SILVERDOCS WINNERS ANNOUNCED
AFI-Discovery Channel Silverdocs Documentary Festival (held June 21 to 27) announced its distinguished winners. Best Feature directors receive $5,000.
Best US Feature: WO AI NI MOMMY (I LOVE YOU, MOMMY) directed by Stephanie Wang-Breal, which documents eight-year-old Chinese Fang Sui Yong and her adoption by a Jewish couple from Long Island who name her “Faith.” The film follows Faith and her parents’ twist-and-turn journey over a year and a half.
Best World Feature: THE WOMAN WITH THE 5 ELEPHANTS directed by Vadim Jendreyko, which chronicles eighty-five-year-old Svetlana Geier who has dedicated her life to language. Considered the greatest translator of Russian literature into German, Svetlana has just concluded her magnum opus, completing new translations of Dostoyevsky’s five great novels-known as the five elephants.
Special Jury mention: STEAM OF LIFE directed by Joonas Berghäll and Mika Hotakainen, whose film allows the viewer to become a fly on the wall as it listens in on men-naked men-talking to other men in the sanctuary of Finland’s ubiquitous saunas.
The Sterling Award for Best Short Film: THIS CHAIR IS NOT ME directed by Andy Taylor Smith, which documents Alan Martin, whose cerebral palsy confines him to a wheelchair and inhibits his speech, but he refuses to limit himself. When he gains access to technology that enables him to find a voice, his life is transformed. Utilizing stunning visual vocabulary and subtle re-enactment, the film presents a cinematic experience as unique as the subject himself.
A Special Jury Mention: BETWEEN DREAMS directed by Iris Olsson which tells the story of a hundred souls lost in dreams in the dead of night as they cross a Siberian moonscape aboard a battered train.
A second Special Jury Mention: THE POODLE TRAINER directed by Vance Malone, which chronicles Irina Markova, a Russian poodle trainer who has dedicated her life to training her 20 colorfully costumed poodles.
The Cinematic Vision Award: MARWENCOL directed by Jeff Malmberg. The film captures Mark Hogancamp who suffers a savage beating with near-total amnesia and severe physical injuries. With no money for traditional therapy, he obsessively builds a miniature World War II-era village in his backyard and populates it with detailed dolls and Nazi intrigue.
The WITNESS Award in honor of Joey R. B. Lozano: BUDRUS directed by Julia Bacha, which examines one Palestinian village and its unlikely hero-humble family man turned activist Ayed Morrar-who reveals the power of ordinary people to peaceably fight for extraordinary change. The award includes in-kind outreach support and tickets to the annual Witness Gala hosted by Peter Gabriel.
WGA Documentary Screenplay Award: A FILM UNFINISHED by Yael Hersonski. The film tells a story of never before seen footage from a lost reel of an incomplete Nazi-produced propaganda film about Warsaw’s Jewish ghetto in 1942. The film captures images of manipulated and staged ghetto life mixed with stunning photographic evidence and testimony-all making for a riveting experience.