5 Female Doc Filmmakers Winning the Top Festival Awards this Year
Keep your eyes on these filmmakers as they take the documentary world by storm. In 2017, these five women accepted awards from various festivals for their powerful documentaries. Ranging from Bonni Cohen’s An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power to Kitty Green’s Casting JonBenet, these filmmakers have demonstrated imagination and originality in their storytelling.
1. Bonni Cohen
Director — An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power
Audience Award — Biografilm Festival
Bonni Cohen started Actual Films in 1998 with her partner, Jon Shenk. She is the executive producer of the documentaries The Rape of Europa, Audrie and Daisy, and An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power. In 2010, Bonni co-founded the Catapult Film Fund with Lisa Chanoff in order to support the development of important and moving documentaries.
Her new documentary follows former Vice President Al Gore as he travels around the world, training an army of activists and influencing international climate policy. Behind-the-scenes footage of private and public moments show him pursuing the idea that the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.
2. Tali Shemesh
Producer, Director, and Writer — Death in the Terminal
Best Mid-Length Documentary — Hot Docs Canadian International Film Festival
Tali Shemesh was born in Jerusalem, Israel. She is a director and writer known for The Cemetery Club, Death in the Terminal, and Lihyot Malka. Death in the Terminal is a reconstruction from eyewitness perspectives of the moment an Eritrean refugee was mistaken for a terrorist, shot by a security guard, and beaten by bystanders.
3. Kitty Green
Producer, Director, and Writer — Casting JonBenet
Special Jury Prize — Montclair Film Festival
Kitty Green is a director and writer, known for Casting JonBenet, Ukraine Is Not a Brothel, and The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul. Her recent documentary is about the unsolved death of six-year-old American beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey. Over 15 months, responses, reflections, and performances were elicited from the Ramsey’s Colorado hometown community, creating a bold work of art from the collective memories and mythologies the crime inspired.
4. Elvira Lind
Director — Bobbi Jene
Best Documentary Feature — Tribeca Film Festival
Elvira Lind is a Danish director based in New York. After attending film school in Cape Town, South Africa, she began making documentaries for TV and cinema. Her new film is about a woman’s fight for independence, trying to succeed with her own art in the extremely competitive world of dance.
5. Laura Checkoway
Producer, Director, and Editor — Edith+Eddie
Best Documentary Short Film — Hamptons International Film Festival
Laura Checkoway is a documentary filmmaker, whose award-winning debut film ‘Lucky’ was screened at festivals across the globe. With a background in journalism, Laura has also penned revealing celebrity profiles and features for numerous publications.
Her most recent documentary, Edith+Eddie, is about America’s oldest interracial newlyweds, now 96 and 95 years-old. Their love story is disrupted by a family feud that threatens to tear the couple apart.
Who are some other female doc directors on your radar this year? Tell us in the comments!
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By Lena Drake, Storyhunter Writer