Audience Awards 2016 Social/Political Film Festival winners include films about the effects of racial profiling on a young black man with a promising future, unacknowledged mental illness that led to gun violence and death, a small town debating about whether or not to ban undocumented immigrants. Each one of the six winning shorts convey a message relevant to our world today.
“We strived to move beyond baseless stereotypes to create a complex, multifaceted picture that could spark conversations, as well as a shift in opinion and policy, hopefully for the better,” says Colleen Cassingham. Her film The Little Things took the 1st place audience award. It’s a hopeful film that follows the life of a Syrian family who immigrated to Chicago to find a new life, better health care and freedom from fear.
The 1st place jury award went to filmmaker Adam Becker’s Real Change, which provides insight into the lives of homeless men in Seattle as they work toward dignity and away from marginalization. “I believe that good filmmaking is about empathy,” says Becker. “I tried to make a film that documented part of humanity in a cinematic way so that it could be shared with a large audience.” Real Change garnered some of Social/Political Film Festival’s thousands of views and has screened at many other festivals.
What You Gotta Do is a fiction film by Michael Albright which was awarded the 2nd place audience award. The story imagines a superhero with an extraordinary gift – to cause people to take action simply by commanding them to do so. He records his voice – fueled by asparagus smoothies, olive oil gargles and Hi-Wire brown ale – and sends his clients’ requests to them via thumb drive. When he’s asked to convince the parents of a 17-year-old girl in a coma to cut off life support, he becomes conflicted. This life-or-death choice mirrors, through media voiceovers, the United States’ recent presidential election. “The theme of both entertaining and challenging the audience is what first attracted us to this contest,” says Albright. “Competing for and winning an audience award was empowering in the sense that it gave us a platform to showcase our particular brand of filmmaking.”
“A person having a voice and being able to tell others about their lived experience has real value – for that individual and for society as a whole,” Becker says. “There must always be an artistic venue for that.” Audience Awards could not be more proud to have provided a platform upon which these voices could be heard.