The Female Gaze @ IDFA: AWFJ Presents EDA Awards to Two Female-Directed Documetaries

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The Alliance of Women Film Journalists Inc. (AWFJ) presented juried AWFJ EDA Awards to two female-directed film at the 2014 International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam (IDFA), the world’s leading documentary film festival. The awards were presented in conjunction with this year’s The Female Gaze program, which included a strand of 28 female-directed feature length documentaries and a panel discussion with 15 leading female filmmakers from around the world. Read on…

Best Female Directed Film

The winner of the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film was presented to Chilean filmmaker Maiti Alberdi for her delightful film, Tea Time, about a group of elderly women who’ve been meeting weekly for a visit and tea since they were school girls. The AWFJ @ IDFA jury members were impressed by the film’s delicacy and intimacy. Filming her subjects for years, Alberdi was able to capture the nuances of their lasting friendships, their varying opinions on everything from marriage and childbearing to changing fashion.

According to the AWFJ jury, “Delicacy is a hard thing to translate to the screen, but the attention paid to the minutia of these elderly ladies’ teatime rituals, from stories oft repeated, to fairy cakes and crustless sandwiches, is a thing of great beauty. The patience and intimacy with which Tea Time was made speaks volumes about the commitment of the filmmaker, as well as the trust and honesty she gains from her subjects. Heartbreaking and hilarious, ribald and sweet, this film presents the reality of women’s friendship as a means to get through life’s many sorrows and joys. We gain through their recollections a sense of Chile’s cultural history and traditions. By the end of the film, we felt as though we’d become a part of this group of longstanding friends and would love to have sat down with them at their Tea Time.”

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Special Mention

A second award, a Special Mention, was presented to My Beautiful Broken Brain, directed by English filmmaker Sophie Robinson. The film is a compelling character-driven documentary about a woman’s valiant struggle to recover from a disabling brain injury.

According to the AWFJ jury, “The film tells us of the heartbreaking struggle of 34 year old Lotje Sodderland to recover function and regain her independence after suffering a devastating brain hemorrhage nearly kills her. The filmmaker uses special effects to allow us to see from Lotje’s perspective, thus bringing us to a better understanding of the fragility, angst and determination experienced by Lotje and by others with similar afflictions. The film is both terrifying and inspiring, and an expression of human beings’ – and, Lotje’s in particular –resilience and indestructible spirit.”

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Other Nominees

Tea Time and My Beautiful Broken Brain were among five superb female-directed films nominated by IDFA programmers for consideration for the EDA Award. The other films in competition were The Queen of Silence by Agnieszka Zwiefka (Germany/Poland — the poignant and inspiring story of a 10-year old Roma girl Denisa, who is deaf and mute, and is ostracized by everyone in her native Poland, but brilliantly expresses her feelings by dancing like a Bollywood princess), Something Better to Come by Hanna Polak (Denmark/Poland — tracking ten years in the life of Yula, an engaging young woman who lives with her family in the midst of Europe’s largest garbage dump, which is their sole source for survival), and Unearthed by Jolynn Minnaar (South-Africa/Nigeria/US — a balanced and well researched report about ‘fracking’ in South Africa that is, ultimately, a strong argument against it, despite its economic advantages). All five films were having their international premieres at the festival. All were programmed as part of this year’s special THE FEMALE GAZE strand of films.
The EDA Awards @ IDFA were presented on November 26, at a ceremony at which the Oxfam Global Justice Award was also presented to the Iranian film, Fest of Duty, directed Firouzeh Khosrovani, and nominees were announced for several other IDFA awards categories, including Best Feature Length Documentary, Best Mid-Length Documentary, Best First Appearance, Best Dutch Documentary, Best Student Documentary, among others.

AWFJ, a nonprofit organization of leading female film journalists with active members in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom, recognizes outstanding achievements by women filmmakers by presenting its prestigious EDA Awards at select film festivals around the world, and at year’s end.

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The AWFJ Jury

The EDA Awards presented at festivals are juried exclusively by AWFJ members. At IDFA 2014, the AWFJ members who served on the EDA @ IDFA Award jury were:

“The Alliance of Women Film Journalists applauds IDFA’s outstanding programming and this year’s special focus on women working in documentary film. We are delighted and honored to have the opportunity to partner with IDFA in recognition of women’s outstanding achievements in filmmaking. Here’s to a great IDFA 2014 festival!” said Jennifer Merin, AWFJ’s president and EDA Award jury Chair. “We look forward to continuing partnerships with IDFA and other film festivals in honoring outstanding women filmmakers.”

AWFJ will next present EDA Awards at Whistler Film Festival in December 2014 (for the second consecutive year), and at Salem Film Fest in March 2015.

ABOUT THE AWFJ and EDA AWARDS

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists, Inc. (AWFJ), a New York-based not-for-profit 501(C)3 corporation, is an international membership association of leading professional women film journalists and critics working in print, broadcast and online media dedicated to supporting film work by and about women – both in front of and behind the cameras – through intra-group promotional activities, outreach programs and by presenting the annual AWFJ EDA Awards in recognition of outstanding accomplishments (the best and worst) by and about women in the movies. In 2012, AWFJ launched a new program to present EDA Awards to women filmmakers in partnership with select film festivals and organizations. Film festivals to date include the Salem Film Fest and St Louis International Film Festival in the U.S., the Whistler Film Festival in Canada, Edinburgh International Film Festival and Sheffield Doc/Fest in the U.K. In June 2013, a special EDA Award will be presented as part of the 25th anniversary celebration of P.O.V., the renowned documentary series that airs on the national Public Broadcasting Service (PBS) in the United States.

AWFJ EDA AWARDS @ IDFA JUROR BIOS:

Leba Hertz reviews and writes features for the San Francisco Chronicle, and is editor of the publication’s movies section, and is arts and entertainment editor for Ovations and Sunday and Daily Datebook. She is a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.
Katherine McLaughlin is a London based film reviewer and features writer for numerous outlets including Tge Arts Desk, Little White Lies and The List. Kat regularly covers numerous international film festivals including Berlinale, Toronto International Film Festival, London Film Festival, SXSW, and Frightfest. She is a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.
Jennifer Merin (Jury Chair) is the film critic for Women’s eNews and author of the Cinema Citizen Blog. She has also reviewed films and written about entertainment and culture for The Associate Press, Los Angeles Times, The Chicago Tribune, NY Post, NY Daily News, New York Press, Christian Science Monitor and other leading periodicals, and she has covered the documentaries industry for About.com. She is President of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.
Wendy Mitchell is Editor of Screen International and ScreenDaily.com, the global film business publications headquartered in London. Mitchell previously worked as staff news editor for Entertainment Weekly in New York and as Managing Editor at indieWIRE. She has also written about the entertainment business for The Wall Street Journal, The Guardian, Variety, Rolling Stone, the Dow Jones News Service, Time Out New York, Billboard, and the New York Daily News. She is a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.
Susan Wloszczyna contributes to RogerEbert.com and IndieWire. In her nearly 24 years as film reviewer and reporter at USA Today, she interviewed everyone from Vincent Price and Shirley Temple to Julia Roberts and Will Smith. She’s credited with coining the moniker “Frat Pack,” often used to describe the comedy trio of Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn and Will Ferrell. She is a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.
Dorothy Woodend has been the film critic for The Tyee since 2004. Her work has been published in magazines, newspapers and books across Canada and the US, as well as a number of international publications. Dorothy is also the Director of Programming for DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver. She is a member of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.

For more information about AWFJ, please contact:
Jennifer Merin, President, Alliance of Women Film Journalists, PO Box 80, New York, NY 10024
awfjinc@gmail.com

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