Festival Award Winners – 2014

The Social Justice Film Festival is proud to announce the winning 2014 films, in the following categories. The 12-day festival, held October 18-30, featured 50 films from around the world, with a special focus on prisoner justice.

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Director’s Choice Award: The Vigil, directed by Jenny Alexander

Gina, an undocumented single mother, risks arrest and deportation when she joins an ongoing vigil on the Arizona State Capitol lawn to stop America’s most controversial immigration law, “Papers, Please,” from going into effect.


Gold Jury Prize – FeatureReturn of the River, directed by John Gussman and Jessica Plumb

A group of people attempt the impossible: to persuade a town and eventually the nation to bring a dam down. This film shows how the community came to a consensus, setting Washington state’s Elwha River free and showing the way to a more sustainable future.


Silver Jury Prize – FeatureWar Against Women, directed by Hernan Zin

War Against Women

The use of rape as a weapon of war is often-ignored crime, which leaves victims unacknowledged and lets criminals go unpunished. Filmed in ten different countries over a span of three years, War Against Women exposes rape as a weapon and uncovers its heartbreaking legacy for victims and their families.


Bronze Jury Prize – FeaturePrison Terminal, directed by Edgar Barens

Prison Terminal

At America’s oldest maximum security prison, a terminally ill prisoner spends the final months of his life in hospice. This film breaks through prison walls to recount the story of the prisoner and the hospice volunteers, themselves prisoners, who cared for him.


Gold Jury Prize – ShortsMestizo, directed by Talon Gonzalez

Mestizo

Multiethnic individuals express the complexity of identity when confronted with the question ‘What are you?’ Through spoken-word performance and interviews, subjects share their experiences of growing up mixed-race in the 21st century.


Silver Jury Prize – Shorts L’Efecte Aleatori, directed by Nofre Moya

L’Efecte Aleatorie

Economic crisis and overpopulation lead a European country to bankruptcy. Aleix, a biologist, discovers a molecule that causes death randomly among members of a community where it is applied. Will he succumb to political power to release the virus among the lower classes?


Bronze Jury Prize – ShortsTears, directed by Yahya Ghobadi

Tears

Tears is a short film that mixes animations with found footage of warfare to tell the story of a little girl and her family, caught in a war zone as they celebrate the girl’s birthday. This film juxtaposes the innocence of a child in celebration with the atrocities of war.


 Special Category Prizes

Prisoner Justice Prize – Natural Life, directed by Tirtza Even

Natural Life

Natural Life

This experimental documentary challenges inequities in the U.S. juvenile justice system by documenting and re-enacting the stories of five individuals who were sentenced to life without parole (natural life) for crimes they committed as youth.


Worker Justice Prize – Wisconsin Rising, directed by Sam Mayfield

Wisconsin Rising

Wisconsin Rising

In 2011, the people of Wisconsin occupied the State House when Governor Scott Walker introduced legislation that stripped collective bargaining rights from the state’s public employees. Wisconsin Rising tells the story of the largest sustained workers resistance in American history.


Best Narrative Film – Paper Crane, directed by Yu Shibuya

PAPER CRANE 1_smA clinic worker guides a man through three rooms: the room of brightness brings back the man’s happiest memory, the room of shadows brings back his most painful memory, and the room of dreams helps him recall bygone aspirations. But what is the purpose of this facility?


Best Animation – The Box, directed by Michael Schiller

The Box

The Box

Every year, thousands of teens are placed in solitary confinement cells in juvenile halls, jails, and prisons nationwide. This animation tells the story of Ismael “Izzy” Nazario and the time he spent in solitary confinement in New York City’s Rikers Island jail.


Youth Visions

Gold Jury Prize – Youth VisionsRiffing on the Dream, directed by students at Chief Sealth High School

Riffing on the Dream

Riffing on the Dream

African-American students at a Seattle high school appear on camera to give candid, unrehearsed answers to questions posed by their fellow students. These powerful voices open a doorway into their world that will make you question stereotypes.


Silver Jury Prize – Youth VisionsOut of Focus, directed by Adrian Arce and Antonio Zirion

Out of Focus

Out of Focus

Out of Focus is a collaborative documentary about arts, culture, and everyday life inside a prison for minors. It was shot during a photography and video workshop with young inmates at the Juvenile Community for Specialized Treatment in San Fernando, Mexico City.


Bronze Jury Prize – Youth VisionsLie, directed by Lisa Jiang

Lie

Lie

Ying is an illegal immigrant struggling to make it in America. When she applies for a job in the fashion industry, it is with the naive hopes of gaining a work visa. However, being so used to hiding, she has spun a web of lies that ultimately puts her daughter, and her freedom, in danger.

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