"This year's fest will go down as one of the most challenging of my 24 years with FLIFF. Funding was decreased, negotiations were ongoing for Cinema Paradiso Hollywood, we weathered Hurricane Sandy during FLiFF On Location: Grand Bahama Island, travel was affected for our film talent from New York and we faced the biggest Presidential Election in U.S. history," commented Gregory von Hausch, President and CEO of FLiFF. "It felt like I went 15 rounds with Mike Tyson, yet the fascinating films by our filmmakers and the response by the audience made it all worthwhile. Victor Viyuoh's sheer joy at winning Best Film will remain with Senior Programmer, Bonnie Leigh Adams and I forever."
Victor Viyouh was presented with the prestigious Seashell Award for Best Film of the festival, NINAH'S DOWRY. The trophy, uniquely created by Uruguayan artist Jesus Sosa, is presented each year by Professor Nelson Pilosof, President of The World Trade Center of Montevideo.
Written and directed by Viyouh, NINAH'S DOWRY is his feature film debut and was based on a true story that took place in his native country of Cameroon. The film also received the award for Best Actress in a Foreign Film, Mbufung Seikeh, in her screen debut. Upon receiving the awards, with tears welling, Viyouh commented, "Amazing. This is more than I ever expected. I was thrilled that it [Ninah's Dowry] was just accepted into the festival. Amazing." In 2002, Viyouh's short film MBOUTOUKOU played over 100 film festivals and received 20 awards including the Student Academy Awards, Best Short at SXSW and Kodak Student Film Awards at FLiFF.
Lucy Mulloy's dynamic debut feature, UNA NOCHE, received two awards: Best Director of a Foreign Film and Best Foreign Film. Stefan Ruzowitzky's thriller DEADFALL received Best American Independent Film and Marcelo Bukin's DREAMING NICARAGUA won Best Documentary.
John Hawkes won Best Actor in an American Independent Film for his role in THE SESSIONS, Molly Parker won Best Actress in an American Independent film for THE PLAYROOM and Guillaume Canet won Best Actor in a Foreign Film for A BETTER DAY.
Awards were also presented to Best American and Foreign Short Films, Best Florida Film, Best Florida Documentary, Best Florida Shorts and The Spirit of Independents.
The complete list of winners are as follows:
BEST FILM & BEST ACTRESS IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE FILM: NINAH'S DOWRY, written and Directed by Victor Viyuoh, is based on the true story of a woman with 3 children who attempts to escape from her abusive husband of 7 years. Her action sets off an incredible series of events with a whirlwind of suspense, thrills, and adventure set across the Cameroon landscape. Mbufung Seikeh, in her screen debut as Ninah, is nothing short of astonishing in one of the strongest performances of the Festival.
BEST AMERICAN INDEPENDENT FILM: DEADFALL, directed by Oscar winner Stefan Ruzowitzky (The Counterfitters), keeps audiences on the edge of their seats as siblings Addison (Eric Bana) and Liza (Olivia Wilde) are on the run from a casino heist gone wrong. When a car accident leaves their wheel man and a state trooper dead, they split up and make a run for the Canadian border in the worst of circumstances – a near whiteout blizzard. While Addison heads cross-country, creating mayhem in his wake, Liza is picked up by ex-boxer Jay (Charlie Hunnam), en-route for a Thanksgiving homecoming with his parents, June (Sissy Spacek) and retired sheriff Chet (Kris Kristofferson). It’s there the siblings are reunited in a terse and thrilling showdown that pushes the bonds of family to the limit.
BEST DOCUMENTARY: DREAMING NICARAGUA, directed by Marcelo Bukin is a sensitive and lyrical portrayal of four children living in extreme poverty in Nicaragua, the largest country in Central America and the second poorest in the Western Hemisphere. The film takes us beyond their hardships and gives voice to the youngsters, who are surprisingly funny, hopeful, and optimistic.
BEST FOREIGN FILM & BEST DIRECTOR: UNA NOCHE, director Lucy Mulloy’s dynamic, award-winning feature debut produced by Yunior Santiago is about Cuban teens, Raul (Daniel Arrechaga) and Elio (Javier Nunez Florian), who are tantalized by the idea of fleeing the confines of their broken-down country for a new life in Miami. Their efforts muddle along without a true time-table until a violent act necessitates their immediate call to action. Elio’s situation differs from Raul’s in not having any pangs of remorse...but Raul is extremely close to his sister, Lila (Anailin de la Rua de la Torre) and has pangs of guilt in leaving her. UNA NOCHE won three awards at the Tribeca Film Festival and made international news when two of the leads defected to Miami on their way to that film festival.
BEST ACTOR IN AN AMERICAN INDEPENDENT FILM: THE SESSIONS - John Hawkes portrays California-based journalist and poet Mark O'Brien in the autobiographical story of a man, confined to an iron lung, who is determined - at age 38 - to lose his virginity. With the help of a sextherapist (Helen Hunt) and the guidance of his priest (William H. Macy), he sets out to make his dream a reality.
BEST ACTRESS AMERICAN INDEPENDENT FILM: THE PLAYROOM - Molly Parker magnificently portrays the calculating, manipulative, selfish and self-destructive, Donna who shares a suburban home with her husband, Martin and their four children. It's not Ossie & Harriet or June & Ward...mom and dad seem to have gotten their DNA from Edward Albee. Martin and Donna like to entertain at home and it appears their friends, Nadia and Clark enjoy coming over for drinks and dinner and drinks... On this particular night, the kids assume their station, that being the upstairs playroom. But the fun and games don't stop there.
BEST ACTOR IN A FOREIGN FILM: A BETTER LIFE, Guillaume Canet stars as Yann in this heartfelt romance film about love and surviving the hardships that life throws at you. After losing his job in a restaurant, Yann makes a date with Nadia, a single mom and waitress at the restaurant. Things click and they become not only lovers but business partners. However, life doesn't always go as planned and that is the case in this moving and incredible emotional roller coaster of a film.
TIED FOR BEST AMERICAN SHORT FILM:
BENCH SEAT, directed by Anna Mastro, is a classic love story with a musical twist; a brief moment in the lives of a young couple on the verge of either moving forward or breaking up
THE BUNGLERS, written and directed by Glenn Camhi, the story follows a pair of blundering, low-rent hit men who go after the wrong mark ... an alluring Flamenco dancer for whom one of them instantly falls. Hard.
FAR, directed by Brian James Crewe, is about a date with a young woman, who isn't quite what she seems.
BEST FORIEGN SHORT FILM: AYA, directed by Oded Binnun, is a short film about two strangers who meet at an airport unexpectedly. He mistakenly assumes her to be his assigned driver. She, enchanted by the possibilities of the random encounter, does not hurry to prove him wrong.
BEST FLORIDA FEATURE: CALLOUS directed by J. Bradley Bruening, follows a real estate developer who fears bankruptcy and colludes with a fellow business partner on an investment scheme. One of the victims of this scheme - a mysterious man with a criminal past - becomes aware of their deception and comes after those involved.
BEST FLORIDA DOCUMENTARY: THE OTHER SIDE OF SILENCE, a feature documentary directed by by Pulitzer Prize Nominee Claudia Hunter Johnson, chronicles her 19-year quest to unravel a crazy quilt of corruption, hatred, violence and injustice. In 1952 the richest black woman in Live Oak, Florida was sentenced to the electric chair for murdering a prominent white physician and state-senator-elect — her alleged lover.
TIED FOR BEST FLORIDA SHORT:
LA PAGEANT DIVA, directed by Franco Parrente. Valeria Consuelo Montenegro Martinez de la Paz is the undisputed beauty queen maker North of Havana, or so she believes. With the help of her devoted sidekick Valentino, the torture and torment her hopeful disciples endure is just a glimpse as to how far she will go to relive the memory of holding that crown up high.
PRIZED BEGONIAS, directed by Aaron Wells. Ms. Pink, a lonely eccentric spinster takes regular walks in a cemetery to find people to talk to and befriend. Ms. Pink meets a recently widowed young woman, Ms. Black and tries to console her.
SPIRIT OF INDEPENDENTS AWARDS:
THE BLACK MIAMI, directed by Carlton Smith & Michael Williams, is a journey through history revealing the importance and significance that blacks played in the creation and progress of America's Magic City.
BREAKFAST WITH CURTIS, directed by Laura Colella, reveals a cadre of characters who live in the same charming but funky abode in the northeast. The story subtly unfolds like a flower, revealing tidbits as it ambles along. The characterizations, the finely crafted dialogue and the ambiance of the garden imbued neighborhood create a lilting and intoxicating respite from the typical universe others (us) breathe.
DARK AMAZON, directed by Darcyana Moreno Izel, is a supernatural thriller shot deep in the Amazon jungle of Brazil. After the discovery of a breakthrough cancer cure, a documentary film crew follows a group of researchers into the heart of the rainforest to capture the entire experience. With the cameras rolling at all times, the former Reality TV crew focuses on the researchers' personal dramas, leaving some feeling very uncomfortable as well as capturing strange unexplained occurrences. When the research samples are mysteriously destroyed, things take a deadly turn and they're left stranded, scared, and fighting for their lives.
THE DINERS CLUB, directed by Ricky Lloyd George, follows a chance meeting at a coffee shop that leads Rob and Beth to a lavish dinner date. Rob has all the qualities Beth been looking for in a man, smart, funny, handsome, a gentleman. Everything couldn't be more perfect! And then ...check arrives.
HOW DO YOU WRITE A JOE SCHERMANN SONG? Directed by Gary King with music and lyrics by Joe Schermann, who also stars as Joe, this brilliant and sexy musical has beautiful script and triple threat performers. The story follows Joe who dreams of hitting it big on Broadway. After landing an opportunity to write for an Off-Broadway musical, he is forced to cast either the love of his life Evey or his newly discovered muse Summer. The realities of show business prove to Joe that writing is easy, living is hard.
JUNCTION, directed by Tony Glazer, the high octane thriller follows four strung-out meth-addicts who discover a dark secret about the homeowners, during a burglary, which changes the course of their lives forever. The film stars Tom Pelphrey, Neal Bledsoe, Summer Crockett Moore and Sharon Maguire.
PEARLS ON THE OCEAN FLOOR, directed by Robert Adanto, the documentary confronts and then strips away the clichés surrounding the chador through interviews with Iranian women artists. As in the fairy tale of the ugly duckling, a beautiful swan emerges from the darkness of this history in the body of work done by these courageous women artists.
PUI CHAN: KING FU PIONEER, directed by Mimi Chan, takes audiences into the extraordinary life of
Pui Chan, a Chinese immigrant who overcame challenges in early childhood… and eventually made a life for himself.… One that would touch the lives of many others around the world. It all started with a simple dream… and today, the dream lives on.
TIO PAPI, directed by Fro Rojas, written by and starring Joey Dedio, is a heart-warming, upbeat story of a about a a hard-working, fun-loving bachelor who reluctantly becomes Tio Papi to his sister’s six children.
and ultimately discovers what matters the most is the love of family. The film also stars Elizabeth Rodriguez, and Kelly McGillis.
THIS IS LIPSTICK - directed by Michael Sorrow, the short film is about a secret cross-dresser Ronnie who is able to quickly change clothes when his wife comes home from work early. But he doesn't get off that easy when she finds his lipstick stains and accuses him of cheating.
A SISTERS CALL, directed by Kyle Tekiela, chronicles Rebecca Richmond's mission to bring her brother back from the depths of homelessness and schizophrenia all while seeking a way to heal herself from the past.
WALLY'S MISSION ON MARS, directed by Lisa Mills, is a documentary about retired rocket scientist, Wally Nelson, who worked on the Apollo engineering team and now believes that sending humans to Mars is not a very good idea. Follow Wally to Kennedy Space Center and Washington, DC as he tries to convince astronauts, space administrators and politicians that spending money on solutions to world peace is a much better idea.
AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST FOREIGN FILM: SEX, LIES & SURGERY, written, directed by and starring Artus de Penguern, is a zany yet classy French comedy centers around a feud between two surgeons and brothers - John the conscientious romantic and Michael the handsome ladies man who practice at the family-run hospital. Add an attractive naive nurse, a conniving dominatrix, ricocheting bullets, alternative anesthesia methods Canuck brown bears and plastic-surgery how-to handbooks Sex, Lies and Surgery is an Rx for laughter.
AUDIENCE AWARD FOR BEST AMERICAN INDIE: THE STORY OF LUKE, written and directed by Alonso Mayo ,is a beautiful story exquisitely acted by a solid ensemble that includes Cary Elwes (The Princess Bride) and Seth Green (Austin Powers) and the lesser known indie film actor, Lou Taylor Pucci, who plays Luke, an autistic young man who has lived a sheltered life with his grandparents. His world is turned upside down when his grandmother dies and he is forced to live with his dysfunctional relatives who have no patience for him or his senile grandfather, who they quickly force into a nursing home. Luke is left with his grandfather’s final semi-coherent words: “Get a job. Find a girl. Live your own life. Be a man!” For the first time in his life, Luke has a mission.