2016 FESTIVAL WINNERS

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BEST FEATURE NARRATIVE

I AM GANGSTER  directed by Moritz Rechenberg 

SYNOPSIS:
A rebellious teenager, a hardcore gang member, and an idealistic cop risk everything to find their place in the crumbling fabric of modern America.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:
Moritz Rechenberg is a film writer, producer, and director based in Los Angeles, California. Born and raised in rural southern Germany, Rechenberg moved to Los Angeles in 2005 to complete the film program at CalArts (California Institute of the Arts). In his narrative short film TICKED (2009), produced in close collaboration with a teen club from the Ramona Gardens Housing Projects in East LA, he first explored the issue of youth violence and gang culture in Los Angeles. With an equally grassroots-oriented approach, Rechenberg realized the follow-up, I AM GANGSTER, his feature film debut.


BEST DOCUMENTARY

Arlette. Courage Is A Muscle directed by Florian Hoffman 

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SYNOPSIS:

A journey from Africa to Berlin turns into an unexpected journey from childhood to adulthood.

The film centers around Arlette, a 15-year old girl from the Central African Republic who suffered severe injuries during the last war. In Berlin a surgery frees her from her year-long pain. This changes her both physically and mentally: suddenly Arlette is in her puberty.
But then war breaks out again in her homeland. What was planned to be a short stay in Berlin turns into a journey without a foreseeable end. Arlette is forced to grow up and take her own decisions about her future. Stranded in Berlin, the young girl faces the challenges of a foreign culture and a language she doesn’t speak.

This film is a long-term observation – told resolutely from the perspective of a young girl from the Central African Republic. And the viewer gets to see our everyday life through the genuine and honest eyes of Arlette.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:
Florian Hoffmann was born on January 24, 1987 in Berlin, Germany. After high school he worked in the development cooperation in West Africa. Afterwards, he completed his studies in social anthropology, sociology and political science at the University of Basel. Since 2011 he has been a directing student at the German Film and Television Academy Berlin (dffb).


BEST SHORT FILM

Smoke That Travels directed by Kayla Briët 

SYNOPSIS:
What happens when a story is forgotten? ‘Smoke That Travels’ is a personal documentary by 2016 Sundance Film Festival Ignite Fellow Kayla Briët that explores preservation and loss of Native American culture and her own identity as a Prairie Band Potawatomi.

ABOUT THE DIRECTORS:
Kayla Briët is a 19-year-old self-taught, award-winning filmmaker, composer, musician, and media producer. Her short films have taken her to the White House for the 2014 First-Ever White House Film Festival, where she was invited to meet President Barack Obama, as well as to NYC, Chicago, Seattle, and Los Angeles for awards and film festival screenings. Her work in science and education has been awarded by organizations like ACS, FASEB, and ProjectED, and she was honored by the OC Register as 2014 Film Artist of the Year. She is a 2015 Youth Fellow of the renowned Future of Storytelling conference, a 2015 Sundance Ignite Fellow Finalist, and a public speaker who has presented at Girls Who Code and numerous junior high and high schools in Orange County.


BEST WEB SERIES

Undone Directed by Lili Lopez

SYNOPSIS:
UNDONE is a bi-weekly web series of video interviews, hoping to prove that life is not just about “Being”, but also “Becoming”. The project aims to highlight the importance of the Self-Creation with the main idea that we are, and always will be, a never-ending work in progress.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR
Lili Lopez is a Senegalese Visual Artist who moved to New-York from Paris where she was working as a Marketing Director in the Media and Entertainment Industry. She started her education with a program in applied art and photography but graduated from a business school with a Bachelor in Business. Her Undone project marks the beginning of her new career as a filmmaker.


RUNNER UPS

BEST NARRATIVE RUNNER UP

You Can’t Escape Lithuania directed by Romas Zabarauskas

SYNOPSIS:
After his star actress, Indre, murders her mother, rich-kid filmmaker Romas plans her escape from Lithuania. His Mexican boyfriend Carlos helps them reluctantly. On the road, Romas begins shooting an improvised experimental film of the trip with his smartphone. As events take an unexpected turn, their secrets, memories and emotions make this journey wilder than any film Romas could have imagined.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:
Romas Zabarauskas’ films Porno Melodrama (30 min.) and We Will Riot (79 min.) tackle the subjects of homophobia, neo-nationalism and corruption. They premiered at the Berlinale in 2011 and the Moscow Film Festival in 2013 respectively, and have been showing around the world ever since. A unique cinematic voice from the Baltics, Romas is equally known in his home country as an openly gay, outspoken LGBT+ rights activist.


BEST DOCUMENTARY RUNNER UP

THE GIANT’S DREAM: THE MAKING OF THE IRON GIANT directed by Anthony Giacchino 

SYNOPSIS:
“The Giant’s Dream: The Making of The Iron Giant” tells the dramatic story about a rare moment in movie history that allowed a first-­time director to make one of the world’s greatest animated films, “The Iron Giant.” Using stylized animatics, archival footage, original concept art, and revealing interviews, “The Giant’s Dream” charts the incredible ups and downs, industry firsts, and amazing history behind this iconic film and its rebel director, Brad Bird.


ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:
Producer/Director – ANTHONY GIACCHINO
Anthony is an Emmy Award-winning documentarian whose films have appeared on PBS and HISTORY. He has also created documentary content for Paramount Pictures, Disney and Warner Bros. In addition to his documentary films, Anthony curated the New York City Police Museum’s centennial exhibit on JOE PETROSINO, the legendary NYPD detective whose 1909 murder made him the force’s only member to be killed overseas in the line of duty. Anthony marked another centennial in March 2011 with his Cooper Union installation, LETTERS TO ANOTHER CENTURY – THE TRIANGLE FIRE LETTER PROJECT, which honored the 146 NYC garment workers who perished in the infamous 1911 fire.


BEST SHORT FILM RUNNER UP

There’s Too Many of These Crows directed by Morgan Miller 

SYNOPSIS:
A film about aggression and escalation. The narrative initially concerns a poacher and his wife hunting crows in a wide open field. Set roughly in 1913.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR:
Morgan Miller is the creator of the Twillerama Animation Anthology which toured around the US. He has won awards from ASIFA-East and the Stockholm Animation and Experimental Film Festival. He currently teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, where he received a Pratt faculty development grant and finishing funds from the New York State Council for the Arts.


BEST WEB SERIES RUNNER UP

No String Attached directed by Emma Watts

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