Maite Alberdi Wins IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award for THE GROWN UPS, with 2,500 Euros Prize

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idfa-2016For the third consecutive year, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists presented the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film at the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam. At a ceremony hosted by Chile Docs and held on November 22, IDFA director Ally Derks introduced AWFJ jurors Jennifer Merin and Dorothy Woodend who were attending the festival, and they in turn announced winner of the award and the cash prize of 2,500 Euros. The winner of the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed film is The Grown Ups, directed by Chilean filmmaker Maite Alberdi.

maite-alberdi-300x200In The Grown Ups, Alberdi enters the school for Down syndrome children where four forty-something adults have been in attendance for most of their lives, and now work in the school bakery. Anita, Rita, Ricardo and Andrés now feel that the school which has structured their lives is confining. They long for new challenges, greater independence and more personal space. In particular, Anita and Andrés are in love and want to marry, find their own apartment and have kids, but they’re stuck living apart and still dependent of their respective parents. Contemporary society is not equipped to help them achieve their dreams. Alberdi’s observational approach is compassionate in its revelation of their frustrations, and gives us a clear understanding of their perspective on the choices society provides for them.

idfa2016maite-jenniferThe AWFJ Jury, comprised of Jennifer Merin, Julide Tanriverdi and Dorothy Woodend, issued the following jury statememt: “Beautifully rendered and brilliantly edited, THE GROWN UPS is an impressively informative and utterly compassionate glimpse into the lives of Down syndrome adults who are, at age 40-something, stuck in a school environment that ‘normal’ society deems safe, but they know to be quite limiting. Filmmaker Maite Alberdi’s rapport with her subjects allows them to voice their innermost longings and admirable aspirations. Their engaging story is a mixture of heartache and humor, and hope for greater understanding of people with Down syndrome — or, for that matter, anyone whose perceptions and abilities are different from ‘the norm’ For these reasons, we select THE GROWN UPS to receive the IDFA 2016 AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female -Directed Documentary. Maite won her first AWFJ EDA Award at IDFA in 2014, and we look forward to seeing many more extraordinary films from this wonderful young woman director.”

The Grown Ups is one of ten female-directed documentaries nominated by IDFA for the EDA Award.



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).