Best Narrative Feature Winner – THE GAME
Mugeni’s story starts in a small village in southeastern Congo called Murambya, a Banyamulenge farming community where neighbors provided for one another. One night, when she was just fourteen, Mugeni and her family awake to the sounds of bombs—they are under attack by a militia, known as the Mai Mai, who sought their land and cattle and claimed that the Banyamulenge tribe did not belong in southeastern Congo.Director's Bio:Amy Bench is a filmmaker and visual artist who is drawn to the immediacy of film and photography to tell stories of community and resilience. Trained as a cinematographer, her observational style highlights small details of the human experience that transcend formal explanation. Amy’s animated documentary A Line Birds Cannot See won Best Animated Short at Bend (2019), and is now available on The New Yorker.
Strahinja, a smuggler in the Balkans, aspires to buy a luxury apartment to fix his broken marriage. Shortly after, a routine smuggling trip to Hungary is interrupted by border police. Strahinja becomes stranded with refugee teens, led by Yousef, a beatboxer and a hopeless romantic from Yemen. Yousef's open hearted approach to life makes Strahinja aware of the walls he has built around his own.Director's Bio:Ana was born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia. She holds an MFA in Film from Columbia University. Her first feature film, The Game, premiered at the 2021 Toronto International Film Festival, Discovery section and won Best Screenplay at FICIMAD in Madrid. Ana is a Film Society of Lincoln Center’s Emerging Visions and Artist Academy Fellow, a graduate of Black Factory Cinema’s workshop with Abbas Kiarostami in Cuba's EICTV, and 2017 Panavision New Filmmaker grant recipient."I applaud the filmmaker for having a clear voice, message and style. The moment to moment journey of refugees and the candid friendship that develops between them and their smuggler feels human, natural and raw. This will resonate in the U.S. and beyond." – BendFilm TeamThis film is sponsored by Bend Studio