The Audience Award for Best Narrative Film at the Middleburg Film Festival went to THE TWO POPES from director Fernando Meirelles and screenwriter Anthony McCarten, who also received the Festival’s Distinguished Screenwriter Award. The award for Best Documentary Film went to WILLIE about NHL legend, Willie O’Ree, who attended the festival with director Laurence Mathieu-Leger.
“Congratulations to our Audience Award winners THE TWO POPES and WILLIE,” said MFF Executive Director Susan Koch. “It is especially fitting in these divided times that our audiences chose to award THE TWO POPES, a film about two ideologically opposed men who find common ground and a way forward for the good of their institution, and WILLIE, the inspiring story of Willie O’Ree and the racism and other challenges hefaced as the first black hockey player in the NHL.”
Starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Pope Benedict, THE TWO POPES received standing ovations at both of its MFF screenings. Screenwriter Anthony McCarten (Darkest Hour, Bohemian Rhapsody) also participated in an in-depth career conversation with John Horn, host of KPCC’s The Frame.
WILLIE made its US premiere at a sold-out screening which was followed by a Q&A with O’Ree, director Laurence Mathieu-Leger, producer Bryant McBride and the film’s executive producer and Washington Capitals owner, Ted Leonsis, and moderated by Anson Carter, a retired Caps player turned sports analyst.