Apartment in Athens, Nazi Drama from Italy, is Big Winner of Newport Beach Film Fest Awards

Wait, there's more: And the Other Newport Beach Film Festival Awards Go To . . .

Apartment in Athens was the big winner of jury awards at the 2012 Newport Beach Film Festival, which officials say was attended by about 52,000 patrons between April 27-May 3, about the same as last year. Weekly picks H2indO, General Education, Songs for Amy, Under African Skies, The War Around Us, Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet and Behind the Orange Curtain also won honors. But, to show how little we know, so did our pans Broken Kingdom, Shanghai Calling, Hicks on Sticks, Peace, Love and Misunderstanding and The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vincente Fernandez (although Ernest Borgnine did deserve the acting prize for that last one).

A tense Italian drama about a family's home in Nazi-occupied Greece being commandeered by a menacing German officer, Apartment in Athens won the jury awards for best feature film, best actor (Gerasimos Skiadaresis), best cinematographer (Vladan Radovic) and best screenplay (by director Ruggero Dipaola and Heldrun Schleef).

The Day I Saw Your Heart, a French drama about a man in his 60s
having a baby with his young new wife–and the fallout that produces among
his grown children–won jury awards for best actress (Melanie Laurent)
and best director (Jennifer Devoldere). 

The War Around Us, Abdullah Omeish's amazing look at two very different reporters for Al Jazeera being the only western television correspondents on the ground covering Israel's shelling of Gaza City in 2008, was the jury's pick for best feature documentary.

Best short doc went to Lisa Cole's Lioness, which chronicles the danger from sexual assault tween girls face in the slums of Nairobi, Kenya. The best short animated film was Christopher Kezelos' The Maker, a U.K./U.S./Aussie production about a strange creature racing against time to make an important and beautiful creation. The best narrative short in the jury's opinion was Sebastian Marka's Interview, which is out of Germany and is about a sit down between a journalist and serial killer.

The jury, which selected from more than 450 films out of 50 countries, consisted of: Robert Rosen, professor and dean emeritus of the UCLA School of Theater; award-winning director Patricia Cardoso; Academy Award, Golden Globe and British Academy Award nominee Marianne Jean-Baptist; Santa Ana-bred filmmaker Drake Doremus of Like Crazy fame; USC cinematic arts professor and widely published author Norman Hollyn; Academy Award nominee and Oscar winning producer Michael Phillips; and the head of UCLA's cinematography track William McDonald.

As folks left theaters screening festival films, they handed ballots to volunteers. And that led to these 2012 audience awards:

Best feature: Not That Funny from the U.S.

Best foreign feature: Between Us (Aqui Entre Nos) from Mexico.

Best documentary (tie): High Ground and Brooklyn Castle, both from the U.S.

Best action sports feature: H2indO from the U.S. (San Clemente to be precise).

Best short film: Love at First Sight from the U.K.
The festival itself dished out these honors:

Outstanding achievement in filmmaking: Songs for Amy; Broken Kingdom and Peace, Love and Misunderstanding, the first one coming from the Ireland and the others from the U.S.

Outstanding achievement in acting: Daniel Henney in Shanghai Calling; Ernest Borgnine in The Man Who Shook the Hand of Vincente Fernandez; Geoffrey Arend and Lizzy Caplan in Save the Date. All those are U.S. productions.
Outstanding achievement in directing: Julie Delphy for the Frence feature Le Skylab; Matt Heinemann of the U.S. doc Escape Fire: The Fight to Rescue American Healthcare, which also won for outstanding achievement in documentary filmmaking, as did I Am Eleven from Australia.

Outstanding achievement in filmmaking fest winners were: Canada's Hicks on Sticks (action sports); the U.S. films Under African Skies and Jason Becker: Not Dead Yet (music); Canada's The Whale and Last Call at the Oasis of the U.S. (environmental); another from the U.S., Magic Camp (family); and Germany's Gerhard Richter Painting (art, architecture and design).

Outstanding achievement in short filmmaking directing: Samantha Pineda for Mexico's El Pescador (The Fisherman).

Outstanding achievement in short film story: Scheherazade and the Kosher Delight from France.

Outstanding achievement in short filmmaking cinematography: Steve Asselin of Canada's Trotteur.

Short film honorable mention: Not Dark Yet (U.S.).

Humanitarian Award: The Eyes of Thailand (U.S.).

Breakout filmmaker: General Education; Worth the Weight (both U.S.).

Orange County Filmmaking Award: Behind the Orange Curtain.

Redbull Fan Favorite Award: Incest! The Musical, from Chapman University's Grant Reed and NBFF's Collegiate Showcase series.

Chuck Jones Center for Creativity Award for Achievement in Animation: Canada's Big Drive.

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