2014 John Michael’s Award Winners

Winner:  Autumn Sun: A film about Occupy Oakland, David Martinez, 25 min. USA.


“Autumn Sun” tells the story of Occupy Oakland, which was part of Occupy Wall Street, a movement that swept the nation in 2011 and 2012 responding to inequality, austerity, and undemocratic government in the Untied States. From New York City, where the movement began, to Missoula, Lexington, Austin, Philadelphia and more cities, Occupy activists set up tent cities in public spaces and organized the camps based on collective decision making. Occupy Oakland was always a special case, however. The city’s deep history of radical politics and active social movements meant that Occupy Oakland would demand more and compromise less, and this film documents the movement’s dynamic story, through all of the tear gas and laughter that was Occupy Oakland.



2nd Place: Goodbye Gauley Mountain: An Ecosexual Love Story, Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle, 70 min. USA.

What happens when we change our relationship from Earth as Mother to Earth as Lover? This is the story of how two ecosexuals, Beth Stephens and Annie Sprinkle, came to marry the Appalachian Mountains and join the fight to abolish mountain top removal (MTR). Documenting a trip back to Beth’s hometown near Gauley Bridge, West Virginia, the film examines how small communities face destruction for short-term corporate gain and the brave activists who put their own bodies on the line to try to stop it. Featuring extreme tree hugging, rock kissing, and skinny-dipping, it shows how the fight against environmental injustice can be a little more sexy, fun, hopeful, and diverse.


Honorable Mention:


Vincent Chaney, 56 min. USA.

subSIPPI is an honest portrayal of current day Mississippi; it is a search for diversity within a state that has otherwise gone unnoticed. With an emphasis on the moving image, subSIPPI conveys the stark realities as well as the vibrant optimism within a place that once prided itself as the Closed Society.

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