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Opening & Closing Films Crowned at Marco Island

The 5th Annual Marco Island Film Festival ended its 10-day run with an Awards
Ceremony this past weekend, held at the elegant Cape Marco Tennis Club. The
Ceremony was the culmination of a program that brought more than one hundred
films to the two festival venues of Naples and Marco Island, two of the most
beautiful resort towns in the state of Florida.

The Festival kicked off on October 18 with the US Premiere of Mother Ghost,
a family drama starring honoree Kevin Pollak, who was given the Modern Master
Award following the screening of Brian Singer's The Usual Suspects, which
has one of Pollak's best known performances. The Festival also honored the late
Rod Steiger with a Lifetime Achievement Award, accepted by his widow Anna Steiger,
following the screening of his last screen performance in A Month Of Sundays.

Robert Forster, who began his career in the 1960s with bravura performances
in such landmark films as Reflections In A Golden Eye and Medium Cool,
was at the Festival to receive his Golden Eagle Award. Forster has had a late
career renaissance that began with his memorable role of a con man with a conscience
in Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, for which he was nominated for an
Academy Award. Recent films include David Mamet's Lakeboat, directed
by Joe Mantegna, and Diamond Men, with Donnie Wahlberg. The Festival
screened his newest film Roads To Riches, with Forster playing a down
on his luck con man.

Beyond the celebrity talent honored at the event (which also included veteran
television actress Jane Seymour in town to promote her newest film, Touching
Wild Horses
), the Festival's Pelican Awards were an acknowledgement of the
young filmmaking talent that is the specialty of this event. Choosing from a
varied banquet of features, documentaries and short films, the Festival juries
found many gems to honor with awards.

The Pelican Awards

The First Feature Pelican Award was given to Festival opener, Mother Ghost,
directed by Rich Thorne, with a cast that included Kevin Pollak, Dana Delaney,
Charles Durning, Garry Marshall, David Keith, Joe Montegna and James Franco.

The Screenwriter Pelican Award was given to Alan Jacobs, who directed the Festival
closer, American Gun, a moving family drama starring screen legend James

Best Director honors were awarded to Richard Thorne for Festival opener Mother

Winner of the Best International Feature Award was In Love And War,
a UK-Canadian co-production starring Academy Award nominee Brenda Fricker, and
a wonderful cast of English and Canadian actors including Anna Friel, Molly
Parker and Loren Dean.

Best Comedy Film was awarded to writer/director Tom Dorfmeister's quirky satire
Robbie's Brother.

With its reputation as an "audience Festival", the winners of the
Audience Awards are of special importance. Best Documentary honors were given
to Nina Gilden Seavey's The Ballad of Bering Strait, a film about a group
of Russian teenagers who come to America with the unlikely goal of becoming
country music stars.

The Audience Award for Best Dramatic Feature was the Canadian family drama
Touching Wild Horses, with a starring performance by Jane Seymour.

Best Comedy Film honors went to writer/director Steven James, for his witty
portrayal of a buddy reunion of boyhood friends.

Winning the Audience Award for Best Thriller was Black Point, directed
by David Mackay and starring television icon David Caruso.

No Turning Back, a riveting drama about illegal immigrants in Southern
California, was the winner of the Audience Award for Best Latino Feature, with
special praise for actor/writer/director Jesus Nebot.

Best Foreign Language Film honors went to the Dutch film Nynke, with
a starring role by actress Monic Hendrickx as a famous Dutch writer of the 19th

"This Festival is unique in that it really encourages a lot of interaction
with the audience," award winner Jesus Nebot exclaimed. "It's so important
to filmmakers, who often work in isolation, to see how our films are received
by regular audiences, and to engage with them." This sentiment is the cornerstone
of why regional festivals are so important……not only for the audiences
that they serve, but for the filmmakers who cherish them for their intimacy
and access.

Sandy Mandelberger

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