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

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whistler logo 2017Whistler Film Festival continues to stand out as an especially female friendly environment for filmmakers, with intensive programs for collegial networking, productive mentorships and the spirit-raising Women on Top Summit. And, AWFJ recognizes the superb women’s programming with presentation of EDA Awards for female-directed films. Continue reading…

AWFJ Has partnered with Whistler Film Festival for four consecutive years to honor female-directed film that are screening during the festival. Festival organizers nominate the films for EDA Award consideration. This year’s nominees included five films for the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Film eight shorts for the Best Female-Directed Short.

The winners in both categories were announced at the Whistler Film Festival awards ceremony on December 3, 2017 by jury co chairs Katherine Brodsky and Jennifer Merin.

BRST FEMALE-DIRECTED SHORT

wff sharren leeThe winner of the EDA Award for Best Short is Sharren Lee’s The Things You Think I’m Thinking, about which the AWFJ jury commented: “At the film’s center is a person you don’t often get to see on the screen: Sean, a burn survivor and amputee who re-enters the world of dating. In a bar, he meets with Caleb, an able-bodied and appealing man who appears to take aromantic interest in him. And while, despite having no hands, Sean has managed to master getting around with great agility and some panache, his next roadblock is himself and being able to overcome his fears, insecurities, and trust issues — something that’s probably familiar to all of us. Ultimately, at the heart of the film are two people looking to make a human connection. And we found that we connect with them, too.”

The EDA Award short jury members were Katherine Brodsky, Lexi Feinberg, Karen Martin, Diana Saenger and Susan Wloszczyna.

BEST FEMALE-DIRECTED FEATURE

wff marjaraThe EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Feature was presented to Eisha Marjara for Venus a tale about a woman in transition. According to the AWFJ jury, Venus is “a compelling narrative about a woman in transition. According to the AWFJ jury, Venus is both a touching drama about the hardship of gender transition and how it affects family, friendships, and relationship, but but also a really lovely, humane and affecting affirmation of the power of love and the strength of friendship and family. We applaud Debargo Sanyal’s brilliant performance, and thank Sanyal and Marjara for moving us to new understanding.”

The Jurors for Best Female-Directed Feature were Marina Antunes, Nikki Baughan, Betsy Bozdech,jennifer Merin and Gill Pringle.

SPECIAL JURY AWARD

The AWFJ jurors also awarded a special jury EDA Award to Kyra Sedgwick for her directorial debut, Story of A Girl, a well balanced, beautifully crafted and timely take on a teenage girl dealing with modern-day bullying. The film is anchored by a wonderful lead performance from Ryann Shane and memorable turns from Kevin Bacon and Kyra’s daughter, Sosie. The award to Kyra has its especially rewarding serendipity because Kyra, as a young actress in her first lead Love and War,payed the granddaughter of EDA Reiss Merin, the activist actress for whom the EDA Awards are named. EDA is also the mother of AWFJ founder and president, Jennifer Merin. This was a wonderful opportunity to honor two marvelous women in film.

For the vull list of award winners at Whistler Film Festival 2017, visit the Whistler Film Festival Website.

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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 also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. Read Merin's recent articles below. For her complete archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).