Ashland Independent Film Festival 2013 Award Winners

The Ashland Independent Film Festival announced the 2013 juried and audience award winning films at a gala Awards Celebration at the Historic Ashland Armory on Sunday, Apr. 7. Twelve awards were presented to attending filmmakers, honoring their work screened at the 12th annual festival.

The 2013 Rogue Award was presented to AIFF alum director Lucy Walker, recognizing her ability to capture memorable characters on transformative journeys. Previously Walker has been nominated for numerous awards, with two Academy Award nominations in the mix: one for Best Documentary Feature for her 2010 film Waste Land and one for Best Documentary Short for her 2011 film The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom.

Walker’s latest film, The Crash Reel, screened at the Festival, brings to Ashland audiences the inspiring story of champion snowboarder Kevin Pearce and his ongoing fight to recover from a massive brain injury incurred while training for the 2010 Olympics.

Walker also presented a series of short films profiling Olympic athletes from around the world in Going for Gold: Olympic Shorts with Lucy Walker, and moderated a standing-room-only TalkBack panel “Close-Up and Personal,” drawing together documentary filmmakers to explore the creative process behind translating public and private personas to the screen.

2013 Audience Award Winners

The Rogue Creamery Audience Award for Best Documentary was awarded to Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings, directed and edited by Tadashi Nakamura. Nakamura was noted for being the youngest filmmaker at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival and has many other short films under his belt, including 2003’s Yellow Brotherhood and 2009’s A Song for Ourselves. Jake Shimabukuro: Life on Four Strings, which focuses on the titular ukulele virtuoso, is Nakamura’s first full-length documentary.

The Forgotten Kingdom, directed by Andrew Mudge, won the John C. Schweiger Audience Award for Best Feature. Mudge’s film focuses on life and love in the slums of Johannesburg, South Africa. Previously, Mudge has been nominated for many of his short films, with his short The Perfect Gooseys winning Best of Fest at the Los Angeles Short Film Festival. The film also enjoyed a successful showing on HBO’s Cinemax.

 Josh Izenberg’s Slomo received the Sypko Andreae Volunteer Spirit Audience Award for Best Short Film: Documentary. Following a recent trend of fan-support funding through the website Kickstarter, Slomo received over $3500 which helped bring the film to fruition.

The Other Side, directed by Khen Shalem, took home the Audience Award for Best Short Film: Narrative. The Other Side tells the story of an Israeli boy who befriends a Palestinian boy from the other side of the West Bank Separation Wall. In recent years, Shalem received recognition for his film Road to Tel-Aviv, which won awards at the 2009 Palm Springs Film Festival, the NYC Short Film Festival, and the Angelus Student Film Festival.

The Audience Family Choice Award went to Floyd the Android. The 4 minute film directed by Jonathan Lyons was sure to please with its simple yet quirky animation and story. Lyons, who runs Stupix Animation, has had expert experience in the world of animation for many years, with Floyd the Android being his first circulated independent project.

2013 Juried Award Winners 

The Retrieval, directed by AIFF alumnus Chris Eska (August Evening, AIFF 2008) received the festival’s jury award for Best Narrative Feature film. Set during the Civil War, the film tells the story of a boy who, along with a bounty hunter, is sent to find a wanted man up north. Eska’s previous projects include August Evening and Doki-Doki.

God Loves Uganda, directed by AIFF alumnus Roger Ross Williams took home the Best Feature Length Documentary juried award. Williams won the 2010 Best Documentary Short award at the Academy Awards for his film Music By Prudence. God Loves Uganda has already received much recognition, playing at the Sundance, Palm Beach International, and Hot Docs Film Festivals.

Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes won jury prize for Best Acting Ensemble and the Gerald Hirschfeld A.S.C. Award for Best Cinematography. Hirschfeld was the 2007 A.S.C President’s Award Honoree and Director Photography for films such as Young Frankenstein and My Favorite Year. Emanuel and the Truth About Fishes utilizes the talents of stars such as Alfred Molina and Jessica Biel, as well as the up-and-coming Kaya Scodelario, who has already made a name for herself via the British television shows “Skins” and Andrea Arnold’s gritty version of Wuthering Heights.

Song E. Kim’s Bite of the Tail won the Best Animated Short. Kim’s work has been shown at many other film festivals, including the Chicago International Festival and the LA Shorts Fest.

Best Short Documentary went to FLO.  Riley Hooper’s film shines a light on Flo Fox, a photographer whose zest for life won’t diminish with her ever increasing – and possibly fatal – ailments. FLO was an official selection for Hot Docs Film Festival as well as the LES Film Festival.

The juried award for Best Short Film went to Sam Handel’s The River. Starring Lauren Ambrose of HBO’s “Six Feet under” fame, the short film tells the story of a pregnant woman whose desire to go swimming in the river is blocked due to different life obstacles.

Karaoke!, an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival, received a special jury mention in the Short Film category. The film’s director Andrew F. Renzi’s has produced other films such as 2010’s Sympathy for Delicious and Two Gates of Sleep.

Juried and Audience Award-winning documentary, feature and short films received encore presentations on the last day of the AIFF,  Monday April 8 at the Varsity Theatre.

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