For the first time in the festival’s history, two filmmakers Kim Beamish for “Tentmakers of Cairo” and Iiris Harma for “Leaving Africa: A Story of Friendship and Empowerment” are winners of the 2015 Margaret Meade Filmmaker Award. The award honors documentary filmmakers who have made films that present a new perspective on a foreign nation or culture.
A documentary filmed over three years, “Tentmakers of Cairo” tells the story of Egypt’s struggle with democracy through the lives of a community of artisans whose craft has remained largely unchanged since Pharaonic times.
In “Leaving Africa: A Story of Friendship and Empowerment” Riitta from Finland and Kata from Uganda, aged 66 and 63 respectively, run sexual health and gender equality education in Uganda. The pair find themselves in a difficult situation however, when an anonymous letter, addressed to the Ugandan parliament, accuses them of organizing workshops that are promoting and recruiting children to homosexuality.
The festival also presented a Special Mention Award to Aldona Watts for her film “Land of Songs.” In a region of Lithuania known as the “Land of Songs,” five charming grandmothers are the bearers of their village’s ancient folk singing tradition. Singing has nourished their lifelong friendships, and helped them to cope with decades of war and occupation. As the village’s youth move away, the grandmothers struggle to keep their songs alive.