Lynette Wallworth’s Awavena today won the International News and Documentary Emmy Award for Outstanding New Approaches to Documentary – her second Emmy following Collisions in 2017.
Supported by the Sundance New Frontiers Artist Residency at The Technicolor Experience Center, the immersive documentary tells the story of Hushahu, the first woman Shaman of the Amazon’s Yawanawa community and the radical reconfiguring of gender relations that takes place following her induction into its spiritual traditions.
The other nominees in the category were Apollo’s Moonshot AR (Smithsonian Channel), Gone in a Generation (The Washington Post), Tracing Addai (The New York Times), Vox Missing Chapter- How Florida Legally Terrorized Gay Students (Vox) and We Are Witnesses: Chicago (The Marshall Project).
Accepting the award from US filmmaker Dawn Porter in the virtual ceremony, Wallworth said: “It’s an astonishing win given all of those amazing projects.”
She thanked her producer Nicole Newnham (her collaborator on Collisions), co-producers Tashka Yawanawa and Laura Yawanawa and the funding bodies, which included Screen Australia and Create NSW.
“In this moment when we are facing fires all over the world and ecological struggles, the story the Yawanawa felt we needed to hear was one about women’s leadership,” she said.
“Beyond everything else they said ‘let us send this story to you. Change the leadership and you change everything.’
“I am so grateful that that message and this story has been heard, and for all of those who gave everything to make this project happen.”
The filmmaker tells IF a long-form version of Awavena is in the works.
The invitation to go to the Amazon came from the chief of the Yawanawa, who looked at the available VR/AR technologies and saw a compatibility with the visioning techniques that sit at the heart of their society.
The director hired DOP Greg Downing from XRez for the shoot in the Amazon and brought along Australian fluorescent biologist Dr. Anya Salih so they could film the previously unseen world of forest fluorescence.
After premiering at the Sundance Film Festival and the World Economic Forum and screening in competition at the Venice Film Festival, it’s had extended runs at Carriageworks, ACMI and the Art Gallery of Western Australia. The next planned presentation is at BFI London in January.
The WEF was among the commissioners of the work and Nico Daswani, the forum’s head of arts and culture, served as an executive producer.