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The Winners

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In 2011, the Alter-Ciné Foundation received 67 documentary submissions from 35 countries.

Ryley Grunenwald, recipient of the $10,000 Alter-Ciné Foundation grant.
Ryley Grunenwald, a 29 year-old South African filmmaker, received the $10,000 award for her project « Sands of the Skei Queen ».


Along South Africa's pristine Wild Coast lies irreplaceable treasure: one clan's sustenance and heritage and sand dunes rich in coveted titanium. As an Australian mining company buys out traitors within the subsistence farming community, a strong young activist, her elderly village chief and their tribal queen must unite to protect what they deem to be true wealth: their identity in their ancestral lands.

Meanwhile the South African government approves a controversial highway through the community's homes, farm lands and grave yards, denying any link to the mining company's need for access to the environmentally sensitive sand dunes.

The tribe's Queen speaks out only to be dethroned by government, and as the community rises up, the greedy attempt to oppress them with an onslaught of bribery, lies, witchcraft, fraud, murder and manipulation.


Fahad Mustafa, recipient of a $5,000 Alter-Ciné Foundation grant.
Fahad Mustafa, a 27 year-old Indian filmmaker, received a $5,000 award for his project "Powerless".


A 28-year-old electrician living in Kanpur is renowned for his prowess in stealing electricity. He is a Robin-Hood figure, stealing electricity and charging the rich to provide free connections in impoverished neighbourhoods. In the face of day-long power-cuts, he runs illegal connections from one neighbourhood to another so that homes, factories and businesses could function normally.

On the other hand, the city administration is renewing efforts to clamp down on power-theft, which costs them millions of rupees in losses each year. Yearly drives to remove illegal connections are met with street protests and anger. In the meantime, lack of electricity drives people to use generators run on fossil fuels. This is choking the town, making Kanpur one of the most polluted cities in India.

A picture emerges of a modern dystopia encompassing urban decay and desperation in the lack of electricity. Underlying the localized crisis in Kanpur, India's leather capital, which provides raw material to major western brands, is the glaring energy poverty in the country, where a third of the population is bereft of this basic need, and the rest grapple with power-cuts that dictate their own terms. Powerless puts a lens to an unexplored narrative of one of the world's fastest developing economies.

(Password: powerless)

Santiago Esteinou, recipient of a $5,000 Alter-Ciné Foundation grant.
Santiago Esteinou, a 29 year-old Mexican filmmaker, received a $5,000 award for his project
« The years of Fierro ».


The Years of Fierro tells the story of César Fierro, the oldest Mexican prisoner on death row in the United States. César has waited for an execution date for more than 30 years, always insisting that he is innocent. This documentary is a reflection on justice, imprisonment and brotherly love, through the eyes of César and his brother, Sergio. These two brothers hope to meet again, no matter the time or the distance.