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Meera Menon Wins Inaugural Nora Ephron Award at Tribeca Film Festival

By Heidi Patalano | April 25, 2013 2:51pm

CHELSEA — Though essayist, screenwriter and filmmaker Nora Ephron died a little more than a year ago, her presence was felt at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival.

At a brunch for female filmmakers in Chelsea on Thursday, powerful women in the industry gathered to celebrate the cultural icon with an award named in Ephron's honor. Eight women whose films were part of the festival were nominated for the Nora Ephron Award, which came with a $25,000 prize.

The cash prize was awarded to director and screenwriter Meera Menon, whose film, “Farah Goes Bang,” tells the story of three young women traversing the United States on the 2004 Kerry Campaign.

“I feel incredibly ill-equipped to talk about how Nora Ephron has influenced all of us as filmmakers and as women,” said a breathless Menon upon receiving the award. “For our filming, we very much were following in trying to take her lead in terms of taking issues that are painful and fear-ridden for women and finding the humor in them and the joy in each other as women.”

 Meera Menon brings her film, "Farah Goes Bang" to the Tribeca Film Festival.
Meera Menon brings her film, "Farah Goes Bang" to the Tribeca Film Festival.
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Tribeca Film Festival

Sally Singer, Vogue magazine's digital creative director, presented the award.

“[Menon's film is] about identity, idealism and sex and politics and the difference between being fearless and being brave,” she said.

“Nora Ephron was an important role model for me and for many women I know,” said director Jane Weinstock, whose film “The Moment” was also nominated for the award. “There are not enough women making movies today. But there are more and more, thanks to Nora, who helped pave the way.”

Jane Rosenthal, co-founder of the Tribeca Film Festival, presented the award alongside Singer. Vogue.com partially funded the prize and editor-in-chief Anna Wintour was in attendance.

“One my earliest supporters both in the business and certainly when I started the film festival was Nora Ephron. I wanted to do something so that she would still be a part of this festival,” Rosenthal said. “The Nora has to encompass someone who has wit, wisdom in the way she writes and directs. Her stories have to go straight to the heart.”

Filmmaker Steph Green, who directed the Nora-nominated film “Run and Jump,” echoed Rosenthal’s statement.

“Nora Ephron's work has taught me that humor should be part of storytelling about suffering,” she said. “[Her] work has set the bar extremely high. She is a woman I look up to and aspire to be like.”

The nominations for the inaugural Nora were private but next year, female filmmakers will be able to apply for consideration.

“Farah Goes Bang” plays one last time this Saturday at 2:30 p.m. at the AMC Loews Village, or can be seen online at the Tribeca Online Festival.