The Middleburg Film Festival announced today the Audience Award winners for Best Narrative Film and Best Documentary Film following the conclusion of the annual four-day festival on Sunday, October 20. Best Narrative Film was awarded to THE TWO POPES from director Fernando Meirelles and screenwriter Anthony McCarten, who also received the Festival’s Distinguished Screenwriter Award. The award for Best Documentary Film went to WILLIE about NHL legend, Willie O’Ree, who attended the festival with director Laurence Mathieu-Leger.

MFF audiences are given the opportunity to cast ballots for their favorite festival film following each screening. This year’s festival featured 34 films spanning various genres, including Oscar contenders, thought-provoking documentaries and critically acclaimed foreign language films.

“Congratulations to our Audience Award winners THE TWO POPES and WILLIE,” said MFF Executive Director Susan Koch. “It is especially fitting in these divided times that our audiences chose to award THE TWO POPES, a film about two ideologically opposed men who find common ground and a way forward for the good of their institution, and WILLIE, the inspiring story of Willie O’Ree and the racism and other challenges he

faced as the first black hockey player in the NHL.”

“Our sincerest thanks to everyone who made Middleburg Film Festival’s seventh year an enormous success,” said MFF Founder and Board Chair Sheila Johnson. “From the filmmakers and distributors who brought us this incredible slate of films, to our sponsors, filmgoers and volunteers, I do think this was our best year yet.”

Starring Anthony Hopkins and Jonathan Pryce as Pope Francis and Pope Benedict, THE TWO POPES received standing ovations at both of its MFF screenings. Screenwriter Anthony McCarten (Darkest Hour, Bohemian Rhapsody) also participated in an in-depth career conversation with John Horn, host of KPCC’s The Frame.

WILLIE made its US premiere at a sold-out screening which was followed by a Q&A with O’Ree, director Laurence Mathieu-Leger, producer Bryant McBride and the film’s executive producer and Washington Capitals owner, Ted Leonsis, and moderated by Anson Carter, a retired Caps player turned sports analyst.

The Coca-Cola Company and Gary and Christina Co Mather are the Middleburg Film Festival’s Presenting Sponsors. The Washington Post is MFF’s Founding Media Sponsor.

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