From November 13-20 throughout Manhattan, this year’s edition boasted 92 feature-length docs, including 20 world premieres and eight US premieres, and many films vying for awards this season.
Three awards juries selected films from each of the festival’s Viewfinders, Metropolis and Shorts programs to recognize for their outstanding achievements in form and content. Festival audiences voted for the SundanceNow Doc Club Audience Award.
Viewfinders Competition: The jury selected from among ten films in this section, chosen by the programmers for their distinct directorial visions. Grand Jury Prize Winner “Cairo Drive,” directed by Sherief Elkatsha, explores Cairo from the street level through the perspectives of its drivers, who represent a cross section of Egyptians trying to make their way through a country fraying at its edges.
Metropolis Competition: The jury selected from among nine films in this section, which showcases films that exemplify the diverse range of stories in New York City. Grand Jury Prize Winner “Homme Less,” directed by Thomas Wirthensohn, is a portrait of photographer Mark Reay, who seems to have the kind of glamorous New York City life that many would envy but sleeps each night in a hidden corner of an East Village rooftop.
Jurors: Bilge Ebiri, Film Critic, New York magazine; David France, Filmmaker (How to Survive a Plague), Journalist, Author; Linda Pan, General Manager, SundanceNow Doc Club.
Shorts Competition: The winning short film qualifies for consideration in the Documentary Short Subject category of the Annual Academy Awards. Grand Jury Prize Winner is “Mirror Image,” directed by Danielle Schwartz, in which the filmmaker questions her grandparents about the contested origins of a family heirloom.
Jurors: Jeffrey Bowers, Senior Manager of VOD Curation, Vimeo, Programmer, Tribeca Film Festival, Hamptons International Film Festival, Rooftop Films; Rachel Fishman Feddersen, Digital GM, The Week.com, MentalFloss.com; Susan Margolin, President, Docurama, Special Acquisitions, Cinedigm.
SundanceNow Doc Club Audience Award: Features from both competitive sections were eligible for this award, based on audience ballots. Winner “The Hand That Feeds,” directed by Rachel Lears and Robin Blotnick, exposes an Upper East Side “Hot & Crusty” bakery through a David vs. Goliath story, as service workers demand better working conditions and wages. (SundanceNow Doc Club streams essential docs off the fest circuit and beyond, here.)