It's Satan's brew, this Absolut Wild Tea vodka, which was flowing like the once mighty Santa Ana at last night's Newport Beach Film Festival closing night bash. Indeed, this post is being misremembered through a cranium that feels as if it is stuck in a vise set for crushing Brazil nuts. Blame, of course, belongs to the NBFF for capping another eight-day cinextravaganza with a Riviera magazine-hosted booze-schmooze-implant-ooze-a-thon in the Via Lido Courtyard.
And a special fatwah is hereby issued to those friendly bartenders who refused to refuse my requests for more free Absolut Wild Tea Arnold Palmers with Stella Artois chasers. Rivera's theme was "Pop Goes Lido." Pop Goes My Frontal Lobe is more like it.
Anyways, the night began with a Lido Theatre viewing of A Beginner's Guide to Endings, a quirky dark comedy from Jonathan Sobol, making his feature-length writing-directing debut. It involves the harsh news three grown men (Scott Caan, Paul Costanzo and Jason Jones) deal with after their career gambler father (Harvey Keitel) offs himself, leaving behind a jaw-dropping last will and testament.
Talk about beginner's luck merging with under-the-wire-ittude: The flick wound up taking the festival's Jury Award from panelists Deborah Nadoolman Landis, an Academy Award-nominated costume designer and historian; cinematogropher Eric Roizman; Emmy-winning producer, writer and director Mary Lou Belli; Felicia D. Henderson, who brought the award -winning Soul Food: the Series to Showtime; producer, writer, director and editor Amanda Pope; and UC Irvine Extension Director of continuing education, Kirwan Rockefeller.
A Beginner's Guide to Endings joined Face to Face, My So-Called Enemy, Fly, Splinters and Like a Lion in being winners of multiple awards bestowed through the NBFF. What follows is a complete list of award winners plucked from the more than 400 films representing 50 countries and viewed by around the same number of festival attendees as last year (50,000ish being the current estimate) at the Lido, Big Newport, Triangle Square and Sage Hill High School.
Oh, it should also be mentioned that among the 2011 awards is the first-ever MacGillivray Freeman Films Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking and MacGillivray Freeman Films Special Achievement Award in Environmental Filmmaking--named after Greg MacGillivray's Laguna Beach film distribution company known for 3-D and large-format films, often with ecological subject matter (but not always).
Okay, to the envelopes . . .
BEST FEATURE FILM: A Beginner's Guide to Endings
BEST ACTOR: Vince Colosima (Face to Face)
BEST ACTRESS: Ra Chapman (Face to Face)
BEST DIRECTOR: Michael Rymer (Face to Face)
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHER: Samy Inayeh (A Beginner's Guide to Endings)
BEST SCREENPLAY: Jonathan Sobol (A Beginner's Guide to Endings)
BEST FEATURE DOCUMENTARY FILM: My So-Called Enemy (Director Lisa Gossels)
HONORABLE MENTION: We Were Here (Directors David Weissman and Bill Weber)
BEST SHORT DOCUMENTARY FILM: Warriors of Qiugang (Director Ruby Yang)
HONORABLE MENTION: Moth in Spring (Director Yu Gu)
BEST SHORT ANIMATED FILM: Fly (Director Alan Short)
HONORABLE MENTION: Bottle (Director Kirsten Lepore)
BEST NARRATIVE SHORT FILM: Love Song of Iskra Prufrock (Director Lucy Gaffy)
HONORABLE MENTION: The Escape (Director James Connelly)
2011 AUDIENCE AWARDS:
Audience Award Winner Feature (US) - Hamill (Oren Kaplan)
Audience Award Winner Feature (Foreign) - My Afternoons With Margueritte (Jean Becker)
Audience Award Winner Documentary - Defining Beauty: Ms. Wheelchair America (Alexis Ostrander)
Audience Award Winner Action Sports Feature - Splinters (Adam Pesce)
Audience Award Winner Family Film - [no winner named]
Audience Award Winner Short Film - Moonfishing (David Michael Friend)
Audience Award Winner Art, Architecture + Design - [no winner named]
2011 NEWPORT BEACH FILM FESTIVAL HONORS:
Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking Acting- Jericho Rosales (Subject: I Love You)
Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking Directing - Matt Walsh (High Road)
Outstanding Achievement in Feature Filmmaking - Takeshi Koike (Redline)
Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking - André Øvredal (Trollhunter)
Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking - Drew Pierce, Brett Pierce (Deadheads)
Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking - Liz Garbus (Bobby Fisher Against The World)
Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking - Alana Morshead (Peach Plum Pear)
Outstanding Achievement in Documentary - James Marsh (Project Nim)
Outstanding Achievement in Documentary - David Dworsky, Victor Köhler (Press Pause Play)
Outstanding Achievement in Action Sports Filmmaking - Adam Pesce (Splinters)
Outstanding Achievement in Action Sports Filmmaking - Eric Iberg, Shane Nelson (Like A Lion)
Outstanding Achievement in Short Filmmaking Animation - Robert Kohn (The Lift)
Outstanding Achievement in Short Filmmaking Horror - Jerome Sable (The Legend of Beaver Dam)
Outstanding Achievement in Short Filmmaking Directing - Skot Bright (Ollie Klublershturf vs The Nazis)
Outstanding Achievement in Short Filmmaking - Antonio Piazza, Fabio Grassadonia (Rita)
Outstanding Achievement in Short Filmmaking - Vicky Mather (Stanley Pickle)
Outstanding Achievement in Short Filmmaking - David Yarovesky (Ghild)
2011 CHUCK JONES CENTER FOR CREATIVITY AWARD FOR ACHIEVEMENT IN ANIMATION:
The Chuck Jones Award for Direction, Story and Character Development - Le Cirque (Nicolas Brault)
Chuck Jones Special Recognition Award For Comic Timing - Fly
Chuck Jones Special Recognition Award For Art Direction - Thought For You
Chuck Jones Special Recognition Award For Character Development - Blind Date
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2011 MACGILLVRAY FREEMAN FILMS AWARDS:
MacGillivray Freeman Films Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking (feature) - My So-Called Enemy
MacGillivray Freeman Films Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking (short) -The Dancer
MacGillivray Freeman Films Special Achievement Award in Environmental Filmmaking - This is Your Ocean: Sharks
Does it say something about me that my 2011 NBFF dance card mostly included films singled out in the Festival Honors above? Weird. If this Absolut Wild Tea headache ever subsides, I'll try to foist upon the world my own honors in an update to this post. Otherwise, cheers to the winners above and let's do it again to whatever's Absolut's hot flavor in 2012.