Ten Films Nominated for the IDFA AWFJ EDA Award’s €2,500 Prize — Jennifer Merin reports

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idfa-2016Programmers at IDFA have selected ten documentaries to be considered for this year’s IDFA AWFJ EDA Award, which bestows a prize of €2,500 for the Best Female-Directed Documentary. The winner will be announced and the award will be presented in Amsterdam on November 22, 2016. This year’s AWFJ jurors are Dorothy Woodend (Canada), Julide Tanriverdi (Germany) and Jennifer Merin (USA). 2016 is the third consecutive year that IDFA and AWFJ have partnered to recognize women’s outstanding achievements in documentary filmmaking, and it is the first year in which the EDA Award comes with a monetary prize.

In alphabetical order, the nominated film titles, directors’ names and descriptions are:

  • Almost There – Directed by Jacqueline Zund – Switzerland – ALMOST THERE tells the story of three people, searching for meaning and happiness in the autumn of their lives. Maybe for the last time. A film about time, dignity and the transience of life.
  • Areum – Directed by Areum Parkkang – Korea – AREUM wants to date with someone. However, today another blind date failed. Her friends give her advice. You don’t love yourself! You should dress up and take care of yourself! Is it the true reason why I am not loved? Because I’m not pretty?
  • La Chana – Directed by Lucija Stojevic – Spain/Iceland/USA – In the 1960s and 1970s, Gypsy dancer, Antonia Santiago Amador, known as La Chana, was one of the biggest stars in the flamenco world, surprising audiences worldwide with her innovative style and use of rhythm. Then, at the peak of her career, she suddenly disappeared from the scene.
    The film brings us under the skin and into the mind of La Chana as she returns to the stage to give a final seated performance after a 30-year break. Along the way, she reveals the secret behind her disappearance.
  • Dil Leyla – Directed by Asli Özarslan – Germany – At 26, Leyla is elected the youngest mayor in Turkey, in her hometown of Cizre, a Kurdish capital city near the Iraqi-Syrian border—a city she was forced to flee over 20 years ago, after her father was killed by the Turkish military when she was a little girl. Her goal is to heal and beautify the civil-war-torn city, which is enjoying a break in the violence. But on the eve of Turkey’s parliamentary elections, everything changes, and old memories become more real than ever.
  • El Patio – Directed by Elvira Diaz – Spain / France / Chile – In the General cemetery of Santiago, Chile, the gravediggers prepare the funerals, welcome the families, take care of the graves. A serene park, where Lelo, Perejil and Rogelio have learnt to cohabit peacefully alongside death. Yet, the victims of the dictatorship and their families are still waiting for justice. Under the soil, unidentified corpses still lie secretly. Sharing their memories for the first time with the youngest gravedigger, these old men express the pain they witnessed. In 1973, they were obliged to secretly bury hundreds of “desaparecidos“. As time closes in on them, they have decided to speak out.
  • The Girl down Loch Änzi – Directed by Alice Schmid – Switzerland – Sleeping under the stars, butchering rabbits and secretly exploring the Änziloch canyon in central Switzerland which allegedly holds an imprisoned maiden. The closest companion of 12-year-old Laura is her diary. That is, until one day a young boy arrives and wants to descend into the Änziloch with her. A poetic documentary, in parts bordering on the fictional. “Don’t look down Loch Änzi or you might turn into a ghost.”
  • The Grown Ups – Directed by Maite Alberdi – Chile / Netherlands, The / France – A group of friends with Down syndrome have attended the same school for 40 years, they’re aging and they have not been allowed to live adulthood on their own.
  • How to Meet a Mermaid – Directed by Coco Schrijber – Netherlands, The / Denmark / Belgium — This documentary connects the lives of Rebecca, Lex and Miguel in, on and under the surface of the water. The sea is both beauty and danger, friend and foe. Through the mood of ocean, the audience becomes part of the doubts, sadness and courage of the protagonists who seek help in the ocean. Director Coco Schrijber also turns to the ocean for answers about her missing brother Lex, but however understanding, vigorous or tranquil the sea is, eventually it is just water and indifferent to our questions. Rebecca, Lex, Miguel and their family left behind must fend for themselves.
  • Sealers – Directed by Trude Berge Ottersen and Gry Elisabeth Mortensen – Norway – A stubborn, old skipper refuses to accept the demise of Norwegian sealing. He gathers a crew and set out on a hazardous journey through the Polar Ice.
  • Venus – Directed by Lea Glob and Mette Carla Albrechtsen – Denmark – Two female directors in their thirties, start an investigation based on their own sexual frustrations to understand desire from a female point of view. As an excuse to get more answers, they decide to make a film based on real women’s erotic memories and reflections. They send out a casting call and over 100 ordinary Copenhagen women reply. As the shootings progress it dawns on the Filmmakers that what was just meant to be a casting, instead becomes an overwhelming shared experience of intimacy.

More About the EDA Awards
More About AWFJ and EDA Awards at IDFA
More information about IDFA 2016

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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 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).