By Ray Pride

22nd Nantucket Film Fest Announces Winners




Nantucket, MA (June 26, 2017– The 22nd annual Nantucket Film Festival (NFF) today announced the audience winners for this year’s festival. Lionsgate-Amazon Studios’ THE BIG SICK, written by Emily V. Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani and based on their real-life, cross-cultural relationship, and directed by Michael Showalter, is awarded Best Narrative Feature, and The Weinstein Company’s atmospheric Native American reservation-set mystery WIND RIVER, written and directed by Taylor Sheridan, is runner up. MONKEY BUSINESS: THE ADVENTURES OF CURIOUS GEORGE’S CREATORS, directed by Ema Ryan Yamazaki is the Best Documentary Feature winner, and Joe Kean’s Holocaust-focused AFTER AUSCHWITZ: THE STORIES OF SIX WOMEN is the runner up. Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson’s study of human vulnerability, TEN METER TOWER, is awarded Best Short film, and Tom Scott and Dan Honan’s inspirational portrait, THE ILLUMINATION, is the runner-up.

In addition, NFF revealed its Best of Fest selections, special repeat screenings determined by popular demand, including BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY, directed by Alexandra Dean, audience winners THE BIG SICK and MONKEY BUSINESS, and runner up WIND RIVER.  Each Best of Fest film will screen at the festival on Monday, June 26th.

NFF also announced the winners of the prestigious Showtime Tony Cox Screenplay Competition, which recognizes the best-unproduced screenplays and television pilots by emerging writers. Moon Molson’s JOHNNY ACE received the top prize as the winner of the Feature Screenplay Competition. The Episodic Screenplay nods went to Tesia Walker’s for THE LINE and to Kaitlin Fontana for CASEY CAN’T. The Short Screenplay Competition was won by Rajiv Shah, with Jesse Wang and Robert Berg for THE YAO OF TAO.

Moon Molson’s JOHNNY ACE follows two Houston homicide detectives as they investigate the seemingly accidental death of a popular R&B singer in 1954. Molson received a $5000 cash prize, VIP access to this year’s Festival, a bound copy of his script, and an exclusive spot in the Screenwriters Colony writers retreat on Nantucket for the entire month of October.

The Showtime Tony Cox Award for Episodic 60 Minute Pilot, THE LINE by Tesia Walker, is set in a small South Carolina historically black university, in the early 1960s. Walker received a $1000 cash prize, as well as a consultation with a Showtime executive.

The Half-Hour Episodic Screenplay winner, CASEY CAN’T by Kaitlin Fontana, is a dark comedy that tells the story of a flawed writer being blackmailed into managing a hipster music blog by its man-child owner. Fontana receives a $1000 cash prize, a consultation with a Showtime executive, and one of only four slots in the Screenwriters Colony: Episodic Comedy, a two-week immersive writing and mentorship program on Nantucket earlier this month.

The Short Screenplay Competition winner, THE YAO OF TAO by Rajiv Shah, with Jesse Wang and Robert Berg, follows a Chinese caregiver for a Isaac, a dying cancer patient as he finds himself at odds with Isaac’s estranged daughter. Shah receives a $500 cash prize.

The Feature & Shorts Screenplay Competition jury was comprised of Tom Heller, Partner, Catch & Release Films, Samantha Miller, Senior Editor, People Magazine and Milan Popelka, COO, FilmNation Entertainment.

The Episodic Screenplay Competition jury was comprised of Eric Gilliland, writer of “The Wonder Years”, “That ‘70s Show” and “Roseanne”; Matt Zoller Seitz, Editor-in-Chief of and TV Critic at New York Magazine and, and Actor/Director Gabourey Sidibe (Precious, “Empire”).

NFF also announced the winner of the Adrienne Shelly Foundation Excellence in Filmmaking Award, a $5,000 grant to an emerging female filmmaker in honor of writer, director, and actor Adrienne Shelly and her contributions to film. This year’s recipient is Alexandra Dean, director of BOMBSHELL: THE HEDY LAMARR STORY, which focuses on the Hollywood star’s groundbreaking but under-acknowledged work as an inventor.

The Festival’s Teen View Jury Award, selected by a group of Nantucket junior high school students, went to GAME, written and directed by Jeannie Donohoe. Nantucket Golf Club Foundation, ReMain Nantucket Fund, The Cape Cod Five Cents Savings Bank Charitable Foundation Trust and The Nantucket Fund provided grant support for the Teen View Jury. Nantucket Community Television (NCTV) and the Nantucket Community School provided additional support for the Teen View Program.

“We were thrilled to present Nantucket audiences with a diverse offering of films and special events celebrating the craft of screenwriting and storytelling,” said Mystelle Brabbee, Executive Director of the Nantucket Film Festival and Basil Tsiokos, Film Program Director of the Nantucket Film Festival. “We are thankful to our audiences and to all of the screenwriters and filmmakers who shared their work with us this year.”

Actor, writer, director, producer and NFF Board Member Ben Stiller hosted the Screenwriters Tribute Awards from the Siaconset Casino on Friday, June 23rd. Director and Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Tom McCarthy accepted the Screenwriting Tribute Award, given to him by Emmy Award®-winning actor Bobby Cannavale.

Ground-breaking television creators and Emmy®-nominated writing team Jeffrey Klarik and David Crane (“Friends,” “Mad About You,” “Episodes”) received the Creative Impact in Television Writing Award, presented to them by “Episodes” actress Kathleen Rose Perkins.  Acclaimed documentary filmmaker Nick Broomfield (NFF Centerpiece Film WHITNEY. “CAN I BE ME”) accepted the A&E Special Achievement in Documentary Storytelling Award, presented to him by journalist Regina Weinreich, while the New Voices in Screenwriting Award was presented to Geremy Jasper (NFF Spotlight Film PATTI CAKE$) by comedian, actress, and performer Bridget Everett.

Special guests who attended NFF 2017 included Festival co-founders Jill and Jonathan Burkhart, Ben Stiller, Tom McCarthy, Bobby Cannavale, Mariska Hargitay, Chris Matthews, Jeffrey Klarik, David Crane, Bridget Everett, Sasheer Zamata, Whitney Cummings, Kristen Schaal, Mike Birbiglia, Gabourey Sidibe, Ophira Eisenberg, Rory Kennedy, Donick Cary, Dana Delaney, Ryan Eggold, Esai Morales, Davey Holmes, Sonya Walger, George Pelecanos, Kathleen Rose Perkins, John Shea, Nick Broomfield, Geremy Jasper, Eric Gilliland, Tom Scott, EPIX CEO & President Mark Greenberg, A+E Networks CEO Nancy Dubuc and many more.

The Nantucket Film Festival is supported by Showtime, The White Elephant Nantucket Island Resorts as Major Sponsors; A&E IndieFilms, EPIX, Delta Air Lines and BrandContent as Signature Sponsors; Travel+Leisure, Entravision, NationalGrid, Stella Artois, Pure Leaf Iced Tea, Crystal Cruises and Cape Air/Nantucket Airlines as Producing Sponsors; Citi, Maui Jim, Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits, Lifetime, Diageo, The Beachside on Nantucket, Montana Film Office, Withoutabox, The Summer House, The Inquirer & Mirror, Blue Hills Bank Charitable Foundation, Harborview Nantucket, Cinesend, SAGIndie, the WGA East and Nantucket Today as Contributing Sponsors; and ACK FM, Aromaflage, Atlantic East Nantucket Real Estate, Boxed Water, Cape Cod 5, CRU, Current Vintage, Effie’s Homemade, Enjoy Nantucket, Gail’s Tours, Handlebar Café, Hertz, Hy-Line Cruises, Imagine Magazine, Just Press Play Productions, K2 Imaging, La Rock Events, Luna Bars, Mahon About Town, Perch, popchips, The Roberts House Inn, Samgun, The Snap Boxx, Tradewind Aviation, Westmoor Club, Wicked Island Bakery and Young’s Bicycle Shop as Trade Sponsors.

The Nantucket Film Festival was founded by brother and sister team Jonathan and Jill Burkhart in 1996 to promote the cultural awareness and appreciation of the fine art of screenwriting in the world of cinema. These days, NFF has become one of the premier destination film festivals in the world. Visitors come from all over to experience the preview screenings, unique signature programs, and stand out hospitality on a magical island rich with history, a friendly atmosphere, and beautiful sandy beaches. In addition to screening over 75 films across six days, NFF presents the Screenwriters Tribute, In Their Shoes… hosted by Chris Matthews, Late Night Storytelling, and our daily Morning Coffee With… series.

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“Ten years ago at Telluride, I said on a panel that theatrical distribution was dying. It seemed obvious to me. I was surprised how many in the audience violently objected: ‘People will always want to go to the movies!’ That’s true, but it’s also true that theatrical cinema as we once knew it has died. Theatrical cinema is now Event Cinema, just as theatrical plays and musical performances are Events. No one just goes to a movie. It’s a planned occasion. Four types of Event Cinema remain.
1. Spectacle (IMAX-style blockbusters)
2. Family (cartoon like features)
3. Horror (teen-driven), and
4. Film Club (formerly arthouse but now anything serious).

There are isolated pockets like black cinema, romcom, girl’s-night-out, seniors, teen gross-outs, but it’s primarily those four. Everything else is TV. Now I have to go back to episode five of ‘Looming Tower.'”
~ Paul Schrader

“Because of my relative candor on Twitter regarding why I quit my day job, my DMs have overflowed with similar stories from colleagues around the globe. These peeks behind the curtains of film festivals, venues, distributors and funding bodies weren’t pretty. Certain dismal patterns recurred (and resonated): Boards who don’t engage with or even understand their organization’s artistic mission and are insensitive to the diverse neighborhood in which their organization’s venue is located; incompetent founders and/or presidents who create only obstacles, never solutions; unduly empowered, Trumpian bean counters who chip away at the taste and experiences that make organizations’ cultural offerings special; expensive PR teams that don’t bring to the table a bare-minimum familiarity with the rich subcultural art form they’re half-heartedly peddling as “product”; nonprofit arts organizations for whom art now ranks as a distant-second goal behind profit.”
~ Eric Allen Hatch