BIFFYs Awarded to Top Films
Human frailty, perseverance, fears and hope are all recognized in this year’s Beloit International Film Festival award winning films. The coveted 2013 BIFFYs were presented at the Launch Party initiating the eighth annual festival which will continue through Sunday in Beloit, Janesville and Rockford.
The award winners were chosen from among the 120 films in this year’s festival. More than 400 films were submitted for consideration this year.
The 13 prizes recognize the films and the filmmakers, many of whom were on hand to receive their awards. They range from awards for soundtrack and screenplay to the top films in each category of feature, documentary, short and animation.
Best Feature film:
The BIFFY went to Azooma, a South Korean film (subtitled). It is the story of a young mother who seeks revenge for the rape of her 10 year-old daughter. Disappointed by the indifference of the police, she decides to chase down the rapist herself. South Korean filmmaker Jiseung Lee was on hand to receive the award.
The honors went to Fambul Tok (Family Talk) which tells the story of healing in post-conflict Sierra Leone through intimate stories of perpetrators and victims in an unprecedented program of tradition-based truth-telling and forgiveness ceremonies. The award went to U.S. filmmakers Sara and Rory Kennedy.
Best Short Film: (under 45 minutes)
This went to Treasure, a sweet coming-of-age Asian film starting with the universal question: What is time? The film explores the concept of time between two generations. The 11-minute film from Singapore (subtitled) is the work of Sun Jun Hui and is part of Short Slot 2 at BIFF.
The BIFFY for animation went to Kirsten Lapore for her American-made film, Bottle. The six-minute film is animated on location at a beach, in snow and underwater. This stop-motion short details a transoceanic conversation between two characters via objects in a bottle. It is part of Short Slot 1 at BIFF.
Best Student Film:
The award went to The Vampire Formerly Known as Dracula, a campy journey with Dracula as he attempts to assimilate into a modern society. Part of Short Slot 4, it was created by Nate Schardin, a Milwaukee Area Technical College student.
Best Wisconsin Film:
The award went to Little Red and Milwaukee filmmakers Tate Bunker and Miles O’Neil. This hauntingly beautiful adventure film is a contemporary retelling of the childhood Little Red Riding Hood tale as a wolfish stalker pursues preteen Milwaukeean ‘Red’ on her whimsical runaway to Florida. Happily ever after does not come easily or without a price.
Executive Directors Award – Best Actress, Hannah Obst:
Little Red turned out to be the only double award winner this year as the annual Executive Directors Award went to Hannah Obst for her portrayal of Red, the eleven-year-old girl from Milwaukee at the center of the film.
This award went to QWERTY. The American made R-rated comedy is the creation of filmmakers Bill Sebastian and Jeremy Truelove and screenwriter Juliet McDaniel. In it, the socially outcast, but verbally gifted Zoe, when not eating, drinking and dreaming Scrabble, works a lonely job at the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles screening personalized license plates for hidden dirty words or messages. While shopping she meets Marty, a down-on-his-luck security guard in the midst of a career-changing public meltdown.
The honors went to Fuzz Track City and filmmaker Steve Hicks. This R-rated film is a rockin’ fast, fun mystery that’s full of surprises. A fresh neo-noir with a retro vibe of a classic 70′s detective flick, it is built around private dick, Murphy Dunn whose only comforts are a rundown car, clothes and a haircut he’s kept since high school.
Student Filmmaker Award:
Local students who participated in the BIFF 2013 Student Filmmaker Showcase Program were also recognized with the award for best film going to Josh Vincent, and Jacob Cullum., homeschooled students from Janesville for their film Prince Charming. A witty five-minute silent film that effectively uses 3-D animation and special effects, to tell of a prince who abducts a princess, suggesting that being whisked away by Prince Charming may not be all it’s cracked up to be.
Three special awards for film achievement.
The Josh Burton Award:
Recognizing the creative talents of the late local actor and director, went to Last Stop: Salvation, a Turkish film (subtitled) by Yusuf Pirhasan. The dark comedy tells the story of the inhabitants of Saadet Apartment who are about to get a lesson in grass roots revolution as they welcome a new tenant into the building who will change their lives forever.
The Ken Hendricks Award for Excellence:
Honoring the man who, with his wife Diane, inspired the Beloit International Film Festival, was awarded to Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home, a documentary created by Ethan Bensinger and Beth Sternheimer. The film reaches back more than 70 years to give a voice to the last generation of victims of Nazi persecution and tell the story of this singular community in Chicago that has provided a safe haven to more than 1,000 Central European Jewish refugees and survivors.
The BIFF Power of Film award:
This went to 50 Year Old Freshman, a documentary from Deborah J. McDonald about a 50 year old Masters Hall of Fame swimmer, recruited by perennial college swimming powerhouse, Diablo Valley College, to join their swim team. It explores the universal themes of hardwork and discipline and examines the attitude that remaining relevant and vibrant as one ages is a state of mind. It is part of Double Feature 6 at BIFF.
All the winning films will have multiple screenings during BIFF and screenings will be added for sold-out films. Tickets are $8 plus fees and are now on sale online. Tickets are $9 including fees at the Box Office located at Visit Beloit, 500 Public Ave. and at the door.
The 2013 Beloit International Film Festival is sponsored by the Hendricks Group in association with Beloit College and with funding from Visit Beloit. It is supported and underwritten by many local businesses, organizations and individuals.