Circle Award

The Circle Award is a juried competition of selected films that deserve increased recognition. The Circle Award is named in honor of Ted and Jim Pedas, founders of Washington's Circle Theatres, which set the standard for innovative quality film programming in Washington, DC. Films selected for this year's competition include:

The Award Jury consists of:

  • Felix Angel: Former curator, Inter-American Development Bank
  • Judy Hallet: Documentary Filmmaker
  • Manjula Kumar: President/Executive Director, Global Performing Arts
  • Gregory McGruder: National Geographic Society
  • Peggy Parsons: Head, Department of Film, National Gallery of Art

Justice Matters

When an individual or group has experienced an injustice, filmmakers use their talents and craft to make us aware and call us to take action.

We want to thank the CrossCurrents Foundation for their support in helping to make this series possible.

Films selected for this year's Justice Matters series include:

    Coup 53

  • Coup 53 (UK, Iran, USA) directed by Taghi Amirani
  • La Llorona (Guatemala) directed by Jayro Bustamante
  • Máxima (USA, Peru) directed by Claudia Sparrow
  • Pureza (Brazil) directed by Renato Barbieri
  • Resisterhood (USA) directed by Cheryl Jacobs Crim
  • We Have Boots (USA, Hong Kong) directed by Evans Chan ( - previously shown in Filmfest DC At Home

The award jury consists of:

  • Mokhless Al-Hariri: President, Georgetown Design Group, Inc.
  • Jennifer Johnson, Esq.
  • Conrad Martin: Executive Director, Stewart R. Mott Foundation and Executive Director of the Fund for Constitutional Government

Impact Project

Many independent filmmakers passionately focus on telling stories that spotlight issues of social justice. In recognition of their creators' commitment to share these important themes with the broadest possible segment of the public, the social justice films in Filmfest DC will be the focus of a special initiative to bring these works to a wider audience in our area.

This project is conceived and directed by Linda Blackaby, Filmfest DC's senior programming consultant, and is supported by a grant from the Wyncote Foundation.

Filmfest DC Audience Award

Filmfest DC will present two audience awards: one to the feature film and one to the documentary voted the most popular by our audience. Ballots will be available after each screening.

Be a part of the movie buzz, join the Washington, DC Film Society! Go to for more information

Signis Award

The SIGNIS jury will present an award to the film judged by its jury to best illuminate and celebrate what it means to be human in a diverse and challenging world.


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Filmfest DC
P.O. Box 21396
Washington, DC 20009

202-234-FILM (3456)

Past Filmfest DC Awards

Audience Award Winners

2019BalloonMichael HerbigGermany
DocumentaryIt Must Schwing! The Blue Note StoryEric FriedlerGermany
2018Tulipani: Love, Honor, and a BicycleMike van DiemNetherlands, Italy and Canada
DocumentaryGrace Jones: Bloodlight and BamiSophie FiennesUSA
2017At the End of the TunnelRodrigo GrandeArgentina, Spain
DocumentaryLast Men in Aleppodirector Feras Fayyad,
co-director Steen Johannessen
Denmark, Syria
2016The IdolHany Abu-AssadUK, Palestine, Qatar, Netherlands, UAE
DocumentaryOur Last TangoGerman KralArgentina
2015Margarita, with a StrawShonali BoseIndia
DocumentaryTap WorldDean HargroveUSA
2014BelleAmma AsanteUK
DocumentaryGore Vidal: The United States of AmnesiaNicholas WrathallUSA
2013Touch of the LightChang Jung-ChiTaiwan, Hong Kong
DocumentaryWho Cares?Mara MourãoBrazil
2012Monsieur LazharPhilippe FalardeauCanada
DocumentaryMarleyKevin MacDonaldUK
2011The HedgehogMona AchacheFrance
DocumentaryThe Green WaveAli Samadi AhadiGermany
2010Soundtrack for a RevolutionBill Guttentag, Dan SturmanUSA
2009Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I LoveChai VasarhelyiSenegal, France, Egypt, USA
2008KatynAndrzej WajdaPoland
2007The Cats of MirikitaniLinda HattendorfUSA
2006Music Is My Life, Politics My Mistress: Oscar Brown Jr.donnie l. bettsUSA
2005Innocent VoicesLuis MandokiMexico
2004Paper ClipsJoe Fab, Elliot BerlinUSA
Dance Cuba: Dreams of FlightCynthia Newport, Barbara Kopple, Boris Ivan CrespoUSA
2003TogetherChen KaigeChina, South Korea
2002The Ballad of Bering StraitNina Gilden SeaveyUSA, Japan
The TunnelRoland Suso RichterGermany
2001HimalayaEric ValliFrance, Switzerland, UK
LumumbaRaoul PeckFrance, Belgium, Germany, Haiti
2000Genghis BluesRoko & Adrian BelicUSA
1999Buena Vista Social ClubWim WendersGermany, USA
1998WindhorsePaul WagnerUSA
1997Shall We Dance?Masayuki SuoJapan
1996Celestial ClockworkFina TorresFrance, Venezuela
W.E.B. Du Bois: A Biography in Four VoicesLouis MassiahUSA
1995The Incredibly True Adventure of Two Girls in LoveMaria MaggentiUSA

Circle Award Winners

2019ProfileTimur BekmambetovUSA, UK, Russia, Cyprus
2018WajibAnnemarie JacirPalestine, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Colombia, France, Germany, Norway
Special Jury AwardThe GuiltyGustav MöllerDenmark
2017The PreacherMagdy Ahmed AliEgypt
Special Jury AwardA Window to RosáliaCaroline LeoneBrazil, Argentina
2015Margarita, with a StrawShonali BoseIndia
Special Jury AwardGod Loves the FighterDamian MarcanoTrinidad, Tobago
2014The VerdictJan VerheyenBelgium
Special Jury AwardRock the CasbahLaila MarrakchiFrance, Morocco
2013The DeepBaltasar KormákurIceland
Special Jury AwardShun Li and the PoetAndrea SegreItaly
2012Facing MirrorsNegar AzarbayjaniIran
Special Jury AwardFound MemoriesJulia MuratBrazil, Argentina, France
2011A Brand new LifeOunie LecomteSouth Korea, France
2010ZeroPawel BorowskiPoland
Special Jury AwardAutumn AdagioTsuki InoueJapan
2009SnowAida BegicBosnia-Herzegovina, Germany, France, Iran
Special Jury AwardThe Necessities of LifeBenoit PilonCanada
2008Paloma's DelightNadir MoknecheAlgeria, France
Special Jury AwardLa ZonaRodrigo PláSpain, Mexico
2007Red RoadAndrea ArnoldUnited Kingdom, Denmark
2006October 17, 1961Alain TasmaFrance
Special Jury AwardThree TimesHou Hsiao-HsienTaiwan
2005The HeroZeze GamboaAngola

Signis Award

2019One Last DealKlaus HäröFinland
Special CommendationsSupa ModoLikarion WainainaKenya, Germany
2018Outside InLynn SheltonUSA
Special CommendationsA Season in FranceMahamat-Saleh HarounFrance
Special CommendationsTulipani: Love, Honor, and a BicycleMike van DiemNetherlands, Italy, Canada
2017The NetKim Ki-dukSouth Korea
2016Paths of the SoulZhang YangChina
Special CommendationsBehaviorErnesto DarnasCuba
2015Me and Earl and the Dying GirlAlfonso Gomez-RejonUSA
Special CommendationsTodayReza MirkarimiIran
Special CommendationsThe Dark HorseJames Napier RobertsonNew Zealand
2014Rock the CasbahLaila MarrakchiFrance, Morocco
2013The New WorldJaap van HeusdenNetherlands
Special CommendationsParis Under WatchCédric JimenezFrance
Special CommendationsLa Playa DCJuan Andrés ArangoColombia
2012The Snows of KilimanjaroRobert GuediguianFrance
Special CommendationsMonsieur LazharPhilippe FalardeauCanada
2011BardsongsSander FranckenThe Netherlands
2010Saviors in the NightLudi BoekenFrance
2009DeparturesYojiro TakitaJapan
Special CommendationsThe Necessities of LifeBenoit PilonCanada
Special CommendationsKabeiYoji YamadaJapan

CrossCurrents Foundation Justice Matters Award

2019¡Las Sandinistas!Jenny MurrayNicaragua, USA
2018Naila and the UprisingJulia BachaPalestine
2017150 MilligramsEmmanuelle BercotFrance
Honorable MentionThe Good PostmanTonislav HristovFinland, Bulgaria
2016IxcanulJayro BustamanteFrance, Guatemala
2015Limited PartnershipThomas MillerUSA
2014Al Helm: Martin Luther King in PalestineConnie FieldUSA
2013Fire in the BloodDylan Mohan GrayIndia
2012Granito: How to Nail a DictatorPamela YatesUSA
2011Crime After CrimeYoav PotashUSA
2010The Balibo ConspiracyRobert ConnollyAustralia

First Feature Audience Award

2019Simple WeddingSara ZandiehUSA
DocumentaryFading PortraitsAli ShilandariIran
2018No: A Flamenco TaleJose Luis TiradoSpain
Honorable MentionHotel SalvationShubhashish BhutianiIndia
2017Behind the CloudsCecilia VerheydenBelgium
2016MagallanesSalvador del SolarPeru, Columbia, Argentina, Spain
2015Happy TimesLuis Javier M. HenaineMexico
2014Harmony LessonsEmir BaigazinGermany, France, Kazakhstan
2013Check MateJosé María CabralDominican Republic
2012Abu, Son of AdamSalim AhmedIndia

Shorts Award

20194 CornersAndre MuirUSA
2018A Brief Spark Bookended by DarknessBrent GreenUSA
Honorable MentionReturnPang-chuan HuangFrance
2017The Law of AveragesElizabeth RoseCanada, USA
Visions of an IslandSky HopinkaUSA
2016Nkosi CoiffureFederike MigomBelgium
Honorable MentionWifey ReduxRobert MckeonIreland
2015The Secret World of FoleyDaniel JewelUK
2014SeasickEva CvijanovicCanada