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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Dear Irene Cho, I will miss your energy and passion; your optimism and joy; your kindness towards friends, colleagues, strangers, struggling filmmakers, or anyone who randomly crossed your path and needed a hand. My brothers and I have long considered you another sibling in our family. Our holiday photos – both western and eastern – have you among all the cousins, in-laws, and kids… in the snow, sun, opening presents, at large dinner gatherings, playing Monopoly, breaking out pomegranate seeds and teaching us all how to dance Gangnam style. Your friendship and loyalty meant a great deal to me: you were the loudest cheerleader when I experienced victories and you were always ready with sushi when I had disappointments. You had endless crazy ideas which always seemed impossible but you would will them into existence. (Like that time you called me and suggested that we host a brunch for newly elected mayor of LA, Eric Garcetti because “he is going to president one day.” We didn’t have enough time or funding, of course, only your desire to do it. So you did, and I followed.) You created The Daily Buzz from nothing and it survived on your steam in spite of many setbacks because you believed in a platform for emerging filmmakers from all nations. Most of all, you were a wonderful mother to your son, Ethan, a devoted wife to your husband, and a wonderful sibling and daughter to your family. We will all miss how your wonderful smile and energy lit up the room and our lives. Rest in peace, Irene.
~ Rose Kuo Remembers Irene Cho on Facebook

“You know, I was never a critic. I never considered myself as a film critic. I started doing short films, writing screenplays and then for awhile, for a few years I wrote some film theory, including some film criticism because I had to, but I was never… I never had the desire to be a film critic. I never envisioned myself as a film critic, but I did that at a period of my life when I thought I kind of needed to understand things about cinema, understand things about film theory, understand the world map of cinema, and writing about movies gave me that, and also the opportunity to meet filmmakers I admired.

“To me, it was the best possible film school. The way it changed my perspective I suppose is that I believe in this connection between theory and practice. I think that you also make movies with ideas and you need to have ideas about filmmaking to achieve whatever you’re trying to achieve through your movies, but then I started making features in 1986 — a while ago — and I left all that behind.

“For the last three decades I’ve been making movies, I’ve been living, I’ve been observing the world. You become a different person, so basically my perspective on the world in general is very different and I hope that with every movie I make a step forward. I kind of hope I’m a better person, and hopefully a better filmmaker and hopefully try to… It’s very hard for me to go back to a different time when I would have different values in my relationship to filmmaking. I had a stiffer notion of cinema.”
~ Olivier Assayas