AWFJ EDA Awards @ Whistler Film Festival 2019: The Winners – Jennifer Merin reports

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For the seventh 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 2019 festival, held in Whistler from December 4 to 8, 2019.

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 8. And the winners are:


  • ANTIGONE– Directed by Sophie Deraspe

    AWFJ Jury statement: A brave, intelligent and deeply moving film, as contemporary as it is timeless, Antigone is both a tribute to the recent real-world events that inspired it, and a powerful reminder of why the classics endure through insightful, creative adaptations such as this.

    Jennifer Merin, Sophie Deraspe, Marina Antunes
  • LIBERTE: A CALL TO SPY– Directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher
    AWFJ Jury Statement: Liberte: A Call to Spy deserves a medal for passing the Bechdel test with flying colors while being a taut and tensely told World War II thriller that focuses on two real-life female agents and their overseer, another highly capable woman forced to conceal her Jewish heritage. There is no need for overtly feminist flag-waving as the film wisely prefers to show rather than tell about the heroism and sacrifice of these ladies dedicated to preserving the free world from the insidious evil unleashed by Hitler.


  • PANDORA’S BOX – Directed by Rebecca Snow
    AWFJ Jury Statement: From its cheeky title to its unrelenting (and deserving) criticism of modern society’s continuing contempt toward women, Rebecca Snow’s Pandora’s Box dares to confront the myriad, retrograde attitudes toward menstruation in virtually every corner of the world, from underdeveloped nations to our own supposedly enlightened realms. The doc gives new meaning to the term “Scarlet Letter,” in this case, awesome, for affirming the importance of womanhood.


  • EXAM – Directed by Sonia K. Hadad
    AWFJ Jury Statement: Heartbreaking and relevant, this powerful film focuses on a young girl who’s put in a challenging position by an older man in her life. Forced to grow up quickly, she learns she can only count on herself, and her determination is empowering.

You will find the complete list of films nominated for AWFJ EDA Awards at Whistler Film Festival 2019 and the roster of AWFJ Jurors in our EDA Awards @ Whistler Film Festival 2019 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).