ALICE, a story about a woman who finds the strength within herself despite all odds to save herself and her child, directed and produced by Josephine Mackeras, is the first winner of the CherryPicks Female First Feature Award, announced Tuesday at the 2019 SXSW Awards Ceremony. The South by Southwest® (SXSW®) Film Festival and CherryPicks,® the newly launched digital brand dedicated to the female critical voice, inaugural honor and monetary prize, is presented to a 2019 film helmed by a first-time narrative feature female director and producer, also must have screened during this year’s festival.
This year’s award went to A Special Recognition Award was also bestowed to DAYS OF THE WHALE, directed by Catalina Arroyave Restrepo and produced by Natalia Agudelo.
“CherryPicks created the Female First Feature Award to support its mission to shine a spotlight on female voices,” said Miranda Bailey, CEO of CherryPicks. “We hope to encourage women and audiences alike to create and support the stories women tell. ALICE, aside from being a strong story, filmmaker Josephine Mackeras proves she has the vision and talent to become a leading voice in the film industry.”
“We are excited to support women’s voices with this unique award and were so pleased that CherryPicks had so many wonderful and worthy projects to choose from,” said Janet Pierson, SXSW Director of Film. “Congratulations to this year’s winners and we look forward to have even more female teams bringing work to audiences in the years to come.”
“The Cherry Picks award means so much to a film like this. Because it is a film that could disappear overnight. It doesn’t have stars, I’m not known. It’s small, there are no cars crashing. It’s really a film that could disappear overnight, so to have the spotlight put on us means so much,” said director and producer Josephine Mackerras.
“We are also proud to give a Special Recognition Award to DAYS OF THE WHALE, to recognize the incredible work of director Catalina Arroyave Restrepo and producer Natalia Agudelo,” Bailey stated. “Like ALICE, this film stood out on its own with a unique, interesting story and a strong voice, showing filmmaking skill at a high level.”
“It’s an honor to have been selected among so many great films made by female directors that participated at the festival. The Special Mention means a vote of confidence that I deeply appreciate as it allows for the film to get a larger visibility, in turn helping us in this road, which we’re just starting. The importance of the awards is that allows audience to get closer to the films, and for us that is very important. And as I mentioned in my acceptance speech, being at SXSW and having won the Special Mention is a reminder that one has to continue being honest and courageous” stated Days Of The Whale director Catalina Arroyave Restrepo.
CherryPicks, which launched last year as an all-female critics platform for reviews, ratings and quality original content, had additional presence at this year’s festival hosting the conference panel, “What Makes Critics Love, or Hate A Movie.” Producer Miranda Bailey moderated a panel of lively conversation that included critics Monica Castillo, Thelma Adams and Sony Pictures Classics Co-President and Co-Founder Michael Barker.