Whistler Film Festival 2020 EDA Award Winners – Jennifer Merin reports

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For the eighth 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 2020 festival, held online December 1 to 20, 2020.

AWFJ applauds Whistler Film Festival for it’s consistently excellent programming of female-directed films. 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, female-directed films make up 47 percent of the overall program. Shauna Mishaw Hardy has announced that 2020 is her last year helming the festival, and we hope the new leadership will continue to build on her exceptional record for supporting women working in all aspects of the film industry.

For this year, the festival programmers nominated six films to be considered for this year’s EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Feature, and ten films for Best Female-Directed Short. AWFJ jurors viewed screeners and voted for the winners, which were announced at the WFF Awards virtual ceremony on December 20.

And the winners are:

BEST FEMALE-DIRECTED FEATURE AWARD

  • SMALL TIME– Directed by Niav Conty
     

    AWFJ JURY STATEMENT: The winner of the EDA Award for Best Female-/directed Feature is Niav Conty’s Small Time, which we found to be a clear-eyed look at contemporary America from a child’s point of view — terrible to witness, but beautiful to look at, as a girl of 10 is left in the care of various ineffectual adults, all of whom are otherwise occupied by poverty, addiction and fragile mental health; Young actress Audrey Grace Marshall.moves with grace through this landscape of desperation, observing and considering the various life lessons provided by the grown-ups around her. Writer/director Conty captures the essence of child-like wonder to deliver a powerful message.
      
    AWFJ JURORS: Liz Braun, Lois Alter Mark, Jennifer Merin (Chair) 

BEST FEMALE-DIRECTED FEATURE SPECIAL AWARD

  • GODDESS OF THE FIREFLIES – Directed by Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette
     

    AWFJ JURY STATEMENT: The Features Jury also presents an EDA Special Mention award to Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette’s Goddess of the Fireflies, a film our jurors found to be an insightful, often devastating look at what it’s like to be a teenager. We found that this Quebecois coming of age film set in the 1990s is universally relatable today and that it’s impossible to take your eyes off Kelly Depeault’s stunning performance in the lead role.

    AWFJ JURORS: Liz Braun, Lois Alter Mark, Jennifer Merin (Chair) 

BEST FEMALE-DIRECTED SHORT AWARD

  • SINGLE – Directed by Ashley Eakin
     

    AWFJ JURY STATEMENT: The EDA Award for Best Female Directed Short is presented to a compelling film that tells a truly inspiring tale of self-determination and positivity and has the power to change the way we all view people with disabilities.  Featuring a fearless performance from Delaney Feener, the film tackles preconceptions about people with disabilities and challenges expectations. Director Ashley Eakin brings a bold new voice to filmmaking and Single is a great start for her career. We take pleasure in presenting the EDA Award for Best Female-Directed Short to Ashley Eakin for Single.

    AWFJ JURORS: Marina Antunes (Chair), Jazz Tangcay, Susan Wloszczyna

You will find the complete list of films nominated for AWFJ EDA Awards at Whistler Film Festival 2020 and the roster of AWFJ Jurors in our EDA Awards @ Whistler Film Festival 2020 announcement.

And, here is an index of AWFJ’s WFF 2020 Coverage:

WFF 2020: EDA Award Nominees and AWFJ Juries by Jennifer Merin
WFF 2020: Female-Directed Documentaries by April Neale
Interview: Alex Anna on SCARS
Interview: Niav Conty on SMALL TIME
Interview: Emily Dickinson on MARCH
Interview: Ashley Eakin on SINGLE
Interview: Ali Liebert on THE QUIETING
Interview: Aimee Long on A SHOT THROUGH THE WALL
Interview: Ariane Louis-Seize on SHOOTING STAR
Interview: Janice Mingas on WHEN THE NIGHT COMES
Interview: Wendy Morgan on SUGAR DADDY
Interview: Elinor Nechemya on OUR HEARTS BEAT LIKE WAR
Interview: Susan Rodgers on STILL THE WATER

Paul Gratton, Shauna Hardy Mishaw, Jennifer Merin, Marina Antunes @ WFF 2019

ABOUT THE AWFJ EDA AWARDS FESTIVAL PROGRAM

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 awfjinc@gmail.com.

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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).