A total of $10,000 was split among nine films representing the best among 101 documentaries in their categories during this year’s 11th annual Chagrin Documentary Film Festival.
Taking home the David Ponce Best of the Fest Award was “Kusasa,” directed by Shane Vermooten, a Swedish filmmaker’s story of a South African boys’ soccer team as it makes its way to the world’s largest youth tournament. It made its world premiere at the CDFF.
The festival’s top award is named for the son of Mary Ann and Ed Ponce, a filmmaker who lost his life to Leukemia at the age of 21. He created the award-winning film, “The Lost Sparrows of Roodepoort,” the story of HIV/AIDS-stricken children living in Sparrow Village, an orphanage in South Africa.
That happenstance was not lost on Mr. Vermooten who, in Swedish via video clip and subtitles, said his film was an extension of the orphans’ story David Ponce told a dozen years earlier and allows David and the children to live again.
The Emerging Filmmaker Award winner was the “Girl Who Wore Freedom,” directed by Christian Taylor.
“Playing with Fire” was the most watched film with 230 views, and “Kusasa” followed with 211. “The Great Toilet Pape Scare” was next with 208 views. “Sockeye Salmon. Red Fish” attracted 191 streams. “Alive Day” and A------s: A Theory” tied with 177 streams each.
Best U.S. Documentary
“Playing with Fire – Jeannette Sorrell and the Mysteries of Conducting,” directed by Allan Miller (U.S.A.)
Best International Documentary
“Sockeye Salmon. Red Fish,” directed by Dmitriy Shpilenok and Vladislav Grishin (Russian Federation) – Ohio premiere
Human Spirit Documentary
“Liberation Heroes: The Last Eyewitnesses,” directed by Vanessa Roth (U.S.A.)
Best Local Documentary
“Alive Day,” directed by Lindsay O’Keefe (U.S.A.)
Best Short Documentary
“A Head Shorter,” directed by Sasha Sivan Bortnik (U.S.A.)
Best Student Documentary
“Your Friend, Ranger Doug,” directed by Claire Jantzen and Sara Nell (U.S.A.)
Rotary of the Chagrin Valley Service Above Self Award
“In Case of Emergency,” directed by Carolyn Jones (U.S.A.) Midwest premiere.