Witness documentary commission to qualify for the Oscars -- St. Louis Superman was nominated for an Oscar earlier this year, and The Mortician of Manila which was recently nominated for a Grierson has also qualified for the Oscars 2021.
Blood On Our Side from Juarez, Mexico is directed and produced by Rodrigo Hernandez and Elpida Nikou, and executive produced by Fiona Lawson-Baker and produced by Poh Si Teng for Al Jazeera.
Commenting on the award, Fiona Lawson-Baker, executive producer of AJE Witness programme said, “We are delighted Witness has won this award at the Austin Film Festival - and another of our commissioned films has qualified for Oscar consideration. We congratulate the filmmakers from Mexico, Rodrigo and Elpida, on this highly deserved achievement. We are very proud to bring these local voices and under-represented stories to the world stage.”
The observational film follows Ana Gonzalez, a forensics investigator who leads a team in a city with one of the highest murder rates in the country. She grapples with the sheer volume of homicides, compounded by cartel violence that comes from being a Mexican city so close to its neighbour, the United States.
“Ana’s story is very personal for us. As filmmakers in Mexico, we are used to seeing the never-ending cycle of violence and corruption in our country. Our hope with Blood On Our Side was to show a different side of the narco war -- the very real challenges that people on our side of the Mexico-US border are facing. What’s happening here is more nuanced than often projected in the media.
We wanted to make a film that does not absolve the US from what’s happening in our country. We would like to thank Witness and Al Jazeera for this incredible opportunity to finally tell this story the way we have always wanted to tell it,” said directors Hernandez and Nikou.