Monday, July 30, 2018

2018 Award Winners

My Amish World (Samuel Wickey, USA)
Best Picture
Winner: My Amish World (Samuel Wickey, USA)
Nominees: Carving a Life, Dark Blue Girl, Fortune Defies Death, At the End of the Day, The Doctor's Case, Nymphadelle

Best Script

Winner: Christopher Marlowe (Francis Hamit, USA)
Nominees: The Music of Men's Lives, The Black Swallow of Death, Mindful, True Colors, Howard Hall

Film Jury Awards

Best Student Film
Winner: Nymphadelle (Quentin de Jubecourt, France)
Nominees: Lockdown, Dark Blue Girl, Grasping Air, Return Safely, Crossing the Line, Carry On Little Sis, Leaving Malcolm

Best Short Film

Winner: The Secret Nobody Knows (Nick Ronan, USA)
Nominees: Danny Boy, Washed Out, A Memory, Fugitive, Reconnected, Redcoats, Daisy Belle

Best Documentary

Winner: We Are Columbine (Laura Farber, USA)
Nominees: Wolverine: Ghost of the Northern Forest, The Oyster Farmers, An Unknown Country, The Foreigner's Home, We Are Columbine, The Listen Project, Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries, Sand on the Floor

Cultural Spirit
Winner: Dirty Laundry (Conor Lewis, USA)
Nominees: Sand on the Floor, The Trouble with Wolves, We Are Columbine, Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries, The Foreigner's Home, Hope Loves Company

Animal Welfare

Winner: The Trouble with Wolves (Collin Monda, USA)
Nominees: A New Chance, Aeris, Wolverine: Ghost of the Northern Forest

Best Short Documentary

Winner: One Mother's Fire: The Gail Minger Story (Diana Nicolae, USA)
Nominees: People of the Forest: Orang Rimba, A New Chance, One Mother's Fire: The Gail Minger Story, At The Table, A Day in the Life of Elijah, Monumental Change

Best Foreign Film

Winner: Dark Blue Girl (Mascha Schilinski, Germany)
Nominees: The Doctor's Case, Danny Boy, Fugitive, Daily Bread, People of the Forest: Orang Rimba, Nymphadelle

Best Experimental Short

Winner: Daisy Belle (William Wall, USA)
Nominees: Pulp, The Kara Morgan Show, The Brittany Show, S'eclipser

Indie Spirit

Winner: Carving a Life (Terry Ross, USA)
Nominees: Nymphadelle, Dark Blue Girl, Shellfish, At the End of the Day, Night's Still Young

Best Animated Film

Winner: Two Balloons (Mark Smith, USA)
Nominees: Crack'd, Dreamweaver, Daisy Belle, Pulp, The Kara Morgan Show, Cuddlefish

Female Eye Filmmaking

Winner: The Third Act Series (Michele Fillion, USA)
Nominees: Carving a Life, Redcoats, Giselle, The Kara Morgan Show, The Third Act Series, The Red Lotus, A Memory

Best Comedy

Winner: The Brittany Show (Nasser Samara, USA)
Nominees: Zen Parking, Another Girl, The Kara Morgan Show, The Phages, Love Radio

Best Period Film

Winner: The Doctor's Case (James Douglas and Leonard Pearl, Canada)
Nominees: Redcoats, Attila, Nymphadelle, Daily Bread

Student Cultural Spirit

Winner: Monumental Change (Jake Segelbaum, USA)
Nominees: A New Chance, At the Table, Portrait of an Artist: Janet Chambers

New Hope

Winner: One Mother's Fire: The Gail Minger Story (Diana Nicolae, USA)
Nominees: A New Chance, A Day in the Life of Elijah, Hope Loves Company, 4 Dancers' Dreams, East Side Story

Artistic Spirit

Winner: The Listen Project (Gary Bassin, USA)
Nominees: Wolverine: Ghost of the Northern Forest, Kings of Blah, The Listen Project

LGBTQ Spirit

Winner: At the End of the Day (Kevin O'Brien, USA)
Nominees: High Rocks, At The End of the Day, Cuddlefish

Best Supernatural Film

Winner: Shellfish (J.D. Wilson, USA)
Nominees: Return Safely, The Phages

Best Webisode

Winner: The Third Act Series (Michele Fillion, USA)
Nominees: The Kara Morgan Show

Best Music Video

Winner: Mission to Mars (George Pasles, USA)
Nominees: Fourth of Julivar’s, Pulp, Hunting Day

Best Director

Winner: Jennifer Hulum (Fortune Defies Death, USA)
Nominees: Terry Ross (Carving A Life, USA), Liam O'Neill (Danny Boy, Ireland), Mascha Schilinski (Dark Blue Girl, Germany), James Douglas (The Doctor's Case, Canada), Alice Boucherie (Washed Out, France), Quentin de Jubecourt (Nymphadelle, France), S. J. Main Munoz (Reconnected, USA)

Script Jury Awards

Best Narrative Feature Screenplay
Winner: Mindful (Diana Lewis)
Nominees: Christopher Marlowe, The Black Swallow of Death, The Music of Men's Lives

Best Teleplay

Winner: Howard Hall (Judy Spencer)

Best Period Script

Winner: The Black Swallow of Death (Daniel Russ)
Nominees: Christopher Marlowe, The Music of Men's Lives

Best Short Screenplay

Winner: True Colors (Scott Dissinger)

Audience Choice Awards

Best Webisode: The Third Act Series (Michele Fillion, USA)
Best TV Pilot: New York 2150 (Harry Assouline, USA)
Best Music Video: Fourth of Julivar's (Tony Fulgham, USA)
Best Narrative Feature: At the End of the Day (Kevin O'Brien, USA)
Best Documentary: Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries (Janet Gardner, USA)
Best Short Film: Reconnected (S.J. Main Munoz, USA)
Best Student Film: Lockdown (Max Sokoloff, USA)

Monday, July 9, 2018

The Phages

A young married couple has found a creative way to make ends meet in an uncertain economy—flipping haunted houses—and the money sure is easy. After all, one person's paranoia is another's opportunity, and the worse the fear about the house, the more an enterprising duo can bank.

It's a near-bulletproof plan until you find a house that really is haunted, and then all bets are off. That is the situation facing them now in a gothic mansion set back from the road, with a child ghost who likes to play with their daughter and other fiends who visit them in the night.

There is a tongue-in-cheek aspect to this story, of course, but the other message might be that you don't want to be messing with the dead like this. Co-Directors John Benedetto and Matt McNevin have cooked a boiling cauldron of fright in this black-and-white short. You can watch the trailer here:

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries

The roots of Quakerism stretch back to mid-17th century England, but the Religious Society of Friends has remained vibrant and influential throughout modern times. A central feature of the Protestant denomination since George Fox founded it in the wake of the English Civil War (1642 - 1651) is activism—and a concomitant passion for shaking the halls of power over matters of injustice. This history explains why so many leaders in areas ranging from abolition to women's suffrage to civil rights and the environment have arisen from or been inspired by Quaker congregations and ideals.

In this probing documentary, filmmaker Janet P. Gardner combines Ken Burns style archival imagery with "captured in the moment" footage, underscoring the combined sophistication and day-to-day relevance of Friends Church, a movement that is rooted in principles yet constantly evolving.

The film is also critical, citing transgressions by Quaker political leaders and lamenting the Quaker approach to desegregation in the 1960s and 70s. Yet the legacy of progress and achievement overshadows these concerns as Gardner paints an overall picture of relevance and high social value.

You can watch the trailer here: Quakers: The Quiet Revolutionaries Trailer

Tuesday, June 26, 2018

An Unknown Country

This beautifully produced film tells the story of European Jews who narrowly escaped Nazi atrocities by emigrating to Ecuador. Many of these refugees stayed in their new homeland to assimilate, build lives and contribute to the long-term prosperity of the nation, while others furthered their journeys to the United States, where they found opportunities more consistent with their educated, European backgrounds. The film documents the fates of many members of this group with impressive care and detail.

Writer/Director Eva Zelig, an award-winning filmmaker whose work has appeared on PBS, The Learning Channel, New York Times TV, ABC, National Geographic and Consumer Reports, already had familiarity with her topic going into this project because her parents were among the exiles depicted in the documentary. However, Zelig goes far beyond firsthand knowledge by incorporating interviews, archival studies, and other forms of meticulous research.

Anyone interested in this period of history, the peoples depicted and the cultures explored will find An Unknown Country rich and immersive. You can watch the trailer here: An Unknown Country Trailer

Thursday, June 21, 2018

East Side Hero

The problem of gang violence in urban America is widely recognized, but adequate solutions for ending it have remained elusive. California filmmaker Daniel Osorio has cooked up a novel approach to reaching the people most at risk—the gang kids themselves—in East Side Hero, a social conscience film with a clearly stated mission of disrupting the generational cycle of violence among Latino communities in Northern California.

The film serves as a tool for teaching more positive decision-making skills, and I have no doubt this dramatic, true to life production will relate its ideas to youngsters in a way that lectures and dictates from adults will never quite achieve.

Osorio deserves an A+ for leading underserved young people in the right direction. You can watch the trailer here (parental discretion is advised): East Side Hero Trailer

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Leaving Malcolm

In this touching and insightful student film, Malcolm Peters is a father struggling to correct the neglect he experienced as a child by being a better father for his own son. And the plan isn't working. His boy is transfixed on an imaginary friend, a spiritual barrier between father and son who engenders heated discussions between Malcolm and his wife. The family wants to connect but something unseen and unheard is standing in the way.

Student filmmaker Lucas Ruderman, who recently earned a Film Directing degree at Manhattanville College, co-wrote the script with his own mother, a detail that underscores the verisimilitude of his art. Set at Christmastime, the film maintains a dimly lit, spiritual feel throughout, and anyone who has dealt with family members who cannot click should find this film both familiar and immersive.

You can watch the trailer here: Leaving Malcolm Trailer

Monday, June 18, 2018


Anna is scraping by in New York to rid herself of a hard upbringing in communist Czechoslovakia. Working two menial jobs and relatively uneducated, the young woman faces precarious circumstances that worry her mother sick. Mom pleads with her to come home, but her grandfather's grinding experience under Soviet rule produces the opposite advice. He insists she should stay and get an education; it's the only way out.

She would do just that, too, but she has an additional hurdle to overcome. She needs to prove she's in the United States legally, and that is suddenly her biggest problem of all. Now she has two days either to firm up her paperwork or fly home to her mother.

Stories like Anna's are not uncommon in an era of inexpensive flights, rapidly improving technology and global economic expansion. The world is racing ahead at an exponential rate, fostering a dynamic whereby many people feel compelled to seek better opportunities abroad while others question how such migration should take place and at what pace. Anna is a good person in a tough situation, and there may be no clear answer for her in the short term.

This student film by Petra Priborska strikes a sympathetic chord on an intimate and humanitarian level. You can watch the trailer here: Anna Trailer