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Frances McDormand in the film NOMADLAND.
Frances McDormand in the film NOMADLAND. Photo Courtesy of Searchlight Pictures. © 2020 20th Century Studios All Rights Reserved

The 21st Woodstock Film Festival announced the winners of its annual Maverick Awards competition, with Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao winning the award for Best Narrative Feature and Los Hermanos/The Brothers, directed by Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider winning for Best Documentary Feature

21st Woodstock Film Festival Winners

Nomadland, directed by Chloé Zhao

Special Mention for Best Emerging Director
I Carry You With Me, directed by Heidi Ewing

William Fichtner, Celine Rattray, Sabine Hoffman

Jury Statement
An unobtrusive vision; one rich in humanity and with a raw and honest depiction of a widowed nomad (phenomenal: Frances McDormand), the film carries an enticing gaze into the basic questions of individual emotion and resonates deeply in our current economic landscape. Carefully aided by beautiful and subtle cinematography and score, Chloé Zhao’s filmmaking has a soft facade that is wholeheartedly powerful and provoking throughout.Encompassing warmth, instinct, belief and courage I Carry You With Me reassures that filmmaking can echo love so delicately. Capturing the perseverance of life’s journeys with astonishing cinematography and chemistry in the performances, elegantly weaving time and layering depth in her characters, we recognize Heidi Ewing’s remarkable talent as a thriving narrative filmmaker.

Los Hermanos/The Brothers, directed by Marcia Jarmel and Ken Schneider

Honorable Mention
Coded Bias, directed by by Shalini Kantayya

Pamela Yates, David France, Cynthia Lopez

Jury Statement
Here is a purely celebratory film that at the same time biopsies political expedience and nationalism; a film about love — for family, for art, for country — that is deeply layered with injustice as well as resilience; here is a film about forced separation that made us want to dance. All of the films in competition moved us deeply, but Los Hermanos/The Brothers, a hopeful, soaring, and beautifully-made documentary, was this jury’s top choice. The combination of urgency and creativity in Coded Bias cinematically represents the idea that those who control the digital world have an entrenched cultural bias.Led by a stellar cast of women, Coded Bias is entertaining, scary and illuminating.

Rosa, directed by Suha Araj, part of the “Unsettled” shorts program

Peter Saraf, Katherine, Dieckmann, Thelma Adams

Jury Statement
Rosa represents a female voice we haven’t heard before, and takes us on a journey with a female character that we also haven’t seen before. The film blends formal assurance with depth and strength in the performances, balancing subject matter as disparate as flowers and corpses, but still speaking with total tonal confidence. Rosa’s narrative integrity as a short made it stand out, and it always kept us intrigued, by veering off in directions we never anticipated or expected.

A tie between A Youth, directed by Giorgio Bosisio, and Dafa Metti (Difficult), directed by Tal Amiran, both part of the “Dislocation” shorts program.

Anne Rosellini, Cynthia Kane, Hugo Perez

Jury Statement
Cynthia, Anne, and I were happy to serve as the jury for the 2020 Documentary Shorts section. We found the quality of the selections excellent across the board, and it was difficult for us to decide which one film to honor. In the end, we decided on a tie between two short documentaries dealing with the issue of immigration: Giorgio Bosiso’s A Youth and Tal Amiran’s Dafa Metti. In these two films, the filmmakers were able with great intimacy and empathy to allow us to step into the lives of their subjects. We were moved by both films, and in the end wished to lift them both up, and so it is our great privilege to be able to bestow this year’s Best Documentary Short award to these two excellent films.

Best Narrative Student Short went to Trumpet, directed by Kevin Haefelin. Best Documentary Student Short went to Against the Current directed by Daunnette Moniz-Reyome.

Honorable Mention
Mercury Afrograde, directed by Blanche Akonchong

Leah Meyerhof, Jamie Zelermyer, Declan Baldwin

Jury Statement
We are thrilled to present the award for Best Documentary Student Short film to Against the Current. The film is a beautiful celebration of Native American ritual, culture and humanity. This is a film both about reflecting on one’s self and the community as a whole. Expertly crafted by Daunnette Moniz-Reyome who at only 17 years old directed and narrated the documentary along with also being the cinematographer. Daunette has a long career ahead of her and we can’t wait to see what she makes next! Trumpet, a student film directed by Kevin Haefelin has been honored, first as an official selection to the Woodstock Film Festival and now as its Best Student Short Film. Trumpet is a fresh, well crafted, and funny look into what can happen when someone is separated from their devices and plastic cards in the dead of night in an unfamiliar city. We are honored to present an Honorable Mention in the Student Shorts category to Mercury Afrograde, a charming portrayal of sisters grappling with family secrets as they realize they are not the model African family. Sensitively crafted with nuanced performances, this comedic family drama brings an emotional complexity to characters rarely seen on the big screen. Writer/Director Blanche Akonchong is a true talent to watch and we are excited to see where her career takes her next.

Rotten Ears, directed byPiotr Dylewski

Harris Doran, John Swab, Mollye Asher

Jury Statement
For its uniqueness of vision, grounded by a riveting narrative that dives deep into the psychological nuance of relationships; its command of style, dynamic camera direction, and captivating performances, the Ultra Indie Competition award goes to Rotten Ears.

Beyond Noh, directed by Patrick Smith and Kaori Ishida

Honorable Mention
Grand Adventure Railroad, directed by Hsiao-Shan Huang

Joy Buran, Noelle Melody

Jury Statement
This year may have looked a little different for the Animation Program, but we were so excited to share this fantastic selection of shorts virtually with our beloved audience. These films made us laugh, cry, and want to see more from each and every one of these animation directors. This makes our choosing a winner difficult, but we have decided that this is a pretty wonderful problem to have. The film we’ve chosen for Best Animated Short is exciting in style, skillful in craft, and we can’t think of another year where the imagery would be more relevant. The award for Best Animated Short goes to Beyond Noh by Patrick Smith and Kaori Ishida.We also want to recognize the Honorable Mention. Along with its meticulous attention to detail and combination of mediums, this story unfolds in a new, surprising way. The award for Honorable Mention goes to Grand Adventure Railroad by Hsiao-Shan Huang.

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