Cinetopia 2016 Winners

You came, you saw, you voted–
and so did we!

Here are the Audience & Festival Director’s Award winners for this year’s Cinetopia.

Looking for our Detroit Voices winners? Check here!

AUDIENCE AWARD – NARRATIVE

HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE

About the Film

Ricky is your typical misfit who loves causing trouble, and you will love every ounce of him. When Ricky heads to his latest foster home, he connects with his sweet Aunt Bella and his new home in the New Zealand bush. The tough one to read is Bella’s husband, Uncle Hec, who could do without the hip-hop loving young kid. When an unfortunate situation puts Ricky at risk of getting ripped out of his newfound home, he decides to head out into the bush with his dog, Tupac, to escape the authorities. Despite his grumpiest efforts, Uncle Hec helps Ricky navigate the new landscape. The escape turns into a hilarious and heartwarming adventure that you will not want to end. SAM NEILL and newcomer JULIAN DENNISON make the perfect pair in this coming-of-age and buddy comedy of the year.

DIRECTOR’S AWARD – NARRATIVE

OPERATOR

About the Film

On the surface, Joe (MARTIN STARR) is a balanced, everyday guy, all thanks to the support of his level-headed wife Emily (MAE WHITMAN) and his obsession with … the quantifiable self. Charts, calculations, and formulae all help him understand what he is doing, why he is doing it, and what he is capable of offering to those around him. After a major project at work goes awry for him and his best friend Gregg (NAT FAXON), Joe enlists the help of his wife, crossing streams to achieve the satisfaction of his client, but also putting Joe’s home life into a conundrum. With the added factors of his mother (CHRISTINE LAHTI) taking a turn for the worse by just being her lovable self, and Emily beginning to see what she really wants out of life, Joe may now need to carry this one over to a new set of values.

AUDIENCE AWARD – DOCUMENTARY

MAYA ANGELOU AND STILL I RISE

About the Film

Surprisingly, writer, poet, and activist MAYA ANGELOU has never been the subject of a feature-length documentary – until now. Made by BOB HERCULES and first-time filmmaker RITA COBURN, this is a perceptive portrait of a woman who endured a myriad of childhood traumas only to emerge as a singular voice for the empowerment of women and African-Americans, working alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Angelou was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, a Tony award and three Grammy awards, amongst many other achievements. She also wrote seven autobiographies. The film captures not only these amazing accomplishments, but also presents a personal take on Angelou’s life through interviews with family, friends, and collaborators, as well as famous faces like the CLINTONS, OPRAH WINFREY and QUINCY JONES. Made over a four-year period, the filmmakers were able to interview Angelou herself prior to her death in 2014, allowing us to once again hear her elegant yet powerful voice.

DIRECTOR’S AWARD – DOCUMENTARY

TYRUS

About the Film

The beauty of life is painted remarkably onto the screen through the incredible palette of the 105 years-young TYRUS WONG. The film takes the viewer into the world of a Chinese immigrant to the USA who not only overcame prejudice, but persevered to become one of the most culturally relevant artists today. As an artist in Hollywood, Wong inspired Walt Disney and helped bring us the delicate, majestic beauty of Bambi. Director PAMELA TOM carefully weaves interviews with best-selling author LISA SEE, Hollywood film historian JOE MUSSO, art curator SONIA MAK, studio animation notable DON HAHN (who also is executive producer), and many more, alongside interviews with Wong’s family to give a rare, candid look at this unique man for our time. Take a visual walk through this gallery of a career that is at once touchingly memorable and of the moment.

AUDIENCE AWARD – FOREIGN LANGUAGE

LANDFILL HARMONIC

About the Film

Life near one of the largest South American landfills may seem grim, but the children in this inspiring documentary prove that with resourcefulness and optimism, anything is possible. Recognizing the need in this Paraguayan community, a local man created the RECYCLED ORCHESTRA OF CATEURA, a children’s orchestra with instruments made entirely out of garbage. With resilience and music as their weapons, the group is determined to overcome all the odds and become a global hit. When their story goes viral they are thrust into a new and exciting world, but ultimately their music must bring them back home. This inspiring and uplifting film showcases the power in music and the magic that can happen when children chase their wildest dreams.

DIRECTOR’S AWARD – FOREIGN LANGUAGE

PARCHED

About the Film

In a rural Indian village, three female friends bond over their various struggles in the male-dominated, oppressive society they share. One is a former child bride who is trying to marry off her son, the second an abused wife who believes herself infertile, and the third a prostitute. As the three women share their struggles, fears, and hopes with one another, they slowly begin to find the potential to change their lives. Writer/director LEENA YADAV weaves a universal story of the pain, violence, and discrimination that women experience, as well as the hopes and joy. Set against the parched background of Gujarat, India and with stunning cinematography by RUSSELL CARPENTER (Titanic), Yadav has created a story and visual experience as beautiful as it is bittersweet.