Saturday, April 21, 2012
Faith, Love & Whiskey, Tchoupitoulas among filmmaker award winners At Dallas Film Society Honors
Ya’ke Smith’s much-talked-about directorial debut WOLF was awarded the $30,000 camera package courtesy of Panavision.
The Dallas International Film Festival presented by the Boardwalk Auto Group Volkswagen Dealers announced its 2012 award winners at its annual gala, The Dallas Film Society Honors presented by the Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation and supported by the Trinity Diversified Film Fund Advisors. In an evening where independent film and filmmakers were celebrated for their incredible work, award winners were presented with cash prizes and grants that totaled more than $70,000.
Two kaleidoscopic films both with distinct visual flair walked away with the top honors in the Narrative & Documentary Feature competitions: Kristina Nikolova’s Bulgarian film FAITH, LOVE & WHISKEY won the narrative category (Nikolova tearfully accepted the award despite previous claims that “I won’t cry; I’m a tough girl.”), and Bill and Turner Ross’s TCHOUPITOULAS won the documentary contest. The Narrative competition jury also gave a Special Mention for Breakout Performance to Michael Rainey Jr. for LUV and a Special Mention for Acting for Kim Kold in TEDDY BEAR.
The strong lineup in this year’s Texas Competition meant the jury had a difficult decision to make, but Ya’ke Smith’s much-talked-about directorial debut WOLF was awarded the $30,000 camera package courtesy of Panavision. The jury also gave a Special Mention to David Zellner’s KID-THING.
“It’s been a hard road because of the subject matter,” said Smith, whose film addresses several taboo subjects at once, “and I have to thank the Festival for believing in it and having the boldness for programming it and screening it.”
With emotion, Bryan D. Hopkins accepted the Environmental Visions Grand Jury Prize for his documentary DIRTY ENERGY, a personal look into the trials of the citizens directly affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. With only $200 in his bank account, Hopkins traveled to Louisiana to highlight these ongoing personal struggles that have been forgotten in the mainstream news cycle.
“Anyone who’s made a film realizes that you never do it alone,” Hopkins said. “When I started this film I had $200, a bag of groceries and food stamps. At least now I know I’m not crazy.”
For the second year running, Lauren Embrey presented the $10,000 Silver Heart Award courtesy of the Embrey Family Foundation. Kirby Dick’s THE INVISIBLE WAR won the award as it most represented a filmmaker’s dedication to fighting injustices and creating social change for the improvement of humanity.
Dana O’Keefe’s AARON BURR, PART 2 won the Grand Jury Prize in the Shorts Competition. A Special Mention went to Brent Hoff’s THE LOVE COMPETITION and a Special Mention for Unique Storytelling in the Student Shorts went to Afarin Eghbal’s GRANDMOTHERS. REEL FX presented the award for Best Animated Short to Grant Orchard’s A MORNING STROLL, while the Grand Jury Prize winner of the Student Shorts was Justin Tipping’s NANI, which also walked away with the overall Audience Award for Best Short in the evening’s biggest Filmmaker Award surprise.
“This is crazy. What happened?,” Tipping exclaimed. “This is the beginning of my career, my journey … it’s a little surreal, growing up watching movies, then making them, and now I’m at a dinner table with RoboCop,” referring to his seat near Peter Weller, who is in town for tomorrow night’s 25th Anniversary Screening of the Dallas-filmed 1987 sci-fi classic.
In the year that the International Spotlight focused on South Korea, it seemed especially fitting that the Audience Award for Best Narrative went to Kang Je-kyu’s epic MY WAY, while closer to home, Bess Kargman’s family-friendly FIRST POSITION won the Audience Award for Best Documentary.
The winners of the Grand Jury Prizes for all the competitions will each receive movie magic budgeting and scheduling software bundles from Entertainment Partners.
Presented by TXU Energy’s Chief Marketing Officer Michael Grasso, cash grants for the TXU Energy Light Up the Red Carpet Student Film Contest were handed out to students in High School and College categories. High School winners: Abelardo Gonzalez’s film NO BLACKOUT won the $7,500 award for Vidal M. Trevino Magnet School, Christian Vasquez’s A SPARK took the $5,000 prize for Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and Carolina Trevino’s THE ENERGY POLICE won the $2,500 award for The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), Houston. College winners, whose prize money will be split between the winners and their schools, were: Dillon White and North Lake College, $7,500 for ZAP!, Edgar Cortes and The Art Institute of Dallas, $5,000 for DOMI CILE, and Wojciech Stypko and the University of North Texas, $2,500 for MAN POWER.
The film awards were interspersed through the evening with touching tributes to men and women in the film industry who have each made a significant contribution to modern cinema. Presenting Sponsor Arthur E. Benjamin highlighted the tireless work that film industry veteran Eric Pleskow has undertaken in his career as CEO of both United Artists and Orion Pictures. The 2012 Dallas Film Society Honors represented a very personal connection with Benjamin as his beloved Uncle, the late Robert S. Benjamin, worked for Pleskow for many years. To be asked to present the Lifetime Achievement Tribute to Pleskow was a huge honor for Benjamin.
“I feel the Dallas Film Society Honors this year is a true example of The Circle of Life,” Benjamin said. “My Uncle Bob loved working for Eric Pleskow, so for me to be here through the Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation and have the opportunity to congratulate him in person tonight is a real honor.”
The stunning Dallas Star Awards were presented to three-time Academy Award nominee Laura Linney (YOU CAN COUNT ON ME, THE TRUMAN SHOW, THE SAVAGES) and a legend of costume design, Bernie Pollack. Two very personal tributes from Robert Redford and Harrison Ford were recorded specifically for Pollack’s recognition in Dallas. The Texas Avery Animation Award presented by REEL FX was given to animator Glen Keane who is known for creating the hero/heroine in the much-loved animated classics ALADDIN and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST, among others.
And a special Dallas Shining Star Award was given to Academy Award nominee Gabourey Sidibe, star of PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL PUSH BY SAPPHIRE and TOWER HEIST. “This is very special to me, to be in this room among students who are deciding to do this, to add to the world in an artful way,” Sidibe said. “I want to thank the students for choosing to do this, because I didn’t think I could do it. I am in awe of you. You make me wrong, and I thank you so much for making me wrong.”
“This year’s Dallas Film Society Honors paid deep respect to both the indie filmmaker and the film industry veteran,” said James Faust, artistic director of the Dallas Film Society. “From Ya’ke Smith with his directorial debut to Eric Pleskow who has scores of films under his belt, from acknowledging Gabourey Sidibe’s rising star to Laura Linney’s expansive career, we want to applaud the new visionaries alongside those who have the breadth of experience that most can only dream about. This Honors event is our way of giving back to those who have impacted and continue to impact the face of cinema. I am exceptionally proud of the winners this year.”
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