Documentary ‘Kili Big’ Wins Jury Prize Award At Bentonville Film Festival 2021, Plus Other Awarded And Honorary Film Highlights

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( ENSPIRE Feature ) A Moment With Director Ida Joglar And Her Latest Film ‘Kili Big’

ENSPIRE Contributor: Shelsea Deravil

The Bentonville Film Festival was nothing less than spectacular this past August 2021. The week-long festival is led by Academy Award-winning actor and BFF Chair Geena Davis. It is known for championing female, non-binary, LGBTQIA+, BIPOC, and people with disabilities’ voices in the entertainment industry. Films held at the Arkansan festival are directed by 71% women, 75% BIPOC/API (Asian, Pacific, Islander), and 33% LGBTQIA+ filmmakers. 

This year was BFF’s seventh annual holding, and it recently announced the Jury Prize winners. Kili Big, a documentary directed by Ida Joglar, took home the Jury Prize Award for Best Documentary. Kili Big centers on a group of plus-sized women who attempt to climb the tallest freestanding mountain, Mount Kilimanjaro.

Director Ida Joglar spoke on her inspiration behind the documentary. “The inspiration for Kili Big came directly from the women featured in the film. As soon as I heard about Christa and the Curvy Kili Crew (from a mutual friend), I wanted to know more. I also knew that this was the kind of story that I want to tell. This is a story with the potential to have a positive impact on many people’s lives. I was attracted to a story about women defying expectations and flipping stigmas on their heads.

“Before making Kili Big, I had heard no one talk about fatness in the way that the women in the Curvy Kili Crew did when they got together. So I felt that there was plenty of learning to be done, for me personally and for a potential audience. Finally, I was also inspired by how these women supported each other and inspired each other. I wanted to document that and translate it into a film that would inspire others as much as it did me.”

As thrilling as it was to film on a mountain, the shooting process was strenuous for the director. “There were three women filming on the mountain. I was one of them, along with the incredibly talented and kind Karee Maxson and Henna Taylor,” Joglar said. “I would say the hardest part was the very long days (and nights) of filming and, as usual, feeling like there was always something more to film that we were missing. We could not be everywhere at once. I do think having the film to focus on does help distract from how strenuous the hike itself was. It wasn’t until after we came down from the summit that I realized how tired I was.”

Regardless of those intricacies, Joglar went home with the Jury Prize Award for Best Documentary Feature at BFF. It was a moment that highlighted her hard work and still motivates her to keep telling similar stories.

“It was such an incredible experience to win. After more than a year of being pretty isolated and trying to survive this pandemic, it felt like a dream to see the film in a theater with an audience. [Additionally] with members of the Curvy Kili Crew in attendance, and then to have the audience be so excited about the story and have such nice things to say during the Q&A and after. Getting the award is definitely a further inspiration to continue telling the stories that I want to see out in the world,” Joglar exclaimed.

Director Ida Joglar is not for the common assertion that documentaries seem less intriguing, or that they are overlooked in anticipation, as many docu-series have received recognition and popularity in past-recent years. “I do think that it feels harder to generate anticipation for a film that’s not led by a celebrity or based on recently buzzy events,” she stated. “That said, I [also] do believe the interest from audiences is there and that it’s possible to make a documentary film just as engrossing and transporting as any fiction. I hope that’s what I’ve done with Kili Big. I think it’s incredibly powerful for people to see themselves represented and celebrated in films such as this one. Films that dare everyday people to expand their ideas of what they can achieve.”

The director is currently working on a script for a narrative feature. It will center diverse women and have an element of adventure, something similarly seen in Kili Big. “I have big ideas about how to shoot this film on a (smaller) mountain! And I’m always on the lookout for a good story that could become the next documentary. Sometimes reality can surpass our wildest dreams.”

ENSPIRE congratulates Ida Joglar on her spectacular win and the other honoraries and award-winners from BFF. Congratulations to director Roshan Sethi’s 7 Days for winning Best Narrative Feature, director Erica Eng’s Americanized for winning Best Short Film, and director Fiona Dawson’s ‘NOW with Fiona’ for winning Best Episodic. Honorary mentions include: WAIKIKI by director Christopher Kahunahana (narrative feature), YOUTH V GOV by director Christi Cooper (documentary feature), and NAHJUM by Sebastian Torres Greene (short film).

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