Michael Moore's Traverse City Film Fest Gives Top Honors to 'Pope Francis' Doc

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Courtesy of Cannes Film Festival

Wim Wenders' film about the current pope was recognized with the Founders Grand Prize.

Wim Wenders’ documentary Pope Francis: A Man of His Word won the top honors, the Founders Grand Prize, at Michael Moore’s Traverse City Film Festival, which concluded Sunday in Traverse City, Mich. As he announced the honor at the fest’s awards ceremony, Moore said, “This is a film that has moved so many people this week. And it came from an unexpected place. The response from people who are not necessarily connected to or familiar with the subject matter have not stopped talking to me about it on the street. It has just been a great thing to witness here in Traverse City this week.” 

Released by Focus Features, the documentary about the current pope, has grossed nearly $4 million worldwide since it opened May 18.

The Founders Prize for Best U.S. Fiction Film resulted in a tie, with the award going to both Scott Cooper’s Hostiles and Brett Haley’s Hearts Beat Loud, while Susan Lacy’s documentary Jane Fonda in Five Acts received the Founders Prize for Best U.S. Nonfiction Film.

Peter Luisi’s Streaker scored the Audience Award for Best Fiction Film, and Joshua Riehl’s The Russian Five won the Audience Award for Best Documentary.

A complete list of winners follows:


Audience Awards for Best Fiction Film

Streaker by Peter Luisi

Audience Award for Best Documentary 

The Russian Five by Joshua Riehl



The Michigan Award

Arthur Miller: Writer by Rebecca Miller

Nora Ephron Award  

Amateurs by Gabriela Pichler 

Bruce Sinofsky Award for Documentary Filmmaking 

One of Us by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady 

Special Award for Documentary Filmmaking

Hillbilly by Sally Rubin and Ashley York

Special Award for Exuberance in Documentary Filmmaking 

Bathtubs Over Broadway by Dava Whisenant

Youssef Chahine Award 

The Insult by Ziad Doueiri

Stanley Kubrick Award for Bold and Innovative Filmmaking 

Fiction: The Captain by Robert Schwentke

Nonfiction: Our New President by Maxim Pozdorovkin

Roger Ebert Prize for Best Film by a First-Time Filmmaker 

Fiction: And Breathe Normally by Ísold Uggadóttir

Nonfiction: The Sentence by Rudy Valdez 

Best U.S. Fiction Film – Tie

Hostiles by Scott Cooper

Hearts Beat Loud by Brett Haley

Best Foreign Fiction Film 

1945 by Ferenc Torok

Best U.S. Nonfiction Film

Jane Fonda in Five Acts by Susan Lacy

Best Foreign Nonfiction Film 

The Silence of Others by Robert Bahar, Almudena Carracedo


Pope Francis: A Man of His Word by Wim Wenders


Short Film Award Winners

Stuart J. Hollander Prize for Best Family Film 

Sherbert Rosencrantz, You’re Beautiful by Natalie van den Dungen

Special Mention Short Film 

Lifeboat by Skye Fitzgerald

Special Mention Short Film 

Mini Bimaadiziwin by Shane McSauby

Audience Award Best Documentary Short 

Period. End of Sentence. by Rayka Zehtabchi

Audience Award Best Fiction Short 

Great Choice by Robin Comisar


Best Nonfiction Short Film

Period. End of Sentence by Rayka Zehtabchi

Best Fiction Short Film

Emergency by Carey Williams


Winners of the TCFF Bumper Contest, Sponsored by FIM Group

Honorable Mentions

Tami Evans and Brenda Smith – Pellicula Flickinicus

Ryan Schmitz, Rich Tran, Sierra Falconer – Deserted

Patti Perkette – What Makes a Movie?

Brad Geimenhardt – Right on Time

John Hobbs – One More Wish

Sierra Falconer – The Last Ticket

Award Winners 

Don Blublaugh – Game Night

Maggie Buerkle – Photobomb

John Plough – Lighthouse, Dogwalker, Popcorner