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Tryon Film Festival Winners Are…

The official Tryon International Film Festival2021 Poster

And Winners Are…


After three exciting days, Oct. 8-10, of hosting the in-person Tryon International Film Festival in the North Carolina Blue Ridge Mountains, there are nine winning films for 2021, including two categories with two winners.


The Best Full-Length Feature Film is _Botox_, an Iranian/Canadian film about sisters Akram and Azar, who lie about their brother’s disappearance, telling everyone he fled to Germany. Day after day, the lie becomes bigger and more unmanageable, leading everyone to a dark and mysterious destiny. The Persian-language film was released in 2020, and received the best feature award from the Torino Film Festival. It was directed by Kaveh Mazaheri, who co-wrote the screenplay with Sepinud Najian. The Tryon Festival judge was Johnathan Brownlee, a Canadian-American film producer, director, screenwriter, and long-time associate with the Tryon Festival.


The Best Full-Length Documentary is _Into The Light_, a film about Philadelphia visual artist/painter Chuck Connelly’s years of self isolation and eventual return to society. During his isolation, he produced several thousand paintings. This 2020 documentary was directed by Benjamin Schwartz. Judging this category was Kevin Bernhardt, an American screenwriter, actor, and producer.


Bernhardt's comment on the film was: "It was a difficult decision. But one documentary rose above the others - as something more unique. _Into The Light_ is the story of an artist who was featured by no less than Scorsese himself in a doc. Chuck Connolly also made a small fortune.

Then he destroyed it all. But even though all that stopped coming - he stayed home — and kept painting — for decades. I know of no purer reflection of an artist. Love or hate Chuck Connolly, this is an artist, and a story -- one hasn’t seen since Van Gogh."


Best Short Dramatic Film was taken by _One Nice Day_, an Iranian film by director Sousan Salamat. Released in 2014, _One Nice Day_ is about an elementary school teacher who is given the opportunity to give away one new book bag to a student in his class. To decide, everyone wrote their names on pieces of paper that were tossed into a bag. The teacher pulls out the winner, but little did he know it was rigged. The film's language is Persian. The judge was Patti D’Arbanville, an international actress who resides in Tryon.


Best Short Documentary was _Tethered, Are We the Experiment?_, an American film directed by Daniel Gartzke. The film is about modern society’s addiction to smartphones. Judges in this category were Jamie Huss and Gregg Jamback.


_Hello Frisco_, a British film about four maids who find an abandoned baby in a drain, won Best Student Film. This playful and surreal road movie pits the four teens against the elements in a race against time.

It was directed by Ana Bounds. The judge for this category was Steven Esteb, an award-winning filmmaker and screenwriter.


Unique to Tryon International Film Festival is the Sabian Award for Human Rights and Dignity, named after the Sabian Menetre, Festival’s Co-Founder Beau Menetre’s daughter who died in 2019 because of a drug overdose. Judge Homayra Sellier chose two films for 2021: _A Handful of Water _and_ Goodbye Olympic_. _Handful of Water_ is a German film directed by Jakob Zapf. It is about a grumpy and reclusive man who shoots a 12-year-old girl in his basement with a nail gun. The girl is trying to avoid being deported back to Bulgaria and comes to depend on the man for help. _Goodby Olympi_c is an Iranian film about a young woman kayak rower who encounters problems on her way to qualify for the Olympic games. It was directed by Mojtaba Poorbakhsh.


"I appreciated the storytelling of thriving, having a focus in life, and how easily/randomly dreams can be broken, pace, acting, directing, originality, scenario," Sellier said about _Goodbye Olympic_. Her comment about _A Handful of Water_ was: "Loved this film, again the art of narrating a story about human journey, about how an incident can bring out from deep within parts of our own humanity that we ignore, how a random and unpredicted encounter, can change lives, and bring meaning/content to one's life journey, how some people's daily wars of simply 'pass that day and survive' are invisible to many, this movie's story/scenario is very very rich and refined, bravo to the writer."


Two films were selected by judge Frank Calo for Best Overall Film:

_Cowboys_ and _Tangled 8_. Both were produced in the United States.

_Cowboys_, directed by John Langmore and Bud Force, is a documentary about modern-day cowboys who provide a firsthand account of what it is like to work on large and remote cattle ranches in the American West.

_Tangled 8_ is eight adaptations of the same script. The film explores the ways in which people of diverse social backgrounds, races and age manage grief through its different phases. Produced in 2015, _Tangled 8_ was directed by John E. Seymore.


The awards were made Sunday, Oct. 8, on the stage of Tryon Theatre, the town’s restored cinema house. Menetre and Festival Co-Founder Kirk Gollwitzer hosted the event, handing out the individually made plaques and thank-yous to staff, volunteers, sponsors, and other associates.


After the awards presentations, Menetre said: “I want to thank all of the judges for the work they put into screening the 53 films we had this year. It is always a monumental task that takes time and expertise. From the beginning, all of the films were carefully curated and chosen for their quality and messages. All of the participating filmmakers are congratulated for being in the Festival, and special recognition goes out to those that were selected by the judges.”


Although the in-person Festival has ended, most of the films selected this year are available for online viewing until Nov. 11, 30 days after the Festival. For access, please visit the Festival’s website: [1].


Tryon International Film Festival encourages, developes, promotes, and presents the art of cinema in Polk County, NC, and throughout the region. The annual festival shows a curated collection of the most-promising films now being produced around the world. It brings in thousands of people to the Town of Tryon annually.


The Polk County Film Initiative (PCFI) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit. It was incorporated on March 18, 2015. The office address is at 285 N Trade St, Tryon, NC 28782. The officers of this organization are Beau Menetre and Kirk Gollwitzer. The mission of PCFI is to promote the production of major motion pictures and independent film-making in Western North Carolina. The primary engine used to facilitate this objective is Tryon International Film Festival, which has focused the eyes of the world on Tryon, NC since 2014.


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