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Gen Art FF Closing Night and Awards Ceremony

Friday, April 11--------The 13th Annual Gen Art Film Festival Presented by Acura wrapped an exciting week with the U.S. Premiere of THE TAKE, an intense policier directed by Brad Furman and starring John Leguizamo and Rosie Perez. The film opens in theaters in New York and Los Angeles today. A packed audience attended the Closing Night Screening at the newly dubbed Visual Arts Theater, recently purchased by the School of Visual Arts. Director Brad Furman was visibly moved by the strong audience reaction to the film, asking audience members “to spread the word when the film opens later this week….it could use help in getting noticed, like any independent film.” 

During the past week, the Gen Art Film Festival showcased seven features and seven shorts from emerging filmmakers, each followed by seven parties at New York’s hottest venues, including The Bowery Hotel, Kiss & Fly, Spotlight Live and Prime. The Festival not only specializes in showcasing cutting-edge talents but allows its enthusiastic audiences to experience a premiere like a true insider, with full VIP treatment at the screening and after-party.  T

he Festival was able to attract the participation of a glittering roster of film talents, including Matthew Broderick, Alan Alda, Julianna Margulies, Adrian Brody, Ethan Hawke, John Leguizamo, Rosie Perez, Jason Behr, Alan Cumming, Alicia Witt, Michael McGlone, Nick Cannon, Kieran Culkin, Bobby Cannavale, Louis CK, Anson Mount, Ryan Donowho, Rachel Dratch, Ally Sheedy, Alan Cumming, Norman Reedus, Yul Vazquez and Lydia Hearst, among many others.  

Following the Closing Night Premiere of THE TAKE, audience members joined with film professionals at the After Party and Awards Ceremony held at Spotlight Live in Times Square.  Gen Art Vice President of Film Jeffrey Abramson and Jurors Alan Cumming, Saskia Wilson-Brown and Norman Reedus announced the Festival winners, followed by a music performance by Brooklyn-natives MGMT. 

The Acura Grand Jury Award for Best Feature was awarded to HALF-LIFE, by director Jennifer Phang. In this unusual indie drama, a precocious boy and his jaded sister use their imaginative powers to escape a confining home-life, save their self-destructive mother from her charmingly manipulative boyfriend, and finally reinvent their world in a mind bending conclusion. The film had its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. The Award comes with a cash prize of $10,000. 

The Accura Grand Jury Award for Best Short Film, which includes a $5000 cash prize, was presented to director Christina Voros for her debut film THE LADIES. The documentary short film is a portrait of two sisters who recount their histories of incarceration in a Russian work camp and their journey to the United States to build a new life following the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956. The film previously won a Gold Plaque as Best Documentary at the Chicago Film Festival. 

The Film Festival Audience Award for Best Feature was given to director Doug Pray for his documentary feature, SURFWISE, about a doctor who leaves a profitable medical practice to live the nomadic life of a surfer. The film, which premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, will be seen in theaters later this year via specialty distributor Magnolia Pictures. The Film Festival Audience Award for Best Short Film was awarded to director Rajeev Dasssani for the intensely dramatic A DAY’S WORK. The film has been making waves on the film festival circuit since its debut at the Santa Barbara Film Festival for its dramatic story of the conflict between Latino immigrant workers and their privileged white employers. Actor Luis Chavez, who stars as a young Mexican immigrant who must make a moral choice in the film, received the Stargazer Award, which honors breakout talent for excellence in acting. 

The Festival was deemed a major success by Jeffrey Abramson, Gen Art Vice President of Film. ““By all measures this has been our most successful festival to date,” Abramson announced. “Not only did we see an increase in full festival pass holders, but the majority of the 14 filmmakers (and their teams) were on hand the entire week to support each other’s films, which created an incredible feeling of encouragement, camaraderie and excitement which was absolutely contagious.” This positive feeling will surely be repeated in the Windy City, when Gen Art presents the 2nd Annual Gen Art Chicago Film Festival from June 23 to 27.  

For more information on upcoming Gen Art events, please call (212) 255-7300 or visit the Gen Art Web site at www.genart.org.   

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor  

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