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SHARKWATER Takes A Bite Out Of Gen Art

 

Thursday, April 19-----SHARKWATER, the eco-activist documentary by Canadian director Rob Stewart, took the Acura Grand Jury Feature Film Award, with a cash prize of $10,000,  at the Gen Art Film Festival Awards Ceremonies on Tuesday night.  The film has already won eleven major international awards, and opened theatrically earlier this month in its native Canada with a record-breaking opening weekend (beating out such high profile documentaries as the Oscar winning AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH and Michael Moore's FAHRENHEIT 911. SHARKWATER documents filmmaker and marine biologist Rob Stewart’s dangerous journey to protect sharks from extinction. The film also won the Gen Art Film Festival Audience Award for Best Feature, becoming the first documentary film in Gen Art's history to win the Festival's two top prizes.

The Acura Grand Jury Short Film Award, with a cash award of $5000 was given to  Phillip Van for  the film HIGH MAINTENANCE, about a marriage of tomorrow in need of an upgrade. The film was also honored earlier the year as the winner of the Gen Art / Delta Air Lines “Fly-In Movies” short film program. This program featured five short films available for viewing on Delta’s in-flight entertainment systems. Of the five finalists, it received the highest ratings provided by tens of thousands of passengers and earned the director a trip and party in his honor at the Gen Art / Delta Sky Lodge at the Sundance Film Festival.

The Stargazer Award, which honors breakout talent for excellence in acting, was given to Troy Schremmer, the star of Mike Akel’s feature film CHALK, a mockumentary on the dangerous profession of teaching. Honoree Troy Schremmer joins the list of other past Gen Art Film Festival break out talent including Zach Braff (GETTING TO KNOW YOU, 1999), Adrian Grenier (LOVE IN THE TIME OF MONEY, 2001), Nick Stahl (EYE OF GOD, 1997), Harold Perrineau Jr. (ON LINE, 2002) and Amanda Peet (TWO NINJAS, 1998).

For the first time this year, Gen Art and Planet Green Game, a partnership between Starbucks and Global Green USA, sponsored Gen Art’s Online Film Festival. A select panel of judges selected seven short films based on originality, quality and relevance with the festival’s ‘Green’ theme. Through online voting, Brandon Reese and Darrell Allen’s short film HIGHER POWER was chosen to receive $2500 prize package and a screening at the Festival.

“This year’s slate really resonated with our audience through its exploration of the passion, pain, relationships and responsibility humanity experiences on a daily basis.” Gen Art’s VP of Film Jeffrey Abramson declared. “Audiences and filmmakers alike praised our festival’s unique format for giving them unprecendented access to each other.” “The Festival showcased 7 features and 7 short films over seven consecutive nights, with a high-energy after-party each night. Party venues included such New York hot spots as Tenjune, Arena, Room Service, Myst/Retox, PM, The Park and Rebel. Celebrities who attended the Festival to support the films included: Christian Slater, Elisha Cuthbert, Timothy Hutton, Lizzy Caplan, Adam Campbell, Jamison Jones, Shasha Knopf, Eddie McGee, Izabella Miko and Campbell Scott

With support from its lead sponsor Acura, Gen Art is launching a second film festival, to be held in Chicago from June 26 to 30. The Festival will feature a similar format of five premieres and parties, featuring the Midwest premieres of five of today’s best new North American independent feature and short films.

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor

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