The Circle Award jury has selected the film Once Upon A Time in Calcutta, as the winner of the 2022 Circle Award. The jury felt that with this creation, director Aditya Vikram Sengupta has presented the film world with an artful masterpiece that offers diverse, yet intimate, portraits of the rich, the poor, and the disreputable residents of Calcutta, with the city itself playing a role that is both silent and robust. Through superb cinematography and lighting, the viewer gets a vivid sense of the oppressiveness of life for the city's underclass, as well as issues that are specific and universal. For these reasons this film deserves increased recognition.
The jury felt that the film Happening, directed by Audrey Diwan, deserves special mention for its compelling examination of the topic of abortion in France in 1963, which was illegal at the time. The director's thoughtful, stylistic approach deserves particular recognition, with camera following the lead character closely, creating an intimacy that bonds the viewer with her plight. Although this film transports us to the past—and to a foreign country—it reflects issues that have resonance in the United States today.
This film is an inspirational portrait of a community in Puerto Rico building back after the devastation of Hurricane Maria. It documents a spirit of self-empowerment and an attitude of determination to not only create, but improve and transform their circumstances. A team of youthful leaders thoughtfully design a novel and strategic approach to rebuilding. They galvanize their neighbors, families, and friends in reconstructing homes and lives in the town of Comerio. We Still Here serves as a model for communities seeking to take the reins when other expected resources have failed them. The energetic style of filmmaking captures your attention from the opening frame.
Justice Matters Award
The Committee would also like to give an Honorary Mention Award to Pureza and Director Renato Barbieri for his insightful, moving and revealing depiction of modern slave practices, the brutal treatment of workers in the Brazilian Amazon, and one woman's brave and determined pursuit to save her son from the grip of slavery.
The SIGNIS Award at Filmfest DC 2022 goes to The Right to Happiness. The heart of this gentle fable, told with superb cinematic skill and good humor, is a small used bookstore in a small town in Italy. Writer-director Claudio Rossi Massimi skillfully characterizes an elderly proprietor, Libero, who welcomes all customers with dignity and humanity no matter their politics, eccentricities or income. Especially in his mentoring of a young immigrant from Burkino Faso, he celebrates the world of the mind and the centrality of culture in making life worth living.
The Short Stories Award shines a light on emerging filmmakers whose artworks provide a rich, emotionally resonant experience that lingers and expands. This award carries with it a $1,000 prize to support the recipients in their next creative ventures.
This year's award goes to the impactful and empowering Sons of Toledo, a heart wrenching eulogy for all the young Black men lost to violence, which combines narrative and documentary forms, visual poetry and song to also portray a strong and caring community.
Congratulations to writer/director Monty Cole, writer/producer Matt Foss and producer Diana Perez Riveros.
We are pleased to announce for the first time this year, the MetroShorts Award. The MetroShorts program highlights the talents of DC area directors, writers and producers. This award also includes a $1,000 prize in support of the artistic development of the recipient.
The award goes to a creative documentary that immerses us in the auditory and tactile world of a blind man in his mission to record rare bird songs in the remote nature preserves of Colombia.
Congratulations to director/producer Johnny Holder and producer Pablo Camacho for Sonora, the recipient of the 2022 Filmfest DC MetroShorts Award.