Freedom Swimmer wins MOZAIK Bridging The Borders Award at 2022 ShortFest


Palm Springs International ShortFest has announced Freedom Swimmer (Australia/France/UK/Hong Kong) by Olivia Martin-McGuire, as the winner of 2022 MOZAIK Bridging the Borders Award, presented by Cinema Without Borders and sponsored by MOZAIK Philanthropy. 

Breakpoint (France) by Nicolas Panay received MOZAIK Bridging The Borders Award Honorary Mention.

This year’s award ceremony festival was held on June 26th at the Camelot Theatres in Palm Springs. Susan Morgan Cooper and Bijan Tehrani, two of the jury members, presented the award for this year’s MOZAIK Bridging the Borders Honorary Mention and award winner. The winner received a cash award of $2500 courtesy of MOZAIK Philanthropy.

Bijan Tehrani, Editor in Chief of Cinema Without Borders and President of Cinema Without Borders Foundation spoke about the sixteen years of history of the Bridging The Borders Award at the Palm Springs ShortFest. Bijan mentioned that MOZAIK Bridging The Borders Award is given to the most successful film in bringing the people of our world closer together.

Next Susan Morgan Cooper announced the winners of the MOZAIK Bridging the Borders Award by reading the Jury Statement: ” The MOZAIK Bridging The Borders award for the 2022 Palm Springs Short Fest received nominated films from 14 countries. These films were well made and thought provoking, making it difficult for the jury to choose a winner.
One film masterfully portrays the painful challenge of holding onto your job in order to survive. In France, Odile, a textile worker, and her colleagues are told they must evaluate newly arrived young female Tunisian workers over a span of four days. Odile battles between having compassion for the young worker and the threat of losing her own job. Our Honorary Mention goes to The Breakpoint from France, directed by Nicolas Panay

The Bridging the Borders Award, given by Cinema Without Borders and sponsored by MZAIK Philanthropy receives a $2500 award.
Our award goes to a film that highlights the universal struggle of escaping a dictatorship to reach freedom. While documenting a grandfather’s years of failed attempts, and his final escape to Hong Kong from the oppressive regime of China in the 1970’s, the film intercuts the experiences of young people protesting on the streets of Hong Kong today. This powerful documentary combines live action with stunningly poetic animation.
The winner of the MOZAIK Bridging the Borders Award is Freedom Swimmer from Australia, France, UK, and Hong Kong, directed by Olivia Martin-McGuire

Cinema Without Borders’ jury members to decide the 2022 winner of the MOZAIK Bridging The Borders Award are:

Susan Morgan Cooper
Susan Morgan Cooper is a Director/Producer/ Writer and her credits include:
To the Moon and Back, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2016 (A cinematic act of love and courage’ … Broadway World) – Hopper [In his own words] Documentary, Producer/Writer 2013 (“I was moved to tears” Mike Medavoy) – Mulberry Child, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2012 (‘A powerful and touching film’… 31/2 stars. Roger Ebert) – An Unlikely Weapon [The Eddie Adams Story]..Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2008 ( ‘A terrific documentary’ The Hollywood Reporter) – Making Of Shadows in The Sun, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 2005 – Heroes And Sheroes. Television Series, Director/Producer/Writer 2000
Mirjana: One Girl’s Journey, Documentary, Director/Producer/Writer 1997 – Stringers, Narrative Short Director/Producer/Writer 1990 – Hadley’s Rebellion, Narrative Feature Associate Producer 1989

Arameh Etemadi
Arameh Etemadi is a television producer, documentary director, journalist and film critic. She recognized as a film critic for Iranian Film Magazine since 2007 and known for her articles and film critics since then.
She won the award of the best art interviewer Iranian Society of Film Critics and Writers (ISFCW) in 2014.
Arameh Etemadi is currently a film critic for the Film-e Emrooz Magazine and has written for a variety of publications including Chelcheragh, Hamshahri Javan, Shargh Newspaper, Tehran-e Emrooz and 24 monthly magazine.
She was born and grew up in Tehran where she started her professional career as a journalist and a film critic for Hamshahri and NaghshAfarinan in 2004.
She has studied Social Communication Science and graduated master degree of Journalism.
Arameh Etemadi is also a writer, director and Live TV show producer. She directed a documentary about the life and works of “Mohamadreza Lotfi” in 2015.
She was a Co-Founder and Artistic Director of Sheed Film Festival located in Dallas, TX in 2016 and 2017.

Hermon Farahi is an award-winning, first-generation Iranian Korean American filmmaker, author, scholar-activist, social impact strategist, multidisciplinary creative director, and former candidate for U.S. Congress (NV-03), trained as a cultural anthropologist and documentarian grounded in critical race theory and decolonial praxis (MA, The George Washington University). His lived experience raised in a multicultural immigrant family has deeply informed his work as a storyteller and change-agent. Faced with family separation due to the “Muslim ban”, Hermon was inspired to run for Congress, ultimately suspending his campaign to work on the Emmy-nominated, Academy Award-shortlisted Netflix Original Documentary, Knock Down The House, winner of the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Favorite Award. Genuinely committed to inclusion and antiracism, Hermon has collaborated with many impacted BIPOC communities, locally and globally. As a senior advisor to Rep. Cori Bush, Hermon’s polymathic skill-set helped propel her campaign to a historic victory over a 52-year political dynasty to become Missouri’s first Black Congresswoman. His award-winning feature debut, When They Awake, a decolonial indigenous music documentary, has screened in 50+ International Film Festivals. He has consulted for several grassroots and international organizations, including The World Bank and USAID, and even traversed Mt. Everest while filming for a cancer foundation.

Matt Ferro
Matt Ferro is a film and television director, writer and producer, as well as producer of some of the most memorable Hollywood blockbuster visual effects and animation. From his early producing team days on the independent film scenes in NY and Los Angeles (such as Nicholas Cage – starrer Vampire’s Kiss and The Nosferatu Diaries with Alyssa Milano and Jennifer Tilly) to producing the visual effects for such blockbuster films as The Matrix, Face-Off, The X-Files, Titanic and Alien: Resurrection, and helming the development of the creative and technical pipelines for Happy Feet, Matt has been at the forefront of modern motion picture storytelling and at the center of two Academy Award-winning effects and animation undertakings.

Matt’s recent producing credits include the feature documentary What Will Become of Us?, the story of Sir Frank Lowy, founder of the Westfield Shopping Center empire and most financially successful holocaust survivor, at a critical turning point in his life.

Matt’s writing and directorial work include the I Am SciFi audience-favorite image spot starring Traci Lords (helping the campaign earn the BDA award that year), ESPN’s bold science short film The Scientist Who Wants to Reverse Extinctions for the critically-acclaimed The Collectors series, and most recently, The Story of Three Sisters, opening the 2022 International Jewish International Film Festival Short Films Program. Matt now calls Sydney, Australia home.

Rachel O’Meara
Rachel O’Meara has been a working actor across film, TV and theatre for over 20 years, and is a graduate of London’s Academy of Live and Recorded Arts (ALRA). Prior to that, she worked in media with the Saatchi Group in London, and in Dubai, also spending years working in Germany, France, Brunei, Nepal and Hong Kong, all together giving her a significant first-hand insight to international cinema. She attends as many different film festivals as she can. Rachel’s selected screen credits include the upcoming “Hyperions” (Cary Elwes), “Mechanic: Resurrection” (Jason Statham, Tommy Lee Jones / Lionsgate),
“Day Of The Dead:Bloodline” (Millennium Films),“Training Day” (Bill Paxton / CBS), “Spotless” (Denis Menochet / NETFLIX), “War Inc.” (John Cusack, Marisa Tomei / Millennium Films), “The Experiment” (Adrien Brody, Forest Whitaker), “Until Death” (JC Van Damme), in addition to many more indie films and TV series

Bijan Tehrani
Founder and director of I, Immigrant and founder of Cinema Without Borders (CWB) and CineEqual is an award-winning author of children’s books and short films. Tehrani has been a passionate advocate of human rights, which he has actively pursued as a filmmaker, -historian, and -critic over the past five decades.
Tehrani initiated CineEqual, a multi-faceted program that includes I, Immigrant and is administered by the CWB Foundation, in 2018. Since its founding in 2005, CWB has interviewed and introduced over 2,000 filmmakers from around the globe, a majority of them champions of social justice and human rights.

Terry George, Academy winner and director of Hotel Rwanda, had this to say on the 10th anniversary of CWB: ”At a time when media consolidation is threatening diverse and unique voices, Cinema Without Borders provides a forum for underrepresented perspectives and stories. Now more than ever, we need to reach across cultural, political and national lines. Cinema Without Borders is part of this critical work.”

James Ulmer
A contributing writer for The New York Times as well as Cinema Without Borders’ international editor, Ulmer’s 30-year journalistic career has included serving eight years as international editor and columnist for The Hollywood Reporter, as well as writing for The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, Variety and The Observer in London.

He is the author of James Ulmer‘s Hollywood Hot List — The Complete Guide to Star Ranking, published by St. Martin’s Press, and the founder of the entertainment database company The Ulmer Scale. Most recently he served as Jury President of the Central European Film Festival, and as well on the competition juries of the Cairo and Madrid international film festivals. On television, he has appeared frequently on “Entertainment Tonight,” “CBS This Morning,” “CNN Showbiz Today,” Voice of America, among many. As a filmmaker, he directed the short documentary Remembering Paradiso with the participation of Oscar-winning director of Cinema Paradiso, Giuseppe Tornatore, as well as the documentary Lost Property for the BBC.

Ulmer now resides with his life partner in both Prague and Castelfidardo, Italy, where he hosts occasional public film screenings on the cobblestone street in front of his house.

Winners of the MOZAIK Bridging The Borders Award at the Palm Springs International ShortFest 2022:

Breakpoint (France) by Nicolas Panay – Honorary Mention
Odile—a textile worker—and her colleagues are forced to evaluate Tunisian young women for a week at their workplace. Playing a zero sum game for jobs they all need, there is no good solution, but Odile strives to make the right choice.

Freedom Swimmer (Australia/France/UK/Hong Kong) by Olivia Martin-McGuire – Winner of 2022 MOZAIK Bridging The Borders Award
This hybrid, poetic documentary, interweaving hand-drawn animation and film, tells the tale of a grandfather’s perilous swim from China to Hong Kong during the Cultural Revolution while creating a parallel with his granddaughter’s participation in mass protests now.

FREEDOM SWIMMER documents a mass migration story from the 20th century, which is relatively untold in the Western world — and offers context for a city in turmoil, today.

A granddaughter asks her grandfather to recount his journey from China, swimming to Hong Kong in the 1970’s.

One of two million mainland residents who swam across the southern sea border near Shenzhen, it was a decade-long struggle to leave. Many others died trying or were captured and sent to labour camps. He was one of the lucky ones.

From the 1950’s to 1980’s Hong Kong was a symbol of freedom to many Chinese, glimpsed across the water. The grandfather, like many other refugees, went on to have a successful life in Hong Kong and was part of the working-class movement that powered local industry and helped transform the city into a financial success story.

FREEDOM SWIMMER explores the effect of past cultural trauma, allowing the audience to find a new perspective on the current situation. It reflects the depth of a symbol that is ‘freedom’ – that Hong Kong both represents and holds onto so tightly.

On a wider-scale, this is a universal story of the dispossessed – what it takes to flee your country, what it means to fight for freedom, what it is like to leave everything in hope of liberty.


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