The Middleburg Film Festival announced today the Audience Award winners for Best Narrative Film and Best Documentary Film following the conclusion of the four-day hybrid festival on Sunday, October 18. Best Narrative Film was awarded to A24’s MINARI from director Lee Isaac Chung whose cast received the Festival’s Ensemble Cast Spotlight Award. The award for Best Documentary Film went to THE DISSIDENT about the murder of The Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, from Academy Award winning director Bryan Fogel.
MFF audiences were given the opportunity to cast ballots for their favorite festival film following each in-person and virtual screening. This year’s festival featured 24 films spanning various genres, including Oscar contenders, thought-provoking documentaries and critically acclaimed international features.
“Congratulations to our Audience Award winners MINARI and THE DISSIDENT,” said MFF Executive Director Susan Koch. “While rooted in a specific time and place, MINARI tells a beautiful and universal story of an immigrant family’s search for the American Dream – a message that clearly resonated with our viewers.”
“We want to thank The Washington Post Press Freedom Partnership for joining us in presenting THE DISSIDENT. Bryan Fogel has crafted a riveting and urgent film that needs to be seen by as wide an audience as possible.”
An A24 and Plan B film, MINARI is a tender and sweeping story about what roots us. The film follows a Korean-American family that moves to a tiny Arkansas farm in search of their own American Dream. Starring Steven Yeun, Yeri Han, Alan Kim, Noel Kate Cho, Scott Haze, and Will Patton, the film is inspired by Chung’s own childhood. As part of MFF’s recognition of the film with the Ensemble Cast Spotlight Award, the cast joined The Washington Post Arts Editor Janice Page for a virtual conversation about the film.
THE DISSIDENT follows the assassination of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi and Saudi Arabia’s effort to control international dissent. After Khashoggi entered the Saudi consulate in Istanbul in 2018 and never came out, his fiancé and dissidents around the world were left to piece together clues to his brutal murder – and in their dogged quest for truth, exposed a global cover-up perpetrated by the very country he loved. With exclusive access to the Turkish government’s evidence; to Khashoggi’s fiancé, Hatice Cengiz; and to Khashoggi’s close friend and fellow Saudi insurgent Omar Abdulaziz, Fogel unearths hidden secrets in this real-life international thriller that will continue to rock the world long after headlines have faded away.
“Our sincerest thanks to everyone who made our hybrid festival a huge success,” said MFF Founder and Board Chair Sheila Johnson. “Our outdoor and drive-in screenings enabled us to retain the communal aspect of the festival experience while adhering to COVID-19 safety and health protocols and our virtual program allowed many others to view our wonderful slate of films from home. We are grateful to the distributors and filmmakers who shared their films with us – and to our sponsors, filmgoers and volunteers for all their support during these challenging times.”