The Ambassador of Hope Award

The Christopher D. Smithers Foundation’s “Ambassador of Hope Award” was created in the framework of the traditional Prize awarded by the International Council of Film and Television at UNCESCO (IFTC-UNESCO). This Award is given by the Smithers Foundation to raise awareness about the issues related to alcohol abuse.Aware that alcoholism, as indicated by the World Health Organization, constitutes one of the major health related issues at the global level and a growing problem at an alarming rate mainly among young people, the Italian Committee of the IFTC-UNESCO, OCCAM and the Smithers Foundation launched, on the occasion of the Venice Film Festival, an Award given to a movie shown at the Festival that best represents this issue.In 2008 the Jury, composed of Stella Belessi, Jasmina Bojic, Vittorio Giacci, Peirpaolo Saporito and Adele Smithers, gave the first Ambassador of Hope Award to the movie:



Written and directed by Sylvie Verheyde


The official Award presentation was held on March 12, 2009 at the Walter Reade Theater (Lincoln Center) in New York City.

With the following motivation: for bringing public awareness on the fact that alcoholism is a respectable, treatable disease and for advancing the global message of hope and recovery. The history of Stella, notwithstanding the fascination for alcohol that a certain environment produces on younger generations can, through friendship and education, be overcome to grow up and fully discover the beauties of life.

At the 65th Venice Film Festival in 2009 the Jury, composed of Pierpaolo Saporito, Gabriel Griffin Hall, Jasmina Bojic, Lola Poggi Goujon, Stella Belessi and Adele Smithers decided to give the Ambassador of Hope Award to the movie:



Starring Nicolas Cage
Produced by Edward R. Pressman
Written by William Finkelstein


The Award presentation was held at the National Arts Club on March 19, 2010.

With the following motivation: a powerful narration that demonstrates that the possibility of recovery from cocaine, heroin and alcohol abuse exists with thanks to the support and guidance of the family and community.

On September 10, 2010 the winner of the Smithers’ Award was announced at the Euro Mediterranean Conference at Ca Giustinian, the historic seat of the Biennvale di Venezia.  The jury composed of Adele Smithers, Thomas Croci, Stacia Murphy, Richard Flamburis and Pierpaolo Saporito selected to give the Ambassador of Hope Award to the film,


Svinalangorna (Beyond)

By Pernilla Augus

For the classic and realistic depiction from the heart of an alcoholic family and for the subtle intensity of the acting, which clearly describes how alcoholism can affect innocent victims and destroy families.  A ceremony was held on March 9, 2011 at the Scandinavia House in New York City.

At the Venice Film Festival in September 2011, the Ambassador of Hope Award was presented to:



By Sono Sion

For having showed, depicting the life of Sumida, a young Japanese teenager, that the consequences of the recent earthquake that hit Japan are at least as dire as those of the abuses of his alcohol addicted father.  The destructions of the tsunami only mirror those at the moral and social level that alcohol abuse causes within families:  Sumida’s hope for an “ordinary life” are shared by the millions in his same condition, in the Eastern, Western and Southern worlds alike.

In 2012, the jury composed of Pierpaolo Saporito, Gabriel Griffin Hall, Jasmina Bojic and Stella Belessi gave the Award to:


Low Tide

By Roberto Minervini

With the following motivation:  for having portrayed how alcohol abuse in mothers effect their children.  In this almost totally silent movie, where words are uttered just for immediate needs, a 12-year old kid’s life is totally absorbed by taking care his alcohol abusing mother.  They live together but she hardly sees her son, unless she is in need.  Only when he tries to escape, in the most desperate way, from a life of abuse, frustration and lack of love, his mother finally opens her eyes.


In 2013, the jury composed of Pierpaola Saporito, Gabriel Griffin Hall and Jasmina Bojic, gave the Ambassador of Hope Award to:


By David Gordon Green

For the strong message this film conveys, illustrating the perverse relationship between poverty and alcohol that leads to a moral degradation erupting in violence.  Set in the Mississippi backwoods of the present where a cowboy mentality still prevails, the film presents situations in which the abuse of alcohol tips the scale of the difficult equilibrium between good and bad.

At the Venice Film Festival in 2016, the jury composed of Jasmina Boijc, Pierpaola Saporito, Gabriel Griffin-Hall and Eliana Bantchev chose:


(The Bleeder – Original Title)
By Philippe Falardeau

For the expressive force with which this biopic portrays a fighter whose great physical strength and ability to take blows in the ring, does not at first translate into the ability to cope with both success and subsequent failure in life, resulting in his succumbing to alcohol and drugs, from which eventually he finds the strength in himself to emerge becoming an example to be held up to younger generations.

At the Venice Film Festival in 2017, the jury composed of Christopher B. Smithers, Nikki Smithers, Pierpaolo Saporito, Jasmina Bojic, Gabriel Griffin-Hall, Jerry Schmetterer and Michael F. Vecchione chose:


The Shape of Water

Directed by Guillermo Del Toro

“A story of differing attitudes to diversity:  that of ignorance resulting in oppression and that of compassion and comprehension.  A reptile-like creature is stigmatized by researchers because of his appearance, on the assumption that he is no better than a swamp animal.  Thanks to the compassion and understanding of a humble cleaner, he is able to demonstrate that he is more evolved than his captors.  He proves his intelligence, his ability to heal and his capacity for human emotion.”

The International Council for Film, Television and Audiovisual Communication (ICFT), Paris, announced that they concede the UNESCO Fellini Medal to:

The Smithers Foundation Award 2018

The Christopher D. Smithers Foundation’s Adele Smithers Award is presented annually to a movie present at the Venice Film Festival that best sheds light on the struggle for social justice and the acceptance of the beliefs, differences and customs of others.

The jury composed of Christopher Smithers, Pierpaolo Saporito and Gabriel Griffin-Hall announced at the Venice Film Festival seat on September 8 that The Smithers Foundation’s 2018 Award recipient was:

A Star is Born

by Bradley Cooper

With the following motivation,

In A Star is Born, the director Cooper realizes a musical drama exalting the talent of Lady Gaga in an outstanding performance, where, using popular narration with sophisticated techniques that imply a coral fusion of genres, the director/actor presents the theme of alcohol and drug abuse in all its harsh reality.

The jury decided to attribute a special mention to:

The Mountain

by Rick Alverson

Exemplar of the mental health treatment afflicting suffers until the advent of the new pharmacological discoveries; in which the director illustrates well how science must take into account the human condition.

At the 76th Mostra di Arte Cinematografica of Venice, the jury composed of Nikki Smithers, Brinkley Smithers, Pierpaolo Saporito, Vittorio Giacci and Gabriel Griffin-Hall, announced The Christopher D. Smithers Foundation’s 2019 Award recipient would be:


by Shannon Murphy

With the following motivation,

The movie shows with sensitivity the possibility to look differently at those whose abuse of drugs and their willingness to look for redemption for those they love.  Moreover, the movie writer decides to tell a story about a severe and widely spread problem nowadays concluding with a positive message

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