Ann Arbor, MI – After wrapping another successful 10 day film festival, Cinetopia International Film Festival today announced the 2016 winners of the six Audience and Festival Director Awards, as well as the four awards for the Detroit Voices short film competition.
The 5th annual festival attracted approximately 22,000 attendees to venues across Detroit, Dearborn and Ann Arbor, including several popular outdoor film screenings. After more than 120 screenings of 54 films, the votes were tallied and the winning films are:
Audience Award- Narrative: Hunt for the Wilderpeople
SAM NEILL and newcomer JULIAN DENNISON make the perfect pair as a grudgingly supportive foster uncle and the young misfit in this coming-of-age and buddy comedy of the year set in the New Zealand bush.
Audience Award- Documentary: Maya Angelou and Still I Rise
Surprisingly, writer, poet, and activist MAYA ANGELOU has never been the subject of a feature-length documentary – until now. Made by Bob Hercules and first-time filmmaker Rita Coburn, this is a perceptive portrait of a woman who endured a myriad of childhood traumas only to emerge as a singular voice for the empowerment of women and African-Americans, working alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Made over a four-year period, the filmmakers were able to interview Angelou herself prior to her death in 2014, allowing us to once again hear her elegant yet powerful voice.
Audience Award- Foreign Language: Landfill Harmonic
Life near one of the largest South American landfills may seem grim, but the children in this inspiring documentary prove that with resourcefulness and optimism, anything is possible. Recognizing the need in this Paraguayan community, a local man created the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a children’s orchestra with instruments made entirely out of garbage. This inspiring and uplifting film showcases the power in music and the magic that can happen when children chase their wildest dreams.
Festival Director’s Award- Narrative: Operator
Written and directed by Ann Arbor natives Logan Kibens and Sharon Greene, this film tells the story of Joe (MARTIN STARR) who on the surface seems a balanced, everyday guy, all thanks to the support of his level-headed wife Emily (MAE WHITMAN) and his obsession with the quantifiable self. After a major project at work goes awry for him and his best friend Gregg (NAT FAXON), Joe enlists the help of his wife, putting Joe’s home life into a conundrum. With his mother (CHRISTINE LAHTI) adding to the situation just by just being her lovable self, and Emily beginning to see what she really wants out of life, Joe may now need to carry this one over to a new set of values.
Festival Director’s Award- Documentary: Tyrus
The beauty of life is painted remarkably onto the screen through the incredible palette of the 105 years-young Tyrus Wong. The film takes the viewer into the world of a Chinese immigrant to the USA who not only overcame prejudice, but persevered to become one of the most culturally relevant artists today. As an artist in Hollywood, Wong inspired Walt Disney and helped bring us the delicate, majestic beauty of Bambi. Director Pamela Tom gives a rare, candid look at this unique man for our time.
Festival Director’s Award- Foreign Language: Parched
In a rural Indian village, three female friends bond over their various struggles in the male-dominated, oppressive society they share. Writer/director Leena Yadav weaves a universal story of the pain, violence, and discrimination that women experience, as well as the hopes and joy. Set against the parched background of Gujarat, India and with stunning cinematography by RUSSELL CARPENTER (Titanic), Yadav has created a story and visual experience as beautiful as it is bittersweet.
Additionally, the Detroit Voices Short Film Competition Awards were announced. A continuing force in the Cinetopia Film Festival mission, Detroit Voices provides the opportunity for local filmmakers to share their talent and Michigan perspective with a larger audience. The competition has two categories: high school filmmakers and adult filmmakers. Cash awards are made possible by sponsors John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.
Knight Jury Prize – $3,000 cash award
Five Windows by Daniel and Adam Cooper
An assassin methodically sets up his next hit but all may not be as it seems in this nail biting thriller.
Michigan Film & Digital Media Audience Choice Award – $1,500 cash award
The Supplier by Brian Knight
Straight-laced law student Taylor must reconsider her beliefs on the drug war when she is faced with an old flame.
Best High School Film Award – $1,000 cash award
Girls Don’t Cry Wolf by Madison Douglas
Dedicated to survivors of sexual assault, this triumphant music video will have you singing the message of female empowerment.
Honorable Mention – $500 cash award
#FoodToDieFor by Cole Wiand
In a world of cell phones and Instagram, this short asks, what are we sacrificing in order to be consumed by social media?
The Cinetopia International Film Festival would not be possible without the generous support of title sponsors University of Michigan Health System and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and presenting sponsors, Opportunity Detroit, Masco Foundation, and Comerica Bank.
Media support has been made possible by Detroit Public Television, WXYZ Detroit, Detroit Free Press, WDET, Metro Times, Hour Detroit, WEMU, 107one, Crain’s Detroit, Michigan Public Radio, Pride Source, Renaissance Media, Issue Media Group, and the Ann Arbor Observer.
Further important support of the Cinetopia Film Festival was provided by Yeti Coolers, Morningstar Farms, and charter sponsors Dickinson Wright, Michigan Film & Digital Media Office, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, the Washtenaw County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, State Street District, and the Ford Motor Company Fund; along with vital support from sponsors Arbor Networks, Meijer, Domino’s, Alaskan Brewing Company, and these departments at the University of Michigan: Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia in partnership with the Islamic Studies Program, the Center for Japanese Studies, the Center for Chinese Studies, the Confucius Institute, and the Center for World Performance.
Source: Cinetopia Film Festival