Music On Film – Film On Music Documentary Fund and Sheila K. O’Brien Cinematic Achievement Award for UK & Ireland Award Announced for 40th Denver Film Festival


November 14, 2016 (Denver, Colo.) – The Denver Film Festival (DFF), produced by the Denver Film Society, announced today its juried and audience award winners for this year’s festival, which ran from November 2-13 in Denver.

In addition to the awards, the Denver Film Society announced the Music on Film-Film on Music Documentary Fund and the Sheila K. O’Brien Cinematic Achievement Award for UK & Ireland. The Music On Film-Film On Music Documentary Fund (MOFFOM) is a grant program of the Denver Film Society created in thanks to the generous support of John Caulkins. The MOFFOM Grant Program will launch in spring of 2017 and will support production expenses for documentary filmmakers specifically for music licensing, scoring, and composition. The Denver Film Society will award up to $25,000 anually in grant support. Submissions will open in Spring of 2017.

“I believe music is an often overlooked but always crucial element in making a quality film,” says John Caulkins. “I am happy to support the Denver Film Society and help documentary filmmakers defray the costs of adding music to their films, so their complete vision can come to life on screen.”

The Sheila K. O’Brien Cinematic Achievement Award for UK & Ireland will recognize the achievements and talents of one film or person from the UK or Ireland with an honor each year at the Denver Film Festival beginning at DFF40.

The 39th Denver Film Festival featured more than 250 films representing 50 countries. Recognized as the Rocky Mountain Region’s premier film event, DFF attracted over 55,000 filmgoers during the annual twelve-day celebration, culminating at the Denver Film Festival Awards Brunch at The Curtis Hotel. The 40th Denver Film Festival will take place November 1 – 12, culminating a year-long celebration of the organization’s 40-year history.


Narrative Feature
Winner: Lion directed by Garth Davis (Australia)

Documentary Feature
Winner: The Eagle Huntress directed by Otto Bell (United Kingdom)

Short Film
Winner: The Chop directed by Lewis Rose (United Kingdom)

Music Video
Winner: The Avalanches – Subways directed by Mrzyk & Moriceau (France)


The Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary Film

Winner: Do Not Resist directed by Craig Atkinson

The jury stated: “For a daring and deeply visceral portrait of the ongoing militarization of law enforcement in the U.S. that is captured in an honest and technically stunning fashion. Do Not Resist is an important, urgent film that every American should see.”

Honorable Mention: Off the Rails directed by Adam Irving
The jury stated: “In a competition with six unique, accomplished works that embody documentary filmmaking at its most effective, the Jury would like to give an honorable mention to Off the Rails for its compassionate depiction of a fascinating New York story and figure that like Darius McCollum himself, is both humorous and heartbreaking.”

The jury was comprised of: Kaily Smith Westbrook, actor and co-founder of SeriesFest, Kevin Polowy, Yahoo Movies senior writer, editor and correspondent, and Chike Okonkwo a stage, television, and film actor and recent star of Birth of a Nation.

The Krzysztof Kieślowski Award for Best Feature Film

Winner: The Last Family directed by Jan P. Matuszynski (Poland)

The jury stated: For its epic and intimate portrayal of the life of surrealist Polish painter Zdzislaw Beksinski, the award for Best Feature Film goes to The Last Family. Jan P. Matuszynski voyeuristic, powerful storytelling brings us into the apartment and the world of the Beksinskis over 30 tumultuous years, revealing the emotional highs and lows of this idiosyncratic yet relatable family.

Special Jury Prize: Best Actress
The jury would also like to recognize the unforgettable performance by Hayley Squires in I, Daniel Blake. Her portrayal of a struggling single mother is deeply moving with a profound sense of realism.

Special Honorable Mention:
For its striking visuals, daring symbolism and unique approach we’d like to give a special mention to Joao Pedro Rodrigues’ The Ornithologist.

The jury was comprised of: Adam Kersh head of publicity and co-founder of the PR and marketing firm Brigade, Patrick Hackett director, producer and board president of the CFVA, and Ula Sniegowska the Artistic Director of the American Film Festival in Wroclaw, Poland.

The American Independent Narrative Award

Winner: Hunter Gatherer directed by Joshua Locy (USA)

The six distinct titles selected for the American Independent Narrative section are strong, hopeful indicators of the current state of indies in the US, representing the diverse voices and startlingly beautiful aesthetics of the some of best from the contemporary filmmaking landscape.

For its singular authorial voice and unique vision, sense of humor and sheer charm, the Award for Best American Independent Narrative goes to Joshua Locy’s Hunter Gatherer. This consistently surprising feature debut from art director-turned-filmmaker Locy is one of overwhelming humanity, with unexpected characterizations deftly realized by Andre Royo, George Sample III and the rest of the film’s nuanced supporting cast. Drifting seamlessly between subtle magical realism and tough reality, Hunter Gatherer is highlighted by sublime cinematography and a poignant, pitch-perfect score from American composer Keegan DeWitt.

Honorable Mention in the American Independent Narrative Section
The jury would like to give an Honorable Mention to Free in Deed for its powerful storytelling, patient filmmaking, incredible ensemble performances, and complete confidence of vision from filmmaker Jake Mahaffy.

The jury was comprised of: Jasmine McGlade, film writer, director and producer, Jefferson Moneo Canadian writer and director, and graduate of Columbia’s MFA Film program, and KJ Relth of the UCLA Film and Television Archive’s programming department.

The Liberty Global International Student Short Award

Winner: Submarine directed by Mounia Akl (Lebanon)

The jury stated: “We were struck by the use of sparse, magical realism to explore the idea of home in the film Submarine. A garbage crisis provides the backdrop of disaster for a strong, woman protagonist to resist evacuation of her contaminated town.

The film is constructed with dreamy and disorienting editing strategies, heightening a sense of the mythical.  Yet, the fable in this film jars us outside of the frame, as you begin to recall catastrophes from this world, heavy with overtones of environmental and refugee catastrophes.”

The Spike Lee Student Filmmaker Award

Winner: Girls and Boys directed by Tomasz Gubernat (USA)

The jury stated: The cinematography and editing function like a microscope, as we observe the tightly framed details and gestures of these coming of age students learning a traditional Polish dance featuring rigidly coded gender roles.

This seemingly innocuous class allows us to meditate on larger questions of tradition and the passage of time that is revealed to us through the space of a quotidian after school dance class through the space of a quotidian after school dance class.

Best Short Animated Film
Winner: The Noise of Licking directed by Nadja Andrasev (Hungary)

The jury was charmed by this quirky, mystifying and hypnotic animation. A woman and her flora environment merge into a symbiotic relationship of licks and caresses.  Everyday sounds are transformed into a musical landscape.  We all agreed that this was a genuinely bizarre tale where the world we know is recreated as a sensual sanctuary that can only exists in the imaginary.

The jury for all three shorts categories was comprised of: Diana Reichenbach, multi-media artist and Professor of Animation at Savannah College of Art and Design, Chris Robinson, the Artistic Director of the Ottawa International Animation Festival, and Kelly Sears and Denver based animator and filmmaker, and Assistant Professor of Film Studies at the University of Colorado Boulder.

Feature Screenplay Award

Winner: The Silence written by Thomas Thonson

Presented by: University of Colorado Denver’s Film & Television Program, College of Arts and Media

Short Screenplay Award

Winner: Evelyn X Evelyn written by  Eric Pumphrey

Presented by: University of Colorado Denver’s Film & Television Program, College of Arts and Media

True Grit Award
Winner: Reengineering Sam directed by Brian Malone
Presented by: Denver Film Academy comprised of alumni of the DFS Board of Trustees.

Denver Film Festival Awards

As previously announced, awards presented on behalf of the Denver Film Festival were:

  • Excellence in Acting Award: Emma Stone
  • Reel Social Club Indie Spirit Award: Alex Karpovsky (Folk Hero and Funny Guy, USA)
  • Rising Star Award Hayden Szeto (The Edge of Seventeen, USA)
  • Stan Brakhage Vision Award: Saul Levine
  • Rare Pearl Award: Lost In Paris 
  • Tribute Award: Dominque Abel and Fiona Gordon
  • George Hickenlooper Honorary Award: Demian Bechir (Un Cuento De Circo & A Love Song, USA)

For a look back at the 39th Denver Film Festival join us on social media: like the DFF Facebook ( page, follow @DenverFilm on Twitter and @DenverFilmSociety on Instagram and join the conversation by using the hashtag: #DFF39.



ABOUT THE DENVER FILM SOCIETY: Founded in 1978, the Denver Film Society (DFS) is a membership-based, 501(c)(3) nonprofit cultural institution that produces film events throughout the year, including the award-winning Denver Film Festival and the popular, summertime series Film on the Rocks. With a vision to cultivate community and transform lives through film, the Film Society provides opportunities for diverse audiences to discover film through creative, thought-provoking experiences.

The permanent home of the Denver Film Society, the Sie FilmCenter, is Denver’s only year-round cinematheque, presenting a weekly-changing calendar of first-run exclusives and arthouse revivals both domestic and foreign, narrative and documentary – more than 600 per year, all shown in their original language and format. DFS’s one-of-a-kind programs annually reach more than 200,000 film lovers and film lovers-in-training.

For more information, visit or, or follow @DenverFilm on Twitter and @DenverFilmSociety on Instagram. Join the conversation by using the hashtag #DFF39.

The sponsors of the 2016 Denver Film Festival help sustain the organization’s vision to cultivate community and transform lives through film. Festival sponsors include: Premier Sponsor – Regal Entertainment Group; Associate Sponsors – Anna & John J. Sie Foundation, AOR, Inc., Barbara Bridges, CEAVCO Audio Visual, Comcast, Liberty Global, Mike’s Camera, STARZ, Three Tomatoes Catering, Xfinity; Supporting Sponsors – Allwell Rents, Argonaut Wine & Liquor, Denver Pavilions, Fusion Beverage Solutions, Lyft, Nichols Venture Group, Sage Hospitality; Patron Sponsors – AARP, Colorado Restaurant Association, Couch, LLC, Eldorado Natural Spring Water, Great Divide Brewing Co., Kentwood City Properties, Lighting & Design by Scott, Propel, Rocky Mountain College of Art + Design, Rotary Club of Denver, SundanceNow Doc Club, University of Colorado-Denver College of Arts & Media; Media – Denver Life Magazine, Open Media Foundation, Out Front, ProductionHub, Westword; Government Sponsors – Arts & Venues Denver, Create Denver, Colorado Office of Film Television & Media, French Film and TV Department of the French Embassy in Los Angeles, Honorary Consul of Belgium Frank Schuchat, Scientific & Cultural Facilities District; Contributing Sponsors – AR & VR Play Place, Brookfield Parking, Caz Matthews, Colorado Film & Video Association, Contagious Media, David Sands Pictures, Denver Screenprint & Embroidery, Dixie Elixirs & Edibles, Fine Arts Foundation, Go Direct Services, Harmonic Media, Kind Snacks, Larimer Associates, LivWell Enlightened Health, Made In Nature, Mike Wright Gallery, Novo Coffee, SAGIndie, Stillwater, Telula, TV5MONDE, Visit Denver, Weather or Not Event Accessories, Will LaBahn