Updated: Mar 13
Earlier this month, Stone Soup Ripple member, Taylor Owenby and Festival Co-Director Megan Stewart launched the reimagined, re-energized Amelia Island Film Festival. From this year on, the focus of this festival, also known as Film Amelia x Summit Southeast will be on diversity and sustainability and business of filmmaking. As an Advisory Board Member, it was very special to see this shift first-hand and experience the enthusiasm that came from all sides, including while I moderated 11 post-screening Q&As.
So here's a brief festival recap and below that, award recipients, film reccs and trailers.
The festival was 100% in person which brought award-winning industry professionals, celebrities, influencers and seasoned and emerging filmmakers together with locals and out-of town beach-loving cinephiles.
An open-to-the-public block party and screening got things rolling, with an outdoor screening of the Oscar-nominated King Richard, starring Will Smith. A full program followed, which included short and feature-length narrative films and documentaries, including another Oscar-nominated film, Spencer, starring Kristen Stewart. In addition to the after parties were the gala awards dinner, a really special VIP tour and reception at White Oak Conservation and even a putt-putt mini-golf after party... a perfect ingredient to add to the beach vibe.
As part of the Summit Southeast program, Film Amelia presented the Moviemaker Pitch Session, sponsored by Moviemaker magazine with Caleb Hammond who also shared the magazine's Moviemaker Production Resource Program (definitely something to check out for project funding). He also produced some great coverage of the festival, including a cover story about Americanish, the Grand Jury Prize Winner. First-time Director Iman Sawahry was there to accept the award and cash prize from Sponsors of the prize, Ravi and Geeta Patel (yes, those Patels... the ones from the romantic comedy Meet the Patels.).
Speaking of ripples, Past SSR Featured Guests Gabriel Diamond and Candace Dawn Holdorf were there as well. (An extra treat for me was to hang out with Gabriel's fab daughter!) Five (yes, 5!) of Gabriel's short films were accepted for festival screenings, including RISE/The Vulnerable Rally, which some of you experienced in our SSR Summer '20 Series. The one that was entered into competition, Strangers in Boxes, which he produced for the Skoll Foundation's Global Summit, won the award for Best Documentary Short.
Yet another ripple was having the film Disconnected there as well. SSR members experienced it with Featured Guest Meredith Thomas. And of course there are the ripples in formation which will surface as they expand!
AIFF AWARD RECPIENTS:
Grand Jury Prize: Americanish: The romantic comedy is back, with a twist! This one is Coming to America meets Crazy Rich Asians... Colliding cultures and divergent life goals as two career-driven sisters and their newly-immigrated cousin Ameera who is on a mission to marry a doctor. Need I say more?
Narrative Feature: Americanish (see above)
Documentary Feature: The Dark Hobby: After experiencing a dead coral reef on Oahu, the filmmaker,, Paula Fouce, who was NOT a filmmaker before this film, was compelled to expose the devastation to coral reefs and species caused by the aquarium trade.
Documentary Short: Strangers In Boxes: Produced for the Skoll Foundation's Global Summit, past SSR Featured Guest Gabriel Diamond convenes a group of activists—all strangers—from 15+ countries online in the midst of COVID. His film shows the power of human connection to transcend language, distance, a global pandemic and technology limitations to create a better world.
Audience Award, Spotlight Feature: LEFTOVER FEELINGS: A Studio B Revival: RCA's fabled Studio B in Nashville was Elvis' favorite recording studio. He and many other music legends made it legendary. Turned into a museum, during the pandemic, the studio was brought back to life for John Hiatt & Jerry Douglas who teamed up to record their 2022 Grammy-nominated album “Leftover Feelings”.
Audience Award, Documentary Feature: One Pint at a Time: Black-owned breweries share less than 1% of craft beer revenues in America. This film introduces us to Black brewers, beer brand owners and influencers across the country who are reshaping the future of this multi- billion-dollar industry.
Audience Award, Documentary Short: STRANDED: A Whale Rescue Tale: Five pilot whales were stranded. The Clearwater Marine Aquarium came to their rescue. This is that story.
International Short: Frozen Out: An immigrant artist retreats to frozen prairies and forests, hoping to find a meaningful story and escape the anxieties of dislocation. In this film, delivered as a letter to his sister in rural China, he considers his queer self-exile and the vulnerable nature of home, relationships and self.
Hollywood South: Walking Around: A celebration of the healing power of music, this film follows a young man and the curious observer who, with small gestures, helps him find purpose... or peace.
Student Short: Ripple: This animated film is about a mermaid who, missing her friend, wonders if she should accept a stranger's hand in friendship.
8 More AIFF Film Reccs are below....
I should also say that the Stone Soup Ripple Spring Online Screening Salon Series starts on April 5th and is ready for you to view. Click here for the program, trailers, Featured Guests and to reserve your salons. I can't wait to be together with everyone, whether you attend one or all 4 of them.
Film Reccs & Links:
In addition to the AIFF award winners, check out 13 of them below as well as the hyperlinks for a taste of each one.
The Sound of Us: Directed by nine Emmy Award-winning Chris Gero, the documentary THE SOUND OF US tells how music moves us to hope and courage, allows us to sadden and be honest, and is the great universal language that unites us all..
Motherless Daughters - when COVID Kills: The millions of individuals who have died from COVID are only part of the picture The impact on their daughters (and sons) are only beginning to rise to the surface.
Finding Courage: A must-see film. How does a former journalist for the Chinese Communist Party, while living in exile in San Francisco, expose the truth behind the death of her sister who detained in China?
EST - Adventures, Italian Style: A very timely film, given the times. In 1989, a few weeks before the fall of the Berlin Wall, three young Italian guys, visit Eastern Europe in search of adventure and get more than they bargained for.
Fighting for Daybreak: A behind the scenes look at what it took to put on Daybreak, a first-year music festival that was fraught with every obstacle possible.
Welcome to the Dollhouse: A look at a burlesque troupe whose members dare to expose their hearts and soul, perhaps even more than their bodies, as they push the limits of art, vulnerability and radical acceptance.
Dance with Me: SSR Past Featured Guest and participant Gabriel Diamond dares to be vulnerable. In this short, he puts on a blindfold and displays a sign, "Dance With Me"... and sees what happens next.
Disconnected: See what happens when a frustrated mom takes cell phones away from her daughter and her 2 bff’…. (but they’re not the only ones who are disconnected).
40 Acrz & a Brew: A band, Nappy Roots, builds their own brewery, Atlantucky, from the ground up. Part of the process is a cross-cultural trip that includes ‘local celebrity’ interviews and other conversations where connection happens over a beer.
Add your ripples to this and other blog posts. And join us at the Stone Soup Ripple Spring Online Screening Salon Series that starts on April 5th. For the full program, Featured Guests and reservations, Click here.