Statement from the Jury:
From an appliance salesman who helps pioneer a radical cancer treatment to missionary Jews in Montana and skate punks on an Apache reservation, our weekend of screening films to choose the Golden Badger Award winners was eye opening and transformative. In the end, after much deliberation, we chose three documentaries. These three films brought us the most surprises, generated the liveliest conversation, and left us with lasting impressions from their excellent storytelling and indelible characters.
Jo Ardinger’s documentary Personhood forces us to face a truly fundamental question: When does a fertilized egg become a person and when (or why) is a pregnant woman forced to forfeit her personhood? Personhood explores the criminalization and policing of pregnant women by kindly, carefully, and rigorously following the story of Tammy Loertshcer’s fight to be listened to in the state of Wisconsin. It’s worth noting that this film is also a fantastic parade of brilliant and determined women lawyers, community activists, politicians, and doctors. Sadly, this film reminded us of our horribly broken system, but thankfully, it expertly introduced us to the tools and the team members with which to fix it.
— Lori Felker
N of 1
When all else fails, call Howard! Of all the characters we met during our long and fruitful weekend of viewing Wisconsin’s Own films, the name that was on all our lips was Howard Simons. This unassuming appliance parts salesman and part-time rabbi from Toronto plays a central role in stranger-than-fiction tale we couldn’t stop talking about. Director Bernard Friedman, a UW–Madison grad, introduces us to Kayte, a 23-year-old Florida resident diagnosed with a rare and terminal form of cancer. She meets Howard through her social media networks, and he combs through medical journals and ends up matchmaking her with an Israeli immunologist and a London-based transplant surgeon for an experimental treatment in an Indian hospital. It’s a riveting and heart wrenching story of innovation and creative thinking — the Wisconsin Idea for the global age.
— Catherine Capellaro
The Mystery of Now
Through his company Apache Skateboards, artist Douglas Miles has spent the past 30 years creating an outlet for Native teenagers who feel like outsiders in their own country. In The Mystery of Now, we ride along the wings of sweeping cinematography and tight editing into the golden hour-lit world of the San Carlos Apache reservation’s skateboarding community. Audrey Buchanan directs with a deft hand, giving us frenetic and gritty glimpses into the lives of the young adults Douglas has mentored. The Mystery of Now is an important look at how the punk scene serves as an important place of release for tomorrow’s generation of Native American youth, inspiring them to take back their future.
— Carol Brandt
The jury also wanted to recognize six films as honorable mentions. We believe that any of these could have been Golden Badger recipients. They truly are inspiring and remarkable films.
A feature documentary:
Determined directed by Melissa Godoy highlights the struggle of family members providing care for relatives with dementia and the promising research taking place at UW-Madison.
Two narrative shorts:
Handheld, directed by Tony Oswald and Pisie Hochheim, is a creatively rendered story of memory and loss showing a single mother and her son viewing footage of the boy’s father.
Feeling Through, directed by Doug Roland, is a moving story of a transformative encounter between a homeless teen and a deaf and blind man he encounters at a street corner.
Three experimental shorts:
Bitter with a Shy Taste of Sweetness by Saif Alsaegh
Mirage by Jack Cronin
Garden City Beautiful by Ben Balcom