MOVIES/Ed Rampell

2016’s Best Progressive Films and Filmmakers

The 10th annual Pregio Award nominations for Best Progressive Films and Filmmakers are full of surprises. The low budget indie Christine, based on a real life newscaster who executed a sensational act on live TV, leads The Progie pack in five categories. In an eyebrow-raising move, some of the James Agee Cinema Circle’s lefty critics nominated Hacksaw Ridge, about a pacifist Army Medic during WWII and directed by Mel Gibson, for an award. Others nominated include the drone warfare drama Eye in the Sky and Alex Gibney’s cyberwar documentary Zero Days.

The Progies premiered in The Progressive in 2007 to pay tribute to and highlight films and filmmakers of conscience and consciousness. With an eye on cinema history, the awards in a variety of categories are named after outstanding progressive pictures or artists. By 2008 the James Agee Cinema Circle—an international group of left-leaning movie critics and scholars—was formed to democratically vote for the annual nominees and winners. Instead of rewarding glitz and glamour, The Progies zoom in on artistic expressions about the struggles of workers, women, people of color, LGBTQ people, the battles for peace, justice and the environment.

Other multiple Progie nominees include Pablo Larraín’s Neruda, about the Chilean poet and Communist Party senator. Moonlight, about a black man’s coming of age in Miami, is also up for several awards, as is the slave rebellion epic The Birth of a Nation. Viggo Mortensen and his new movie Captain Fantastic received three nominations, too. Christine, the movie receiving the most Progie nominations, comes at a time when journalism, ethics and freedom of the press are under fire. In addition to being nominated for Best Progressive Picture, Christine is nominated for Best Feminist Film, while Rebecca Hall is up for Best Actress.

The 2016 Progie Award nominations are:

THE TRUMBO: The Progie Award for Best Progressive Picture is named after Oscar-winning screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, a member of the Hollywood Ten, who was imprisoned for his beliefs and refusing to inform. Trumbo helped break the Blacklist when he received screen credit for Spartacus and Exodus in 1960.

Moonlight; Christine; Neruda; The Birth of a Nation; I, Daniel Blake.

THE NEWMAN: The Progie Award for Best Actor in a progressive picture is named after philanthropist, actor/activist Paul Newman.

Denzel Washington, Fences; Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic; Nate Parker, The Birth of a Nation; Luis Gnecco, Neruda.

THE MORLEY: The Progie Award for Best Actress in a film portraying women in a progressive picture is named for Karen Morley, co-star of 1932’s Scarface and 1934’s Our Daily Bread. Morley was driven out of Hollywood in the 1930s for her leftist views, but maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for New York’s lieutenant governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.

Natalie Portman, Jackie; Kate Winslet, The Dressmaker; Rebecca Hall, Christine; Isabelle Huppert, Elle.

THE RENOIR: The Progie Award for Best Anti-War Film is named after the great French filmmaker Jean Renoir, who directed the 1937 anti-militarism masterpiece Grand Illusion.

Eye in the Sky; Hacksaw Ridge; Anthropoid; Zero Days; Land of Mine.

THE GILLO: The Progie Award for Best Progressive Foreign Film is named after the Italian director Gillo Pontecorvo, who lensed the 1960s classics The Battle of Algiers and Burn!

Neruda; Cemetery of Splendor; Toni Erdmann; Land of Mine; Fire at Sea.

THE DZIGA: The Progie Award for Best Progressive Documentary is named after the Soviet filmmaker Dziga Vertov, who directed 1920s nonfiction films such as the Kino Pravda (Film Truth) series and The Man With the Movie Camera.

I Am Not Your Negro; Frank Zappa: In His Own Words; Cameraperson; 13th; The Other Side (Louisiana).

OUR DAILY BREAD AWARD: The Progie Award for the Most Positive and Inspiring Working Class Image is named after a 1934 movie about an American commune during the Great Depression produced by Charlie Chaplin.

Paterson; I, Daniel Blake; Moonlight; Christine; Fences.

THE ROBESON: The Progie Award for the Best Portrayal of People of Color that shatters cinema stereotypes, in light of their historically demeaning depictions on screen. It is named after courageous performing legend, Paul Robeson, who starred in 1936’s Song of Freedom and 1940’s The Proud Valley, and narrated 1942’s Native Land.

Moonlight; Loving; The Birth of a Nation; Hidden Figures; Miles Ahead.

THE BUNUEL: The Progie Award for the Most Slyly Subversive Satirical in terms of form, style and content is named after Luis Bunuel, the Spanish surrealist who directed 1929’s The Andalusian Dog, 1967’s Belle de Jour and 1972’s The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie.

Captain Fantastic; The Lobster; Chevalier; High-Rise; Hail, Caesar!; Elle; Paterson; Christine.

THE PASOLINI: The Progie Award for Best Pro- LGBTQ Rights film is named after Italian director Pier Paolo Pasolini, who directed 1964’s The Gospel According to St. Matthew and The Decameron and The Canterbury Tales in the 1970s.

Moonlight; Little Men; Other People; The Handmaiden; I Am Not Your Negro.

THE CONFORMIST: The Progie Award for Best Anti-Fascist film is named after Bernardo Bertolucci’s 1970 anti-Mussolini film.

Neruda; Denial; The Lobster; The Innocents; The People vs. Fritz Bauer.

THE MARIANNE & JULIANE: The Progie Award for Best Pro-Feminist Depiction of Women is named after Margarethe von Trotta’s 1981 German film about sisters - one an editor, the other a militant.

Certain Women; Jackie; Christine; Hidden Figures; Things to Come.

THE SERGEI: The Progie Award for Lifetime Progressive Achievement On and Off Screen is named after Sergei Eisenstein, the Soviet director of masterpieces such as Potemkin and 10 Days That Shook the World.

Viggo Mortensen; Christine Vachon; Norman Lear; Carrie Fisher; Chantal Akerman; Danny Glover.

For the first time in its 10-year history, the Progie Award winners are scheduled to be announced live on Feb. 24 at the Los Angeles Workers Center, 1251 S. St. Andrews Place, L.A., CA 90019. The Progie announcements will kick off a 10-month film series commemorating the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. The revolutionary centennial cinema series, called “10 Films That Shook the World,” will conclude on the exact date of the October Revolution with a screening of Eisenstein’s 10 Days That Shook the World.

Ed Rampell is a film historian and critic based in Los Angeles. He is author of Progressive Hollywood, A People’s Film History of the United States and he co-authored The Hawaii Movie and Television Book. This originally appeared at

From The Progressive Populist, March 1, 2017

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