Madelyn's choice

Madelyn Osur

On February 15, 2005, our dear friend Madelyn Osur lost her battle with breast cancer. Madelyn had been an active member of the Festival’s Operations Committee for the past ten years, served on the Board for seven years, and for the past five years served as Chair of the Film Selection Committee. In her memory, one film is selected each year from the Festival line up that we feel best exemplifies Madelyn’s spirit – her zest for life, her caring and generous nature, and her ever-optimistic attitude.

“Madelyn loved films that were a poignant, but never sloppy, examination of the human condition–from a woman’s perspective. Films that explored relationships–especially between women, most especially between mothers and daughters–were high on her list as were films on subjects of personal interest–dance, animals (especially cats), and anything Jewish. If it was a little quirky or unusual, that was good, too. She gravitated toward the new take on everyday life realities and honest treatment of universal truths. No matter the subject, however, Madelyn never compromised her commitment to excellence in filmmaking and film quality in choosing festival films.” – Jody Alyn, Board Member.

It is our hope that with every “Madelyn’s Choice” selection we are all reminded of the kind of person she was, the values she held, and the unparalleled commitment she had to not only this event, but to everything in her life.

2022 winner

The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

Based on the bestselling biography by Jeanne Theoharis and executive produced by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, this crucial documentary on the “mother of the Civil Rights movement,” Rosa Parks, is a comprehensive telling of the icon’s lifelong dedication to activism. The film chronicles her historic role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott, her work in politics alongside Congressman John Conyers in Detroit, and the many causes along the way, such as voting rights and reparations, that she fearlessly championed until her death in 2005.

Madelyn's Choice Award Winners


The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks

This first feature documentary about Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks delves deep into her historic role in the Montgomery Bus Boycott and her work both before and after this event. Through interviews with people who knew her, powerful archival footage and her own words, the film tells the story of Parks’ extensive organizing, radical politics, and lifelong dedication to activism.

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Shiva Baby

A near college graduate, Danielle, gets paid by her sugar daddy and rushes to meet her neurotic parents at a family shiva. Upon arrival, she is accosted by various estranged relatives about her appearance and lack of post-grad plans, while her confident ex-girlfriend, Maya, is applauded by everyone for getting into law school. Danielle’s day takes an unexpected turn when her sugar daddy, Max, arrives at the shiva with his accomplished wife, Kim, and crying baby. As the day unfolds, Danielle struggles to keep up different versions of herself, fend off pressures from her family and confront her insecurities without completely losing it.

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From Schubert to Strauss, Bach to… Billy Joel, Itzhak Perlman’s transcendent violin playing evokes the depth of the human experience. This enchanting documentary details the virtuoso’s own struggles as a polio survivor and Jewish émigré, and reminds us why art is vital to life.

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NANA is a feature-length transgenerational documentary. The filmmaker retraces her grandmother’s Auschwitz survival story, and investigates how her life-long fight against intolerance can be taught to the new generations.

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Dancing for You

Vilde (12 ) wants to be the first female ‘Halling’ folk dance champion. A traditional dance for men only. Her greatest challenge isn’t the competition – she’s convinced that her strength and passion for dance and life are helping her beloved grandfather to win his fight against cancer. A beautifully crafted portrait of two generations of sports champs and a affectionate/loving grandfather-grandchild bond.

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The latest film from legendary documentarian Albert Maysles (GREY GARDENS, GIMME SHELTER), IRIS pairs the late 88-year-old filmmaker (who passed away on March 5) with Iris Apfel, the quick-witted, flamboyantly dressed 93-year-old style maven who has had an outsized presence on the New York fashion scene for decades.

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The Optimists

Despite their weekly training sessions, the volleyball ladies in THE OPTIMISTS, ages 66-98, have not played a match for 30 years.  Now this is exactly the plan.

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No Evidence Of Disease

Below the belt cancers and a below the radar cause are thrust into the limelight as N.E.D., or No Evidence of Disease, a rock band of GYN surgeons, put the plight of their patients center stage in this riveting story of women fighting for their lives.

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First Position

2012 Madelyn’s Choice Award Winner Follow in the inspirational footsteps of six talented ballet dancers (ages nine to nineteen) as they struggle to maintain form in the face of injury and personal sacrifice on their way to one of the most prestigious y…

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The Loving Story

The Loving Story, a documentary film, tells the story of Richard and Mildred Loving to examine the drama, the history, and the current state of interracial marriage and tolerance in the United States. The documentary was filmed in High Definition video and 16mm film. It is intended for a wide audience through theatrical release, festival screenings, community screenings, national television broadcast, web-based broadcast, and DVD and educational distribution. The film has enjoyed sold-out screenings at festivals and special events since its World Premiere at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival in April 2011.

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The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls

Winner of the Cadillac People’s Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival 2009 ‘The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls’ tells the story of the world’s only comedic, singing, yodeling lesbian twin sisters, Lynda and Jools Topp, whose political activism and unique brand of entertainment has helped change New Zealand’s social landscape. In the process, they have become well-loved cultural icons.

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Blessed Is The Match

A World War II-era poet and diarist resistance fighter. She joined a mission to rescue Jews in her native Hungary and parachuted behind enemy lines. Shockingly, it was the only military rescue mission for Jews during the Holocaust.

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As We Forgive

Could you forgive a person who murdered your family? This is the question faced by Rwandan women who meet with the men who slaughtered their families during the 1994 genocide. The film follows their extraordinary journey from death to life through forgiveness.

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The Cats of Mirikitani

The filmmaker becomes fascinated by a homeless Japanese-American artist who lives near her New York City apartment. When 9/11 threatens him, she brings him to her home, and embarks on a journey to confront his painful past. An intimate exploration of the lingering wounds of war and the healing powers of friendship and art.

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Phoenix Dance

This film shows us the beauty and strength of one individual who defies our expectations of what it means to be “disabled.” A heroic journey from loss to faith, trust, and beauty.

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Kathryn: The Story of a Teller

Kathryn: The Story of a Teller, gives us a glimpse into the life of an extraordinary woman whose phenomenal memory reaches back to conversations with people who lived before the Civil War. Pioneering female journalist, collector of tales, “the queen of…

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