Award Winning Films

GIFF is proud to support filmmakers with a variety of film awards and cash prizes.  Check out our award-winning films!


Presented by Ann & Nick Young


Documentary / 93 minutes / USA

With exclusive access inside one of New York’s hardest hit hospital systems during the terrifying first four months of the pandemic, Oscar®-nominated and Emmy® Award-winning director Matthew Heineman’s THE FIRST WAVE spotlights the everyday heroes at the epicenter of COVID-19 as they come together to fight one of the greatest threats the world has ever encountered. Leaving a devastating trail of death and despair, this once-in-a-century pandemic changed the very fabric of our daily lives and exposed long-standing inequities in our society. Employing his signature approach of character-driven cinema vérité, Heineman embeds with a group of doctors, nurses and patients on the frontlines as they all desperately try to navigate the crisis. With each distinct storyline serving as a microcosm through which we can view the emotional and societal impacts of the pandemic, THE FIRST WAVE is a testament to the strength of the human spirit.

Director: Matthew Heineman
Producers: Matthew Heineman, Jenna Millman, Leslie Norville
Editors: Francisco Bello, Matthew Heineman, Gabriel Rhodes, David Zieff Cinematographers: Brian Dawson, Matthew Heineman, Ross McDonnell, Alex Pritz, Thorsten Thielow



Documentary  /  102 mins  /  Ireland, UK, Belgium, France

An observational documentary set in post-conflict Belfast’s Ardoyne, where a marginalized, working class community has for generations been plagued by poverty, drugs and guns. This film charts the dream of Headmaster Kevin McArevey and his dedicated, visionary team illustrating how critical thinking and pastoral care can empower and encourage children to see beyond the boundaries and limitations of their own community. We see how philosophy encourages young boys to question the mythologies of war and of violence, and sometimes challenge the narratives their parents, peers and socio-economic group would dictate.

Directors:  Neasa Ní Chianáin, Declan McGrath
Producers: David Rane, Hanne Phlypo, Céline Nusse, Jackie Doyle, Declan McGrath
Screenwriters: Neasa Ní Chianáin, Declan McGrath, Etienne Essery
Editor: Philippe Ravoet
Cinematographers: Neasa Ní Chianáin


Drama / 101 mins / Morocco

Anas, a former rapper, is employed in a cultural centre. Encouraged by their new teacher, the students will try to free themselves from the weight of traditions to live their passion and express themselves through hip hop culture.

Director: Nabil Ayouch
Producers: Nabil Ayouch, Amine Benjelloun, Alain Cohen, Martine Cohen, Alexandra Henochsberg, Bruno Nahon
Screenwriters: Nabil Ayouch, Maryam Touzani (collaboration)
Editors: Marie-Hélène Dozo, Julia Gregory, Yassir Hamani
Cinematographers: Virginie Surdej, Amine Messadi

Past Winners

Audience Award

  • 2020 – “A Peloton of One”

Best Social Impact Film

  • 2021: “Through the Night”
  • 2020 – “Music Got Me Here”
  • 2019 – “Afterward”
  • 2018 – “Crime + Punishment”
  • 2017 – “City of Ghosts”
  • 2016 – “Hooligan Sparrow”
  • 2015 – “3 ½ Minutes, Ten Bullets”

Best CT Short

  • 2020 – “The Other Side”
  • 2019 – “120 Years”
  • 2018 – “The Hammamis”
  • 2017 – “Blind Sushi”

Honorable Mentions

  • 2021:”The Boy From Medellin”
  • 2021: “There is No Evil”

Best Documentary Feature

  • 2019 – Cold Case Hammarskjöld
  • 2018 – “The Dawn Wall”
  • 2017 – “Bending the Arc”
  • 2016 – “Hooligan Sparrow”
  • 2015 – “The Russian Woodpecker”

Best Narrative Feature

  • 2019 – “Sister Aimee”
  • 2018 – “The Peculiar Abilities of Mr. Mahler”
  • 2017 – “The Strange Ones”
  • 2016 – “Little Men”
  • 2015 – “Zurich”

Best Documentary Short

  • 2019 – “Mack Wrestles”
  • 2018 – “Kayayo”
  • 2017 – “The Rabbit Hunt”
  • 2016 – “Another Kind of Girl”
  • 2015 – “Santa Cruz del Islote”

Best Narrative Short

  • 2019 – “The Animal”
  • 2018 – “The Peculiar Abilities of Mr. Mahler”
  • 2017 – “Under Pressure”
  • 2016 – “Before the Bomb”
  • 2015 – “Grounded”
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