Nota Bene

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Apr 26, 2015

And the Award Goes to . . . (OMG, Not Another White Male!) My Picks for the Best of Tribeca Film Festival

A still from Paz Fabrega's Viaje that screened at this year's Tribeca Film Festival. (Photo courtesy of TFF.)
In my Film Journal International feature on gender balance at the Tribeca Film Festival, I applauded the programmers for their inclusion of women filmmakers, but the major awards, with the exception of Camilla Nielsson in the documentary category (for Democrats), and the Nora Ephron prizes that recognize the work of women filmmakers, all went to white males. Laura Bispuri’s Sworn Virgin, a terrific quest film in the Narrative competition, won the Ephron prize. Another movie, about a 43 year-old white, male virgin, Dagur K├íri’s Virgin Mountain, was awarded best narrative.

The audience award went to Felix Thompson’s King Jack, a male coming-of-age movie. While TFF cannot be held entirely accountable for the choice of its New York audience, institutional biases are apparent in Tribeca Talks (which included Thompson), and in TFF’s gala choices and special screenings, all devoted to white males, including the Monty Python troupe and Martin Scorsese's Goodfellas. These events and their dearth of women filmmakers undoubtedly influenced audiences, jurors, and industry attendees that include distributors and theater owners. Press coverage is profoundly affected by who is invited to speak at these festival events, and by those invited as hosts, the majority of whom were white and male. The circumstances I describe here comprise a study in the ways in which women filmmakers are shortchanged in every aspect of the movie industry--even in audience awards.

Here are my Tribeca “awards” for films written or directed by women and/or those that are women-centered:

Narrative Films:

Best Cinematic Quest for Identity: Sworn Virgin (writer-director, Laura Bispuri)

Best Film: Sworn Virgin
Runner-Up: Meadowland (director, cinematographer, Reed Morano)

Best Cinematography: Viaje (writer-director, cinematographer, Paz Fabrega) and Meadowland (Reed Morano)

Best Sound Mix, Sound Design: Meadowland

Best Actor in a Leading Role: Alba Rohrwacher in Sworn Virgin

Best Actors in Supporting Roles: Paz de la Huerta in Bare (Natalia Leite, writer-director) and Zosia Mamet in Bleeding Heart (Diane Bell, writer-director)

Documentaries:

Best Cinematic Quest for Identity: Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict (Lisa Immordino Vreeland)

Best by a Woman: Democrats (Camilla Nielsson)

Best about a Woman: Roseanne Barr for President (Eric Weinrib)

Best about a Girl: Toto and His Sisters (Alexander Nanau)

Best Produced by Women: The Birth of Sake, Masako Tsumura (Erik Shirai, director) and Havana Motor Club, Zelmira Gainza (Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt, director)

 At this writing only Sworn Virgin will receive a theatrical release through distributor Strand Releasing.