It’s a Wrap: AWFJ Looks Back at 2016

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AWFJ is completing our tenth anniversary year, and it’s time to take stock and evolve. What has our organization accomplished during 2016, and what are our goals for 2017. But as we look back to evaluate our accomplishments and before we set forth plans for a new year filled with worthwhile projects, let’s pause for a moment to give due credit to the AWFJ members who’ve contributed their ideas, time and energy to make our 2016 programs and enterprises so successful. Well done! And here’s round of applause and a virtual pat on the back to each of you in recognition of your collegiality and activism. Now on to the nitty gritty about what AWFJ has done curing 2016, with shout outs to individual members who helmed projects and made them happen. Read on…

AWFJ’s EDA Awards:

  • Our tenth anniversary year end EDA Awards were a highlight for 2016, especially because our results reflected AWFJ’s fundamental commitment to the goals of gender parity and diversity. All active AWFJ members nominate and vote for the year end awards. We also did quite well with news coverage of the 2016 EDAs, thanks in large measure to primo publicist David Magdael who helped us spread the word.
  • EDA @ IDFA — AWFJ presented the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Documentary at IDFA in Amsterdam in November. This was our third consecutive year at IDFA and the first time our EDA Award included a cash prize of 2,500 Euros. Jurors were Jennifer Merin, Julide Tanriverdi and Dorothy Woodend.


To celebrate our tenth anniversary and out of our concerns about negative representations of women on the big screen, AWFJ compiled and published our Wonder Women List: 55 Best Fictional Female Characters, representing a legion of strong and fully realized fictional female characters who’ve populated the silver screen from cinema’s inception to the present. Our Wonder Women run the gamut from girls to grandmothers, they have careers and children, are survivors—of violence, crime, war, discrimination. They’re hellcats and hell raisers. Collectively they represent women’s issues and values. They’re not all good girls, but they are women you’d like your daughters to know. Marilyn Ferdinand helmed the project. Individual characters were annotated by Thelma Adams, Marina Antunes, Linda Barnard, Liz Braun, Anne Brodie, Carol Cling, Laura Emerick, Marilyn Ferdinand, Candice Frederick, Susan Granger, MaryAnn Johanson, Cate Marquis, Jennifer Merin, Nell Minow, Rebecca Murray, Betsy Pickle, Lynn Venhaus, Liz Whittemore, Susan Wloszczyna.

Our Website at

Throughout 2016, we maintained individual member blogs including Brandy McDonnell‘s The Week in Women, Jennifer Merin’s Cinema Citizen, Martha P. Nochimson‘s Eye on Media and Liz Whittemore’s I Scream You Scream. We continued to post reviews and review links as sent to us by AWFJ members, and presented two regular features:

Social Media

AWFJ is hosting and monitoring THE FEMALE GAZE FORUM, a public page on Facebook which is open to postings by its 3,700+ members and any non-member who wishes to stimulate awareness and discussion about issues related to women working in film. THE FEMALE GAZE FORUM has links to the Alliance of Women Filmmakers, Women in Film and Television, NYWIFT Writers Group and other similarly focused Facebook Groups. If you have not joined THE FEMALE GAZE FORUM, please do so at And please encourage others to join, too. We are building a community. Our goal is to heighten awareness of issues, solutions an projects pertaining to women working in film, and to spread word about AWFJ, who we are and what we do. Membership at THE FEMALE GAZE FORUM grows daily.


Throughout 2016, AWFJ has been honored by and privileged to have the invaluable support of our members and so many extraordinary opportunities to partner with different organizations and individuals to make progress and strive to reach our goals. Sincerest thanks to all. We look forward to continued collaborations in 2017, always pushing the envelope on gender parity and diversity in the realm of cinema and beyond.


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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).