FREMONT – A documentary that examines those working to bring Americans together during a time of major political division and polarization won multiple awards on Saturday, Oct. 2, at the American Presidents Film & Literary Festival.

“The Reunited States,” directed by Ben Rekhi, won Best Production and Best Feature Film awards.

This film takes an in-depth look at a growing movement of people who recognize that political polarization has cut through every aspect of American society in recent years and threatens American democracy. The film chronicles what this group is doing to bridge the divide and increase open communication.

“This is a very compelling film that does not provide answers so much as scenarios for consideration,” said film judge Tammy Kinsey, professor of film at the University of Toledo. “I greatly enjoyed watching it and the discussion topics opened.”

“Tikkun Olam,” directed by Bob Ahmed, a short-narrative film about an 8-year-old boy in Washington, D.C., who encounters a homeless veteran, won Best Short Film. This film was inspired by the director’s experiences while living in Washington, D.C., which has the highest homelessness rate in America.

“The films tell a quick but powerful story about homelessness and how simple acts of kindness can go a long way,” said film judge Craig Shoup, reporter and pop culture/film columnist at the Fremont News-Messenger.

“The State of Texas vs. Melissa,” won the People’s Choice Award. Film festival attendees chose the winner of this award by casting ballots after viewing the films.

Directed by Sabrina Van Tassel, this film explores the life of Melissa Lucio, the first Hispanic woman to be sentenced to death in Texas.

Lucio was blamed for the daily abuse and subsequent death of her 2-year-ld daughter, who died from blunt head trauma.

Set in the heart of the Latino community of South Texas, the film takes a look at Melissa’s broken childhood, her adult life plagued by poverty and prejudice and what the filmmaker describes as the miscarriage of justice she faced, from the court-appointed attorney who willingly set aside evidence to the district attorney who used her case to help is re-election.

Film festival judges Hey, Shoup and Tammy Kinsey, filmmaker and professor of film at the University of Toledo, chose the winners of Best Production, Best Feature Film and Best Short Film.

The winners were announced on Saturday, Oct. 2, during the awards ceremony at The Strand Concert Theater in downtown Fremont. The festival took place Saturday, Sept. 25, and during the weekend of Friday, Oct. 1 – Sunday, Oct. 3, at various locations in Fremont.

American Presidents Film & Literary event sponsors were Crown Battery Corp. and Hal & Diane Hawk; Crescent Manufacturing Co.; and Albrechta & Coble, Ltd.

Award sponsors were Otto Gonzales & Dr. Iracema Arevalo. Film Block Sponsors are 1st Choice Portable Staging and Dr. Greg DeRodes. Friends of the Festival are Holland CPA.

Stylecrest sponsored the Lantern Tours with Living History presenters.

The American Presidents Film & Literary Festival is committed to providing a place for expanded national and international understanding of the history and current events that have and continue to shape and influence the President of the United States. Utilizing the site and community of America’s first presidential library and museum, filmmakers, film professionals and authors will inspire audiences to explore, understand, critique and analyze the people, places, politics and power surrounding the American Presidency.

It is organized by the Liberty and Learning Foundation, Fremont City Schools, Birchard Public Library, Hayes Presidential Library & Museums and Downtown Fremont.

For information, visit and follow on Facebook at @ampresfilmlit.