Cinetopia 2018: Audience and director's award winners announced

Winners include audience favorites 'Love, Gilda' and 'Woman Walks Ahead'

By Matt Giles - Associate Producer

The audience claps after a screening at the Cinetopia Film Festival. (Credit: Cinetopia)

ANN ARBOR - The 2018 Cinetopia Film Festival may have concluded, but the news around the festival is far from over. After screening more than 50 films at many locations between Ann Arbor and Detroit, the festival has just announced the winners of its audience and director awards in several different categories. According to the festival, attendees were able to cast a ballot after each screening for their favorite film to participate in the audience awards, and the Cinetopia Leadership team determined the selections for the director’s awards after careful considerations. The following winners truly encompass Cinetopia’s focus on presenting the best independent films from around the world.

Audience Award Winners

"Woman Walks Ahead" -- U.S. Narrative

From director Susanna White ("Our Kind of Traitor") and Steven Knight (Oscar-nominated writer of "Dirty Pretty Things" and "Eastern Promises") comes the true story of Catherine Weldon, an artist who, in 1889, traveled from New York City to the Dakota Territory to meet Hunkpapa Lakota legend Sitting Bull. There she becomes an advocate for Native American rights and Sitting Bull's confidante. 

"Love, Gilda" -- U.S. Documentary

In "Love, Gilda," director Lisa D’Apolito uses rare personal recordings and journal entries to tell Gilda Radner’s story in her own words. Along the way, friends and admirers, including Amy Poehler, Cecily Strong, Lorne Michaels and a host of others, offer their most cherished memories of this brilliant trailblazer. 

"Supa Modo" -- Foreign Narrative

Directed by first-time feature filmmaker Likarion Wainaina, "Supa Modo" focuses on 9-year-old Jo, who dreams of being a superhero, but time is not on her side. When the doctors reveal that she is terminally ill, Jo leaves the hospital and returns home. While her mom insists that she rest, her sister has different plans. With the entire village's support, they decide to make dreams a reality and turn Jo into the superhero they know she is.

"Soufra" -- Foreign Documentary

Directed by Thomas A. Morgan, "Soufra" focuses on Mariam Shaar who, after spending her life in a refugee camp, decided to change her life. Gathering together other refugee women and with a little help from Kickstarter, she expands her modest food business into catering. Shaar overcomes the obstacles to make Soufra (which means a table of delicious plenty) a success and to help other women heal the deep wounds of war through inspirational food.

Director’s Award Winners

"Blindspotting" -- U.S. Narrative

Directed by Carlos Lopez Estrada. Collin (Daveed Diggs) must make it through his final three days of probation for a chance at a new beginning. He and his troublemaking childhood best friend, Miles (Rafael Casal) work as movers, and when Collin witnesses a police shooting, the two’s friendship is tested as they grapple with identity and their changed realities in the rapidly-gentrifying neighborhood they grew up in.

"Quiet Heroes" -- U.S. Documentary

Directed by Jenny Mackenzie, co-directed by Jared Ruga and Amanda Stoddard, "Quiet Heroes" recounts the outbreak of the AIDS virus in Utah in the 1980s. Drawing from several interviews and archival footage, the story focuses on the work of Dr. Kristen Ries and her eventual partner, physician assistant Maggie Snyder, who became the only medical professionals in Utah willing to treat the growing number of people with HIV/AIDS.

"Wajib" -- Foreign Narrative

After years abroad in Italy, Shadi (Saleh Bakri) returns to his hometown of Nazareth to begrudgingly honor his “wajib” (or duty) to hand deliver invitations to his sister’s wedding with his father, Abu Shadi (Mohammad Bakri), per local Palestinian tradition. The simmering tension between the two builds, exposing the sometimes-comic chasms that exist between men who live in different worlds but share an unshakable bond. Directed by Annmarie Jacir.

"This Is Home" -- Foreign Documentary​​​​​​​

Directed by Alexandra Shiva, "This Is Home" is set in Baltimore in 2016 and follows four Syrian refugee families that are attempting to build a new life and become self-sufficient within eight months. Despite good intentions, a vast cultural divide keeps the new arrivals and the Americans trying to help them from truly understanding each other. Halfway through the process, President Trump issues a travel ban on all refugees from Muslim-majority countries, and suddenly their lives, and the safety of loved ones still in Syria, become even more perilous.

Interested in keeping the conversation around Cinetopia going? "Like" Cinetopia on Facebook and follow them on Twitter while also making sure to use #Cinetopia2018. As always, the best resource for the films screened at this year's festival is simply visiting cinetopiafestival.org.

More from Cinetopia 2018:

Opening and closing night films announced

'A Boy. A Girl. A Dream: Love on Election Night' screens June 1 and 10

Michigan filmmakers come home

Festival to screen 'Thirst for Justice' in celebration of Mayor's Green Fair June 8

Lesser-known films that deserve your attention

Eight films we're most excited about

Three new films added to the lineup

Opening night preview

Bo Burnham's 'Eighth Grade' a hit with audience at sold-out screening

'The Last Race' to screen Friday at the Henry Ford

'Love, Gilda' closes out the film festival with laughs, tears and more

Detroit Voices Short Film Competition winners announced

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