2015 CDS Filmmaker Award: Nomi Talisman and Dee Hibbert-Jones "Last Day of Freedom"
Juries and Full Frame audiences selected the Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award, a $7,500 annual prize juried by CDS representatives created to honor and support documentary artists whose works are potential catalysts for education and change, who best connect the power of the documentary tradition with community life, and who best lead viewers to understand and reflect on themselves and the world portrayed. This year’s award went to Last Day of Freedom, directed by Nomi Talisman and Dee Hibbert-Jones. The film was also awarded the Full Frame Jury Award for Best Short Film.
Last Day of Freedom’s beautiful, inventive animation accompanies testimony of one man’s agonizing decision to turn his brother in to the police. Bill Babbitt’s younger brother, Manny, a decorated Vietnam veteran, suffers from PTSD. When Bill finds evidence that ties Manny to a murder, he goes to the police, thinking that it is not only right but also a way to get help for his brother. In the ensuing trial, Bill testifies for both the prosecution and the defense and is haunted by recollections of Manny’s last day of freedom. “Last Day of Freedom won for its nuanced exploration of the nature of memory,” said CDS director Wesley Hogan, representing the award jury. “It’s a stunning film that asks us to rethink what we know of PTSD, family life, policing, and capital punishment.”