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Bermuda International Film Fest Awards

The 2008 edition of the Bermuda International Film Festival came to a close this past weekend, with its Gala Awards Ceremony and dazzling After Party at The Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel. The Festival, celebrating its eleventh season, has one of the most ambitious and energetic film slates in North America, as well as the one of the most beautiful environments for its many special events and receptions. Lucky attendees not only could experience Bermuda’s legendary pink sand beaches and historic architecture, but some of the best films on the international film festival circuit.

CARAMEL, by Lebanese director Nadine Labaki, won the Mary-Jean Mitchell Green Award for Best Narrative Feature. According to a statement by Jury President Robert Favreau (director of A SUNDAY IN KIGALI), the film “shows us a complex microcosmos where many stories and sub-stories take place. The stories are all well-developed and involve many characters to whom we become strongly attached.” The director received a cash prize of $5000. XXY, the unique story of a teenage hermaphrodite by Argentine director Lucia Puenzo, was given a Special Jury Mention in the Narrative Features category.

The Best Documentary prize was split between two worthy films. SAVING LUNA by Canadian directors Michael Parfit and Suzanne Chisholm, is the inspiring story about Luna, a baby killer whale who gets separated from his family in a remote Vancouver Island fjord and becomes attached to the island residents. According to jury members Linda Hattendorf (THE CATS OF MIRIKITANI) and Peter Raymond (SHAKE HANDS WITH THE DEVIL), the film was praised as “an inspiring, mesmerizing, spiritual and poetic story, featuring spectacular locations and beautiful cinematography.”

Sharing the Best Documentary Prize was the Israeli film SOUVENIRS by directors Shahar Cohen and Halil Efrat. The film is an intimate, revelatory work of a father and son relationship. The jury praised the film’s “cinematography, cinema verite style and its eart and terrific scored music.” The Jury also gave a Special Mention to Steven-Charles Jaffe’s film, GAHAN WILSON: BORN DEAL, STILL WEIRD, a tribute to the screenwriter of fantasy/sci fi films for television and the big screen.

The Shorts Jury of Al Seymour Jr. and Ted Bezaire gave the M3 Wireless Bermuda Shorts Award to TOYLAND, by German director Jochen Freydank. The Shorts Jury also awarded Special Mentions to ARK (Grzegorz Jokajtys, Poland) and THE LEGEND OF THE SLOW MAN (Armando del Rio, Spain).

The Bacardi Limited Audience Choice Award, which is voted on by filmgoers, was won by RED DUST, by British director Tom Hooper, which starred Oscar winner Hilary Swank as a crusading, anti-apartheid lawyer in South Africa. The director gratefully received the $3000 cash prize from Bacardi’s Vernon Pemberton.

The 2008 Bermuda International Film Festival was the biggest to date…..showcasing 79 films from 32 countries. Its diverse and adventurous programming, beautiful setting and easy-going atmosphere make it one of the most filmmaker-friendly events on the circuit. Sorry I missed it this year, but I hope to be reveling on the pink sands next year.

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor on

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