AWFJ Presents EDA Awards @ DOXA Documentary Film Festival 2016: The Winners!

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The Alliance of Women Film Journalists attended Vancouver’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival 2016 to present EDA Awards for Best Female-Directed documentary Feature and Best Female-directed documentary short. The festival took place from May 5 to 15. The EDA winners were announced and the awards presented at DOXA’s closing night ceremony on May 14, at The Playhouse in Vancouver.

At DOXA 2016, Karen Martin and Jennifer Merin present EDA Awards - Photo by Philip Martin
At DOXA 2016, Karen Martin and Jennifer Merin present EDA Awards – Photo by Philip Martin

This is the first year AWFJ has partnered with DOXA to present the EDA Awards for female-directed films at the festival. The awards honor outstanding achievements of women filmmakers working in the documentary realm. Read on…

“We are honored to begin our partnership with DOXA this year, when the festival and its programmers have actually achieved gender parity in the festival program. Congratulations on that rare and wonderful achievement. We hope other festivals will follow DOXA’s example,” said Jennifer Merin, AWFJ president and member of the feature-length jury.

Filmmaker Brett Story’s The Prison in Twelve Landscapes won the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary Feature. The film is a stunning study on the efficacy and impact of imprisonment in our modern society.

But, first to the podium, Little Rock-based AWFJ member Karen Martin, who covers film for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, presented the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary Short to We Regret to Inform You, co-directed by Heidi Janz and Eva Colmers.

“This film brilliantly demonstrates that there’s no need to shout to make a point. By quietly shadowing Heidi Janz, a laid-off university professor in Edmonton with severe physical challenges, the filmmakers allow the viewer to observe the difficulties of her day-to-day existence, which she undertakes with good cheer and great courage. By seeing how Heidi copes while revealing via unemotional voiceover that the Canada Pension Plan has denied her disability benefits because she is “too productive to receive disability payments,” this film makes a powerful statement to administrators of the Canadian pension system,” said Martin, reading the jury statement.

Janz and Colmers accepted the award with a video in which they described some of the wonder of being able to make the film, and expressing how much AWFJ’s recognition means to them.

Others members of the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary Short were Lexi Feinberg, Tricia Olszewski, and Lynn Venhaus.

Next at the podium, Vancouver-based AWFJ member and esteemed film critic Katherine Monk presented the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary Feature to Brett Story for Prison in Twelve Landscapes.

Before handing the award to Story, Monk read the jury statement: The Prison in Twelve Landscapes is a brilliant meditation on all kinds of imprisonment, literal and figurative, earned and unjust. The film builds a case, frame by frame and location by location, for how we’ve allowed fear to become a cottage industry in America. Thoughtful and thought provoking. Impressive and fresh in its approach.”

Brett Story accepts EDA Award from Katherine Monk and Jennifer Merin
Brett Story accepts EDA Award from Katherine Monk and Jennifer Merin

Brett Story and The Prison in Twelve Landscapes also won DOXA’s prestigious The Colin Low Award for Canadian Documentary.

Other jurors on the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary Feature were Janice Page, Cynthia Fuchs, Diana Saenger and Jennifer Merin.

For the complete list of the nominated films, click here.

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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).