Bride Flight, a drama about three women aboard a KLM airliner that won the 1953 Air Race from
London to New Zealand, nearly swept the biggest jury awards at the 2010 Newport Beach Film Festival, which ended its eight-day run Thursday night.
The film won for best feature, director (Ben Sombogaart), actress (Karina Smulders), cinematographer (Piotr Kukla) and screenplay (Marieka Van Der Pol).
John Bell prevented a Bride Flight sweep of the jury awards by picking up best actor for A Shine of Rainbows. In a competent but predictable family movie, Bell was convincing as a lonely boy plucked from an orphanage to live with a couple that included Aidan Quinn brooding about in a thick Irish accent.
The other jury awards went to: director Tamra Davis' Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child for documentary; Neil Leifer's Dark Light for short documentary; Cordell Barker's Runaway for short animated film; and Eric D. Howell's Ana's Playground for narrative short film.
Audience award winners were: Below the Beltway (U.S. feature); Starring Maja (Princess) (foreign feature); Baker Boys: Inside the Surge (documentary); Mount St. Elias (actio-sports feature); Elle: A Modern Cinderella Tale (family film); Wings of Silver: The Vi Cowden Story (short film); and Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler (art, architecture + design).
Burzynski took home the Humanitarian Vision Award, while Ann and Rick Chatillon's Living It Forever, which is about pioneering Newport Beach surfers, received the Orange County Filmmaker Award.
Living It Forever did so well with advance ticket sales that a second Wednesday night screening at Regency Lido Theatre was added before the festival began. But many would-be viewers still could not get in, so a third screening was added Thursday at Regency South Coast Village Theatre in Santa Ana.
Another documentary on a local topic that was a beneficiary of an unscheduled added screening due to its popularity with audiences was We Were Feared, which was about the brief reign and hard fall of Jerry Roach's punk club the Cuckoo's Nest in Costa Mesa. After its world premiere Sunday night at Edwards Island Cinemas, a second screening was added Tuesday night. Both sold out.
Ivan Correa, the film's executive producer, also sent an email this morning noting that, based on some formula reflected on the Newport Beach Film Festival website, We Were Feared was the most-buzzed about film.
The festival gave an estimated total attendance of 51,000, which is about in line with last year's total.
The 2010 run ended at the Lido Theatre with an advance screening of Letters to Juliet, which opens in theaters on May 14, and a post party in the Via Lido
After more than 2,000 films
were reviewed by the festival's selection committee, the 2010 fest screened more than 350 films from 47 countries.
To give an idea of the informal, all-hands-on-deck nature of the festival–which is mostly run by volunteers–co-founder Todd Quartararo was caught handing out beers to shorten the line in front of a makeshift bar erected for a festival party at Fashion Island.
You don't see Redford doing that at Sundance.