HIFF25: Awards

Congratulations to this year’s talented filmmakers! We celebrated this year’s jury selections at our annual HIFF Awards Ceremony on October 9, and we are honored to celebrate all our filmmakers’ fresh voices and vital work.

HIFF Competition AwardsAudience AwardsFilms of Conflict & ResolutionCompassion, Justice & Animal RightsViews From Long IslandRabinowitz AwardTangerine EntertainmentStudent Film Awards

HIFF Competition Awards

Our Competition Awards honor emerging directors from around the world in narrative feature, documentary feature, and short film competition sections. Juried by world-class filmmakers and industry professionals, these competitions represent the important, provocative premieres by cinema’s next wave of master filmmakers.

> Meet the Jury here.

HIFF Award for Best Narrative Feature

Selected by the narrative jury, the HIFF Award for Best Narrative Feature Film rewards an emerging director with a film production package of in-kind goods and services, with a total value of over $132,500, and a cash prize of $3,000. We’re thrilled to highlight this year’s exciting and eclectic group of fresh talents.

Under the Tree 650UNDER THE TREE

“UNDIR TRÉNU”
Directed by Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson
East Coast Premiere | Iceland / Denmark / Poland / Germany
“Love thy neighbor” does not apply in the Iceland suburbs of UNDER THE TREE. After his wife kicks him out of the house, Atli (Steinþór Hróar Steinþórsson) stays with his parents—just as the passive aggressive hostility with their neighbors is ramping up over a large tree in the yard. Director Hafsteinn Gunnar Sigurðsson establishes character dynamics with jabs to the gut and enough dark humor to quell the uneasiness in your stomach. With a moody score and sound design that sways between the tension and release of the scenes, you may find yourself nervously laughing the next time you want to talk to your neighbors about the noise. Iceland’s official submission for the Oscar® for Best Foreign Film.


HIFF Award for Best Documentary Feature

ID_Logo 75The HIFF Award for Best Documentary Feature Film is selected from this year’s five award contenders by the documentary jury; the winner receives a film production package of in-kind goods and services, with a total value of over $30,000, and a cash prize of $3,000. Sponsored by Investigation Discovery (ID) Films.

Lots of Kids Monkey Castle 650LOTS OF KIDS, A MONKEY AND A CASTLE

“Muchos Hijos, un Mono y un castillo”
Directed by Gustavo Salmerón
New York Premiere | Spain
Julita Salmerón’s biggest wishes in life were to have lots of children and a pet monkey, and to live in a castle. Gustavo Salmerón’s humorously candid film follows his mother, and the rest of their family, as they rummage through the vast family archive over a period of fifteen years. She reflects on the dreams she managed to fulfill, along with the lingering effects of the economic crisis that forced her to almost lose it all. Filled with moments of warmth and sincerity, LOTS OF KIDS, A MONKEY, AND A CASTLE is a touching documentary about an eccentric, otherworldly family facing up to the harsh economic realities of living in contemporary Spain.


HIFF Award for Best Short Narrative Film

Dekalb Elementary 650The Narrative Short film winner will take home a cash prize of $500 and qualify for Academy Award® consideration. HIFF is proud of the many short film winners from past festivals that have gone onto successful careers and that have won Oscars. Recent shorts from the last few editions include the Oscar-winning films FEAST and THE PHONE CALL as well as the Oscar nominated films THE BIGGER PICTURE; BUTTER LAMP; GET A HORSE; PAPERMAN; ASAD; and HEAD OVER HEALS. Selected by the Narrative Jury.

DEKALB ELEMENTARY
Directed by Reed Van Dyk
New York Premiere | USA
A thrilling moment between two strangers—inspired by a real 911 call placed during a school shooting incident in Atlanta, Georgia.

HIFF Award for Best Short Documentary Film

Edith Eddie 650The Documentary Short film winner will take home a cash prize of $500. HIFF is proud of the many short film winners from past festivals that have gone onto successful careers and that have won Oscars. Four shorts from recent editions were nominated for Academy Awards® in the short documentary category, including LAST DAY OF FREEDOM; MONDAYS AT RACINE; OPEN HEART; KINGS POINT; and Lucy Walker’s THE TSUNAMI AND THE CHERRY BLOSSOM, which made its US Premiere at HIFF. Selected by the Documentary Jury.

EDITH+EDDIE

Directed by Laura Checkoway
New York Premiere | USA
The unusual and idyllic romance of Edith and Eddie—America’s oldest interracial newlyweds—is challenged by a family dispute that threatens to tear the couple apart.

Audience Awards

Through Festival-wide balloting, HIFF25 audiences will select their favorite films in three categories.

Best Narrative Feature Fillm
Best Documentary Feature Film
Best Short Film

The Brizzolara Family Foundation Award for a Film of Conflict & Resolution

18 years ago, HIFF Board member Kim Brizzolara founded the Films of Conflict & Resolution section. Ever since this program has been dedicated to showcasing films that deal with the complex issues and societal effects of war and violence, and the attendant human dramas, in creative ways. The 2017 Films of Conflict & Resolution (C&R) program includes four feature films and a program of short films that call on the audience to learn, react, and engage in worthy causes.

This award recognizes one of the feature films in the series with a cash prize of $5,000 from the Brizzolara Family Foundation and a panel discussion after its screening, encouraging dialogue and action.

We have shown many films in this section that have gone on to significant acclaim, including THE SQUARE (Oscar® nominee); WAR WITCH (Oscar nominee); THE FOG OF WAR (Oscar winner); NOWHERE IN AFRICA (Oscar Winner, U.S. Premiere); NO MAN’S LAND (Oscar winner); RABBIT A LA BERLIN (Oscar nominee), BULLYRISING FROM ASHES (World Premiere); CHRONICLE OF A DISAPPEARANCE; CITY OF LIFE AND DEATH (U.S. Premiere); SISTERS IN LAW; and many more.

WINNER: 2017 Brizzolara Family Foundation Award
Liberian Government Troops Push Back RebelsHONDROS

USA/Iraq/Liberia/Libya | Director: Greg Campbell

Known for his probing and humane coverage of countries ravaged by conflict, Chris Hondros was one of the world’s most acclaimed war photographers when killed in action at the age of 41. Director Greg Campbell thoughtfully retraces Hondros’s numerous assignments to war-torn nations, with a visceral understanding of the invaluable power of photojournalism. Featuring interviews with Chris’s colleagues and subjects, Campbell creates a stirring portrait of the life of a pioneering photographer who committed himself to bearing witness to the human condition, to ennobling the suffering of others, and to telling their stories with compassion.

Zelda Penzel “Giving Voice to the Voiceless” Award:
Dedicated to those who suffer in silence

Presented to a film in the Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights section that raises public awareness about the moral and ethical treatment and the rights of animals, as well as environmental protection; a film that inspires compassion and compels social change. The award, accompanied by a cash prize of $2,500, is given by Zelda Penzel, long time educator, advocate for animal rights, and a volunteer at HIFF since its inception.

Previous winners include Virunga (Oscar® Nominee), The ChampionsEmptying the Skies, and HBO’s One Nation, Under Dog. 

WINNER: 2017 ZELDA PENZEL “GIVING VOICE TO THE VOICELESS” AWARD

THE LAST PIG (HIFF 2017)

THE LAST PIG (HIFF 2017)

THE LAST PIG

USA | Director: Allison Argo

A moving meditation on a man’s crisis of faith, THE LAST PIG follows Bob Comis as he concludes his last season as a pig farmer. Peppered with reflections on his decade with the pigs, farmer Bob’s introspective voiceover guides us through the changing seasons on the farm, and the images, often filmed at ground-level, merge us with the drove. Director Allison Argo masterfully gives weight to what at first appear to be mundane daily rituals, and as an ethical question swells for farmer Bob, it does for us as well. In this intimate portrayal of a man at a crossroads, we are welcomed into the sacred moment of choice.

Suffolk County Film Commission Next Exposure Grant

suffolk-county-film-logo-150The $3,000 Suffolk County Next Exposure Grant will be awarded to a film in the Views From Long Island section. This program supports the completion of high quality, original, director-driven, low-budget independent films from both emerging and established filmmakers who have completed 50% of principal photography within Suffolk County.

Presented by the Suffolk County Film Commission.

WANDERLAND (HIFF 2017)

WANDERLAND

Directed by Josh Klausner
World Premiere | USA
In an effort to briefly escape his humdrum life of isolation in New York City, Alex (Tate Ellington) impulsively accepts an invitation from an online acquaintance (Dree Hemingway) to house-sit at her picturesque “Enchanted Cottage” on Long Island. Despite his best attempts for a quiet weekend of relaxation, Alex suddenly finds himself lost on a surreal, all-night musical odyssey of misadventures. Filmed in and around the Hamptons area, and featuring a cast of wonderfully kooky local characters, Josh Klausner’s WANDERLAND is a madcap East End experience.

Victor Rabinowitz & Joanne Grant Award for Social Justice

Presented to a film that most exemplifies the values of peace, equality, global justice, and civil liberties. The award, which is accompanied by a cash prize of $1,500, is named in honor of two people who spent their entire lives fighting for those values. 

Selected and sponsored by the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation.

I Am Evidence 650I AM EVIDENCE

Directed by Trish Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir
Produced by Mariska Hargitay
I AM EVIDENCE uncovers the many disturbing ways our criminal justice system neglects victims of sexual assault. In this revealing exposé, filmmakers Trish Adlesic and Geeta Gandbhir investigate the alarming number of untested evidence kits that have accumulated over the last several decades, denying justice to thousands of survivors in the process. Giving voice to the brave individuals affected by this misconduct and to the heroic law enforcement officials who tirelessly work to deliver long-awaited due process in these cases, I AM EVIDENCE is a powerful call to action.

Tangerine Entertainment Juice Fund Award

Tangerine 150Honors a female narrative feature director with a cash prize of $1,000 and five hours of industry consulting. Supported by Tangerine Entertainment, a production company and community builder for films by women directors.

Novitiate 650NOVITIATE

Directed by Maggie Betts
East Coast Premiere | USA
Drawn in by the prospect of a higher calling despite her non-religious upbringing, Cathleen (Margaret Qualley), a teenager growing up in the early 1960s, soon finds herself among a group of young women who have devoted themselves to a training program within The Sisters of Blessed Rose convent. While their earnest devotion is quickly contrasted with the harsh realities of religious life, the sudden announcement of Pope John XXIII’s Second Vatican Council provides a new question for both the students and their Mother Superior (Academy Award® winner Melissa Leo): whether to transform along with the church’s plans of liberal reform or adhere to the strict principles that first compelled them into the convent.

Student Film Awards
student shorts showcase hiff25ABSENT

WORLD PREMIERE | Narrative Short | 16 minutes
2017 | English | USA/India
Director: Sudarshan Suresh
Wearily resigned to caring for her bedridden mother, Zola sees a fleeting chance to break free from this tedious routine when she runs into an old crush.

CASTING

NORTH AMERICAN PREMIERE | Narrative Short | 20 minutes
2017 | Polish | Poland
Director: Katarzyna Iskra
A young, Polish woman is forced to choose between her family and her career as an actress.

LA MANZANA

NEW YORK PREMIERE | Narrative Short | 28 minutes
2017 | Spanish | Belgium
Director: Henry Disotuar
In the days leading up to his departure from Cuba, a young boy prepares to say goodbye to the only home he has ever known.

NIGHT CALL

WORLD PREMIERE | Narrative Short | 18 minutes
2017 | English | USA
Director: Amanda Renee Knox
A newly promoted police officer is forced to make a life-altering decision when she encounters a familiar face on a routine patrol.

TOWARDS THE SUN

NEW YORK PREMIERE | Narrative Short | 20 minutes
2017 | Spanish | UK/USA
Director: Monica Santis
Under the looming threat of deportation, a young girl living at an immigrant youth shelter in Texas confronts her past through her artwork.

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