Sunday, April 14, 2024

2024 Awards

Film Jury Awards

Best Picture - Trust in Love (Mick Davis, USA) 
Nominees: Out of State-A Gothic Romance, Not for Nothing, Burst the Silence, The Problem of the Hero

Best Student Film - Tangerine Drum Machine (Reilly McHugh, USA)
Nominees: Lovie Dovie, Slanted Perspectives: My Life with SMA, The Hauntings of New Hope, Adagio, Mike & Frank, Living All of Life

Best Alternative Film -  Divine Instinct (James Gossard, USA)
Nominees: Who Followed Us Home, The Blood Orange, Order My Steps, The Sun Rises in the East, The Problem of the Hero, White Noise, I Approve this Message

Best Short Film - What Ever Happened to Jonny Faith (Benjamin Pollack, USA) 
Nominees: Mayfly, My Over There, Shatter the Glass, Minutes to Go, The Portrait, Payment in Kind, Pushover, Gypsy Rose Leezinski

Best Short Short -  Millie's Care Free Day (Mike Licisyn, USA) 
Nominees: The Blood Orange, Lovie Dovie, Stay, Look Back and Laugh, Pushover, Earth Machiavelli, In Search Of, Dad Bod

Best Documentary -  Take the Ice (Rachel Koteen, USA) 
Nominees: Hopper X Vermeer, Take the Ice, Rhino Man, Jerry's Last Mission, Breaking Tradition: The Hugh McElroy Story, Tell Me Iggy, Undivide Us, The Carnival: 125 Years of the Penn Relays

Best Horror Film -  Quiet! Mom's Working! (P Patrick Hogan, USA)
Nominees: Dark Mommy, Girl with the Grey Eyes

Best Action Thriller -  Mayfly (Keith Andreen, USA) 
Nominees: Launch at Paradise, Earth Machiavelli, Girl with the Grey Eyes

Animal Welfare -  Rhino Man (John Jurko II, Matt Lindenberg, Daniel Roberts, South Africa, UK, USA)
Nominees: Menhaden: The Biggest Little Fish You've Never Seen, By My Side

Cultural Spirit -  Undivide Us (Kristi Kendall, USA)
Nominees: The Carnival: 125 Years of the Penn Relays, Rhino Man, Take the Ice, A Perfect Love, Black Uniform, Pioneering Women Muralists of Hyde Park, Single-Use Planet 

Best Short Documentary -  My Dear Hanna (Matthew Sullivan, USA)
Nominees: This Is Where I Learned Not to Sleep, Joe Barry Carroll, See Me, Hear Me, Know Me: The Welcome Project PA, Living Positive, My Superpower, I Am Living, Dad Bod

Best Foreign Film - Living All of Life (Marlen Rios-Farjat, Mexico)
Nominees: Walk With Me, The Old Young Crow, Je, Living All of Life, Black Sugar Red Blood, Moratorium, About People and About War

Community Spirit - Black Uniform (Robert Darwell, USA)
Nominees: The Sun Rises in the East, The Asbestos City, New Hope Rondo, The Hauntings of New Hope, Pioneering Women Muralists of Hyde Park, See Me, Hear Me, Know Me: The Welcome Project PA, I Am Living, Lady Ivory: The Life & Music of Liz DuFour

Best Local Film - See Me, Hear Me, Know Me: The Welcome Project PA (Eli Laban, USA)
Nominees: The Hauntings of New Hope, New Hope Rondo, Lady Ivory: The Life & Music of Liz DuFour, The Blood Orange

Best Biographical Film - Jerry's Last Mission (Louisa Merino, USA)
Nominees: My Dear Hanna, Tell Me Iggy, Black Uniform, Breaking Tradition: The Hugh McElroy Story

Best Experimental Short - Dark Mommy (Courtney Eck, USA)
Nominees: Interview with Traveler #582, Pushover, I Approve this Message, Adagio

Indie Spirit - Out of State-A Gothic Romance (Victoria Bugbee, USA)
Nominees: Burst the Silence, Black Uniform, The Asbestos City, Breaking Tradition: The Hugh McElroy Story

Best Animation - Black Sugar Red Blood (Luigi Toscano, Germany)
Nominees: Lovie Dovie, The Old Young Crow, Who Followed Us Home

Best Animated Film - Lovie Dovie (Francesca Brescia, USA)
Nominees: The Old Young Crow

Female Eye Filmmaking - Hopper X Vermeer (Annie Dautane, France)
Nominees: Girl with the Grey Eyes, Lovie Dovie, Stay, Look Back and Laugh, Gypsy Rose Leezinski, In Search Of

Best Sci-Fi Film - Launch at Paradise (Carrie Ann Quinn, USA)
Nominees: Interview with Traveler #582, Earth Machiavelli, Pushover

Best Comedy -  Brute Force (Tyler A. Wallach, USA)
Nominees: Pushover, Full Throttle Paradise, Coney Island Surprise, Low Risk Spectre, The Toms, Gypsy Rose Leezinski, Quiet! Mom's Working!, Dating Audrey

Best Period Film -  The Problem of the Hero (Shaun Dozier, USA)
Nominees: About People and About War, My Over There

Student Cultural Spirit - Mike & Frank (Kylie Conner-Sax, USA)
Nominees: The Hauntings of New Hope, Slanted Perspectives: My Life with SMA, Lovie Dovie

New Hope - This Is Where I Learned Not to Sleep (Anne de Mare and Kirsten Kelly, USA)
Nominees: Breaking Tradition: The Hugh McElroy Story, The Asbestos City, My Superpower, A Perfect Love, Our Flag Was Still There, Living Positive

Artistic Spirit - Tell Me Iggy (BLONDY Sophie, France)
Nominees: Rhino Man, Kenyatta: Do Not Wait Your Turn, Take the Ice, Divine Instinct, Hopper X Vermeer

LGBTQ+ Spirit -  There Are Things To Do (Mike Syers, USA)
Nominees: Love Dovie, See Me, Hear Me, Know Me: The Welcome Project PA, New Hope Rondo, Lady Ivory: The Life & Music of Liz DuFour, Mike & Frank, Living Positive, Trust in Love

Best Supernatural Film -  Pushover (Brian Lederman, USA)
Nominees: Low Risk Spectre, Dark Mommy, Mayfly

Best Webisode - About People and About War (Artel Film Production, Russian Federation)
Nominees: Coney Island Surprise

Best Music Video -  Dreaming (Jim Vacca, USA)
Nominees: Holding You Tight, The Light, Living All of Life

Best Alternative Music Video - The Light (Vincenzo Carubia, USA)
Nominees: Holding You Tight, Living All of Life

Best Narrative Feature -  Not for Nothing (Tim Dowlin and Frank Tartaglia, USA)
Nominees: The Problem of the Hero, Trust in Love, Out of State-A Gothic Romance, Burst the Silence

Best Musical Score - Burst the Silence (Eric D. Schaeffer, USA)
Nominees: Living All of Life, The Blood Orange, Not for Nothing, Out of State-A Gothic Romance, Hopper X Vermeer, My Dear Hanna, Rhino Man, The Problem of the Hero

Best Director -  Rachel Koteen (Take the Ice, USA)
Nominees: Tim Dowling and Frank Tartaglia (Not for Nothing), Mick Davis (Trust in Love), Annie Dautane (Hopper X Vermeer), BLONDY Sophie (Tell Me Iggy), Matthew Sullivan (My Dear Hanna), John Jurko II, Matt Lindenberg and Daniel Roberts (Rhino Man), Shaun Dozier (The Problem with the Hero)

Audience Choice Awards

Best Student Film - Tangerine Drum Machine (Reilly McHugh, USA)
Best Documentary - The Asbestos City (Joe DeVito III, USA)
Best Short Documentary - White Noise (SanMartin Garcia, USA)
Best Short Film - Dating Audrey (Dan Hertzog, USA)
Best Narrative Feature - Out of State-A Gothic Romance (Victoria Bugbee, USA) 
Best Webisode - Coney Island Surprise (Chris Marcantel, USA)

Script Jury Awards

Best Script - The White Rose (David Joseph Cooley)
Nominees: All I Want for Christmas, Graham, Sundown, The New Moon in the Old Moon's Arms

Best Narrative Feature Script - Sundown (Gretchen Elizabeth Jackson)
Nominees: Graham, The White Rose

Best Short Screenplay - All I Want for Christmas (Linda Tancs)
Nominees: The New Moon in the Old Moon's Arms

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Rhino Man

During the production phase of this important and riveting documentary, the central subject of the film, Anton Mzimba, was assassinated in his South African home. The wildlife traffickers responsible for the heinous crime also injured his wife.  

Rhino Man is a conservation film and much more. Mzimba and other field rangers at the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve have been fighting poachers and illegal wildlife traffickers for decades despite the high personal risk. At its core, the film is a tribute to their bravery, integrity and military-grade training. 

Yet the images of rhinos suffering are comparably moving. Co-Directors John Jurko IIMatt Lindenberg and Daniel Roberts took care to let Timbavati's rangers tell their stories and explain why they would give their lives for another species. Their reasons are deeply thoughtful—even soul-stirring. The rangers' shared vision for their nature reserve is one of compassion and selfless service over vast expanses of time. 

Important people and organizations are involved in this project. His Royal Highness the Prince of Wales, President of United for Wildlife and heir to the throne for the United Kingdom and Commonwealth, contributes on-camera remarks from his unique perspective as an activist and future head of state. The Prince's sophisticated contributions toward reducing the illegal wildlife trade are praiseworthy and game-changing. His Royal Highness's work is also entirely charitable, as United for Wildlife is a program of The Royal Foundation, the philanthropic vehicle of The Prince and Princess of Wales. 

Other notable supporters of the film include Thin Green LineSouthern African Wildlife College, International Ranger Federation, Game Rangers Association of Africa and the previously stated Timbavati Private Nature Reserve. This documentary pays due homage to the people on the front lines of a global wildlife trafficking war. At the same time, it raises questions. Can the world stand by while one species after another becomes extinct? When should humans risk their lives for such a cause? What are the implications for animals, the planet, and us? The rangers in Rhino Man probe these thoughts, and act on their convictions, as you will see if you check out this cutting-edge film. 

You can watch a teaser here: Rhino Man Teaser

Friday, February 9, 2024

Interview with Traveler #582

In this deadpan, Kafkaesque take on the modern corporate grind, a middle manager interviews a job hopeful for a position in a secretive spiritual order. The organization, called Third Eye Moonwalk, travels outside of four-dimensional space-time. Despite this amazing feat, it's still bound by the humdrum oppressions of debt, turnover and general administrative expenses. They need help, but is Traveler #582 the candidate who can help them?

Co-Directors Lisa Steindler and Jon Bernson conceived this satirical project to illuminate people on the perils of seeking financial gain as an end goal. It leads to a life without meaning and purpose, they warn. The filmmaking team is based in San Francisco, a city known for its counter-culture spirit—and vast wealth. The conflict between those two realities is a call for artists, and this filmmaking team found something otherworldly amidst the contrast.  

You can watch the teaser here: Interview with Traveler #582 Teaser

Thursday, February 8, 2024

Living All of Life

When Susana learns that her husband of many decades has abandoned her, she is disconsolate. Life is joyless, bland and empty. In desperation, she reaches out to her neighbor Gloria, a high-spirited soul who could help her heal the wound. Yet Susana despises Gloria for all the reasons the younger woman could help. It is a vortex of suffering, and neither words nor possible friends are enough to help Susana really live again. 

Mexico City-born Director Marlen Rios-Farjat has a discerning touch in Living All of Life (Vivir Today la Vida). The acting is intimate and nuanced, and elements of cinematography such as lighting, movement and color are woven carefully into the narrative. Susana's fragility is held in relief to the vibrancy and possibility of the city, showing how people can be influenced by their environments and given circumstances. There is much for cinephiles to admire here. 

Then there is the music. An original work by Emiliano Suarez follows the story, entering and exiting, then entering again. The song in this short film is a touchstone of life, a form of expression that conveys Susana's inner life as she grows and manifests. 

Living All of Life is a student project from Centro de Capacitacion Cinematografica, A.C.. Given the maturity of the work, you would never know it had an educational origin. The movie will play with English subtitles, and the accompanying music video for the song will screen separately in Spanish only. You can watch the trailer here (Spanish, without subtitles): 

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Gypsy Rose Leezinski

Poor Max. He tries and tries again to land himself a girlfriend. No, a date! Just a date would be fine. But women will have none of it as he endures rejections, slaps and general love life failure. Yes, it's a humiliating, even depressing, mental state for him to exist in each day...after 

But he won't give up. In fact, his frustration is propelling him to take action. So, one day, he heads off to see a fortune teller. It's a Hail Mary, he knows, but hey it's LA and you can make the nutty choice when stretching for your dream. If Gypsy Rose is making it here, she must have something to offer someone. What has he got to lose? If you don't see a fortune teller now and then, you're not even in the game. 

Gypsy Rose gazes into her crystal ball, and maybe she has no idea what she's doing and only does this gig to pay the rent, but she does see something intriguing and he goes where she sends him. What happens next is really...really.........unexpected. 

You can watch the trailer here: 

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

My Dear Hanna

This short documentary involves a powerful and moving love story. The film's narrator, Marianne Szegedy-Maszak, speaks with eloquence, wisdom and deep fondness about her parents. Her father, a Hungarian Christian, was a rising star of Hungary's Foreign Ministry, but he found his government's alliance with Germany despicable. Her mother was the granddaughter of a Jewish industrialist. The story of their tumultuous lives unfolds through letters found 60 years after they were written. 

Family tribute films aren't often so beautifully produced, a lofty compliment to Director Matt Sullivan, his team, and the quality of the letters. In an era when Holocaust denial and anti-semitism have risen to alarming levels, this is an important film to see and discuss. You can watch the trailer here: My Dear Hanna Trailer

The Carnival: 125 Years of the Penn Relays

Not many sporting events in the United States are as steeped in history as the Penn Relays. It is the oldest and largest track & field competition in the country, with origins dating back to April 1895. Approximately 5,000 people attended the first event, no doubt scarcely imagining the future importance of the meet. Today, total attendance can be well over 100,000. 

This well-produced documentary waxes poetic on the history, but it also explores the Penn Relays as a catalyst for change, particularly in the areas of racial and gender equality. Early in its history, organizers invited African-American athletes to compete. Later, women's events were added. The event maintained this all-inclusive ethos through world wars, the civil rights marches, and many White House administrations. 

Iconic sportscaster and project Producer James Brown (The NFL Today, Inside the NFL) and award-winning Director Justin Jarrett combined forces to tell a story and make a statement with The Carnival: 125 Years of the Penn Relays. Many people see a dramatization of real life in the world of sport: the highs and lows, intense struggles and uncertain outcomes. This film draws frequent ties between the event and America's wider culture, suggesting that the Penn Relays helped to shape history. It is a bold claim, but it is also uplifting and worth saying. Penn Relays is an example of everyone winning in the end, whether or not individual athletes take home medals. 

You can watch the trailer here: The Carnival Trailer