The Fencer (Finland) and Between Sea and Land (Colombia) were among the outstanding new independent films honored at the closing ceremonies of the 21st Stony Brook Film Festival, held at Staller Center July 21 through July 30.
Film critic John Anderson hosted the Festival’s Closing Night Awards Reception on July 30. Alan Inkles, founder and director of the Festival, welcomed the winning filmmakers, the public and Ed Arentz of Music Box Films. Music Box Films in this year’s festival included The Innocents and the 2016 Closing Night film, A Man Called Ove.
The winners were:
2016 Jury Award—Best Feature
Finland, Estonia, Germany – 93 minutes. Kai Nordberg, producer, accepted the award. The screening on July 27 had a sold out house of more than 900 patrons.
The Fencer is based on the real life story of Estonian fencer Endel Nelis. As a conscripted German soldier he hid from Stalin’s police after the war by teaching in a rural school. The film had its East Coast premiere on July 27 and had been Finland’s entry into this year’s Academy Awards. In Estonian and Russian with subtitles. Directed by Klaus Härö. Written by Anna Heinämaa. With Mart Avandi, Ursula Ratasepp, Lembit Ulfsak, Liisa Koppek, Hendrik Toompere Sr. Produced by Kaarle Aho, Kai Nordberg. Edited by Ueli Christen and Tambet Tasuja. Director of Photography: Tuomo Hutri. A Making Movies Oy, All Film, and Kick Film. From Matterhorn International.
2016 Audience Choice—Best Feature
Between Sea and Land
Colombia – 98 minutes. Manolo Cruz, writer, director, actor and co-producer accepted the award. Manolo Cruz received a standing ovation from the full house before his Q&A.
Colombia’s Caribbean coast is the setting for this haunting, original story about a young man with a debilitating neurological disorder. The film displays an outstanding performance by the film’s writer, actor and producer, Manolo Cruz, with actor Vicky Hernández bringing her talent to the sensitive, loving role of the mother. In Spanish with subtitles. Directed by Manolo Cruz. Co-directed by Carlos del Castillo. Written by Manolo Cruz. With Manolo Cruz, Vicky Hernández, and Viviana Serna. Produced by Manolo Cruz, Carlos del Castillo, Robespierre Rodriguez. Edited by German Duarte. Director of Photography: Robespierre Rodriguez. From Mago Films, Photogroup Films, and Scarlett Cinema. A Global Screen Film.
2016 Jury Award—Best Short
Directed by Francesco Gabriele
2016 Audience Award—Best Short (tie)
Jewish Blind Date Directed by Anaelle Morf
Venice Directed by Venetia Taylor
Three films were awarded 2016 Special Recognition by the Jury:
Achievement in Filmmaking
Lee Wilkof – No Pay, Nudity
United States – 92 minutes. Directed by Lee Wilkof, written by Ethan Sandler. With Gabriel Byrne (The Usual Suspects, Miller’s Crossing), Nathan Lane (The Producers, The Birdcage), Frances Conroy (Six Feet Under, The Aviator), Boyd Gaines and Jon Michael Hill (Elementary).
Nathan Lane attended the World Premiere screening of No Pay, Nudity on July 26 and participated in a Q&A with Loudon Wainwright III, Zoe Perry and Lee Wilkof — one of the Festival’s highlights. No Pay, Nudity is a film about hanging out, hanging in and hanging on. Gabriel Byrne, playing comically against type, portrays aging actor Lester Rosenthal, a man who has lost his way with his career, family and friends. A hilarious Nathan Lane, along with Frances Conroy and Boyd Gaines, portray his fellow thespians, all waiting for the right role to come along as they hang out in the Actors Equity lobby. Produced by Tani Cohen. Edited by Sylvia Waliga. Director of Photography: Brian Lannin. From A Day in the Life Films and Waistband Pictures.
Spirit of Independent Filmmaking
John Putch – The Father and the Bear
United States – 85 minutes. Written and Directed by John Putch.
The ensemble of actors led by Wil Love bring the story of the summer stock theater, the Totem Pole Playhouse, to life in a dramatic feature that is a love letter to John Putch’s parents, Bill Putch and Jean Stapleton Putch. The sensitive treatment of an actor’s struggle with dimentia makes this film memorable. Produced and edited by John Putch. Director of Photography: Keith J. Duggan. From Putchfilms.
Timely Social Commentary
Delaney Ruston – Screenagers
A documentary about finding a healthy balance between social media, video games, academics and the Internet. Filmed by Dr. Delaney Ruston, local physician and mother of two, this fascinating documentary explores the question of how much screen time is too much.
Closing Night was sold out, with director and screenwriter of A Man Called Ove, Hannes Holm, attending the Closing Night screening’s premiere.
2016 Closing Night Film Award
A Man Called Ove
Sweden – 116 minutes. Directed by Hannes Holm. Written by Hannes Holm, Fredrik Backman. With Rolf Lassgård, Zozan Akgün, Tobias Almborg, Ida Engvoll.
Even though Ove was deposed as president of the condominium association he still polices the neighborhood with an iron fist. When pregnant Parvaneh and her family move into the house opposite Ove, an accident involving his mailbox turns into an unexpected friendship. In Swedish and Persian with subtitles. Produced by Annica Bellander, Nicklas Wikström Nicastro. Edited by Fredrik Morheden. Director of Photography: Göran Hallberg. From Nordisk Film, Tre Vänner Produktion AB. A Music Box Films release.
2016 Opening Night Film Award: The Carer
The fictional Sir Michael Gifford, played by Brian Cox, is a legendary Shakespearean actor who bullies his long-time help. Enter young Dorottya, his newest carer, who manages to cope with him and bring him out of isolation.
Directed by János Edelényi. East Coast Premiere. From Yellow Affair and the Hungarian National Film Fund. A Corinth Films Release.
Career Achievement Award: Brian Cox (The Carer) Presented to Brian Cox at the East Coast Premiere of The Carer, Stony Brook Film Festival, July 21, 2016.