Festival of Cinema NYC announced this year’s filmmaker award winners at a typically enthusiastic and emotional celebration at the Jamaica Performing Arts Center as it concluded the 7th edition of the Forest Hills-based film festival. Aly Yeganeh’s Sibel’s Silence won Best Narrative Feature Film, and Pierre Guillet’s The Book of Harth took Best Documentary, with Althea Root’s Good Side of Bad winning Audience Choice for Best Feature Film.
Top individual awards went to; Robert Haufrecht (Subterranean Love (Olga)) for Best Director, Damien De Dobbeleer (Interviewing Guillaume Bogaert) for Breakthrough Male Performance; and Sophia Massa (Come Find Me) for Breakthrough Female Performance.
Festival of Cinema NYC Founder and Executive Director Jayson Simba, said, “Our film festival envisions filmmakers, including their cast and crew, as an extended family of artists. It was an honor to once again welcome filmmakers from all around the world who made it a point to attend the festival in person. Not only did filmmakers and actors from all over New York City make an appearance, but filmmakers from as far as Paris, Belgium, and Germany made the trip all the way to Forest Hills, Queens to present their work to the attending public. The enthusiasm and support was evident – from the Forest Hills Community attending to the final award being announced, it always thrills us to see friendships and relationships forged throughout the 10 days at our film festival. I don’t know of another NYC based independent film festival that has such a lasting impact”
Winners in the short film categories included John Cappello’s Floppies (Best Short Film – Narrative); Melissa Rodriguez’s Helado (Audience Award – Short Film); Jamin Mears’ Static (Best Experimental, Music Video, or Animation); and Laurence Shanet’s How Did That Happen?! (Best Web/TV Series). Cappello received a second award as he also took the prize for Best Editing.
Additional individual award winners included Anna Capunay, who won Best Screenplay for Your Silent Face, with Katja Sallay’s Five Seasons – Eine Reise taking the award for Best Ensemble. Radiant Ties’ Director of Photography Logan Floyd won Best Cinematography; Stars’ Christian Anderson and Devin Gasteiger cited for Best Sound Editing; and Fog of War’s Ashley Valdez and Jessica Valdez winning Best Make up and EFX. Richard Hohenrath won FOC NYC’s first award presented for Best Unproduced Script for his work on “Real Heroes”.
The evening also included the film festival’s inaugural presentation of its Indie Film Vanguardian Award to local film hero Dito Montiel, famous for A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, among a number of films. Montiel attended a screening of the film and participated in a conversation on the making of that film, based on his book about his upbringing in Astoria, as well as the entirety of his career. Moderated by Awards Radar’s Joey Magidson, the talk energized the crowd with a number of audience members gleeful at the opportunity to see Montiel and ask questions as well.
Additional highlights included sold out screenings of Mars Roberge’s screen adaptation of Doron Braunshtein’s drama, Stars about a group of women struggling to survive in an NYC women’s shelter, and Alethea Root’s drama Good Side of Bad about a brother and sister who struggle to care for their sister dealing with mental illness. Eventual Best Narrative Feature Film winner Aly Yeganeh gave an impassioned talk after the screening of his film Sibel’s Silence about his campaign to bring attention to the plight of young Iraqi girls forced into sexual slavery by ISIS. The filmmaker had made the trip to NYC from Paris to represent his film and speak on the subject.
Festival of Cinema NYC also returned to the Queens Public Library at Forest Hills with free programming to the public, with seminars, workshops, and a special presentation of The Station House Reading Series by Detroit Street Films. For the first time ever the film festival added a live performance at the Regal Midway as part of Greg Brownderville and Bart Weiss’ one-of-a-kind multi-media creation,FIre Bones. Created with smartphones in mind, the project included a big screen presentation with a dramatic performance weaved in as well to beguile the audience.
The 2023 Festival of Cinema NYC was made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of the Governor and the New York State Legislature. It is also supported and made possible, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council. Additionally, the festival is funded in part by Resorts World Gives, NYC & Co. Foundation, the Mathis Pfohl Foundation, Ponce Bank, and Yant Tattoo Studios. Other sponsors for the 2023 festival include Regal Cinemas,The Queens Public Library at Forest Hills, Silver Sound, Stage 32, Soundview Media Partners, and DCP For All, Ink TIp, and Friends of Maple Grove. For more information about the festival, please visit http://www.festivalofcinemanyc.com/.
2023 FESTIVAL OF CINEMA NYC AWARD WINNERS
BEST FEATURE FILM – NARRATIVE
Director: Aly Yeganeh
The Book of Harth
Director: Pierre Guillet
AUDIENCE CHOICE – FEATURE FILM
Good Side of Bad
Director: Alethea Root
BEST SHORT FILM – NARRATIVE
Director: John Cappello
AUDIENCE CHOICE – SHORT FILM
Director: Melissa Rodriguez
BEST EXPERIMENTAL, MUSIC VIDEO, OR ANIMATION
Director: Jamin Mears
BEST WEB/TV SERIES
How Did That Happen?!
Director: Laurence Shanet
BEST UNPRODUCED SCRIPT
Writer: Richard Hohenrath
Robert Haufrecht (Subterranean Love (Olga))
BREAKTHROUGH MALE PERFORMANCE
Damien De Dobbeleer (Interviewing Guillaume Bogaert)
BREAKTHROUGH FEMALE PERFORMANCE
Sophia Massa (Come Find Me)
5 Seasons – Eine Reise
Director: Katja Sallay
Cast: Mutlu Acar, Christoph Gawenda, Pegah Ferydoni, Max Hegewald,
Katja Hutko, Yanina Lisovskaya, Misel Maticevic
Your Silent Face
Writer: Anna Capunay
Director of Photography: Logan Floyd
Editor: John Cappello
BEST SOUND EDITING
Sound Design: Christian Anderson, Devin Gasteiger
BEST MAKE UP AND EFX
Fog of War
Make up: Ashley Valdez, Jessica Valdez