10:39 — And the Winner Is…The various winners of the Nashville Film Festival Awards were announced yesterday. The Audience Choice awards from the festival will be announced at a later date. Here are your winners:
Narrative Competition sponsored by Bridgestone
- Bridgestone Grand Jury Prize — “Weekend” (Andrew Haigh/UK)
- Bridgestone Competition Honorable Mention — “Last Summer of Boyita” (Julia Solomonoff/Argentina)
- Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Ensemble — “Kinyarwanda” (Alrick Brown/Rwanda, USA)
- Special Jury Prize for Exceptional Courage — “Dog Sweat” (Hossein Keshavarz/Iran)
- Best Actor — Tom Cullen, “Weekend”
- Best Actress — Guadalupe Alonso, “Last Summer of Boyita”
- Naxos Award for Best Film Music — The Bootstraps, “Take Me Home”
Documentary Competition sponsored by Documentarey Channel
- Documentary Channel Grand Jury Prize — “If a Tree Falls (Marshall Curry/USA)
- Documentary Channel Honorable Mention — “Fambul Tok (Sara Terry/Sierra Leone, USA)
- Special Jury Prize for Achievement Artistic Vision — “A Matter of Taste” (Sally Rowe/USA)
Gibson Music Films.Music City competition sponsored by Gibson and Lightning 100
- Gibson Impact of Music Award — “Ain’t In It for My Health: A Film About Levon Helm” (Jacob Hatley/USA)
- Honorable Mention — “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone” (Lev Anderson, Chris Metzler/USA)
- Special Jury Prize for Most Original Vision — “Broke*” (Will Gray/USA)
New Directors Competition
- Grand Jury Prize — “Inuk” (Mike Magidson/ Greenland, France)
- Best Actor — Parker Croft, “Falling Overnight”
- Best Actress — Kristyna Novakova, “Twosome”
- Honorable Mention — “Twosome” (Jaroslav Fuit/Czech Republic)
- Special Jury Prize for Breakout Performance by an Actor — Gaba Peterson, “Inuk”
Short Film Competition
- Best Narrrative Short — “Mary Last Seen” (Sean Durkin/USA)
- Honorable Mention — “Darryn Exists” (Jamie Lawrence/New Zealand)
- Best Animated Short — “Something Left, Something Taken” (Max Porter, RuKuwahata/USA)
- Honorable Mention — “Mobile” (Verna Fels/Germany)
- Special Jury Prize for Imaginative Storytelling — “Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore” (Brandon Oldenburg, William Joyce/USA)
- Best Documentary Short “Bye Bye Now” (Aideen O’Sullivan/Ireland)
- Special Jury Prize for Social Awareness — “Save the Farm” (Michael Kuehnert/USA)
- Best Experimental Short — “All Flowers in Time” (Jonathan Caouette/Canada)
- Honorable Mention — “Who by Fire” (Aleisa Moussa/USA)
- Honorable Mention II (Just a Meaning You Attribute to It” (Bernadette Anzengruber/Austria)
- Vanderbilt Golden Opportunity Award – ”Deeper Than Yesterday” (Ariel Kleiman/Australia)
- Runner-Up “On Leave” (Asat Saban/Isreal)
- Watkins Young Filmmaker Award — “Finding My Way” (Emma Strebel/USA)
- Ground Zero Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Feature Film — “Jess + Moss” (Clay Jeter/USA)
- Ground Zero Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Short Feature Film — “Swing” (Matt Schosser, Shane Bartlett/USA)
- Ground Zero Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Short Documentary — “Nashville Rises” (Zac Adams/USA)
- Black Filmmaker Award “Kinyardwanda” (Alrick Brown/USA, Rwanda)
- NAHCC Hispanic Filmmaker Award — “My Life With Carlos” (German /Berger-Hertz/Chile)
- NAHCC Hispanic Filmmaker Award Honorable Mention — “Musica Campesina” (Alberto Fuguet/Chile, USA)
- NPT Human Spirit Award — “Fambul Tok” (Sara Terry/USA)
- Women in Film & TV Prize for Best Film by a Female Director — “The Last Summer of Boyita” (Julia Solomonoff/Argentina)
- Film Musicians secondary Market Fund Prize for Best Director — Composer Collaboration, “Falling Overnight”
Congratulations to all of the winners!
2:13 – “The First Grader” is a terrific film. It tells the true story of Kimani N’gan’ga Maruge (played by Oliver Litondo), a participant of the Mau Mau rebellion in Kenya in the 1950′s. Maruge was imprisoned and tourtured by the British because he refused to renounce his oath to a free Kenya. When Kenya gains it’s independence from Great Britain and the new independent Kenyan government grants free education to all citizens, the 84-year old Maruge enrolls in an elementary school as a first grader so he can learn how to read. Many people are opposed to Maruge attending school, but the head mistress at the school, Jane Obinchu (Naomie Harris), fights for Maruge’s right to an education, despite threats to her job and her life.
In a previous post, I wrote a little about wondering how much truth there is in a movie that is “based on a true story.” One of the producers of “The First Grader” (I unfortunately did not catch his name) told the audience following the film that the filmmakers only changed two things in the film. Neither thing was overly important to the story, meaning that “The First Grader” is amost completely true. That makes the film even more impressive.
“The First Grader” was directed masterfully by Jason Chadwick, acclaimed director of “The Other Bolyen Sister.” Everything about the film is inspiring. The script, written by Anne Peacock, was fabulous, and I was impressed with the acting of all of the characters. Perhaps most impressive of all is that the children in the film are not actors. They are actual students in the Kenyan school where the film was shot. If you see the film, I think you’ll understand just how impressive that is.
“The First Grader” has been picked up for wide release by National Geographic. It will be coming out in theaters across the country late next month. If you’re in the mood for an inspiring, uplifting film, I encourage you to go see it.
4:23 — The last film I saw at this year’s Nashville Film Festival was a narrative feature from Romania called “Tuesday, After Christmas.” Unfortunately, my film watching at this year’s festival ended on a low note. The film was not very good.
“Tuesday, After Christmas” is the story of a married man who is having an affair with a younger woman. At the end of the film he decides to leave his wife and daughter in favor of the other woman. Not much happens in between except several scenes that are far too long and filled with unnecessary dialogue. One scene involves the wife unknowingly meeting the other woman at the dentist office (the other woman is a dentist). Having them meet before the wife knows who the other woman is was fine, but then the scene drags on while the other woman explains the need for the daughter to get braces, complete with more detailed dental information than you could possibly want to know.
The idea for the film wasn’t necessarily a bad one. It could have been an interesting little film. Unfortunately, that initial idea was not very well carried out.
I have had a great time covering the film festival for Nashville.com, and I’m not quite done yet. I will still let you know which film wins the Southwest Airlines Audience Choice Awards and I’ll let you know which films win the coveted Nashville.com Best Narrrative and Documentary Film Awards (as decided by me). Be sure to stay tuned.