AWFJ EDA Awards @ Whistler Film Festival 2016: The Winners — Jennifer Merin reports

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whistler-2016For the fourth consecutive year, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists was at Whistler Film Festival to present AWFJ EDA Awards to female filmmakers for Best Female-Directed Narrative Feature and Best Female-Directed Documentary. The winners were announced on December 4 at the festival’s awards ceremony at the Maury Young Arts Center. Read on…

AWFJ’s Narrative Feature Jury Chair Katherine Brodsky presented the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Narrative Film to Canadian director Chloe Lariche for Before the Streets. The jury statement: “The Alliance of Women Film Journalists presents the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Narrative Feature to a film in which we are observers in a story told with a fully naturalistic approach. We become immersed in the narrative, almost as if a video-camera were chasing real life. As the first film shot in Atikamekw, a dialect of the Algonquian Cree language, it is an engaging portrait of a young man who finds himself in an awful situation, one in which he’s forced to come to terms with his actions. Free of excessive writing and preconceived dramatic notions, Before The Streets is beautiful in the simplicity of its storytelling and performance. We present the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Narrative Feature to Before The Streets, directed by Chloe Leriche.”

Documentary Jury Chair Jennifer Merin presented the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary to Canadian documentarian Fern Levitt, for Sled Dogs. The jury statement: The Alliance of Women Film Journalists documentary jury commends Whistler Film Festival for programming a controversial documentary that reveals egregious abuse of animals within its hometown and at other locals where dog sledding is a popular pursuit and profitable business. In Fern Levitt’s documentary, we see that some dog owners disregard their animals’ care and comfort, treating them in ways that are tantamount to torture, and then callously kill them when they can no longer serve to satisfaction. Our jury found Sled Dogs difficulty to watch, heartbreaking and unforgettable, revealing cruelties beyond our imagination. We present the AWFJ EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary to the very compelling and well-crafted Sled Dogs, directed by Fern Levitt. This is a documentary that can make a difference for the better.”

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For the full list of films nominated for AWFJ EDA Awards at Whistler 2016, and the names of jurors, see this report.

For more information about Whistler Film Festival and the 2016 program, visit the Whistler Film Festival Website.

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Jennifer Merin

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 also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).