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In 2021, the Alter-Ciné Foundation received 140 documentary submissions from 46 countries.

Polen Ly, recipient of a 10,000$ Alter-Ciné Foundation grant
A first $10,000 award is granted to the Cambodian filmmaker Polen Ly for his project The Tongue of Water.


Neang, an indigenous mother leads a quiet life with her four children and old parents in a new hut by their forest after losing her home and village in a hydropower dam’s reservoir. Neang’s family is one among other fifty families, who decided to remain on their ancestral land, while most of other villagers moved to the compensation land, including her ex-husband, leaving her and their children behind. To live close to nature allows Neang and her family a more independent and peaceful livelihood.

But, her dream for peace is being under threat from the authority, who claims the ownership of the land to a Chinese rubber plantation, who plans to invade the entire green land. Neang bonds with her villagers to protect their homes and forest land by going through different struggles with the authority, while she’s herself slowly rebuilding the new life with her family, as a single mother.


A $10,000 grant was awarded to a second filmmaker. However, for security reasons, we cannot presently reveal the identity nor the filmmaker’s project. We will do so in due time.


Sarvnik Kaur, recipient of a 10,000$ Alter-Ciné Foundation grant
A third $10,000 grant was awarded to the Indian filmmaker Sarvnik Kaur for her project Against the Tide.


Rakesh and Ganesh have sea in their veins. The sea is their mother, their lineage. She gave them identity, offered them food and on her lap, their brotherhood has grown. They are Kolis, the indigenous fisherfolk of Bombay. But the loving tolerant mother they always knew is changing in front of their eyes, she is becoming warmer and turning lifeless. Rakesh and Ganesh’s livelihood and even their relationship is now at stake. Worsening climate is leading to conflict between the brothers. It’s distancing one brother from the other, pushing them apart in two directions, different paths of life.


Pankaj Johar, recipient of a 5,000$ Alter-Ciné Foundation grant
A $5,000 grant was awarded to the Indian filmmaker Pankaj Johar for his project Catching Them Young. However, for security reasons, we cannot presently reveal the details of the project.


Pascale Appora-Gnekindy, recipient of a 5,000$ Alter-Ciné Foundation grant
Pascale Appora-Gnekindy, a Central African filmmaker, was awarded a $5,000 grant for her project Eat Bitter.


Eat Bitter is a character-driven documentary set in Central African Republic (CAR). Although the country is one of the poorest nations in the world, it has lately been attracting significant foreign investment, with the capital city of Bangui experiencing a construction boom. As in other African countries, skilled migrants from China drive this modernization.

Behind this so-called progress and new openness is a less glowing reality. Workers sacrifice their dignity, abuse their bodies, and spoil the environment to extract sand, an essential construction material. Through the parallel and crossed stories of Chinese immigrants and Central Africans, Eat Bitter captures the journey of two communities, cultures and men who are diametrically opposed. But they learn to work together with the same goal in mind: to build a bank, a symbol of power and money.

Our characters don’t hesitate to strip the earth and destroy their family lives for a seat at the table of prosperity. This documentary tells the story of my country and humanity in general, the age-old dilemma between modernity and tradition.


Coraci Ruiz et Julio Lima recipients of a 5,000$ Alter-Ciné Foundation grant
A $5,000 grant is awarded to the Brazilian filmmakers Coraci Ruiz et Julio Lima for their project Iridescent, A House With no Prejudice.


There is a small and old house in the central area of Campinas (São Paulo State), where six transsexuals live and struggle to survive. From different backgrounds, they have in common a history of family rejection, the experience of being homeless and a life-change connection with Suzy Santos, creator and president of the “House Without Prejudice”, a place that welcomes transgender people in vulnerable situations. In a post-pandemic context, a small film crew integrates into the daily life of the group for three months to capture an intimate portrait of this extraordinary daily life. The film disrupts stereotypes and gives depth to characters marginalized in society.


Sarvnaz Alambeigi, recipient of a 5,000$ Alter-Ciné Foundation grant
A $5,000 grant was awarded to the Iranian filmmaker Sarvnaz Alambeigi for her project Broken Flower.


Broken Flower is eighteen years old. She is of a new generation of teenage Afghan girls and she wants to change Afghanistan’s anti-women traditions. Born in Iran, her approach to life is different from that of her family. Her parents are workers and Broken Flower wants to be a professional Muay Thai athlete. Her father broke her arm twice in order to suppress her aspirations and this made her understand that a woman does not become a hero in Afghan society. Hidden away from the eyes of the family Broken Flower prepares for professional Muay Thai competitions.

On the other hand, further problems and obstacles besides the domestic violence are on the horizon. In Iran, due to her nationality, she cannot join the women’s national Muay Thai team. She decided to choose the only option: return to Afghanistan and join the Afghan team. The insecure situation in Afghanistan makes the path tense, unpredictable and insecure for her.