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Sarasota Film Festival Competition and Audience Awards

The Sarasota Film Festival Competition and Audience Awards were announced at a reception hosted by the Longboat Key Club and Resort, on Saturday afternoon, April 12th, 2008.

The awards were introduced by Festival Director of Programming, Tom Hall and Festival Programmer, Holly Herrick and were presented by each of the competition category jurors. The Audience Awards were presented by Hall and Herrick.

The 2008 Sarasota Film Festival presented three competitions, Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary Feature, and Independent Visions, each showcasing some of the finest films at the festival. Each of the competition awards carries a $5,000 cash prize for the filmmaker. In addition, the Bombay Sapphire Audience Awards will also be presented in the categories of Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, World Cinema Feature, and Short Film, and each category carries a $1000 cash prize.

The Jurors for the 10th Sarasota Film Festival’s Narrative Feature Competition include John Kochman, President - UNIFRANCE USA; Writer/Producer Ligiah Villalobos (La Misma Luna); Alison Wilmore (IFC.com). The Jurors for the 2008 SFF Best Documentary Feature Competition include Head of Red Envelope Entertainment, Liesl Copland; Matt Dentler, Festival Producer, SXSW Film Festival and Filmmaker AJ Schnack, (Kurt Cobain: About A Son). The 2008 SFF Independent Visions Competition Jury includes Marc Mauceri, VP, First Run Features; David Nugent, Director of Programming, Hamptons International Film Festival and Nick Dawson, Filmmaker Magazine.

The 2008 Best Narrative Feature Competition Award was presented to “Munyurangabo” by Lee Isaac Chung.

The 2008 Best Documentary Feature Competition Award sponsored by Sky Sotheby’s was presented to “Stranded: I Have Come From A Plane That Crashed On The Mountains” by Gonzalo Arijon.

A Special Documentary Jury Prize was presented by the Documentary Feature jury to “To See If I’m Smiling” by Tamar Yarom.

The 2008 Independent Visions Competition Award, sponsored by Heineken, was presented to “The Pleasure of Being Robbed” by Joshua Safdie.

An Independent Visions Special Jury Prize for Cinematography was presented ¬to “Medicine For Melancholy” by Barry Jenkins, Cinematography by James Laxton.

Sponsored by Bombay Sapphire, special recognition goes to winners of our Audience Favorite Awards for Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary, Excellence in World Cinema, and Best Short Film. Each category carries a $1,000 cash prize presented to the filmmaker.

Bombay Sapphire Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature to “Fugitive Pieces” by Jeremy Podeswa.

Bombay Sapphire Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature was presented to “Of All The Things” by Jody Lambert.

Bombay Sapphire Audience Award for Best in World Cinema was presented to “Christmas Story” (Finland) by Juha Wuolijoki.

Bombay Sapphire Audience Award for Best Short Film was presented to “La Corona” by Amanda Micheli and Isabel Vega.

Later that evening, at the gala 10th Anniversary Ball held at the Longboat Key Club & Resort, Board President Ian Black, Festival Executive Director, Jody Kielbasa, Master of Ceremonies, radio personality Cliff Rowles, and special honored guest Florida Governor Charlie Crist paid tribute to its Award Winners and Special Honorees. This year we were thrilled to have a stellar group of honorees including 2008 Regal Entertainment Group’s Career Achievement Award recipient, Charlize Theron; 2008 Renaissance Award in honor of his work as a Writer/Director/Actor, Stanley Tucci (presented by his friend, and 2007 SFF World Cinema Honoree, Steve Buscemi. The Producer award was presented (by Florida Film Commissioner Lucia Fishburne) to Ted Hope and Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck (introduced by SFF Honorary Co-Chair and CEO of United Artists Paula Wagner) received the Festival’s Breakthrough Award.

The evening also found the awarding of the Heineken Red Star Award. Heineken is partnering with the SFF, and select other festivals, in presenting the Heineken Red Star Award to independent filmmakers who embody the ideals of innovation, originality and vision in the process of outstanding film achievement. The award, selected by SFF’s Independent Visions Jury, was presented to “The Pleasure of Being Robbed” by Joshua Safdie.

Earlier in the Festival, at the Luncheon Under the Banyans event, Michael Barker, (Co-President of Sony Pictures Classics) presented the international acclaimed actress/director, Liv Ullmann, with the “Master of World Cinema Award.”
Also, at the Awards presentation at the Longboat Key Club and Resort, The Youth Awards were presented by Outreach & Education Director Hans Wohlgefahrt.
This year’s Kids Jury consists of 18 aspiring film critics from New Gate School. Instructed on how to critique film by local reviewers, they preview the shorts films and provide theater introductions during the Festival. This year, the Kids Jury selected:
Kids Jury: KidsFest Best Short Film Award to “Lucky Oli” (Directed by Saschka Unseld and Johannes Weiland, Germany)
Young Filmmakers' Showcase: Neil D. McCurry Scholarship for Best Direction to “Virulent” (Directed by Kasey Hettig-Rolfe, USA)
Young Filmmakers' Showcase: Gerd Petrik Scholarship for Best Screenplay to “Mouse Trap” (Directed by Vincent Dale, USA)
Young Filmmakers' Showcase: Honorable Mention to “Pits In Paradise” (Directed by Harrison Sanborn and Nick Roberts, USA)
Dr. John Welch Scholarship to “The Wall” (Directed by Michael Lloyd Green, USA)
The10th Annual Sarasota Film Festival, ended on Sunday, April 13th after 10 days of films, parties, seminars, education and excitement. This year’s program, coordinated by festival director of programming Tom Hall, was a celebration of diversity and internationality. From the Opening Night kick off on April 4th with the presentation of “The Deal” with stars William H. Macy, Jason Ritter, Fiona Glascott and Director Steven Schacter in town, through to the Gala Tribute celebration for our Filmmaker Honorees & Special Guests, Charlize Theron, Stanley Tucci, Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, Ted Hope, Governor Charlie Crist, Paula Wagner, Steve Buscemi, our Competition and Audience winners, and our Closing Night Film, Stuart Townsend’s “Battle in Seattle,” in with his cast, Ms. Theron, Michelle Rodriguez and Martin Henderson the festival was a beehive of activity. SFF presented over 225 narrative, documentary and short films in programs including World Cinema, youthFEST!, Industry Spotlight, Narrative Features, Documentaries, Shorts and Independent Visions.

The festival presented two special sidebars during the event. Face To Face: The Films of Liv Ullmann and Ingmar Bergman. In honor of Liv Ullmann, our 2008 Master of World Cinema Award winner, we presented the complete retrospective of the twelve film collaboration between Ms. Ullmann and the director Ingmar Bergman, one of the most fruitful relationships in the history of cinema. She also joined us for our Conversation Series at the Historic Asolo Theater moderated by Sony Pictures Classics Co-President Michael Barker. In partnership with the Sarasota Manatee Jewish Federation, The Sarasota Film Festival was proud to present Israel@60: The Nation, The Diaspora and Beyond a selection of contemporary films that explore Jewish history, culture and identity as well as the complex diversity of art and life in Israel.

Among the other guests appearing at the festival were Nora Dunn, Rosemary Harris, Jennifer Ehle, Jeremy Renner, Michael Badalucco, Norman Lloyd, Mark Burton, Ian Ziering, Juha Wuolijoki, Bela Fleck, Elvis Mitchell, David Darcy, Joe Sirola, Ry Russo-Young, Michael Tully, Alex Karpovsky, Azazel Jacobs, Todd Rohal, Ben Kasulke and a terrific array of filmmakers, actors, journalists and industry folk. And, most exciting, all the area students who passed through the festival and experienced the art of filmmaking via production programs, backstage theatre visits, and screenings as well as many of our filmmakers visiting and talking out in their classrooms.

The mission of the Sarasota Film Festival is to present unique and quality cinema in a festival atmosphere for the purpose of educating, stimulating and entertaining audiences. The Festival supports and encourages the filmmaker by supplying essential networking opportunities and open dialogue with intelligent, creative and inquisitive consumers of film. The Festival attracts audiences from local, national, and international markets as well as promotes Sarasota, Manatee and surrounding Gulf Coast communities as cultural centers which contribute to the financial and cultural success of our region.

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