Montclair Film Festival Announces First Competition Award Winners

Courtesy of Festival del film Locarno
'Fidelio: Alice's Odyssey'

Late Montclair residents David Carr and Bruce Sinofsky were honored with prizes named after them.

The Montclair Film Festival presented its first competition awards on Saturday night. The New Jersey film festival handed out jury prizes for the first time in its four-year history at this spring's edition.

In addition to two narrative feature competition prizes, the festival handed out awards named for late Montclair residents David Carr and documentary filmmaker Bruce Sinofsky, both of whom had been involved with the festival.

The Carr award "for truth in non-fiction filmmaking," as the festival named it went to Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson's Peace Officer. The award, which will be presented every year (as is the case with Sinofsky's award), was handed out by The Atlantic correspondent and Carr's friend Ta-Nehisi Coates. The Carr award honors a filmmaker who uses journalistic techniques to explore important contemporary subjects.

Sinofsky's award is also the documentary feature competition prize. This year's award, presented by Sinofsky's longtime friend and collaborator Joe Berlinger, went to The Russian Woodpecker, directed by Chad Gracia.

The narrative feature competiton winner was Fidelio: Alice's Odyssey, directed by Lucie Borleteau, and the festival also awarded a special narrative jury prize for storytelling to Yury Bykov's The Fool.

Elise DuRant’s Eden won the Future/Now prize, which honors emerging low-budget American independent filmmaking, and Marah Strauch’s Sunshine Superman took home the New Jersey films award.

“We’re thrilled to be launching these awards for our fourth installment, and to honor the diverse group of talented filmmakers,” Montclair Film Festival founder and chairman Bob Feinberg said in a statement. “This has been a significant year for us and it truly exemplifies the festival’s impact and growth, as we continue to lay the groundwork for many more successful years ahead."

The festival's executive director Tom Hall added, “This year’s festival featured over 135 films and we are incredibly proud of each and every one of our filmmakers. These inaugural awards represent the best of what our festival can offer — global stories that have an intimate, connection to our audiences and help Montclair connect to the world of cinema."

The awards were presented in a ceremony at the Montclair Kimberley Academy Upper School. The Montclair Film Festival ends on Sunday and has hosted screenings of buzzed-about festival films like Hello, My Name is Doris, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl and Love & Mercy. In addition, Stephen Colbert, who has long supported the festival and whose wife is vice chairman of the festival board, hosted two Q&As, one with Richard Gere and another with Mavis Staples following the documentary centerpiece screening of her eponymous documentary Mavis! Other high-profile guests at the 2015 edition included Patrick Wilson, Dane DeHaan, Jonathan Demme, Michael Showalter and Alex Winter.

The full list of 2015 Montclair Film Festival award winners follows:

David Carr Award for Truth in Non-Fiction Filmmaking Winner
Directors – Brad Barber and Scott Christopherson
Narrative Feature Competition Winner
Director – Lucie Borleteau
Narrative Feature Competition
Special Jury Prize for Storytelling
Director – Yury Bykov
Bruce Sinofsky Prize for Documentary Feature Competition Winner
Director – Chad Gracia
Future/Now Winner
Director – Elise DuRant
New Jersey Films Competition Winner
Director – Marah Strauch
Junior Jury Winner
Director – Alexandra Shiva