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.
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 – Feature – Return 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 – Feature – War Against Women, directed by Hernan Zin
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 – Feature – Prison Terminal, directed by Edgar Barens
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 – Shorts – Mestizo, directed by Talon Gonzalez
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
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 – Shorts – Tears, directed by Yahya Ghobadi
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
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
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
A 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
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.
Gold Jury Prize – Youth Visions – Riffing on the Dream, directed by students at Chief Sealth High School
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 Visions – Out of Focus, directed by Adrian Arce and Antonio Zirion
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 Visions – Lie, directed by Lisa Jiang
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.