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Palm Beach awards the Aryan Couple


It was a celebration of a decade worth of film as the Palm Beach International Film Festival celebrated its 10th anniversary. After a week of screenings, the jury votes were tallied to determine the winners for Best Film, Best Documentary, Best Director and Best Performance by an Actor/Actress, while audiences voted for their favorite in categories of features (including a separate Favorite Palm Beach Feature), documentaries and shorts. Winners were announced at the Closing Night Awards Ceremony.

The jury consisted of producers Jonathan D. Krane (Basic, Primary Colors, Face/Off) and Elliot P. Geisinger (Amityville Horror, Child’s Play) – both new South Florida residents -- for features and Roger Durling (Executive Director of the Santa Barbara International Film Festival) and John Hall (Director of Distribution, Universal Studios) for Documentaries and Shorts. The jury was particularly appreciative of the effort each filmmaker put into their projects and felt they should be commended for the creative energy that went into each film! The winning films were:

The Award for Best Feature Film went to John Daly’s “The Aryan Couple” a WWII drama about a German/Jewish industrialist (Martin Landau) who, in order to ensure his family’s safe passage out of Germany, is forced to hand over his business to the Nazis.

The Award for Best Director of a Feature Film went to Jeff Hare for his film “Checking Out,” about an Old Shakespearean actor who invites his three children to his suicide party. When they quickly arrive and for the first time work together, prove to their father why life is worth living.

The two Awards were given to an actor and actress for Best Performances in a Feature Film went to Laura San Giacomo for her role as the perhaps-too-funny-for-her-own-good sitcom producer/daughter of Peter Falk’s Morris Applebaum in Jeff Hare’s “Checking Out” and Kenny Doughty, for his performance as the mysterious “perfect Aryan” valet in “The Aryan Couple”.

A Special Jury Prize for Best Feature also went to “Human Touch,” for its ability to depict the awakening of the human spirit.

The Award for Best Documentary Feature went to “39 Pounds of Love.” Directed by Dani Menkin, this is the story of Ami, a man who while unable to move any part of his body, still manages to move each and everyone of us as he teaches us a part of life’s intimate dance. The Jury all agreed that the documentary could very well be worthy of an Academy Award nomination!

The Award for Best Short Film went to “Binta and the Great Idea” directed by Javier Fesser about a 7-year-old girl who lives in a village in southern Senegal and is able to go to school, compared to her cousin who does not have the same good fortune.

A Special Jury Mention went to the short film “Things That Go Bump In The Night”, directed by Adam Salky. That special night with your girlfriend can be awfully difficult when she lives at home with her parents! The jury was impressed by the filmmaker’s usage of the short format in the concise telling of the story.

The Audience Choice Awards were announced by actress Sally Kellerman..

The Audience Choice Award for Best Feature Film went to “Night of the Dog.” The World Premiere film was the result of the collaboration of six filmmakers – Jaremy Catalino, Peter Donovan, Michael Patrick Burke, Esthon Nelms, Ian Nelms, and Peter Atencio – who directed, produced, wrote and starred in the comedy about six friends and an epic night out!

The Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary Feature went to “Keeper of the Kohn,” directed by David Gaynes about the heart-warming story of a man living with autism.

The Audience Choice Award for Best Short Film went to “A Day in the Life of a Bathroom Key,” directed by Jill Effron. The humorous short tells the story of an ordinary office key and its daily adventures.

Following the awards ceremony, director Jeff Hare, actor Judge Reinhold and producer Mark Lane introduced the closing night film “Checking Out.” Following the film, festival attendees and filmmakers moved over to The Canteen for a private closing night celebration.

Hollywood continued to make a showing in south Florida as the Grand Awards Gala got into full swing at the Boca Raton Resort & Club on Saturday night. The evening paid tribute to a number of talents from the big screen, celebrating their careers and accomplishments. Longtime friend of PBIFF Brett Ratner was presented with the Founder’s Award; Leslie Nielsen received the Lifetime in Entertainment Award; Peter Boyle was presented with the Showmanship Award; Bai Ling was the recipient of the International Shooting Star Award; Louise Fletcher was honored with the Legend Award; and Salma Hayek and Woody Harrelson rounded out the evening, being presented with the Marquis Award and Golden Palm Award, respectively. Although she was unable to attend, actress Radha Mitchell was honored with the Horizon Award.

At the center of the Film Festival were the filmmakers, who toasted a successful Fest that brought more than 150 films as well as a number of special events to Palm Beach County. Film patrons enjoyed a week of films from all genres. The Fest kicked off last week with Sal Litvak’s comedy “When Do We Eat?” as cast members Lesley Ann Warren, Michael Lerner, Meredith Scott Lynn, Shiri Appleby and Adam Lamberg walked the red carpet at the Muvico Parisian 20 at CityPlace.

Iam Nelms, one of six filmmakers involved with the popular comedy “Night of the Dog,” said, “As our first film festival, Palm Beach has been nothing short of wonderful. Everyone has been so helpful and supportive.” Filmmaker Eshom Nelms, agreed. “There has been a great bond between filmmakers here. We went out to see each others films, shared ideas and even a few drinks. The camaraderie is one of the best parts of PBIFF.”

Hal Axler was exhausted but proud after his first festival as director. “I’ve been involved with the Palm Beach International Film Festival for a number of years now, and I’m very proud of the way things turned out this year.” Proceeds from the festival are given to the Palm Beach County schools’ film and television programs to provide new technologies for optimal learning in the forms of grants and scholarships.

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