Identifying Features: Fernanda Valdez’ Immigration Drama Wins Zurich Film Festival (Sundance Audience Award)

‘Identifying Features’ Wins Zurich Film Festival Jury Award


Identifying Features (Sin Sen?as Particulares) - Sundance - World DRAMA - Publicity - H 2020
Courtesy of Sundance

A young man recently deported from the U.S. and a mother in search of her missing son join forces in this Mexican migration drama from first-time director Fernanda Valadez.

Mexican immigration drama Identifying Features from director Fernanda Valadez has won the top prize for best film, the Golden Eye, at the 2020 Zurich International Film Festival.

Valadez’s directing debut premiered in Sundance, where it won the audience award in the World Cinema, Dramatic category.

The story follows a mother in search of her missing son, who left for the U.S. and is presumed dead. She’s joined on her journey by a young man recently deported from the U.S..

The Zurich jury, headed by Mexican filmmaker Michel Franco (New Order) called Identifying Features a “fearless, magical, haunting and all-too-real” drama that is “a comprehensive portrait of a tragedy…This outstanding first feature film from a group of exceptional artists refuses to set up any stereotypes about what a film made by women can be.”

Another female-helmed debut, Why Not You from Italian director Evi Romen, took the top prize in Zurich’s Focus sidebar. The drama centers on Mario, a young man who escapes his rural village in South Tyrol with his childhood friend to visit a gay bar in Rome, only to see his friend brutally attacked. The jury singled out lead actor Thomas Prenn for his risky performance.

Garrett Bradley’s  Time, which also premiered in Sundance, won the Golden Eye for best documentary. The film recounts Fox Rich’s fight for the release of her husband, Rob, who is serving a 60-year sentence in prison.

The Golden Eye for the best series went to Maja Jul Larsen’s Cry Wolf, a Danish drama about a social worker trying to find out who is telling the truth in a family that may be suffering from domestic violence.

The Dutch dystopian tale The Club of Ugly Children, by director Jonathan Elbers, took the Golden Eye honor for best children’s film.