Cherry Picks is a recently launched online film source “dedicated to the female critical voice,” which works to promote and encourage work by female filmmakers and “create more inclusive storytelling.”

This year’s South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin, Texas hosted Cherry Picks as it presented its first annual Female First Feature Award. The honour and accompanying monetary prize goes to a current feature film by a first-time woman director. “CherryPicks created the Female First Feature Award to support its mission to shine a spotlight on female voices,” explained its CEO, Miranda Bailey, who also co-hosted a panel discussion at SXSW, “What Makes Critics Love or Hate a Movie?”

This year’s award went to Alice, a French/Australian collaboration set in Paris. Novice filmmaker Josephine Mackerras wrote, produced, and directed the French-language comedy/drama Alice, the story of a young mother abandoned and left destitute by her husband, who goes to any lengths necessary to provide for herself and her child. Miranda Bailey commented, “…filmmaker Josephine Mackerras proves she has the vision and talent to become a leading voice in the film industry.” 

Mackerras herself remarked on the value of the award to a small, independent film such as Alice. “It doesn’t have stars, I’m not known. It’s small, there are no cars crashing. It’s really a film that could disappear overnight, so to have the spotlight put on us means so much.”

An additional Special Recognition Award from Cherry Picks went to Columbian drama Days of the Whale. It tells the story of two young women, both budding artists, living in the violence-ridden city of Medellin, Colombia. When a local gang posts a threat on a public building, the two defiantly paint a mural of a whale over the gang’s message, leaving them open to retribution. Director Catalina Arroyave Restrepo is first-time screenwriter and director of the film, which also received the Special Jury Prize at the SXSW Festival.

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