AWFJ Presents EDA Awards at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012

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AWFJ is honored to have presented two EDA Awards at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012.

The first EDA Award declared Debra Zimmerman to be “Ambassador of Women’s Film,” a title bestowed in recognition of her tireless efforts and tremendous success as the force of nature behind Women Make Movies, which has promoted women filmmakers and their work for 40 years

The AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film went to Going Up The Stairs, directed by Rokhsareh Gaeme Maghami. According to the AWFJ Jury (comprised of AWFJ members Linda Barnard, Nikki Baughan, MaryAnn Johanson, Karen Krizanovich and Jennifer Merin), the film is about a “most unlikely artist, a 50 year old illiterate Iranian woman who is consumed by her need to create, but has also embraced her role in a traditional marriage to an older man who controls her destiny. Her creativity bursts forth, as though it has a will of its own. and she simply can’t stop painting. Akram’s riotous, colourful, primative canvasses – and her endearing personality – reach out to the viewer and grab hold. We present this year’s EDA Award to GOING UP THE STAIRS. Bravo to director Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami and your wonderful leading lady, Akram.”

Unfortunately, Rokhsareh Gaeme Maghami was not able to attend the ceremony because approval of her visa was delayed by the British embassy in Warsaw, Poland. But she did send a moving acceptance message: “Repeating the phrase ‘the best female directed’ makes me feel better…. I wish the world could be directed in a female way. If it was so, governments wouldn’t go for a war. I don’t think that embassies would take revenge on artists because of politics. I am sure that artists needn’t to prove that they are rich or married to travel abroad for a festival. They wouldn’t hear ‘sorry, we cannot make a decision’ when they are nominated for an award. Yes, repeating ‘the best femaled directed’ makes me feel better. I am so proud of it. Thank you, Sheffield Doc/Fest staff and AWFJ.”

Going Up The Stairs was among six finalists in competition for the EDA Award. Others included Call Me Kuchu (Directed by Malika Zouhali-Worrall and Katherine Fairfax-Wright), Indie Game: The Movie (Directed by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky), Putin’s Kiss (Directed by Lise Birk Pedersen), Scarlet Road (Directed by Catherine Scott), and The Tsunami and The Cherry Blossom (Directed by Lucy Walker).

All female-directed films screening at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012 were eligible for the award. The finalists were selected by the jury after they’d viewed all screeners submitted for consideration.

The Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012 awards are the second set of EDA Awards presented at film festivals this year. The first presentation was at Salem Film Fest in March. Awards partnerships with other film festivals — both narrarive and documentary — are in the works. Please stay tumed for developments. Meanwhile, complete coverage of the awards at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012 can be found here

(PHOTO: Jennifer Merin, Heather Croall, MaryAnn Johanson at Sheffield Doc/Fest 2012 Awards Ceremony. Courtesy: Sheffield Doc/Fest).

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).