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Honorable Mentions in Documentary Film Nominees at PAIFF

Audience enjoys PAIFF screening at the Nauti Burro.

At PAIFF, we celebrate the power of documentary filmmaking to enlighten, inspire, and transform. This year, four nominated standout documentaries earned honorable mentions, each telling compelling stories of resilience, adventure, and the human spirit.

"Sitting in the Fire"

"Sitting in the Fire" examines the transformative impact of rehabilitation programs in prisons on gun violence prevention in communities. Directed by Alec Goldberg and Boson Wang, the documentary follows Vaughn Miles, who, after serving 24 years in San Quentin State Prison, returns to Richmond, CA, to work as an Agent of Change. The film beautifully captures Vaughn's journey from a life marred by violence to one dedicated to healing and community service. The committee praised the documentary for its seamless storytelling and its powerful message of redemption and transformation. This compelling narrative underscores the ripple effects of prison rehabilitation programs, showing how they can foster positive change in society.

"From Zero to a Hundred"

"From Zero to a Hundred" is an inspirational documentary that chronicles the life-changing journey of high school students involved in the Winners Circle Project. Over the course of a year, these students build a race car from scratch, demonstrating resilience and teamwork amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The film celebrates their personal growth and the transformative power of education and opportunity. The committee appreciated the film's heartfelt intention and the powerful feel-good story it presents, highlighting the students' unwavering spirit and dedication.

"Bicycle Hero"

Directed by Gopal Shivakoti, "Bicycle Hero" tells the incredible story of Pushkar Shah, who embarked on a world bicycle tour to spread a message of peace. Over 11 years, Pushkar cycled through 150 countries, faced numerous challenges, and eventually summited Mt. Everest with a collection of flags from around the world. The committee found Pushkar's journey both inspiring and charismatic, praising the documentary for its portrayal of an adventurous spirit committed to peace and motivation. Shivakoti's film captures the essence of perseverance and the transformative power of a single individual's quest for global unity.


"Vortex," directed by Chris Tangey, showcases the relentless and mesmerizing power of desert tornadoes. With stunning cinematography, the film captures the awe-inspiring force of nature as dirt, sand, ash, and fire are hurled into the sky. Tangey, an acclaimed cinematographer with credits in major productions, brings an unparalleled visual experience to the screen. The committee lauded the documentary for its amazing footage and the breathtaking portrayal of these natural phenomena. Tangey's expertise in capturing the raw beauty and danger of the desert tornadoes makes "Vortex" a visual feast and a testament to the power of nature.

These four documentaries, "Sitting in the Fire," "From Zero to a Hundred," "Bicycle Hero," and "Vortex," each bring unique and powerful stories to the screen. From personal transformation and community impact to global adventures and natural wonders, these films showcase the diverse and profound capabilities of documentary filmmaking. We honor the directors and their teams for their exceptional contributions to the genre and look forward to their future endeavors in storytelling.

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