By Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor
The 2008 edition of the Bermuda International Film Festival came to a close this past weekend, with its Gala Awards Ceremony and dazzling After Party at The Fairmont Hamilton Princess Hotel. The Festival, celebrating its 11th season, has one of the most ambitious and energetic film slates in North America, as well as the one of the most beautiful environments for its many special events and receptions. Lucky attendees not only could experience Bermuda’s legendary pink sand beaches and historic architecture, but some of the best films on the international film festival circuit.
Caramel, by Lebanese director Nadine Labaki, won the Mary-Jean Mitchell Green Award for Best Narrative Feature. According to a statement by Jury President Robert Favreau (director of A Sunday In Kigali), the film “shows us a complex microcosmos where many stories and sub-stories take place. The stories are all well-developed and involve many characters to whom we become strongly attached.” The director received a cash prize of $5000.
Caramel is a French-Lebanese co-production, having been produced by Paris-based production companies Les Films des Tournelles, Bac Films, Arte France Cinema and Roissy Films, with the financial participation of the National Centre for Cinema (CNC) and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Lebanese production partner is Les Films de Beyrouth. The film premiered at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival, and has appeared at festivals including Toronto, Copenhagen, London, La Rochelle and Tübingen.
The film already has had theatrical distribution in Europe, with such companies as A-Film Distribution (The Netherlands), Alamode Film (Germany), Alta Films (Spain), Atlantic Film (Sweden), Momentum Pictures (UK) and Roissy Films (France). The film will be released in the United States next month via specialty distributor Roadside Attractions. Caramel is represented for worldwide sales by Sabbah Media in Lebanon.
The other European film winners were in the Short Film Competition. The Shorts Jury of Al Seymour Jr. and Ted Bezaire gave the M3 Wireless Bermuda Shorts Award to Toyland, by German director Jochen Freydank. The Shorts Jury also awarded Special Mentions to Ark (Grzegorz Jokajtys, Poland) and The Legend Of The Slow Man (Armando del Rio, Spain).
The Bacardi Limited Audience Choice Award, which is voted on by filmgoers, was won by Red Dust, by British director Tom Hooper, which starred Oscar winner Hilary Swank as a crusading, anti-apartheid lawyer in South Africa. The director gratefully received the $3000 cash prize from Bacardi’s Vernon Pemberton. The film is a co-production between the United Kingdom (BBC Films), the United States (Distant Horizon) and South Africa (Videovision Entertainment). Although produced as a television film, Red Dust has opened theatrically in the United Kingdom (via BBC Films), Finland (FS Film Oy) and The Netherlands (RCV Film Distribution).
The 2008 Bermuda International Film Festival was the biggest to date…..showcasing 79 films from 32 countries. Its diverse and adventurous programming, beautiful setting and easy-going atmosphere make it one of the most filmmaker-friendly events on the circuit. Sorry I missed it this year, but I hope to be reveling on the pink sands next year.