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2006 Florida Film Festival Award Winners

A weekend of awards and tributes at the 15th Florida Film Festival close the 10-day long event, held in Orlando, Florida. At Friday evening’s Festival Revel celebration, held at the Citrus Club in downtown Orlando, the first-ever Florida Film Festival American Visionary Award was presented to legendary director John Waters. Dubbed the "Pope of Trash" by William Burroughs, John Waters has gained phenomenal international renown as writer and director of wildly original, irreverent, and offbeat portraits of the American dream-gone-wrong. In recent years, Mr. Waters' films have been featured at the Cannes Film Festival, the Berlin Film Festival, and at retrospectives at the Cinematheque Francaise, the Los Angeles County Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago, and many other venues. Mr. Water is also known as a prodigious photographer and essayist.

At a lavish Filmmakers Awards Brunch held on Saturday, the 2006 Florida Film Festival awards were announced. The event, sponsored by Universal Orlando, was held at the Enzian Theater, the locus of the film festival and a year-round arthouse cinema that brings quality independent and international films to Orlando audiences.

The Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature was given to CONVENTIONEERS,
directed by Mora Stephens. The film, a romantic drama about the hot sexual attraction between a conservative Republican and a radical protestor, is set against the chaotic backdrop of the Republican National Convention held during the dog days of August 2004. The film’s skillful use of its immediate setting on the streets of New York during the coronation of George Bush is an astonishingly accomplished work, particularly for a film with such a modest budget and crew.

The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature was presented to SWEET LAND, directed by Ali Selim. The film, which won top honors at the Hamptons Film Festival in October, is a visually impressive historical drama of the American dream as experienced by immigrants in America’s heartland at the beginning of the 20th century.

The Narrative Features Jury bestowed a Special Jury Award for Ensemble
Acting to CHALK, directed by Mike Akel, a remarkably honest and touching portrait of the lives and emotional challenges of public school teachers.

The Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Feature was presented to
SHOWBUSINESS: A SEASON TO REMEMBER, directed by Dori Berinstein. This wildly entertaining documentary follows four musicals as they attempt to become Broadway hits. The behind-the-scenes drama and access to talents is remarkably impressive and makes it clear what a unique universe the New York theater world is.

The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature was given to PURVIS OF
OVERTOWN, directed by Shaun Conrad and David Raccuglia. The film, which had its world premiere at last month’s Miami International Film Festival, is an arresting portrait of black “outsider” artist Purvis Young, whose streetwise art pieces are prized by collectors and museums around the world. the Miami International

The Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Short was presented to MOTHER,
Directed by Sian Heder. The Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Short was
Awarded to presented to SOMETHING OTHER THAN OTHER, directed by Jerry A. Henry and Andrea J. Chia. The Grand Jury Award for Best Animated Short was presented to THE FAN AND THE FLOWER, directed by animation veteran Bill Plympton. The Audience Award for Best Short Film was presented to TALES OF
MERE EXISTENCE, directed by Lev.

The 2004 Narrative Features Jury was comprised of Josh Green (Vice
President of Distribution, Emerging Pictures), Dennis Lim (Senior Editor, The
Village Voice), and filmmaker Jessica Sharzer.

The Documentary Competition jurors were Marisa Keselica (former Director of National Sales and Marketing for Wellspring), filmmaker Heide Reinberg, and Orlando Sentinel film critic Jay Boyar (who filled in for Charles Coleman, Film Program Director, Facets Cinematheque, who was unable to attend due to unforeseen circumstances).

Weekend filmgoers were treated to a wide array of films and special events, including the Kevin Bacon-directed LOVER BOY, the Korean cult hit LADY VENGEANCE, locally produced drama THE WAY BACK HOME and the inimitable John Waters, who regaled a sold-out audience with tales from his 30 years as a filmmaker provocateur.

Sandy Mandelberger
Industry Editor


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