AWFJ EDA Awards @ Whistler Film Festival 2018: The Winners – Jennifer Merin reports

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For the sixth consecutive year, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists has had the honor to partner with Whistler Film Festival to recognize women filmmakers with presentation of EDA Awards for Best Female-Directed Feature Film and Best Female-Directed Short at the 2018 festival, held in Whistler from November 28 to December 2, 2018.

Under the guidance of Executive Director Shauna Hardy Mishaw, Whistler Film Festival has consistently opened the doors of opportunity for female filmmakers through its programming of films, various mentoring programs and partnerships with AWFJ and other organizations.

This year, WFF’s program of 85 films included 50 features and 35 shorts representing 12 countries. 46% of the scheduled films were directed by women, a statistic proudly announced by WFF programmer Paul Gratton.

The festival nominated seven films to be considered for the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Feature, and ten films for Best Female-Directed Short. AWFJ jurors voted for the winners, which were announced at the WFF Awards ceremony on December 2. And the winners are:


  • Family First – Directed by Sophie Dupuis
  • AWFJ Jury statement: Sophie Dupuis’ first feature is a riveting family drama and brilliant character study of a brother caught between his desire for a typical, law-abiding life, and his suffocating family’s need for him to be part of his uncle’s drug enterprise. Wonderful performances – one subtle and one manic, but both remarkable — by Jean-Simon Leduc and Theodore Pellerin. From the opening moments there is such dynamism and energy in this film, it was thoroughly electrifying, unflinching and emotionally powerful.

    FAMILY FIRST director Sophie Dupuis
  • Honey Bee – Directed by Rama Rau
  • AWFJ Jury Statement: Director Rama Rau inbues her first narrative feature with the authority of authenticity she brings as an accomplished documentary filmmaker. Julia Sarah Stone delivers a breakthrough performance in this heart-wrenching coming-of-age film. The drama doesn’t play it safe and avoids the usual high school film tropes to explore the life of a young desperate girl searching for a way out of a life working the streets.

    HONEY BEE director Rama Rau


    • Brotherhood – Directed by Meryam Joobeur
    • AWFJ Jury Statement:AWFJ Jury Statement: Brotherhood is a compelling gem of a short about a father who comes to regret too late his defensive and resentful stance against his eldest son. Well-acted by all and with extraoridnarily sensitive cinematography, the film is beautifully directed by Meryam Joobeur, who is able to reveal so much about this torn family in just 25 minutes. Brava!

      AWFJ’s Marina Antunes, Rama Rau, AWFJ’s Jennifer Merin, Sophie Dupuis

      You will find the complete list of films nominated for AWFJ EDA Awards at Whistler Film Festival 2018 and the roster of AWFJ Jurors in our EDA Awards @ Whistler Film Festival 2018 announcement.

      Paul Gratton, Shauna Hardy Mishaw, Jennifer Merin, Marina Antunes


      AWFJ has presented EDA Awards at Edinburgh International Film Festival, Salem Film Fest, Sheffield Doc/Fest. DOXA 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).