Press release: The 13th annual Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival announces the 2017 Best of the Festival Award Winners, and other highlights. Selected from among the Festival's divers array of feature films, documentaries, and shorts programs, the Festival awarded top honors to: The Drowning, directed by Bette Gordon (Best Dramatic Feature); Snowflake, directed by Alana Smithee (Best Dramatic Short); After Auschwitz: The Story of Six Women, directed by Jon Kean (Best Documentary Feature); and Breaking Silence, directed by Nadya Ali (Best Documentary Short). Details on the winning films below.
The four-day Festival presented nearly 100 films during its run March 23-26, 2017 at the Regal Cinemas at LA Live in Downtown Los Angeles. In addition to the festival award-winners, other highlights include the celebrity-filled opening night gala, and festival closing screening of Endless Night, directed by Isabel Coixet.
The Los Angeles Women's International Film Festival drew robust attendance, and active support from volunteers and industry professionals. Warner Bros. employees made an especially strong showing, engaging as volunteers, audience members and speakers—and the Women of Warner convended an inspiring panel discussion following a screening of Raising Ms. President, a documentary about raising the next generation of political leaders. Panelists included Karriann Farrell Hinds, attorney, social justice advocate and board member of the the ACLU, National Women's Political Caucus and Close the Gap California; Sandra Fluke, social justice attorney and board member of Emerge California; and Cristina Garcia, California State Assembly member, vice-chair of Women's Legislative Caucus and Commission on the Status of Women and Girls.
Produced by Diana Means, Director of Programming at Alliance of Women Filmmakers, the full festival program available at www.lawomensfest.com,
BEST DRAMATIC FEATURE: The Drowning
Directed by Bette Gordon
Based on Pat Barker’s book Border Crossing, The Drowning is a psychological thriller that begins as psychologist Tom Seymour (Josh Charles), out walking with his wife Lauren (Julie Stiles), plunges into an icy river to rescue a young man (Avan Jogia) from drowning. Tom’s spontaneous act saves the man’s life only to reveal that he is the same boy who was convicted of a chilling murder 12 years earlier, based on Tom’s expert witness testimony. When Danny reappears in Tom’s life, Tom is drawn into a destructive, soul-searching reinvestigation of the case. Complex, riveting and unafraid to tread deep, murky psychological waters, this is a story of shifting identities that will keep you guessing until the very end.
BEST DRAMATIC SHORT: Snowflake
Directed by Alana Smithee
Jesse is an introverted young girl, struggling with acceptance. When a school assignment asks her to answer the question, “Who Am I?, she desperately wants to show everyone her gift. Jesse soon realizes that not everyone wants her to be herself. Her harried, loving dad wants her to be his little girl. Her dance teacher wants her to be like all the other proper ballerinas. At school, the pressure to conform, hide her light and pretend she’s like everyone else, has never been greater. Can Jesse be brave enough to be her true self in spite of everyone’s expectations…
BEST DOCUMENTARY FEATURE:
After Auschwitz: The Stories of Six Women
Directed by Jon Kean
After Auschwitz is the latest film by documentarian Jon Kean. It's an emotional sequel to his acclaimed film “Swimming in Auschwitz”, where he followed the lives of six women as they faced the fall of Europe and the horrors of the Nazi Third Reich in Auschwitz-Birkenau. After Auschwitz follows the lives of the same six women as they transition from the fear of imminent death the day before liberation in 1945 through their post-war returns to hometowns in Europe to continued survival in present day Los Angeles. Their stories of the changing face of American society in the second half of the 20th century are much more resonant as they are told through the lens of women who have survived the worst atrocity in modern history.
BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT: Breaking Silence
Directed by Nadya Ali
Sexual assault, abuse and rape cross all cultural and religious boundaries. The Muslim community is no exception. Muslim communities throughout America, made up of cultures that stigmatize the very mention of sex-related subjects, suffer from widespread sex abuse. Breaking Silence documents American Muslim women’s stories about their experiences in coping, coming out to their families and friends, and their insight about the change that needs to take place to help survivors, punish perpetrators, and prevent recurrences.