'… And the Winners Are!' - 27 East

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'… And the Winners Are!'

authorStaff Writer on Oct 16, 2023

The 31st Hamptons International Film Festival, presented by HamptonsFilm, has announced the winners for feature and short competition sections and audience awards. This year, HIFF screened a lineup of films that are 49 percent female-directed and represent 42 countries from around the world. The festival screened 72 features and 46 shorts with eight World premieres, three North American premieres, 12 U.S. premieres, 13 East Coast premieres and seven New York premieres.

“20,000 Species of Bees,” directed by Estibaliz Urresola Solaguren, won the award for Best Narrative Feature. The film received a $2,500 cash prize, and $72,500 in in-kind goods and services.

“The narrative feature award is given to ‘20,000 Species of Bees,’ an exceptionally sensitive and nuanced portrayal of childhood, shown largely from the perspective of an eight-year-old struggling to understand their identity,” said Narrative Competition Jury members Arianna Bocco, David Koepp, and Matt Singer. “The performances are heartbreaking, anchored by young Sofia Otero, who is a revelation. As gender issues are currently debated in loud and polemic terms, this outstanding film presents the feelings of a child with uncommon grace.”

The Narrative Competition Jury also recognized “The Feeling That the Time for Doing Something Has Passed” with a Special Mention for director Joanna Arnow’s authentic, singular, and hilarious voice.

“Tell Them You Love Me,” directed by Nick August-Perna, received the award for Best Documentary Feature. The film received a $2,500 cash prize and $20,000 in in-kind goods and services.

“With a strong group of documentary contenders at HIFF this year, we are proud that our selection for Best Documentary Feature is Nick August-Perna’s World Premiere feature film, ‘Tell Them You Love Me,’” said Documentary Competition Jury members Caryn Coleman, Marie Therese Giurgis, and Carlos Sandoval. “We were greatly impressed with the way August-Perna constructed the telling of this controversial story — one that addresses issues of power, consent, and truth in the context of race, gender, and disability — with a sophisticated nuance that respects not only its subjects but the audience as well.”

“Xiaohui and His Cows,” directed by Xinying Lao, received the award for Best Narrative Short Film, and “The Waiting,” directed by Volker Schlecht, won for Best Documentary Short Film. Both films received $1,000 cash prizes and will qualify for Academy Awards consideration.

Hamptons International Film Festival audiences selected narrative feature “Fresh Kills,” directed by Jennifer Esposito, and documentary feature “Angel Applicant,” directed by Ken August Meyer for this year’s Audience Awards. “Forgotten Founders: David Hempstead, Senior,” directed by East End residents Sam Hamilton and Julian Alvarez, and “Merv,” directed by Sam Roebling tied for this year’s Audience Award for Best Short Film.

The festival also announced winners for additional special awards:

“The Breakthrough,” directed by Daniel Sinclair, was awarded the 2023 Peter Macgregor-Scott Memorial Award. The award, which is accompanied by a $10,000 cash prize, aims to continue the celebrated producer’s mentorship for a new generation of passionate filmmakers. Sponsored by Susan Macgregor-Scott, this award is specifically designed to recognize narrative short filmmakers and reward creative approaches to solving practical production challenges in the service of storytelling.

“A Revolution on Canvas,” directed by Sara Nodjoumi and Till Schauder, and “Beyond Utopia,” directed by Madeleine Gavin, were awarded the Brizzolara Family Foundation Award to Films of Conflict and Resolution. The two films will split a $5,000 cash prize. This award recognizes films in the Films of Conflict & Resolution program, which is dedicated to showcasing films that deal with the complex issues and societal effects of war and violence.

“Smoke Sauna Sisterhood,” directed by Anna Hints, was presented with the Victor Rabinowitz & Joanne Grant Award for Social Justice. The annual award, which is accompanied by a $2,000 cash prize presented by Mark Rabinowitz, is presented to a film that exemplifies the values of peace, equality, global justice and civil liberties, and is named in honor of two people who spent their entire lives fighting for those values: civil rights lawyer Victor Rabinowitz and his wife, Joanne Grant, an author, filmmaker and journalist.

“Wilding,” directed by David Allen, received the Zelda Penzel Giving Voice to the Voiceless Award. Presented to a film in the Compassion, Justice & Animal Rights Signature program, the award recognizes a film that inspires compassion, compels social change, and raises public awareness about the moral and ethical treatment and the rights of animals, as well as environmental protection. The film was awarded a $2,500 cash prize.

“These Days,” directed by Junior Gonzalez, was awarded the 2023 Suffolk County Next Exposure Grant. This $3,000 grant is awarded to a feature film in the Views From Long Island Signature Program. Sponsored by the Suffolk County Film Commission, this program supports the completion of high quality, original director-driven, low budget independent films from both emerging and established filmmakers who have completed 50 percent of principal photography within Suffolk County.

Two awards were given for this year’s inaugural Sherzum Award. Sponsored by producer Jayne Baron Sherman, a long time LGBTQ+ activist, this award is designed to acknowledge and foster stories about LGBTQ+ people, issues and concerns. Named for Jayne and her wife Deborah Zum, the Sherzum Award encourages films that show the realities and challenges — as well as successes — of the people and communities it represents. “Rustin,” directed by George C. Wolfe, received a $5,000 cash prize, and “Summer Qamp,” directed by Jen Markowitz, received a $2,500 cash prize.

“Fancy Dance,” directed by Erica Tremblay and “Beyond Utopia,” directed by Madeleine Gavin were awarded the New York Women in Film & Television Award for Excellence in Narrative Filmmaking, and the New York Women in Film & Television Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking, respectively. These awards honor outstanding female filmmakers who have demonstrated exceptional artistic vision and dedication to their craft. Both films received a $1,000 cash prize and a six month membership to NYWIFT.

“Fresh Kills,” directed by Jennifer Esposito, also received a New York Women in Film & Television Award Honorable Mention for Excellence in Narrative Filmmaking.

The festival also announced the recipients of the University Short Film Awards, honoring emerging young talent and awarding five filmmakers cash prizes of $500 each. Awardees include “So They Say” (“Así Dicen”), directed by Natalia Luque (Columbia University), “First, I Dream,” (“Primero, Sueño”), directed by Andrés Lira (California State University, Sacramento), “Classmates,” directed by Major Dorfman (Columbia University), “Me & Aydarous,” directed by Sara Balghonaim (NYU Tisch Graduate Film Program) and “Daydreaming So Vividly About Our Spanish Holidays,” directed by Christian Avilés (Escola Superior de Cinema i Audiovisuals de Catalunya).

“Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!” said HamptonsFilm Artistic Director David Nugent. “We were honored to welcome so many returning filmmakers as well as those sharing their films with our audiences for the first time here in the Hamptons. Our community came out in droves and welcomed this year’s films and guests with such warmth and enthusiasm.”

“As we close out our 31st edition, we want to express our utmost gratitude to not only our incredible audiences for their continued support of the festival, but also to our diligent staff, volunteers, sponsors, partners, and esteemed guests for making it possible to program another year of dynamic screenings and conversations,” added HamptonsFilm Executive Director Anne Chaisson.

For more information on the festival, visit hamptonsfilmfest.org.

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