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There Is No Evil, Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America Win Top Awards at the 47th Seattle International Film Festival

4/18/2021 |
SIFF Press Contact: Jessica Stehlin, Communications Director | jessica.stehlin@siff.net

There Is No Evil, Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America Win Top Awards at the 47th Seattle International Film Festival

There Is No Evil wins Golden Space Needle Audience Award for Best Film

Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America wins Golden Space Needle Audience Award for Best Documentary

Grand Jury Prizes go to Little Girl (Petit fille), Crowded, Souvenir Souvenir, Bruiser, This Is My Desire (Eyimofe), Fly So Far, Son of Monarchs, and The Earth is Blue as an Orange

SEATTLE—April 18, 2021—The Seattle International Film Festival (SIFF) today announced the winners of the 2021 Golden Space Needle Audience and Juried Competition Awards. The awards ceremony concluded SIFF's first-ever virtual festival, a groundbreaking moment in the organization's history. The 11-day Festival, which began April 8, featured over 200 films representing 69 countries, including 21 World premieres (5 features, 16 shorts), 21 North American premieres (13 features, 9 shorts), 18 US premieres (5 features, 13 shorts), in addition to 38 live filmmaker Q&As, roundtables and events.

“The last 11 days have been an incredible testament to the passion of filmmakers around the world, and their commitment to connecting to audiences through film and storytelling. SIFF-goers immersed themselves in the 220 films presented this year, many engaging with one of our 36 live Q&As, roundtable discussions, and forums, and traveling the world through the SIFF Channel,” said Beth Barrett, SIFF Artistic Director.

Festival Programming Manager Stan Shields added “Our programmers delivered a program that was broadly representative—films hailing from 69 countries of production, 56% of films directed by women, and more than 70% currently without US distribution. SIFF 2021 was a true discovery festival, with many first- and second-time filmmakers finding audiences and telling their stories.”

"I couldn't be more thrilled with the results of the 47th annual Seattle International Film Festival. I am especially proud of the SIFF team that pulled off the first ever virtual International Festival. There were so many amazing films. The momentum and dedication of the pass and ticket holders was inspiring. It felt great to receive so much positive energy and feedback. Many thanks to the SIFF Board, Members, Donors, Sponsors, and Partners for their support. Congratulations to the filmmakers, staff, and programmers on a great success," said Andrew Haines, SIFF Executive Director.


SIFF 2021 GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARD WINNERS

SIFF celebrates its films and filmmakers with the Golden Space Needle Audience Awards. Selected by Festival audiences, awards are given in four categories: Best Film, Best Documentary, Best Short Film, and the Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision. This year, over 10,000 votes were cast.

GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARD - BEST FILM
There Is No Evil |dir: Mohammad Rasoulof (Germany/Czech Republic/ Iran)

First runner-up: Under the Open Sky | dir. Miwa Nishikawa (Japan)
Second runner-up: Riders of Justice | dir. Anders Thomas Jensen (Denmark)
Third runner-up: Potato Dreams of America | dir. Wes Hurley (USA)
Fourth runner-up: When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit | dir. Caroline Link (Germany)

GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARD - BEST DOCUMENTARY
Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America | dir. Sarah Kunstler, Emily Kunstler (USA)

First runner-up: Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street | dir. Marilyn Agrelo (USA)
Second runner-up: Youth v Gov | dir. Christi Cooper (USA/New Zealand)
Third runner-up: Writing With Fire | dir. Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh (India)
Fourth runner-up: Little Girl | dir. Sébastien Lifshitz (France)

GOLDEN SPACE NEEDLE AWARD - BEST SHORT FILM
My Neighbor, Miguel | dir. Danny Navarro (USA)

First runner-up: Pluck | dir. Kirsty Griffin (Ngati Porou, Ngati Awa), Viv Kernick (New Zealand)
Second runner-up: Rogue | dir: Lina Larson (USA)
Third runner-up: Ethereal (Ka tatishtipatakanit) | dir: Isabelle Kanapé (Innu) (Canada)
Fourth runner-up: Intermission (Entracte) | dir: Anthony Lemaître (France)

LENA SHARPE AWARD FOR PERSISTENCE OF VISION
Under the Open Sky |dir. Miwa Nishikawa (Japan)

This award is given to the female director's film that receives the most votes in public balloting at the Festival. Lena Sharpe was co-founder and managing director of Seattle's Festival of Films by Women Directors and a KCTS-TV associate who died in a plane crash while on assignment. SIFF created this Award as a tribute to her efforts in bringing the work of women filmmakers to prominence.


SIFF 2021 FEATURE FILM COMPETITION AWARDS

SIFF confers five juried competition awards: Official Competition (FIPRESCI Prize), Ibero-American Competition, New Directors Competition, New American Cinema Competition, and Documentary Competition. The winners in each juried competition receive $2,500 in cash.

SIFF 2021 OFFICIAL COMPETITION
The SIFF Official Competition is juried by a team of international industry members, and are selected by SIFF programmers for their cinematic excellence. The jury was comprised of members of the FIPRESCI: Andrés Nazarala (Chile), Jim Slotek (Canada), Alexander Zwart (the Netherlands).

GRAND JURY PRIZE
Little Girl | dir. Sébastien Lifshitz (France)

Jury Statement: What all these movies had in common were their universal themes. Every one of them has a story that has to be told. But we were unanimous about our winner: one of the most cinematic documentaries we have ever encountered, a film so intimate and personal, it’s sometimes hard to believe it’s not a scripted drama with gifted actors giving transcendent
performances. Our winner is—in our opinion—the most current and relevant film we screened. It’s not only a film, but a plea for understanding. As transgender people announce themselves, the question of when their status should be confirmed is controversial to some. It seems sensible that self-realization is easier the earlier it occurs. But opponents argue that children
aren’t mature enough to have such self-awareness.

In this film eight-year-old Sasha makes her own case, simply by being herself. We are proud to present the Official Competition Grand Jury Prize and FIPRESCI Award to Sébastien Lifshitz for Little Girl.

2021 Entries:
Downstream to Kinshasa | dir .Dieudo Hamadi (Democratic Republic of Congo/France/Belgium)
Goddess of the Fireflies | dir. Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette [Canada (Québec)]
Little Girl | dir. Sébastien Lifshitz (France)
Sanremo | dir. Miroslav Mandić (Slovenia/Italy)
There Is No Evil | dir. Mohammad Rasoulof (Germany/Czech Republic/Iran)
Under the Open Sky | dir. Miwa Nishikawa (Japan)
When I’m Done Dying | dir. Nisan Dağ (Turkey/Germany)

SIFF 2021 IBERO-AMERICAN COMPETITION
The SIFF Ibero-American Competition aims to highlight the strength, creativity, and influence of storytelling in the region. The Ibero-American Competition is for films having their Seattle premiere during the Festival and without US distribution. The jury was comprised of: Alvaro Delgado Aparicio (director Retablo), Paul Hudson (Outsider Pictures), and Claudia Puig (film critic/Senior Programmer AFI Fest).

GRAND JURY PRIZE
Fly So Far (Nuestra libertad) | dir. Celina Escher (El Salvador/Sweden)

Jury Statement: For a compelling documentary focused on the efforts of 17 El Salvadoran women imprisoned for decades for terminated pregnancies, deemed “aggravated homicides” under El Salvadoran law. Led by Teodora Vasquez—sentenced to 30 years for a miscarriage after being mugged—the women unite and fuel a movement for reproductive rights chronicled here with stirring emotion. We proudly award the Grand Jury Prize to Fly So Far, directed by Celina Escher, for its deeply moving and visually stunning cinematic testament to indomitable courage.

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
The Dog Who Wouldn't Be Quiet (El perro que no calla) | dir. Ana Katz (Argentina)
Jury Statement: For its freshness, its innovative approach to film-making and its originality (and prescience) in storytelling, a Special Jury Mention goes to The Dog Who Wouldn't Be Quiet by Ana Katz.

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE FOR OUTSTANDING ACTING
Valentina | dir. Cássio Pereira dos Santos (Brazil)

Jury Statement: For doing justice to her complex character by finding the best way forward without sacrificing one's essence, and a heartfelt performance that will stay with the audience all the way, the Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Acting goes to Thiessa Woinbackk for the film Valentina.

2021 Entries:
Criollo | dir. Pablo Banchero (Uruguay)
Fly So Far | dir. Celina Escher (El Salvador/Sweden)
Nudo Mixteco | dir. Ángeles Cruz (Mexico)
Rebel Objects | dir. Carolina Arias Ortiz (Costa Rica/Colombia)
The Dog Who Wouldn’t Be Quiet | dir. Ana Katz (Argentina)
The Pink Cloud | dir. Iuli Gerbase (Brazil)
The Song of the Butterflies | dir. Núria Frigola Torrent (Peru)
Valentina | dir. Cássio Pereira dos Santos (Brazil)

SIFF 2021 NEW DIRECTORS COMPETITION
Festival programmers selected seven films remarkable for their original concept, striking style, and overall excellence. To be eligible, a film must be a director's first or second feature and without US distribution at the time of selection. The jury was comprised of: Pierre Menahem (Still Moving), Ioana Stais (Heretic Outreach), and Chris Wells (MUBI).

GRAND JURY PRIZE
This Is My Desire (Eyimofe) | dir. Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri (Nigeria)

Jury Statement: We're pleased to give the SIFF New Directors Grand Jury Prize to Eyimofe/This Is My Desire. This was a quick and unanimous decision for our jury. We agreed that from the very first shot, we knew this was a very special film. We couldn't believe this was a debut feature, given the maturity of its patient style, its gorgeous cinematography, the uniform strength of its performances. We found Eyimofe a deeply moving, richly textured portrait of life in Lagos, Nigeria, and hope this prize gives the film a greater chance to be seen by audiences around the world.

Congratulations to Arie Esiri and Chuko Esiri, and thank you for sharing this film with us and the world.

2021 Entries
Beans | dir. Tracey Deer (Canada)
Bebia, à mon seul désir | dir. Juja Dobrachkous (Georgia/United Kingdom)
Charter | dir. Amanda Kernell (Sweden)
The Salt In Our Waters | dir. Rezwan Shahriar Sumit (Bangladesh/France)
This Is My Desire | dir. Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri (Nigeria)
This Town | dir. David White (New Zealand)
Wisdom Tooth | dir. Liang MING (China)

SIFF 2021 NEW AMERICAN CINEMA COMPETITION
Festival programmers select eight films without US distribution at the time of selection that are sure to delight audiences looking to explore the exciting vanguard of New American Cinema to compete for Best New American Film. The jury was comprised of: Thelma Adams (film critic), Andrew Carlin (Oscilloscope Laboratories), and Garinah Nazarian (FilmRise).

GRAND JURY PRIZE
Son of Monarchs | dir. Alexis Gambis (USA/Mexico)
Jury Statement: The Grand Jury Prize goes to Son of Monarchs for an engrossing film about science and spirituality with a fresh image of the Mexican-American experience that dissolves conventional ideas about borders.

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Mother’s Milk | dir. Larry Powell, Nick Ducassi, Adriana DeGirolami, Kameron Neal, Bianca LaVerne Jones, Shinelle Azoroh, Alex Ander, John MacDonald, Lelund Durond Thompson (USA)
Jury Statement: The Special Jury Prize goes to Mother's Milk for challenging the traditional storytelling of cinema from a dynamic collective.

2021 Entries:
I’M FINE (Thanks for Asking) | dir. Kelley Kali, Angelique Molina (USA)
Mother’s Milk | dir. Larry Powell, Adriana DeGirolami, Kameron Neal, Bianca LaVerne Jones, Shinelle Azoroh, Alex Ander, John MacDonald, Lelund Durond Thompson (USA)
Potato Dreams of America | dir. Wes Hurley (USA)
Son of Monarchs | dir. Alexis Gambis (USA/Mexico)
Strawberry Mansion | dir. Albert Birney, Kentucker Audley (USA)
Topside | dir. Celine Held, Logan George (USA)
Waikiki | dir. Christopher Kahunahana (Kanaka Maoli) (USA)
Wyrm | dir. Christopher Winterbauer (USA)

SIFF 2021 DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION
Unscripted and uncut, the world is a resource of unexpected, informative, and altogether exciting storytelling. Documentary filmmakers have for years brought untold stories to life and introduced us to a vast number of fascinating topics we may never have known existed. The jury was comprised of: Opal Bennett (American Documentary / POV), Kristen Fitzpatrick (Field of Vision), and Marie-Therese Guirgis (Play/Action Pictures).

GRAND JURY PRIZE
The Earth is Blue as an Orange | dir. Iryna Tsilyk (Ukraine/Lithuania)

Jury Statement: For i’s uniquely vivid and poetic lens into the improbable conditions of everyday life for one family in conflict, the jury is so pleased to award the Grand Jury Prize to Irina Tsilyk for The Earth is Blue as an Orange. Tsilyk captures just how one can find the light shining through the cracks if you look for it.

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE
Writing With Fire | dir. Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh (India)

Jury Statement: The Jury gives a Special Jury Prize to Writing With Fire by Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh. The filmmakers not only tell a gripping and inspiring story of extraordinary women but they do so with cinematic elegance, palpable respect, and narrative sophistication. We hope that the remarkable story of “Khabar Lahariya” will be seen far and wide.

2021 Entries:
Captains of Zaatari | dir. Ali El Arabi (Egypt)
Chuck Connelly: Into the Light | dir. Benjamin Schwartz (USA)
Faya Dayi | dir. Jessica Beshir (Ethiopia/USA/Qatar)
The Earth is Blue as an Orange | dir. Iryna Tsilyk (Ukraine/Lithuania)
The Return: Life After ISIS | dir. Alba Sotorra Clua (Spain/United Kingdom)
Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America | dir. Emily Kunstler, Sarah Kunstler (USA)
Writing With Fire | dir. Rintu Thomas, Sushmit Ghosh (India)


SIFF 2021 YOUTH JURY FEATURES & FUTUREWAVE SHORTS AWARDS

SIFF presents films throughout the Festival curated for youth in our Films4Families and FutureWave feature programs with seven youth selected in each respective jury to award their favorite film within their category.

YOUTH JURY PRIZE FOR BEST FILMS4FAMILIES FEATURE
The Legend of Hei | dir. MTJJ (China)

Jury Statement: For its excellent animation and exciting action that grabbed our attention and its strong emotional character development and realistically-motivated villains.

Jury members: Sterling Bruno, Samara Desai, Nyssa Gupta, Jaylin Harris, and Gregory Robertson

YOUTH JURY PRIZE FOR BEST FUTUREWAVE FEATURE
Summertime | dir. Carlos López Estrada (USA)

Jury Statement: For an unconventional film that uses vibrant, colorful cinematography and an intertwined spoken word narrative to present an emotionally uplifting and relatable exploration of the meaning of home.

Jury members: Isabel Baraff, Zara Eng, Emmanuel Mendez, Abbey Moore, Nava Ruthfield, Matthew Toups, and Megan Wood

In addition, SIFF presents FutureWave Shorts, a program featuring filmmakers aged 18 and under. These inspiring original short films represent some of the best short filmmaking from around the world.

WAVEMAKER AWARD
Ambivalent | dir. Kayla Li (USA)

Jury Statement: With its thought-provoking experimentation with the medium and imaginative storytelling, Ambivalent stuck with us long after we finished watching. An exciting, emerging voice in film, we look forward to keeping up with Kayla’s future work.

Jury members: Natalie Jasmine Harris, Aaron Jin, and Amy Williams

FUTUREWAVE SHORTS AUDIENCE AWARD
A Really Dark Comedy | dir. Manasi Ughadmathe (USA)


SIFF 2021 SHORT FILM JURY PRIZES

All short films shown at the Festival are eligible for both the Golden Space Needle Audience Award and the Juried Shorts Competition. Jurors chose winners in the Live Action, Animation, and Documentary categories. Each jury winner receives $500, and winners in each of the three categories may also qualify to enter their respective films in the Short Film category of the Academy Awards®. The Short Film: Live Action jury was comprised of: Aaron Hunt (DEZDA Films), Celine Roustan (Palm Springs ShortFest), and Millián Vázquez-Ortiz (Freak Independent Film Agency). The Short Film: Animation and Short Film: Documentary jury was comprised of: Missy Laney (Adult Swim), Marina Richter (Ubiquarian), and Farihah Zaman (filmmaker, critic, curator).

SHORT FILM - LIVE ACTION
GRAND JURY PRIZE
Bruiser | dir. Miles Warren (USA)

Jury Statement: In the midst of many admirable works, the jury was particularly taken by Bruiser's visceral style, realistic performances, and its examination of generational violence between a father and son.

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE FOR DIRECTION
Breaking Ground | dir. Inès Girihirwe (Rwanda)

Jury Statement: A Special Jury mention to Inès Girihirwe for directing with spartan economy, an unaffected aesthetic, and an ensemble cast the viewer doesn’t doubt for a second.

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE FOR SOUND DESIGN & CINEMATOGRAPHY
The Pond, At Night | dir. Olivia Bordreau [Canada (Québec)]

Jury Statement: A Special Jury mention for Julien Fontaine’s outstanding cinematography and Frédéric Cloutier’s immersive sound design that dives you deeply into the story and guides you throughout the whole film.

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE FOR PERFORMANCE
Are You Still There? | dir. Rayka Zehtabchi, Sam Davis (USA)

Jury Statement: A Special Jury mention for Safa Tarifi's emotionally raw performance who brings a deeply touching sincerity and compelling depth to her character.

SHORT FILM - DOCUMENTARY
GRAND JURY PRIZE
Souvenir Souvenir | dir. Bastien Dubois (France)

Jury Statement: In this exceptionally sensitive, beautifully rendered documentary short, a filmmaker haunted by the idea of his grandfather’s participation in the French War in Algeria spends years attempting to eke more information from his family, and learns that ‘truth’ and ‘acceptance’ can look very different than we expect in searching for them. An emotionally raw, distinctly voiced and drawn film that questions the line between hard fact and subjective experience, and dares to investigate what generational trauma looks in the families of colonial powers...

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE FOR DIRECTION
Breaches | dir. Maria Elorza, Koldo Almandoz (Spain)

Jury Statement: We would also like to recognize another documentary short for its deeply affecting combination of complex technique and compassionate storytelling, which uplifted a subject who has overcome great challenges rather than reduce her to simply a victim. A film that is poignant yet playful, deftly edited without ever losing sight of the emotional arc; we would like to give the Special Jury Prize for Direction to Maria Elorza and Koldo Almandoz for their film Breaches.

SHORT FILM - ANIMATION
GRAND JURY PRIZE
Crowded | dir. Nathania Rubin (the Netherlands)

Jury Statement: The Grand Jury Prize for animated short goes to a film that creatively explores the themes of impermanence, both in artistic form and enigmatic storytelling, by skillfully heightening the senses with its evocative tone and cheeky character, all while bearing witness to life's greatest transformation.

On behalf of the esteemed jury, congratulations to the filmmaking team behind the animated short Crowded.

SPECIAL JURY PRIZE FOR ACHIEVEMENT IN PUPPETRY
The Haunted Swordsman | dir. Kevin McTurk (USA)

Jury Statement: Every detail is meticulously studied and choreographed - the body movement, wrinkles around the corner of the mouth, or the gaze. For the masterful puppetry work in his short animation The Haunted Swordsman, our Special Jury Prize goes to Kevin McTurk.