Sunday, July 31, 2022

2022 Awards

Film Jury Awards

Best Picture - Ferryman (Darren Bender, UK) 
Nominees: Sweet Disaster, Toprak, Love and Communication, Emily or Oscar?

Best Student Film - The Call of Water (Kaya Tone, USA)
Nominees: Call Now, Severance Bay, To the Wood, The Softest Blanket in All of Dingledorf, Fluffypunk, Reflections

Best Alternative Film - Break Any Spell (Anton Josef, Canada) 
Nominees: This Vast and Mysterious Ocean, Break Any Spell, Click!, Composure, Make Up Your Mind

Best Short Film - For I Am Dead (Patricia Delso Lucas, Belgium) 
Nominees: YuanYuan, Break Any Spell, Gregory, Paradisiac, Aion, American Dream

Best Short Short - The Little Drummer Boy (John Gray, USA) 
Nominees: Paradisiac, The Inside Outside, Yo Andrea, Biased, Tainan Fantage, Signing Off, Gregory

Best Documentary - Frank Bey: All My Dues Are Paid (Tom Dwyer, Lisa Palattella, USA) 
Nominees: Breaking the Silence, Frank Bey: All My Dues Are Paid, Local 1196: A Steelworkers Strike, Raised Up West Side, My Rembetika Blues

Best Horror Thriller - 7 Minutes in Hell (Shane Spiegel, Justin Reager, USA)
Nominees: Wake, This Vast and Mysterious Ocean

Best Action Thriller - Something in the Clouds (Josh Sikkema, Johnny Ray, USA) 
Nominees: BOXED, Utopia Planitia S1

Cultural Spirit - Local 1196: A Steelworkers Strike (Samuel George, USA)
Nominees: Love and Communication, Raised Up West Side, Breaking the Silence, My Rembetika Blues

Best Short Documentary - The Shaker Legacy (David Gibson, David J. Goodwin, USA)
Nominees: We Decided to Become Farmers, Identity: The Andrew Nemr Story, From Darkness to Light: The Peter Krueger Clinic, The Fantastic, Mountains We Climb, Hello to Julia

Best Foreign Film - Sweet Disaster (Laura Lehmus, Germany)
Nominees: YuanYuan, Toprak, Cocoon, Ferryman, For I Am Dead, Therapy

Best Biographical Film - Identity: The Andrew Nemr Story (Jonathan Cipiti, USA)
Nominees: Frank Bey: All My Dues Are Paid, Fluffypunk

Best Experimental Short - Wake (Brendan Kissane, USA)
Nominees: The Inside Outside, Paradisiac, Walking Around, Composure, This Vast and Mysterious Ocean, To the Wood

Indie Spirit - Love and Communication (James Christy, USA)
Nominees: Toprak, Ferryman, Something in the Clouds, Emily or Oscar?, Frank Bey: All My Dues Are Paid

Best Animation - Tainan Fantage (Jason M. Tseng, Taiwan)
Nominees:  The Softest Blanket in All of Dingledorf, You Knew Me, Sweet Disaster

Best Animated Film - The Softest Blanket in All of Dingledorf (Xan Rayne Poulsen, USA)
Nominees: Tainan Fantage, You Knew Me

Female Eye Filmmaking - YuanYuan (Shiyue Xu, China)
Nominees: Jaded, Severance Bay, Sweet Disaster, The Call of Water, The Sculptor, To the Wood, Toprak, YuanYuan, Make Up Your Mind

Best Sci-Fi Film - Utopia Planitia S1 (George Reese, USA)
Nominees: Utopia Planitia S1, Wake

Best TV Pilot - Tasteless (Amnon Carmi, Israel, USA)
Nominees: Saint of Lost Causes, Grafton

Best Comedy - I Mustache You (Shara Ashley Zeiger, USA)
Nominees: Biased, Aghast!, YuanYuan

Best Period Film - BOXED (Alyn Darnay, USA)
Nominees: For I Am Dead

Student Cultural Spirit - Reflections (J.W. Hill, USA)
Nominees: Fluffypunk

New Hope - Hello to Julia (Jenna A. Bush, USA)
Nominees: From Darkness to Light: The Peter Krueger Clinic, Hello to Julia, Mountains We Climb

Artistic Spirit - The Fantastic (Maija Blafield, Finland)
Nominees: Frank Bey: All My Dues Are Paid, Identity: The Andew Nemr Story, We Decided to Become Farmers, Raised Up West Side

GLBTQ Spirit - Flirting (With Possibilities) (Garrett Zuercher, USA)
Nominees: Cocoon Love, For I Am Dead, From Darkness to Light: The Peter Krueger Clinic

Best Supernatural Film - Sid Penrose (Drew Dull, USA)
Nominees: The Call of Water, Wake, The Inside Outside, 7 Minutes in Hell, Tainan Fantage, Gregory

Best Webisode - Utopia Planitia (George Reese, USA)

Best Music Video - Black City Nights (Nathan Castiel, USA)
Nominees: You Knew Me, Gravity, It Ain't Me, Money, Money, Money

Best Alternative Music Video - Money, Money, Money (Marvin Tablang Dumlao, Philippines)
Nominees: It Ain't Me, You Knew Me

Best Singer-Songwriter Video - Gravity (Danny S. Lynch, USA)
Nominees: It Ain't Me, You Knew Me

Best Inspirational Music Video - You Knew Me (Rodgers Dameron, USA)
Nominees: Money, Money, Money, Gravity, Black City Nights, It Ain't Me

Best Narrative Feature - Emily or Oscar? (Chris M. Allport, USA)
Nominees: Ferryman, Sweet Disaster, Toprak, Love and Communication

Best Director - Sevgi Hirschhauser (Toprak, Turkey)
Nominees: Laura Lehmus, Giulio Meliani, Sevgi Hirschhauser, Armando Valdes-Kennedy, Chris M. Allport, Darren Bender, Samuel George, Patricia Delso Lucas

Audience Choice Awards

Best Student Film - The Softest Blanket in All of Dingledorf (Xan Rayne Poulsen, USA)
Best Documentary - Breaking the Silence (Dara Sanandaji, Freddie Bell, USA)
Best Short Documentary - Mountains We Climb (Ryan Canney, USA)
Best Short Film - Aghast! (Andreas Quiroga, USA)
Best Narrative Feature - Love and Communication (James Christy, USA)
Best TV Pilot - Grafton (Bryan Santiago, USA)
Best Webisode - Utopia Planitia (George Reese, USA)

Script Jury Awards

Best Script - G.O.D. OS (David Christopher Loya, USA)
Nominees: Kent, Amy and Angel, Soulbreak, Family Embers, G.O.D. OS, Wake of the Quasimodo, Preacher's Daughter: Giant Slayer

Best Narrative Feature Script - Preacher's Daughter: Giant Slayer (Gregory Bonds, USA)
Nominees: Amy and Angel, Family Embers, G.O.D. OS, Kent, Soulbreak, Wake of the Quasimodo

Best Streaming/Premium TV Script - Transformed (Shannon TL Kearns, USA)

Best Period Script - Wake of the Quasimodo (Lorna Norrise, Lauren Rosson, USA)
Nominees: Family Embers, Kent

Best Short Screenplay - A Package of Dreams (Bradley M. Look, USA)

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Breaking the Silence

This intensely personal documentary explores mental illness in an innovative way through the eyes of the filmmaker himself, because writer, director and producer Dara Sanandaji is the subject of his own film. Creating a movie about yourself is a professional and cinematic risk, to be sure, but Sanandaji pulls off the feat through extensive analysis and considerable use of expert testimony. He makes some assertions and observations, too.

Part of the project's success can be attributed to his fine education. Sanandaji earned a BA in Economics from Dartmouth in 2000 and a JD from Chicago-Kent College of Law in 2006 before embarking on a career that ultimately led to filmmaking. At times, the film has an educational look and feel, making it a worthwhile experience for anyone who's interested in the subject of mental health. At the same time, the filmmaker's personal take on his condition is relatable to anyone who has experienced mental health issues firsthand. 

His surprising message? Mental illness is a bad thing, but it's not all bad. You can watch the trailer here: Breaking the Silence Trailer 

Love and Communication

When filmmaker James Christy Jr.  set out to write, produce and direct Love and Communication, he had something urgent to say. His son had been diagnosed with autism at the age of three, setting off a distressing whirlwind of efforts by Christy and his wife to obtain the best possible therapies. The couple quickly discovered a Kafkaesque landscape of conflicting advice, school officials in denial and seemingly endless online research. The situation no doubt put strain on their marriage while their child marked time at best. 

The whole ordeal is brought to light through this fictional, but true to life, narrative feature film. Christy's home base of Princeton, New Jersey, an area best known for stately homes and an Ivy League university, seems an unlikely place for a grinding struggle. Surely, they must have had the best doctors and healthcare options at their fingertips? 

Apparently not. Autism can strike any family, and Christy's affecting account suggests that the system around autism care needs to improve for everyone. You can watch the trailer here: Love and Communication Trailer

Sunday, June 12, 2022


Experimental films are typically more experienced than understood, stirring up thoughts and feelings about a work uniquely for each viewer. 

Wake is a surreal journey inside the unconscious mind of a young man. Two narratives run in parallel, with one involving him emerging from beneath sand on a beach while strange forces keep him shackled around the neck, and the other involving him watching static on an old TV set while an old fisherman evokes buried memories. 

Cinematic excellence makes the whole experience a visual and auditory treat despite the pervasively depressed mood. The story arc of the tormented man's life is left a mystery, but some apparent realities seep through the crashing waves of his island-like mind. In the end, Director Brendan Kissane leaves much to the imagination, perhaps asking his audience members to probe deeper to dig out their own, buried truths. You can watch the trailer here: Wake Trailer


A chef in a bustling Tel Aviv restaurant already has a lot on her plate, but when she returns to work after the COVID shutdown with no ability to taste and smell, the resurgent eatery descends into chaos. Louisa insists she can perform her job with sight and feel, but her conviction is not necessarily shared by others within her circle. 

This TV pilot features a sympathetic heroine who, like so many of us, struggles mightily to get back to normal after a brutal lockdown. Shot on location in Israel and produced, written and directed by Queens, New York-based helmer Amnon Carmi, Tasteless presents the look and feel of a city with sophisticated tastes, high expectations and a pragmatic ethos that one should either contribute or step aside. Carmi takes you to that exciting and challenging place, then lets you see what's happening behind the scenes, where talented professionals strive and make things work—despite it all.  

You can watch the trailer here: 

Saturday, June 11, 2022


A rock singer who has been constantly hounded and abused by her boyfriend has had enough. On the run from the creep, she stumbles into a photographer who has problems of his own. A friendship forms immediately and they're stronger together, but now action is needed. 

This social conscience film points to a sub-set of domestic violence that involves people who are not trapped by marriage, yet find themselves imperiled by someone else's twisted need for control. Queens, New York Writer and Director Guil Parreiras employs two types of abuse victims in the story, thus pointing out that victimhood comes in many forms. Furthermore, the film demonstrates that abusers will not necessarily limit their offenses to one person. 

Although painful to watch and hard-edged, Click draws you in. Moments of art enhance the humanity of the victims, making the offenses of the abuser even more detestable and alarming. You can watch the trailer here (parental discretion advised): Click Trailer

Friday, June 10, 2022


When a six-year-old girl named Yuanyuan finds her teacher and father in a spontaneous hug, her inexperienced mind cannot process the sight, but it sure feels odd and wrong. Compounding the problem, her unborn brother is bringing tension to the family. After a classmate describes the former situation as an affair, a term she doesn't really grasp, Yuanyuan sets off to create problems for her parents and, in turn, bring calm and stability back to the family's home. 

It's a bold plan, and naive, and this little girl in China is going to disturb the universe in a way she cannot control. Director Shiyue Xu, a native of Tianjin who studied film at Hofstra and the New York Film Academy, reveals a gentle, comic touch with this dramatic material. When combined with Xu's fine production values, the cheeky story delivers a well-aimed jab at dysfunctional marriages by showing how callow spouses who openly quarrel can look when compared with the children they affect. 

You can watch the trailer here: