Festival Award Winners – 2013

The Social Justice Film Festival has announced the winners of its Gold Jury Prize, Director’s Choice Award, and Youth Visions Showcase. The 11-day festival, held October 7-17, featured 60 films from around the world, with a special focus on prisoner justice.


Director’s Choice Award: Mothers of Bedford, directed by Jennifer McShane

mx_600Is it possible to become a better mother while serving time in a maximum-security prison? A feature-length documentary, Mothers of Bedford looks at the lives of five women in the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility through the lens of motherhood. The film is a wrenching exploration of the struggles and joys these five women face as prisoners and mothers. It opened the festival as part of a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the festival’s founding sponsor, Books to Prisoners.Director’s Choice Award

Gold Jury Prize (tie) – FeatureThe Other Side of Silence, directed by Claudia Johnson

Screen Shot 2013-11-20 at 3.05.23 PMThis film follows Pulitzer Prize nominee Claudia Johnson’s 19-year quest to penetrate the mysterious silence surrounding the story of Ruby McCollum, the richest African-American woman in Live Oak, Florida, who was sentenced to the electric chair for the 1952 murder of her white doctor and alleged lover. But did Ruby commit murder? A multi-layered detective story from within the twists and turns of the Suwanee River, the film is a testament to Johnson’s determination to uncover the truth long suppressed by the town’s corrupt white power structure.

Gold Jury Prize (tie) – FeatureIl Rosa Nudo, directed by Giovanni Coda

3111508Il Rosa Nudo (The Naked Rose) is a starkly beautiful experimental film inspired by the life of Pierre Seel, who was arrested at 17 by the Nazis on charges of homosexuality and sent to a concentration camp.  In 1982, Seel decided to publicly reveal what he and other homosexuals branded with the Pink Triangle underwent during the Nazi regime. He was the first homocaust survivor to denounce the atrocities he witnessed. Focusing on the discredited theories of homosexuality that paved the way for Nazi persecution, Il Rosa Nudo evocatively depicts the anguish gay men endured during the war years and afterward.

Bronze Jury Prize – FeatureAmerican Heart, directed by Chris Newberry

americanheart_ngGRAB.jpgA primary care clinic in Minnesota becomes a crossroads for refugees and their devoted doctors, hosting hundreds of new arrivals from around the world as they navigate the healthcare system in their adopted homeland. Weaving together the personal stories of three of the patients,American Heart packs an emotional wallop as it portrays the  lasting legacy of commitment, caring, and hope that the clinic provides.

Gold Jury Prize – ShortsThe Last Supper, directed by Ira Chute

305166252a2732d85a2f.jpgThis film powerfully tells the story of an artist who becomes obsessed with her local newspaper’s detailed description of an executed prisoner’s final meal request, leading her on a personal crusade to see the death penalty abolished through her artistic protest of painting more than 500  meal requests on ceramic plates.

Silver Jury Prize – Shorts RU: Water is Lifedirected by Shawn Small

2991206This expertly-shot film chronicles a day in the life of a remarkable 12-year-old girl, Jina Teji, whose world revolves around walking a mile each way to fill a jerry can with water three times a day to sustain her family, for whom she is the primary caretaker.

Bronze Jury Prize – ShortsReal Changedirected by Adam Becker

Untitled 16_lighterReal Change provides low-income and homeless people in Seattle with opportunities and a voice for economic justice.  This film compellingly draws the viewer into the lives of four homeless individuals as they navigate the demands of daily life at the margins, and consider what homelessness in America means today.

 Gold Jury Prize – Youth Visions

Poetic Justice Projectdirected by Matthew Evans

Silver Jury Prize – Youth Visions

Ultramarinedirected by Matthew Earl

Bronze Jury Prize – Youth Visions

Unreasonable Suspiciondirected by William Herasme

Youth Visions Honorable Mentions

The Dogmaticdirected by Lance Oppenheim

Tribute to Trayvon Martindirected by William Herasme



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