Video by WSAV photojournalist Drew Hunt
SAVANNAH, Ga. — The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) announced the 20th anniversary SCAD Savannah Film Festival competition films winners during a celebratory luncheon, held at the historic Olde Pink House.
Slideshow: SCAD Savannah Film Festival 2017
Eleven awards were announced from the 47 films that competed in the categories of narrative features, documentary features, professional shorts, animated shorts, and student shorts selections.
• SCAD honored 13 masters of their craft including John Boyega (Vanguard Award), Zoey Deutch(Rising Star Award), Richard Gere (Lifetime Achievement Award), Salma Hayek Pinault (Outstanding Achievement in Cinema Award), Holly Hunter (Icon Award), Robert Pattinson (Maverick Award), Andrea Riseborough (Outstanding Supporting Actress Award for Battle of the Sexes), Kyra Sedgwick (Spotlight Award), Aaron Sorkin (Outstanding Achievement in Directing Award), Willow Shields (Rising Star Award) and Sir Patrick Stewart (Legends of Cinema Award).
Narrative and Documentary Features
• Best Narrative Feature: Sun Dogs (USA) – Intellectually limited from an accident at birth, Ned Chipley has failed four times to join the Marines. He teams up with a young runaway and the two survive a group of young men they mistake as terrorists. The pair’s misadventures lead to the unexpected discovery that sometimes the greatest purpose in life can present itself in the most unlikely of places. Director: Jennifer Morrison
• Best Director: Ian Hunt Duffy, Gridlock (Ireland) – During a traffic jam on a country road, a little girl goes missing from one of the cars. Her father desperately forms a search party to find her, and soon everyone is a suspect. Director Ian Hunt Duffy
• Best Documentary Feature: Resistance is Life (Syria/Turkey/USA) – From a refugee camp on the Turkish–Syrian border, 8-year-old Evlin characterizes the resilience of her homeland’s resistance against jihadists. Her heroes, the Kurdish female fighters, are defending the city of Kobane against ISIS militants. Evlin takes us on a journey that introduces many different faces of the resistance, provides a unique look at the spirit behind the first major victory against ISIS and shows us that hope and resilience prevail even in the most tragic circumstances. Director: Apo W. Bazidi
• Special Jury Award: Best Family Documentary: Through the Windmill (USA)- Explore the history of miniature golf in the U.S., and how these unique, family-friendly roadside attractions have evolved over the last 100 years. Hear from the talented people who design, build and operate them in interviews with top designers, players and historians. Director Amanda Kulkoski
• Best Editing: Five Minutes (USA) – A progressive elementary school’s parenting class takes an unexpected and dramatic turn. Director Justine Bateman
• Best Animated Short: Follow Your Heart (USA) – In a world where people’s hearts are detached from their bodies and are like pets, Mary loses “Skip,” only to rediscover herself and learn what it means to follow your heart. Director Rob O’Neill
• Best Narrative Short: The Silent Child (UK) – In rural England, a profoundly deaf four-year-old girl named Libby lives in a world of silence until a caring social worker teaches her the gift of communication. Director Chris Overton
• Special Jury Award: Stop Motion Animation Poles Apart (UK) – An unlikely meeting occurs between Nanuk, a tough female polar bear, and Aklak, an enthusiastic male grizzly bear, brought together by their changing habitats. Director Paloma Baeza
• Best Student Short: It’s Just a Gun (USA) – When a young boy finds a .38 caliber Smith & Wesson revolver, it sets in motion a series of events that will change him forever. Director: Brain Robau
• Special Jury Award: Poles Apart (USA) – An unlikely meeting occurs between Nanuk, a tough female polar bear, and Aklak, an enthusiastic male grizzly bear, brought together by their changing habitats. Director Paloma Baeza
• Silver Screen Society Award (Best Short Film by a SCAD Student): I Have Something to Tell You (USA) – Adrain Chesser, a fine-art photographer, uses his work to cope with his HIV/AIDS diagnosis in this acclaimed portrait series. Director Dumaine Babcock and Ben Joyner
• Best Student Animation: Icky (Iran) – In a world of people with a Rubik’s cube head, there is one kid who is different than the others. Director Parastoo Cardgar
Professional jury members were Dana Burnell (writer), Amy Grey (President, Dish Communications), Melissa Robledo (Emmy-winning documentary producer), and James Roiz (SVP, Film Finance and Business Operations for Participant Media). Student and animation jury members were Robert Walker (CEO, Matinee Productions), Jay Blumenfield (CEO, Jay & Tony Show Productions), Kaila York (producer), Robert Orr (screenwriter) and Michael James (Entertainment Segment Producer, KTLA TV 5, Los Angeles).
Celebrating 20 years of cinematic creativity, the SCAD Savannah Film Festival is the nation’s largest university-run festival. Highlights from this year’s event included:
• The festival opened with the film Molly’s Game and featured gala screenings of Call Me By Your Name, Darkest Hour, Downsizing, Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, The Florida Project, I, Tonya, Into the Rainbow, Lady Bird, Last Flag Flying, LBJ, The Leisure Seeker, Mudbound, The Shape of Water, Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri and Wonderstruck.
• The Docs to Watch series featured several top must-see documentaries from this year that are gaining award season attention. Those who attended were directors Evgeny Afineevsky (Cries from Syria); Greg Barker (The Final Year); Bryan Fogel (Icarus); Yance Ford (Strong Island); Amanda Lipitz (Step); Brett Morgen (Jane); Jeff Orlowski (Chasing Coral); Laura Poitras (Risk); John Ridley (Let It Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992) and Ceyda Torun (Kedi).
The ten filmmakers participated in a Q&A for their respective films and a panel moderated by Scott Feinberg, awards columnist for The Hollywood Reporter.