AWFJ Announces Nominees for 2,500 Euro Prize for Best Female-Directed Documentary at IDFA 2016 – Jennifer Merin reports

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idfa-2016The Alliance of Women Film Journalists is pleased to name three finalists in this year’s competition for the IDFA 2016 EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Feature Length Documentary. AWFJ is partnering with IDFA (International Dcoumentary Film Festival Amstersam) for the third consecutive year to honor female filmmakers whose documentaries are on the festival schedule. This is the first year the award includes the 2,500 Euro prize. The winner of the award will be announced at IDFA on November 22, and the award will be presented at that time. Read on…


In the selection process, ten films nominated by IDFA programmers were viewed by AWFJ EDA Award jurors, who then selected three finalists for their final round of voting.

The entire list of ten nominated films can be found below. The three finalists, in alphabetical order are:

    Director: Maite Alberdi
    Country: Chile/The Netherlands/France
    Synopsis: 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. (Note: Director Maite Alberdi won the IDFA AWFJ EDA Award in 2013 for TEA TIME.)

    Director: Coco Schrijber
    Country: The Netherlands/Denmark/Belgium
    Synopsis: 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.

    Director: Elvira Diaz
    Country: Spain/France/Chile
    Synopsis: “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 2016 IDFA EDA Award jurors Julide Tanriverdi, Dorothy Woodend and Jennifer Merin selected the three finalists. Woodend and Merin will present the award on November 22.

Descriptions of the seven other films nominated for this year’s IDFA EDA Award can be found on the IDFA Website. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • ALMOST THERE – Directed by Jacqueline Zünd, Switzerland
  • AREUM – Directed by Areum Parkkang, South Korea
  • DIL LEYLA – Directed by Asli Özarslan, Germany
  • LA CHANA – Directed by Lucija Stojevic, Spain/Iceland/USA
  • SEALERS – Directed by Trude Berge Ottersen and Gry Elisabeth Mortensen, Norway
  • THE GIRL DOWN LOCH ÄNZI – Directed by Alice Schmid, Switzerland
  • VENUS – Directed by Lea Glob and Mette Carla Albrechtsen, Denmark


AWFJ’s EDA Awards festival program for 2016 included presentation of the Best Female-Directed Documentary Feature and Best Female-Directed Documentary Short at DOXA Film Festival in Vancouver in May. Additionally, AWFJ is partnering with Whistler Film Festival for the third consecutive year to present EDA Awards for Best Female-Directed Narrative Feature and Best Female-Directed Documentary at the upcoming festival from November 20 to December 4, 2016. AWFJ has presented EDA Awards at Edinburgh International Film Festival, Salem Film Fest, Sheffield Doc/Fest and St. Louis International Film Festival, among others. EDA Awards were also presented for POVs Twentieth Anniversary Celebration at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. For more information about AWFJ and/or the EDA Awards, contact Jennifer Merin at


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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).