BEST FEATURE

WINNER:

QUEEN LEAR

Pelin Esmer

Special Mention:

WUHAN WUHAN

Yung Chang

BEST SHORT

WINNER:

UNFORGIVABLE

Marlén Viñayo

Special Mention:

I WANT TO MAKE A FILM ABOUT WOMEN

Karen Pearlman

BEST MINI

WINNER:

KAPAEMAHU

Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson

Special Mention:

DEAR JOHNNY REB

Philip H Scarborough Jr.

Best Feature Winner – Queen Lear 
By Pelin Esmer, 2019, 84 mins, Turkey

King Lear traveling on the dusty roads to the remotest villages of Turkey
turns delicately into Queen Lear in the hands of a peasant-women theatre group.

See Director Pelin Esmer’s Acceptance Speech, click the image below!

Jury Notes:

The feature jury has selected Queen Lear for Best Feature Film. An intimate portrayal of lives rarely seen in cinema,
Queen Lear shares the interiority of middle aged peasant women as they reflect on love, death and aging, through the prism of art.

SDFF 2021 FEATURE NOMINEES

Best Short Doc Winner – Unforgivable
Marlén Viñayo, 2020, 36 mins, El Salvador

A ruthless hitman for the 18th Street gang serves his sentence in a Salvadoran evangelical prison,
where he is guilty not only of his crimes, but of being gay.

See Director Marlén Viñayo’s Acceptance Speech, click the image below!

Jury Notes:

This exquisitely beautiful film immerses us into a world shaped by extreme poverty, intolerance and brutality.  We are in an over-crowded prison in El Salvador, ‘one of the most violent places on Earth.’  Young gang members, heavily tattooed, are crammed into tiny concrete boxes. We (somehow) are inside one cell with four inmates.  One young man, Geovany, is carefully sewing by hand while a cellmate is mixing water into powder to make a shared meal. It becomes a game between friends, teasingly offering a spoonful of food to another then zooming it away when lips open. Back and forth with gentle affection the food is shared by all.  During this play, we hear Geovany describe how he attacked and killed enemy gang members as part of his gang’s assassin team—when he was 12 years old. ‘It is sport.  It is easy. It is easier to kill a man, than to love a man.’ The camera moves to a larger room with many men in net hammocks above us, swaying in fetal positions. The four men we get to know are isolated from all these others because their ‘flaw’ is greater than any gang behavior of murder or rape. They would be killed by the newly evangelical Christian inmates of the prison and they would be killed by gang leaders if they were released. Because they are gay.

The film continues to reveal unimaginable horror of circumstances and beauty of souls intertwined.  What opposites are carried in human beings. Director Marlen Viñayo does not try to blunt or resolve these contradictions. She shows this hopeless, unforgiving world with a ruthless compassion and artistic brilliance that reveals human goodness amidst the unremitting poverty, injustice, brutality.  Unforgivable shows the unquenchbility of connection even in the darkest places.

SDFF 2021 JURY AWARDS – SHORT FILM NOMINEES

Best Mini Doc – Kapaemahu
Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu, Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson, 9 mins, 2019, U.S.

This richly animated short brings to life the hidden history of four monumental stones on Waikiki Beach, and the legendary transgender healing spirits within them.

See Directors Dean Hamer & Joe Wilson’s Acceptance Speech, click the image below!

Jury Notes:

The three jurors for the SDFF Jury award for mini-doc were thoroughly impressed by all of the films in competition. Without exception, every film was well made, addressed important content, and surprised the jury with fascinating stories. Choosing one film to honor out of this group was very difficult.  However, we have chosen Kapaemahu as the 2021 SDFF Jury award for Best Mini-Doc. Juror Dawn Valadez said, “I loved that the makers shared the history of the two-gendered Hawaiian people and tied that to the struggles of transgender, nonbinary, gender-queer people of today. This film stood out from the others because it had the perfect combination of story, craft, and social justice message.”  The three jurors all concurred that this film had it all, expertly crafted imagery, a concise and focused script, and a historical story that was exquisitely framed with present-day relevance. Juror Iza Pajak commented, “The movie touched me from the very beginning. I loved the sounds, music, voices – everything was connected to the artistic side of the movie.” Lastly, Theo Rigby commented, “While specifically commenting on the erasure of non-binary stories in our culturtal histories, this superbly crafted film connected with me on the universal theme of remembrance. The tale of Kapaemahu begs the question, “What happens when we stop remembering our ancestors, their immense power, and how we all came to be?” The three jurors congratulate the Kapaemahu filmmakers and wish them the best on their journey.

SDFF 2021 JURY AWARDS – MINI FILM NOMINEES