STRAY DOG Wins EDA Award @ Salem Film Fest 2015 – Jennifer Merin reports

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Filmmakers Debra Granik and Tory Stewart were awarded the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film at Salem Film Fest for Stray Dog, while Catherine Gund’s BORN TO FLY: Elizabeth Streb vs Gravity was given an EDA Award Special Mention for Documentary Artistry.

Liz Whittenore, Jennifer Merin, Debra Granik, Tory Stewart
Liz Whittenore, Jennifer Merin, Debra Granik, Tory Stewart

For the fourth consecutive year, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists has partnered with Salem Film Fest (March 5 to 12, 2015) to present the juried AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film and to moderate Filmmaker Forum panels. Read on…


salemfilmfest2015logo200Salem Film Fest programmers nominated six superb female-directed films for EDA Award consideration by a panel made up exclusively of Alliance of Women Film Journalists members. After viewing the films and one round of balloting, the six-member AWFJ jury selected Stray Dog, directed by Debra Granik and produced by Tory Stewart as the winner of the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film at Salem Film Fest 2015.


awfj2015edasffbestsmallIn awarding the EDA to Stray Dog, the jury opined: “It took a while for Debra Granik to follow her amazing Winter’s Bone but the wait was worth it. In this sweetly sad, funny and always honest documentary, she encompasses everything about the “other Americas” that rarely makes it to screens small or silver. Her clear-hearted lens frames an expensive, yet deeply humanistic portrait of American decline through the personae of Ron “Stray Dog” Hall, a Vietnam Vet on the road to both commemorate and escape his past. Stay Dog is American to the bone, embodying the best of the US spirit of generosity, openness and empathy.”


Additionally, the jury awarded a Special Mention for Documentary Artistry to Catherine Gund’s BORN TO FLY: Elizabeth Streb vs Gravity.

awfj2015edasffsepcialsmallThe jury’s notes cite that “the documentary an awe inspiring tribute to a great artist who creates her own genre of dance, impactful movement, and who, with a company of like-minded and extraordinarily dedicated and gifted artists defies the preconceived and earth-bound elitism of the dance world. The film gives us a chance to see how Elizabeth Streb’s work has impacted modern dance, influencing the physical expressions of a wide range of artists including Trisha Brown and Off-Broadway’s Fuerza Bruta. The documentary is visually breathtaking, with exciting cinematography that takes you inside the movement while allowing you to observe it.”


awfjedalaurelaffnom2015My Brother’s Vows, Directed by Stephanie Weimar; The Optimists, Directed by Gunhild Magnor; Songs for Alexis, Directed by Elvira Lind; Waiting for August, directed by Teodora Mihai.

The EDA Award jury is comprised exclusively of AWFJ members. On the 2015 EDA Awards @ SFF Jury are Nikki Baughan, Cate Marquis, Lisa Rosman, Elizabeth Wittemore and Dorothy Woodend, with Jennifer Merin serving as Jury Chair.

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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).