Jan 26, 2024
Announcing the 2024 Award Winners
After fifteen days and more than 120 film premieres, the 2024 Miami Jewish Film Festival is excited to announce eight major prizes for feature filmmaking and short films. Honorees, named in total below, represent new achievements in global independent storytelling. Bold, intimate, and humanizing stories prevailed across categories, with the Audience Awards for Best Narrative Film going to James Hawes' One Life, Best Documentary Film going to Heather Dune Macadams' 999: The Forgotten Girls, and Best Israeli Film going to Ayelet Menahemi's Seven Blessings; the Critics Jury Prize awarded to Marco Bellocchio's Kidnapped; the Next Wave Jury Prize awarded to Leslie Shampaine & Pip Gilmour's Call Me Dancer; the Kadima Jury Prize awarded to Finn Taylor's Avenue of the Giants; and the Torchbearer Award goes to Rebecca Snow's The Boy in the Woods.
The awards announcement marks a key point of the 2024 Festival, where 94 feature-length and 27 short films — selected from more than 2,500 submissions — were showcased in-theater across Greater Miami and online via the Festival's custom-built online platform that was accessed across the United States by more than 45,000 film lovers.
See below for a complete list of 2024 Miami Jewish Film Festival Jury Prize winners and jury statements, as well as the audience awards. We congratulate all the filmmakers on their well-deserved honors and success!
This year's Critics Prize jurors were members of either the Florida Film Critics Circle or South Florida journalists, and Next Wave jurors were composed of 21-35-year-olds who were either college students or young professionals. The Kadima Jury Prize was chosen by members of the Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education, while the Torchbearer Award was selected by members from the Holocaust Memorial Miami Beach. We express our sincere gratitude to this distinguished jury panel for their well-informed perspectives and thoughtful deliberation.
Critics Jury Prize: Kidnapped
Marco Bellocchio, Director • Italy-France-Germany
"Themes of antisemitism, displacement, and religious devotion come alive with sensitivity and a transporting sense of time and place in this exquisitely crafted period piece, which takes a sad chapter from Italian history and turns it into an arresting meditation on faith and identity. A Jewish family's torment becomes a point of departure for director Marco Bellocchio to explore how the Catholic Church tore loved ones apart and shattered lives, all in the name of God. He has made a film as captivating as a page-turner and as ravishing as a fresco come to life. We are proud to give the 2024 Miami Jewish Film Festival's Critics Prize to Kidnapped."
Next Wave Jury Prize: Call Me Dancer
Leslie Shampaine & Pip Gilmour, Directors • USA
"This year's Next Wave jury prize goes to a film that transcends cultural boundaries, portraying a narrative of hard work and perseverance against all odds. It beautifully highlights the power of following one's passion, even when it appears irrational to others. In recognizing this documentary, we celebrate not only the art of storytelling but also the universal themes of resilience, dedication, and the extraordinary possibilities that unfold when passion meets perseverance."
Kadima Jury Prize: Avenue of the Giants
Finn Taylor, Director • USA
"The Center for the Advancement of Jewish Education recognizes a film whose work positively enhances public awareness of Jewish culture, history, and learning. The award underscores the crucial role of education, either formal or informal, while emphasizing the fact that education continues across the entire lifespan. Because it masterfully portrays the power of the student-teacher/mentor relationship, between a suicidal teenager and a Holocaust survivor, a relationship that enriches both lives through their interviews of the other, as well as focuses on the importance of addressing mental health impediments at every age, we award the Kadima Jury Prize to Avenue of the Giants."
Torchbearer Award: The Boy in the Woods
Rebecca Snow, Director • Canada
"The inaugural Torchbearer Award is given to The Boy in the Woods, a work that goes beyond mere entertainment, serving as a powerful conduit for remembrance. This film has fearlessly explored the origins and repercussions of one of the darkest chapters in human history, shedding light on the unimaginable horrors faced by countless individuals. The Boy in the Woods not only depicts the harrowing experiences of the past but also pays tribute to the resilience and fortitude of the survivors who emerged from the shadows of despair."
A longstanding tradition at MJFF, the Audience Award is celebrating its 27th year. Audiences watching films at home via digital screenings or in-person at live events voted online. All publicly screened feature and short films were eligible. Votes were generated, collected, and tabulated through electronic audience ballots.
The Audience Award for Best Narrative Film was presented to: James Hawes, for One Life (UK, 2023) — In this vivid and stirring historical drama, based on true events, two-time Academy Award winner Sir Anthony Hopkins gives an intensely moving performance as Sir Nicholas Winton, a humble, mild-mannered British stockbroker who helped rescue hundreds of Jewish children from Europe on the verge of the Second World War, an act of compassion that was almost forgotten for 50 years. Cast: Anthony Hopkins, Johnny Flynn, Helena Bonham Carter, Jonathan Pryce, Lena Olin.
The Audience Award for Best Documentary Film was presented to: Heather Dune Macadams, for 999: The Forgotten Girls (USA, 2023) — This poignant documentary reveals the untold story of 999 unmarried, young Jewish women initially registered for government service in a purported shoe factory, only to be tragically sent to Auschwitz. Cast: Edith Grosman.
The Audience Award for Best Israeli Film was presented to: Ayelet Menahami, for Seven Blessings (Israel, 2023) — This joyous comedy of errors revolves around an eventful Jewish Moroccan family wedding and the traditional blessings that are pronounced during the ceremony, again at the reception, and then again for the next seven nights with loved ones hosting special dinners in the couple’s honor. Cast: Reymonde Amsallem, Tikva Dayan, Eleanor Sela.
The Audience Award for Best Short Film was presented to: Ruth Liliana Levin, for What's In A Name? (Spain, 2023) — Using childhood memories, a fictional manuscript, internet archives, and discovered letters from Buenos Aires, the director Ruth Liliana Levin explores her familial connection with her great aunt Lea, who perished in the Holocaust, delving into a family mystery about why she didn't flee France when the opportunity arose. Cast: Ruth Liliana Levin.