After wrapping a successful 11 day film festival, Cinetopia Film Festival announced the 2017 winners of the four Audience and Festival Director Awards, as well as the four awards for the Detroit Voices short film competition, at their closing night celebration at the Charles H. Wright Museum in Detroit.

The winning films represent the best in narrative and documentary films from around the world, highlighting stories from France, Tel Aviv, Baltimore, Native American reservations in California and Arizona, and Detroit. For the first time, the four major Cinetopia awards (including two Audience Awards and two Festival Director Awards) were given to films with women directors. The Detroit Voices Knight Jury Prize and Best High School Film Award also went to women.

The 6th annual festival attracted a record number of attendees to venues across Detroit, Dearborn and Ann Arbor, including popular screenings of 12th and Clairmount at the Michigan Theater, the US premiere of McLaren (featuring a McLaren race car on-site) at the Henry Ford, and an outdoor farm screening of Look and See: A Portrait of Wendell Berry at Zingerman’s Cornman Farms in Dexter. After more than 115 screenings of 64 films, the votes were tallied and the winning films are:

Audience Award – Narrative: Fanny’s Journey (France/Belgium, 94 min, Drama)
Directed by Lola Doillon

Fanny and her sisters attempt to escape Nazi occupied France but many dangers are ahead of them.

Audience Award- Documentary: Step (USA, 83 min, Documentary)
Directed by Amanda Lipitz

The senior year of a girls’ high school step team in inner-city Baltimore is documented, as they try to become the first in their families to attend college. The girls strive to make their dancing a success against the backdrop of social unrest.

Festival Director’s Award- Narrative: In Between (Israel, 96 min, Drama)
Directed by Maysaloun Hamoud

Three Arab-Israeli women share an apartment in Tel Aviv and try to balance their traditions with the modern world.

Festival Director’s Award- Documentary: Tribal Justice (USA, 8 min, Documentary)
Directed by Anne Makepeace

Two Native American judges reach back to traditional concepts of justice in order to reduce incarceration rates, foster greater safety for their communities and create a more positive future for youth.

Additionally, the Detroit Voices Short Film Competition Awards were announced. A continuing force in the Cinetopia Film Festival mission, Detroit Voices provides the opportunity for local filmmakers to showcase their creative spirit and Michigan perspective with a larger audience. The competition was open to all Michigan filmmakers with an additional category awarding a high school filmmaker. Cash awards are made possible by sponsors John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and the Michigan Film & Digital Media Office.

Knight Jury Prize – $3,000 cash award
Scrap Dolls. Dir. Aude Cuenod 13 mins
On the east side of Detroit an 11-year-old boy, grieving over the loss of his best friend, encounters an artist who makes art out of abandoned objects.

Michigan Film & Digital Media Audience Choice Award – $1,500 cash award
Model No. Human. Dir. Adam Cooper 11 mins
A man with a mechanical brain believes he once lived as a human. When he meets a familiar young girl, memories of his past are triggered and he fights for her life.

Best High School Film Award – $1,000 cash award
#Biodiversity is Unity. Dir. Dy’Shauna Rutherford 3 mins
An exploration of the innate diversity of biology and how its reflected in our community and environment

Honorable Mention – $500 cash award
Mosquito, The Bite Of Passage. Dir. Brian Vincent Rhodes & Eric Cheng 6 mins
A mother and daughter mosquito go hunting together for the first time, and the daughter is desperately trying to confess that she doesn’t like blood.

For the first year, the Arab Film Festival at the Arab American National Museum in Dearborn awarded a winner for the Arab Shorts: A Cinematic Tour Through the Arab
World program that screened on Saturday, June 10. Ayny, a stop-motion animated film directed by Ahmad Saleh about two boys dodging their overprotective mother in a seemingly innocent money-making scheme to purchase a classical musical instrument, took the honor.

Audiences who missed the award-winning films may have a chance to screen them in the near future at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor—an encore screening of the Detroit Voices competition is planned for the near future, and Step will receive a full release from Fox Searchlight Pictures this summer.
The Cinetopia Film Festival would not be possible without the generous support of title sponsors Michigan Medicine and The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and presenting sponsors Quicken Loans, Masco Foundation, Comerica Bank, and Ford Motor Community Fund.
Media support has been made possible by Detroit Public Television, WXYZ Detroit, Detroit Free Press, WDET, Metro Times, Hour Detroit, WEMU, 107one, Michigan Public Radio, Pride Source, and the Ann Arbor Observer.

Further important support of the Cinetopia Film Festival was provided Dickinson Wright, Michigan Film & Digital Media Office, Zingerman’s Community of Businesses, the Washtenaw County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau, State Street District; along with vital support from sponsors Arbor Networks, Domino’s, Stroh’s, Sesi Lincoln, Whole Foods Market, the Downtown Development Association, and these departments at the University of Michigan: Weiser Center for Europe & Eurasia in partnership with the Digital Islamic Studies Program, the International Institute the Center for Japanese Studies, the Center for Chinese Studies, the Confucius Institute, and the Nam Center for Korean Studies.