21 October, 2008

Norwegian Film Wins Top Prize At Hamptons Film Festival

TROUBLED WATER (Norway/Sweden)

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

The Hamptons International Film Festival concluded its 5-day marathon run of films, special events and oh-so-fabulous parties with its Gala Awards Ceremony, held today at the United Artists Theaters in the heart of tony East Hampton. Handling hosting duties was writer/comedienne Lizz Winstead. Presenters included Festival Board Chairman Stuart Match Suna, Executive Director Karen Arikian, Director of Programming David Nugent, Board Member Alec Baldwin and members of the Festival juries.

The Golden Starfish Best Narrative Feature, carrying an awards package of over $185,000 of in-kind production services, was presented to TROUBLED WATER (Norway/Sweden) by Norwegian director Erik Poppe. The tense drama is the story of Jan Thomas has served his eight year term for the murder of a young boy, and is released back into society a rehabilitated man. He begins to believe that he has truly left his past behind him – but now another boy is missing, and he is the prime suspect. The film also won the Festival Audience prize. Previously, the director won an Amanda Award, the Norwegian Oscar, for his 2004 film HAWAII, OSLO.

The Zicherman Family Foundation Award For Best Screenwriter, carrying a $5000 cash prize was awarded to Romanian screenwriters Alexandru Baciu, Razvan Radulescu and writer/director Radu Muntean for the film BOOGIE. The film, about a group of aging buddies who try to relive their lost youth, had its premiere in May at the Cannes Film Festival.

Another film from the Balkans region won the Brizzolara Family Award for Films of Conflict and Resolution. The prize, which carries a $5,000 cash prize each, was awarded to Bosnian director Aida Begic for the film SNOW. The film tells the tale of a government delegation that comes to a quiet Bosnian town four years after the war, offering the villagers money for their land, but find that the locals are not willing to abandon their homes and the memories they hold so dear.

The Golden Starfish Documentary Feature Film Award, carrying a cash prize of $5,000, was won by director Megumi Sasaki for the film HERB AND DOROTHY (USA). The film is an affectionate portrait of a working class couple, a librarian and postal worker, who amass one of the most important private art collections in the country. The audience pleaser also won the Festival Audience Prize as Best Documentary.

The Kodak Award For Best Cinematography, worth $6,000 in kind services and product, was nabbed by Israeli cinematographer Ram Shweky for his exemplary work on the film VASERMIL ( Israel). This Israeli drama depicts the lives of disaffected and struggling teenage boys confronting the volatile elements of clashing cultures and generations, when a football coach tlaches the boys some valuable life lessons.

Other awards included: The RoC Gold Standard Award for Female Feature Director, which was presented to Australian director Elissa Down for her film THE BLACK BALLOON; the Heineken Red Star Award, created to provide increased exposure and visibility to an American independent filmmaker, was won by Patrick Read Johnson for his film '77; and the $25,000 Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Film Prize in Science and Technology, given to a feature-length film that explores science and technology themes in fresh, innovative ways, which was awarded to American director Marc Abraham for the film FLASH OF GENIUS, a David & Goliath story based on the life of Robert Kearns, who took on the Detroit automakers who he claims stole his idea for the intermittent windshield wiper.

One can only hope that some of these strong films that have not yet found distribution in North America will have their careers buoyed by winning prizes at one of the best run regional film festivals on the circuit. Hats off to you, Hamptons!!

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