George Tillman, Jr.’s powerful and moving The Hate U Give has been voted winner of the Audience Award for Best English-language feature at this year’s 54th Chicago International Film Festival. Amandla Stenberg stars as Starr Carter, a young woman who is constantly switching between two worlds: the poor, mostly black neighborhood where she lives and the rich, mostly white prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Now, facing pressures from all sides of the community, Starr must find her voice and stand up for what’s right.
Pernille Fischer Christensen’s Becoming Astrid, a biopic about Astrid Lindgren (author of the Pippi Longstocking books), takes home the best foreign-language feature Audience Award. Variety called the film “a gorgeous piece of heritage filmmaking,” and it played to packed houses at ChiFilmFest!
Dyana Winkler and Tina Brown’s United Skates, a rousing tribute to roller skating’s pivotal role in the African American community, wins the Documentary Audience Award honor. Facing discriminatory policies and rink closures, committed skaters from around the country—including Chicago’s own Buddy Love—fight to preserve a space for people to come together and express themselves in sliding, bouncing, snapping glory.
The Audience Award for Best Short Film goes to Darius Clark Monroe’s Black 14, a reflection on power and control in 1960’s America that uses archival footage to tell the story of a racial protest at the University of Wyoming.