The 2016 Atlas Awards International Film Festival showcased 50 works by independent filmmakers from around the world with its annual international film awards and private online screening of officially-selected films. Atlas & Aeris hosted the festival with screenings from 15-29 January and announcements of this year’s Atlas Awards on 30 and 31 January. Atlas & Aeris and a professional jury composed of award-winning independent filmmakers selected the 2016 Atlas Award-winners, whom the magazine presents with official engraved prizes and certificates of award.
The 2016 Official Selection comprises 50 works by independent filmmakers from around the world:
45 films and 5 screenplays from 17 countries
- Countries represented this year in order of their representation in the Official Selection are: the United States, Iran, Canada, Australia, France, Sweden, the United Kingdom, Afghanistan, Germany, Greece, Italy, Kosovo, Russia, Slovakia, Spain, Taiwan, and Turkey.*
- Countries represented this year in order of their representation in the selection of Atlas Awards are: the United States, Iran, Canada, Kosovo, Russia, Spain, Afghanistan, Italy, Slovakia, Sweden, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.*
- The country with the highest representation in the festival’s Official Selection and in the selection of Atlas Awards is the United States.
- After the United States, the country with the highest representation in the festival’s Official Selection and in the selection of Atlas Awards is Iran.
- The United States, Iran, and Canada are the countries with the highest representation in both the Official Selection and in the selection of Atlas Awards.
- The European countries with the highest representation in the festival’s Official Selection are France, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, whereas the European countries with the highest representation in the selection of Atlas Awards are Kosovo, Russia, and Spain.*
This year’s top prizes went to an international selection of films:
The Atlas Aeris Prize for the year’s best film of any genre went to Angels Die in the Soil, directed by Babak Amini of Iran.
The Atlas Vitri Prize for the year’s best foreign language film went to Escapes, directed by Mercedes Gaspar of Spain.
The Jury Prize, awarded to the film that, in the opinion of the jury, demonstrates the greatest promise for future excellence on the part of the filmmaker, went to Omid, directed by Jawad Wahabzada of Afghanistan.
The Human Rights Prize, awarded to the year’s best film whose subject is a significant topic of human rights, went to Where Are You My Love?, directed by Merve Gezen of Turkey.
Women directed one third of the films selected for the 2016 Atlas Awards International Film Festival, directed one half of this year’s documentaries, and wrote or co-wrote more than half of the festival’s officially-selected screenplays. The countries with the highest representation of films directed by women in the festival are Australia, Canada, Iran, and the United States.*
After the United States, Iran boasted the highest number of officially-selected films in the 2016 Atlas Awards International Film Festival. Out of the nine Iranian films selected for the festival, three received Atlas Awards this year.
Two films featured in this year’s Atlas Awards International Film Festival were shot on-location in Central America: the French feature film Defenders of Life, shot in Costa Rica, and the American short film The Jungle of Jules Levine, shot in Panama. (The Jungle of Jules Levine is also the recipient of this year’s Atlas Award for Best Visual Effects).
The 2016 Atlas Awards Official Selection features independent voices in contemporary film on important social causes and issues. Films this year called for the protection of the natural environment, presented the harsh realities and aftereffects of violent conflict, challenged the flaws of criminal justice in the United States, uncovered buried secrets of the Second World War, and illuminated modern challenges to the rights of women, transgender people, and indigenous people around the world.
Films showcased at this year’s festival include works whose collaborative production methods, uncommon subject matter, and experimental presentation set them apart from the mainstream. This year’s art films, experimental films, and collaborative films expanded boundaries of expression and challenged traditional methods in film production with experimental writing and imagery, shocking themes, and innovative democratic film collaborations.
Many films showcased and awarded at the 2016 Atlas Awards International Film Festival have screened internationally, garnered critical acclaim, and won prestigious prizes — even before arriving at the Atlas Awards. Here are some of the highlights of this year’s Official Selection:
- The Short Film Corner of the Cannes Film Festival screened two films selected for this year’s festival: Mousse and Where Are You My Love?, the latter of which is also the recipient of this year’s Human Rights Award.
- Abbas Rafei’s narrative feature Oblivion Season, which follows the travails of a former sex worker in present-day Tehran, features as its lead actress Sareh Bayat — recipient of the Silver Bear for Best Actress at the Berlin International Film Festival in 2011 for her role in Asghar Farhadi’s acclaimed (and Oscar-winning) A Separation.
- Nina Gilden Seavey, the director of Parables of War, this year’s Best Documentary Short Film, is the Emmy Award-winning documentary filmmaker of A Paralyzing Fear: The Story of Polio in America. (Her films have been nominated for five National Emmy Awards.) She is the recipient of the Erik Barnouw Prize for Best Historical Film of the Year, The Golden Hugo,Cine Special Jury Prize, The Italian National Olympic Cup for Best Sports Film, among many other awards. Seavey is the director of The Documentary Center in the Columbian College of Arts and Sciences at The George Washington University, which she founded in 1990. She has been named one of the top 50 professors of journalism in the U.S., was named a Woman of Vision by Women in Film and Video, and received a commendation for Outstanding Service to the Industry by Discovery Communications.
- Tim Labonte, director of the documentary Who Did It? The Clue VCR Game, also worked on the documentary Haiti: Triumph, Sorrow, and the Struggle of a People, which won an Associated Press Award for Best Documentary and was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Societal Concerns Program in the Boston/New England Chapter.
- Pechorin, from Russian director Roman Khrushch, won Best Feature Film at the London Film Awards, Best Director at the New Hope Film Festival, and the Platinum Remi Award at the 46th Worldfest-Houston International Film Festival. (Khrushch can now count Best Production Design and Best Costume Design in this list — both awarded to Pechorin at this year’s Atlas Awards.)
- Agnus Dei, Agim Sopi’s feature drama from Kosovo and the recipient of two Atlas Awards this year, was also awarded Best Foreign Film at the London Film Awards, Best in Festival at the London Crystal Palace International Film Festival, Best Feature Film at the Ionian International Film Festival, and many other awards.
- Helio, this year’s winner of the Atlas Awards for Best Action Film and Best Science Fiction Film, has also been awarded Best Cinematography at the Widescreen Film Festival and Music Video Awards in Miami as well as Best Short Sci-Fi and the Audience Award at the Miami International Science Fiction Film Festival.
- New Generation Queens won Best International Documentary at last year’s Manhattan Film Festival.
- The Berlin International Film Festival hosted the world premiere of Rosso Papavero, the Slovakian film by Martin Smatana that won the Atlas Award for Best Animated Film this year.
- Miss C, the officially-selected screenplay by Kelly Jean Karam, won Best Screenplay at the Peachtree Village Film Festival and Best Feature Script at the California Women’s Film Festival.
- Grace, the officially-selected screenplay by Lynda Lemberg and Jeffrey Allen Russel, is the recipient of 71 awards, including the Grand Prize at the Hollywood Hills Screenplay Competition.
- Saman Hosseinpuor, the director of Autumn Leaves and Fish, both in this year’s Official Selection, won his second Atlas Award for Best Director, becoming the only filmmaker to win the award two years in a row — and the only filmmaker to win multiple Atlas Awards in multiple years.
- The Man Who Fed His Shadow has been officially-selected at 140 festivals (including at Raindance, at which it was nominated in the category of Best International Short), has received 32 awards, and has qualified for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts.
- Baobabs between Land and Sea has screened in film festivals, received awards, and has been featured internationally in news outlets such as RFI (Radio France Internationale). The film’s director, Cyrille Cornu, is a researcher at CIRAD, ‘the French agricultural research and international cooperation organisation working for the sustainable development of tropical and Mediterranean regions’, and is one of the world’s leading specialists on the baobabs of Madagascar.
- The Best Horror Film this year was The Eve, also the recipient of more than 50 other international awards. ■
For the full 2016 Official Selection, visit this year’s announcement post.
For the full 2016 festival schedule with film synopses, visit this year’s festival page.
For more information about the Atlas Awards, visit our Awards page.
*Countries with the same representation are listed in alphabetical order.