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Out of Omaha, a coming-of-age tale of twin African-American brothers filmed over eight years by director Clay Tweel won the Audience Award at the 2018 DOC NYC. Other top 2018 award-winners included A Little Wisdom took the Viewfinders Grand Jury Prize; Barbara Rubin & the Exploding NY Underground won the Metropolis Grand Jury Prize; and In the Absence won the Shorts Grand Jury Prize.

2018 DOC NYC Award Winners

Viewfinders Competition

A Little Wisdom, directed by Yuqi Kang
A Little Wisdom

Grand Jury Prize Winner: A Little Wisdom, directed by Yuqi Kang, centers on a Tibetan Buddhist monastery where young novice monks try to balance rituals and discipline with the distractions of modern life and childhood.

Jurors’ statement: “A Little Wisdom is a beautifully crafted, nuanced, and candid observational portrait of everyday life for young Tibetan monks; the film is filled with quiet, heart-breaking revelations as it explores both the joys and cruel power dynamics of childhood.”

Films featured in the Viewfinders section: Cooked: Survival by Zip Code, dir. Judith A. Helfand; Ghost Fleet, dirs. Shannon Service and Jeffrey Waldron; Heartbound, dirs. Janus Metz and Sine Plambech; The Kleptocrats, dirs. Havana Marking and Sam Hobkinson; A Little Wisdom, dir. Yuqi Kang; Out Of Omaha, dir. Clay Tweel; The Smartest Kids In The World, dir. Tracy Droz Tragos; Under The Wire, dir. Chris Martin; Walking On Water, dir. Andrey Paounov.

Metropolis Competition

The jury selected from among seven films in this section, which is dedicated to stories set in New York City.

Barbara Rubin & the Exploding NY Underground
Barbara Rubin & the Exploding NY Underground

Grand Jury Prize Winner: Barbara Rubin & the Exploding NY Underground, directed by Chuck Smith, is the untold story of an influential figure who defied sexist conventions and enabled surprising connections in the 1960s New York underground film scene.

Jurors’ statement: “Barbara Rubin was a leading figure in the New York avant-garde whose groundbreaking feminist art films were not recognized in her time. We were moved by her work and her spirit, which still resonate today.”

Films featured in the Metropolis section: Barbara Rubin & the Exploding NY Underground, dir. Chuck Smith; The Candidates, dirs. Alexandra Stergiou and Lexi Henigman; Creating A Character: The Moni Yakim Legacy, dir. Rauzar Alexander; Decade Of Fire, dirs. Vivian Vazquez and Gretchen Hildebran; Jay Myself, dir. Stephen Wilkes; See Know Evil, dir. Charles Curran; The World Before Your Feet, dir. Jeremy Workman.

Shorts Competition

Grand Jury Prize Winner: In the Absence, directed by Seung-Jun Yi, is an unflinchingly honest look at the Sewol Ferry Disaster in South Korea.

Jurors’ statement: “A complex story rigorously and sensitively told. Through interviews with survivors, eyewitnesses, and family members, as well as archival footage and recordings obtained from the South Korean authorities, the film delicately pieces together a tragedy, and in doing so, exposes a flawed political system.”

Special Mentions: Obon, directed by Andre Hoermann and Anna Samo, and King of the Night, directed by Molly Brass and Stephen Tyler.

The 2018 winning Short film qualifies for consideration in the Documentary Short Subject category of the annual Academy Awards® without the standard theatrical run (provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules).

Audience Award

Winner: Out of Omaha is a coming-of-age tale of twin African-American brothers filmed over eight years by director Clay Tweel (Gleason) and executive produced by musician J. Cole.

The winner of the DOC NYC Audience Award receives a screening as part of the IFC Center’s Stranger Than Fiction screening series in 2019.

DOC NYC PRO Pitch Perfect Award

Recognized the best pitch given during DOC NYC PRO’s Pitch Perfect Day, based on the pitch itself, as well as the viability of the project, and was determined by industry professionals taking part in the daylong pitch event. Documentary pros who selected the winner were Patricia Finneran, Good Pitch Local Producer, Doc Society; Kelsey Koenig, Director of Development, Impact Partners; Dan O’Meara, VP Special Projects & Documentary, NEON; Hayley Pappas, Head of RYOT Films; Greg Rhem, Director, HBO Documentary Films; Molly Thompson, Senior VP, A&E IndieFilms.

Winner: Civil War (or, Who Do We Think We Are), directed by Rachel Boynton, explores how America remembers the Civil War and what the stories we tell reveal about who we are, revealing a picture of contemporary society and our persistent conflicts within.

IF/Then Shorts Northeast American Pitch Award

New this year, in partnership with Tribeca Film Institute, the IF/Then Shorts Pitch at DOC NYC invited six filmmaking teams to pitch their short documentary projects focusing on stories of the American Northeast. One project was selected by an industry jury to receive up to $20,000 in completion funding, free post production services (provided by Sim NY), and the opportunity to participate in Tribeca Film Institute’s IF/Then Shorts distribution initiative.

Winner: Mizuko (Water Child), directed by Kira Dane and Katelyn Rebelo.

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