AWFJ @ Whistler Film Fest Presents EDAs to Three Women Filmmakers — Jennifer Merin reports

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awfjwhistler2.croppedReturning to Whistler Film Festival for the second year running, AWFJ honored women filmmakers whose works were screened in the 2014 program. Of the eight female-directed films nominated by the festival, five were narrative features and three were documentaries.

Because of the high quality of films in both genres, the AWFJ EDA Award jury decided to level the fic/nonfic playing field by combining the two categories, and assigning all jurors to vote on all films.

That decision resulted in the selection of three EDA Award winners. Read on…

Voting by jurors Cathryn Atkinson, Monika Bartyzel, Nikki Baughan, Katherine Brodsky, Laurie Coker, Cynthia Fuchs, Jennifer Merin and Jeanne Wolf resulted in the dual presentation of EDA Awards for Best Female Directed Film awards to two films, a documentary and a narrative feature.

Madeliene Grant receives EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film at Whistler Film Festival
Madeliene Grant receives EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film at Whistler Film Festival
In presenting the EDA Award to Madeleine Grant’s The Backward Class, the jury noted that the documentary “is an eye-opening, moving and exceptionally well-crafted documentary that intimately captures an inspiring story of perseverance, and allows audiences to truly invest in the outcome for its protagonists,” said the jury, ”At the same time the filmmaker doesn’t shy away from addressing the very real challenges, sacrifices, and ethical dilemmas that are being faced. Through the experiences of the students of Shanti Bhavan school, which educates India’s poorest children, the filmmaker effectively shines a light on the realities of the rich/poor divide, and opens debate about the uncomfortable realities that idealism and good intentions may not be enough to change the world.”

The Backward Class also took home WFF’s Best Documentary Film Award.

awfjwhistler2014.1.405Tying with The Backward Class for the EDA Award for Best Female Directed Film was Anne Fontaine’s Gemma Bovery. According the jury, the film “puts a new twist on a classic story. Even while exploring the ennui of daily life and uninspiring relationships, Gemma Bovary engages us with sensual performances, lush cinematography and lavish costumes, and enlightens us about the nature of obsession. An intriguing take on Flaubert, featuring a charming turn from Gemma Arterton as the eponymous heroine. That her performance calls for swathes of French is even more impressive! At the film’s core is Fabrice Luchini’s wonderful performance as a man who is obsessed with the woman next door whom he associates with his favorite fictional character, Emma Bovary.”

The jury also voted a Special Mention for That Guy Dick Miller, a documentary produced by Lainie Miller. The jury found that the film “salutes one of Hollywood’s unsung heroes, and is a rip-roaring look at the modern film industry through the experiences of an exceptional and prolific character actor Dick Miller who who had a unique ability to fit into any scene, wear any hat put on his head, step into any shoes, and make it real.”

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AWFJ will present the 2014-15 EDA Awards for this year’s crop of films on January 12, 2015, and the next AWFJ EDA Festival Awards will be presented at Salem Film Fest in March, 2015.

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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 About.com. 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 also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read Merin's recent articles below. For her complete archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).