On Saturday, July 29, the 22nd Annual Stony Brook Film Festival presented by Island Federal Credit Union concluded with the annual awards ceremony (scroll down for the results).
This year’s festival, from July 20-29, had the largest attendance in its history. Film passes sold out early in the 10-day run, screenings sold out, and standby lines were common many nights at Staller Center’s 1,000-seat Main Stage theater.
Many filmmakers accepted invitations to support their films—including actors, producers, writers and crew. Filmmakers attended screenings of their movies made in Armenia, Bulgaria, England, France, Germany, Israel, Latvia, Netherlands, Spain and the United States. Films from Finland, Iran, Italy, Norway and Sweden were also in the mix.
“It truly was a magical year where almost every feature and shorts filmmaker attended their screenings to represent their films and host Q & As. When we add in the sales agents and distributors that attended, we saw our Filmmaker Lounge humming with energy and interaction among filmmakers, talent and industry,” Stony Brook Film Festival founder and director Alan Inkles said. “As for the films we showed, the audience scores were the best in our 22 years,” he continued, adding, “Great films, great guests and packed houses nightly. It’s what I envisioned for Stony Brook when we started this festival and it was certainly achieved this year.”
John Anderson, film critic and longtime Festival Master of Ceremonies, presented the awards.
German actor/writer/director Karoline Herfurth attended the Festival for her Closing Night Feature, Text for You (SMS für Dich), a charming romantic comedy making its U.S. Premiere.
2017 Jury Award – Best Feature
The Sounding, United States – 93 minutes
Writer-Director-Actress Catherine Eaton gives a stunning performance as Liv, a mysterious woman residing on an island off the coast of Maine who has chosen to remain silent for years. When she suffers a terrible loss, Liv suddenly begins to speak as she weaves a language out of Shakespeare’s words. After a series of events result in her being committed to a psychiatric hospital, Liv becomes a full-blown rebel, fighting for both her voice and her freedom. A powerful, uplifting drama. Written by Bryan Delaney and Catherine Eaton. With Catherine Eaton, Teddy Sears, Harris Yulin, Frankie Faison and David Furr. Produced by Catherine Eaton, Caitlin Gold, Veronique Huyghebaert, Aliki Paraschis and Jessica Vale. Edited by Marco Perez. Director of Photography: David Kruta. From Corsetless Productions. Directed by Catherine Eaton.
2017 Audience Choice – Best Feature (tie)
Fanny’s Journey, France, Belgium – 94 minutes
In 1943, after avoiding the authorities with other Jewish children in France for three years, 13-year-old Fanny and her sisters are quickly sent to an Italian foster home. When the Nazis arrive in Italy, their caretakers plan an escape to Switzerland. Suddenly left on their own, eleven children do the impossible. Based on a true story, this moving tale of bravery, strength, and survival features exceptional performances by the young cast. Directed by Lola Doillon. Written by Fanny Ben-Ami, Lola Doillon, Anne Peyrègne, with Léonie Souchaud and Cécile De France, this film is in French with subtitles. Produced by Saga Blanchard, Marie de Lussigny. Edited by Valérie Deseine. Director of Photography: Pierre Cottereau. A David-Films, Scope Pictures, France 2 Cinéma, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, and Ce Qui Me Meut Motion Pictures production. From Menemsha Films.
2017 Audience Choice – Best Feature (tie)
To the Edge of the Sky, United States – 118 minutes
Directed by Todd Wider and Jedd Wider, this world premiere film asks, how far would you go to save your son’s life? To the Edge of the Sky follows four families as they fight the FDA to gain access to a potentially lifesaving drug for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a fatal disease their sons suffer from and the number one genetic killer of boys in the world. With a promising drug on the horizon, we witness the transformation of the mothers of four boys into “the rogue moms” as they become political activists and heroes during their righteous battle against time and the FDA. A challenging and uplifting documentary from Long Island brothers Todd and Jedd Wider (Client 9, God Knows Where I Am). Produced by Brian Ariotti. Edited by Mona Davis and Colin Nusbaum. Director of Photography: Gerardo Puglia. A Wider Film Projects film.
2017 Special Recognition by the Jury – Spirit of Independent Filmmaking
Laura Gets a Cat, United States – 83 minutes
Written and Directed by Michael Ferrell, with Dana Brooke, Michael Ferrell and Jason Kravits (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt), the film is about Laura, a 30-something unemployed writer living in New York City and struggling with adulthood. She has a ‘weekend’ boyfriend she can’t commit to, friends who seem to have achieved their dreams, and a vivid imaginary life she uses to run away from reality. When she starts a new relationship with a coffee shop barista, real life proves too complicated and she tries to actually run away. Veteran stage actress Dana Brooke shines in this funny, fresh, poignant independent feature. Produced by Michael Ferrell, Chris Prine and Devin Sanchez. Edited by Chris Prine. Director of Photography: Paul Rondeau. From Living Boy Productions.
2017 Special Recognition by the Jury – Achievement in Social Impact
Purple Dreams, United States – 72 minutes
This inspirational documentary, directed by Joanne Hock, follows several students from the Northwest School of the Arts, in Charlotte, North Carolina, after it is chosen to be the first high school permitted to perform the musical The Color Purple. From auditions through opening night and beyond, the filmmakers follow these students as they pursue their dreams while struggling with homelessness, low-income neighborhoods, gang-related violence and single-parent households. It’s a behind-the-scenes look at an amazing group of teachers and students who work relentlessly to put on a triumphant musical production that propels them into a world of opportunity they never expected. New York premiere. Produced by Robin Grey, Sara Patel. Edited by John Disher. Director of Photography: Joanne Hock. From GreyHawk Films.
2017 Jury Award – Best Short
Across the Line, Israel – 29 minutes
In Arabic and Hebrew with subtitles, this world premiere film by Nadav Shlomo Giladi is about a Jewish settler who is hurrying home for Shabbat when he encounters a stubborn Palestinian hitchhiker.
2017 Audience Choice Award – Best Short
Just Go!, Latvia – 11 minutes
In Latvian with subtitles, this film by Pavels Gumennikovs is about a young man without legs who chases down surprised purse snatchers for the girl he loves.
The Stony Brook Film Festival will announce the start date for 2018 entries later in the year at stonybrookfilmfestival.com.