Think of these film awards as Oscars . . . honors and hosannas that, in many ways, are considered more important that naked gold-plated men.
The nonprofit Moving Picture Institute (MPI) announced the winners of its third annual “Liberty in Film Awards,” a celebration of films that explore themes of freedom and individual rights.
“Like other entertainment awards, the Liberty in Film Awards recognize great cinematic storytelling,” says Rob Pfaltzgraff, president of the Moving Picture Institute, “but these winners also highlight important values in society like ordinary people fighting against oppression.”
The Liberty in Film award for “Best Picture” went to The Imitation Game. The film reminds audiences that individuals can achieve extraordinary things, but the “bigger the government, the smaller the individual.”
The Imitation Game earned the award because of its high-quality storytelling and pro-freedom lessons. The film tells the true story of Alan Turing (portrayed by Benedict Cumberbatch), who used his extraordinary talent at cryptanalysis to crack the Enigma Code and help the Allies win WWII.Though Turing worked within the Government Code and Cypher School—where he routinely butted heads with bureaucrats and military personnel—the film emphasizes the immense power of the individual. Turing’s efforts changed the trajectory of the war, enabled many others to live, and made important contributions to the evolution of modern computing technology. As several of the film’s characters repeat: “Sometimes it is the people who no one imagines anything of who do the things that no one can imagine.”
The film also reminds audiences that when government power grows, it is often abused, and harms the very citizens it exists to protect. Turing gave years of his life to serve his country but the British government still persecuted him later in life because of his sexual orientation, ultimately leading to his suicide.
Fan Favorite: Chef
“Best Celebration of the Entrepreneurial Spirit”
If you’re looking for a feel-good film with a positive message about hard work and the human spirit, add Chef to your Netflix queue. This fan favorite follows a man who loses his restaurant job and decides to reclaim his life, reunite his family, and start his own small food-truck business. For a real-life look at food-truck entrepreneurs, check out the MPI-supported documentary Dog Days now available on iTunes and Amazon Instant Video.
Other winners included:
Best Male Character: Jonas
“Best Fight for Self-Determination”
Many adults were eager to catch the film adaptation of The Giver, in part because the character of Jonas captivated them in their youths. Jonas lives in a society where all pain and discomfort are avoided—at a high cost. A group of elites plan everything in all individuals’ lives: their jobs, family units, even memories. Those elites select Jonas to receive all of humanity’s memories and emotions. Ultimately Jonas decides that freedom of thought and the ability to experience and choose one’s own path trump the benefits of a painless life. For another fictional take on the importance of freedom of thought, check out MPI-supported short film Corrections, launching later this year.
Best Female Character: Beatrice “Tris” Prior
“Best Stand Against Thought Control”
Played by Shailene Woodley, Divergent‘s Tris is loved by many. She has already won an MTV Movie Award for best character and now has a Liberty in Film award in the same category. The protagonist in the first installment of the Divergent trilogy, Tris is an independent outlier in a society made up of predetermined factions. As others fall victim to mind-control serums, Tris continues to think for herself and resists very dangerous and powerful forces.
The LEGO Movie
Best Animated Film
“Best Portrayal of Central Planning vs. Spontaneous Order”
Snubbed at the Oscars, this film gets nothing but love in MPI’s Liberty in Film Awards. When a LEGO dictator is bent on controlling the thoughts, actions, and destinies of everyone around him, an average LEGO man fights for his right to build and be whatever he chooses. Audiences of all ages learn that you can’t create a perfect world by force, but individuals can choose to work together to peacefully advance everyone’s dreams and goals.
Spirit of Ideas
“Best Portrayal of the Fight for Equal Rights”
Ava DuVernay’s timely film focuses on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s struggle to secure equal voting rights. Far from a comprehensive biopic, the film celebrates Dr. King’s famous 1965 march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama, remembers the activists that participated, and shines light on the institutional hurdles that stood in their way. As the nation still strives to achieve equality of opportunity for all Americans, this passionate look at the Selma march reminds today’s freedom-loving civil rights activists that their voices matter.
Best Foreign Film
“Best Portrayal of the Abuse of Power.”
Leviathan is a Russian film that has rightly earned worldwide acclaim for its beautiful cinematography and thought-provoking message. When a corrupt and violent mayor unlawfully repossesses a local man’s property, the victim tries to work within a broken bureaucratic system to regain what’s his. Fighting powerful interests and serious personal flaws, the film reminds viewers of the importance of justice and the rule of law in society. For an American perspective on eminent domain abuse, watch MPI-supported documentary Battle For Brooklyn.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier; Hunger Games: Mockingjay-Part 1; The Grand Budapest Hotel; Get On Up; Big Hero 6.
Selected by MPI supporters and staff, the complete list of award recipients and descriptions can be found at libertyinfilm.com.