DIFF 2012 Filmmaker Award Winners

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The Dallas International Film Festival presented by the Boardwalk Auto Group Volkswagen Dealers announced its 2012 award winners on April 20 at The Dallas Film Society Honors presented by the Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation and supported by the Trinity Diversified Film Fund Advisors. In an evening where independent film and filmmakers were celebrated for their incredible work, award winners were presented with cash prizes and grants that totaled more than $70,000.

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Two kaleidoscopic films both with distinct visual flair walked away with the top honors in the Narrative & Documentary Feature competitions: Kristina Nikolova’s Bulgarian film FAITH, LOVE & WHISKEY won the narrative category (Nikolova tearfully accepted the award despite previous claims that “I won’t cry; I’m a tough girl.”), and Bill and Turner Ross’s TCHOUPITOULAS won the documentary contest. The Narrative competition jury also gave a Special Mention for Breakout Performance to Michael Rainey Jr. for LUV and a Special Mention for Acting for Kim Kold in TEDDY BEAR.

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The strong lineup in this year’s Texas Competition meant the jury had a difficult decision to make, but Ya’ke Smith’s much-talked-about directorial debut WOLF was awarded the $30,000 camera package courtesy of Panavision. The jury also gave a Special Mention to David Zellner’s KID-THING.

“It’s been a hard road because of the subject matter,” said Smith, whose film addresses several taboo subjects at once, “and I have to thank the Festival for believing in it and having the boldness for programming it and screening it.”

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With emotion, Bryan D. Hopkins accepted the Environmental Visions Grand Jury Prize for his documentary DIRTY ENERGY, a personal look into the trials of the citizens directly affected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon disaster. With only $200 in his bank account, Hopkins travelled to Louisiana to highlight these ongoing personal struggles that have been forgotten in the mainstream news cycle.

“Anyone who’s made a film realizes that you never do it alone,” Hopkins said. “When I started this film I had $200, a bag of groceries and food stamps. At least now I know I’m not crazy.”

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For the second year running, Lauren Embrey presented the $10,000 Silver Heart Award courtesy of the Embrey Family Foundation. Kirby Dick’s THE INVISIBLE WAR won the award as it most represented a filmmaker’s dedication to fighting injustices and creating social change for the improvement of humanity.

Dana O’Keefe’s AARON BURR, PART 2 won the Grand Jury Prize in the Shorts Competition. A Special Mention went to Brent Hoff’s THE LOVE COMPETITION and a Special Mention for Unique Storytelling in the Student Shorts went to Afarin Eghbal’s GRANDMOTHERS. REEL FX presented the award for Best Animated Short to Grant Orchard’s A MORNING STROLL, while the Grand Jury Prize winner of the Student Shorts was Justin Tipping’s NANI, which also walked away with the overall Audience Award for Best Short in the evening’s biggest Filmmaker Award surprise.

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“This is crazy. What happened?,” Tipping exclaimed. “This is the beginning of my career, my journey … it’s a little surreal, growing up watching movies, then making them, and now I’m at a dinner table with RoboCop,” referring to his seat near Peter Weller, who is in town for tomorrow night’s 25th Anniversary Screening of the Dallas-filmed 1987 sci-fi classic.

In the year that the International Spotlight focused on South Korea, it seemed especially fitting that the Audience Award for Best Narrative went to Kang Je-kyu’s epic MY WAY, while closer to home, Bess Kargman’s family-friendly FIRST POSITION won the Audience Award for Best Documentary.

The winners of the Grand Jury Prizes for all the competitions will each receive movie magic budgeting and scheduling software bundles from Entertainment Partners.

Presented by TXU Energy’s Chief Marketing Officer Michael Grasso, cash grants for the TXU Energy Light Up the Red Carpet Student Film Contest were handed out to students in High School and College categories. High School winners: Abelardo Gonzalez’s film NO BLACKOUT won the $7,500 award for Vidal M. Trevino Magnet School, Christian Vasquez’s A SPARK took the $5,000 prize for Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts, and Carolina Trevino’s THE ENERGY POLICE won the $2,500 award for The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (HSPVA), Houston. College winners, whose prize money will be split between the winners and their schools, were: Dillon White and North Lake College, $7,500 for ZAP!, Edgar Cortes and The Art Institute of Dallas, $5,000 for DOMI CILE, and Wojciech Stypko and the University of North Texas, $2,500 for MAN POWER.

FAITH, LOVE & WHISKEY, which won the $10,000 Grand Jury Prize for Narrative Feature, will be screened on Saturday at 5 p.m. at the Angelika. TCHOUPITOULAS, the $10,000 Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature winner, will be screened on Saturday at 12:15 p.m. at the Angelika, and WOLF, which took the Texas Competition and its $30,000 camera rental package, will be screened on Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Texas Theatre. DIRTY ENERGY received the $10,000 Grand Jury Prize in the Whole Foods Environmental Visions Competition and will be screened during Earth Day Dallas on Saturday at 12:10 p.m. in the Hall of State at Fair Park. THE INVISIBLE WAR, the $10,000 Embrey Family Foundation Silver Heart Award winner, will be screened on Saturday at 5:15 p.m. at the Angelika.

AARON BURR, PART 2; NANI and A MORNING STROLL are the winners for Best Short Film, Student Short and the REEL FX Animated Short, respectively, and NANI is also the winner of the Audience Award for Short Film. They will all be screened together along with Special Mention shorts on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Angelika. Another Audience Award winner, MY WAY for Narrative Feature, (will be screened on Saturday at 7 p.m. at the Angelika) and FIRST POSITION, the Audience Award winner for Documentary Feature, (will be screened on Sunday at noon at the Angelika).




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