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Last updated: January 31, 2010
Copyright 2006 Michael R. Colford.
All rights reserved

current nominations ceremonyarchives
special awards • ballot

2009, 15th Annual Awards, March 22, 2009


Best Movie

winnerThe Edge of HeavenThe Edge of Heaven - The German title of THE EDGE OF HEAVEN is AUF DER ANDEREN SEITE, which means “On the Other Side.” Both titles are fitting in describing the main themes of this beautifully shot film. Written and directed by the Turkish-German director Fatik Akin, THE EDGHE OF HEAVEN captures the experiences of being between two cultures while exploring the generational, cultural, and political differences among six people in modern-day Turkey and Germany. In telling the deeply affecting personal stories of these individuals, Akin masterfully reveals the unintended consequences (good and bad) that result from contemporary globalization. --ad
4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days - set during the last days of Ceausescu’s communist Romania, 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS is a chronicle of an illegal late-term abortion obtained by a young woman and the intense efforts of her college roommate to help her. The film is remarkable in that it delivers a perfect character study of two strikingly different female (Otilia and Gabita) and male (Viarel/aka Domnu' Bebe and Adi Radu) personalities, challenging the viewer to formulate some complex moral judgements.  The film also serves as a representation of some of the larger sociopolitical transgressions of the government and society at that time in history. The film is beautifully made, and highly effective at communicating the reality of the dilemma. It ultimately does not matter on which side of the abortion/legalization debate you fall.  The filmmaker succeeds in bringing to surface a greater problem; that is, how horrifying it is sometimes to be a woman and a living sexual being, dependent upon men who are disproportionately more powerful, and functioning within a scarred society. Brutally compelling, and dark in tone, 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS is perfectly acted and directed, and is truly one of the best films of 2008.--bca
Happy-Go-LuckyHappy-Go-Lucky - Fans of Mike Leigh may have initially been perplexed by this film: its bright colors, its upbeat pacing, the infectious cheeriness of its main character, Poppy (the excellent Sally Hawkins. But in quintessential Leigh fashion, the story is an engaging lesson in how people remain mired in their own unhappiness, in this case, Scott, a misanthropic and repressed driving instructor. The two meet weekly and Scott’s snarky crabbiness is simply amusing beside Poppy’s oblivious joking demeanor. Poppy’s sunny disposition seems to never fail her; until Scott’s rage and hurt spills forth one day and she is forced to placate him. Leigh has crafted another flawless film, albeit one that makes some surprising narrative and aesthetic choices compared to his earlier, darker and more somber works. But his trademark artistry has never been stronger. --pa
Let the Right One InLet the Right One In - If you’ve talked to people about independent film in the last few months, it is probable that someone has brought up “the Swedish vampire film.”  While it is a Swedish film about a vampire, Tomas Alfredson’s film is noteworthy because it surpasses our expectations of a vampire movie.  It certainly has tons of blood and enough neck biting for the genre fans but the strength of the film is that it is also an effective coming-of-age film.  On top of that, Alfredson uniquely emphasizes the horror with a wicked sense of humor that will leave you laughing while being creeped out. --gc

My WinnipegMy Winnipeg - Winnipeg: a myth-rich land full of oddities like an old commercial signage graveyard, a single sledding hill made entirely out of a few decades worth of garbage and department store-sponsored male beauty pageants?  It’s all true, according to Guy Maddin.  Filmed in the director’s trademark silent cinema style, this self-described “docu-fantasia” paints a most unusual portrait of Manitoba’s capital—one that includes room for the glorious, irascible 86-year-old Ann Savage in her final role as Maddin’s mother (brought in to recreate the family dynamic circa 1963, no less).  But even taking all of the town’s quirks and “psychic possibilities” into consideration, this is Maddin’s most personal and possibly affecting work.  Throughout, his voiceover narration veers from acerbic to poetic as he reflects on childhood traumas (one involving a sinister, sexually segregated public pool), mourns for lost landmarks and celebrates his one-of-a-kind hometown like no one else ever could. --ck


Buried Treasure

The Order of MythsWinnerThe Order of Myths - Most people associate Mardi Gras with New Orleans, but Mobile, Alabama is actually the American birthplace of this annual festival.  With insight and not much obtrusion, Margaret Brown’s documentary examines the rituals played out by the city’s many secret “mystic” societies, which range from casual neighborhood parties to opulent, elaborate balls complete with a royal court and magisterial outfits.  It’s almost shocking to discover the extent to which Mobile’s Mardi Gras activities are still racially segregated.  In doing so, Brown ends up uncovering a microcosm of a changing America, a society where venerable traditions mask the color lines many deny exist.  Her approach is so even-handed you’d swear she was an outsider to this culture, which makes it all the more stunning in how she reveals her actual connection to it in the film’s closing moments. --ck
AlexandraAlexandra - Alexandra, an old woman, begins a mysterious journey, shuffled from here to there by soldiers, sometimes gruff, sometimes kind. Is she a prisoner, a refugee? No, we find, she is a grandmother off to the front to visit her beloved grandson. The invasion is over. The grandson and the men he commands are reduced to mere occupiers, bored and homesick. Grandmother that she is, Alexandra tries to minister to their various needs, sometimes by pampering them, sometimes by needling. After a foray into a nearby city, and an encounter with one of its residents, her ostensible enemy, she begins to comprehend the ambiguity and the shifting moral ground that war and its aftermath bring. This is the quintessential Buried Treasure movie, about normal, unsung people in an out of the way place getting in touch with their own humanity. --jp
Chop ShopChop Shop - Making his way among the world of adults, Ale, a young boy, without parents, struggles to support himself and his sister doing any job he can to make a little money. This could be a plot for an Italian neo-realist film or perhaps a tale from the border of Iraqi Kurdistan or the favelas of Rio. And yet, it all happens in the shadow of Shea Stadium. American films have traditionally been reluctant to cast their eyes on the chaotic scramble of poverty. Even the indie scene has focused more on mush-mouthed twenty-somethings fretting about their love lives while goofing off at their arty jobs. But, in CHOP SHOP, lives are at stake, and what little these kids have could disappear at any moment. Despite the grittiness characteristic of a foreign film, there is something inherently American about this story. The notion that if you work your ass off, scrimp and save, you can create a better life for yourself is at the very heart of the American dream. Ale never loses the optimistic belief that he can carve a future for himself using his wits alone. --bt & nc
Love SongsLove Songs - This film, divided into three acts referring to the various states of being in love, is the type that haunts one’s memory long after seeing it.  Audacious and totally unconventional, LES CHANSONS D’AMOUR is an UMBRELLAS OF CHERBOURG without Michel Legrand.  Almost half of the film is sung; at the most unexpected moments the actors burst into song.  The songs are about love, jealousy, grief, mystery, and loss.  The dialogue is similar to any other French drama involving a ménage à trois, untimely death, inappropriate sexual dialogue between parent and child, bisexuality, and homosexuality.  Just how French can you get? --bk
Patti Smith: Dream of LifePatti Smith: Dream of Life - The documentary film, PATTI SMITH: DREAM OF LIFE, Steven Sebring's directorial debut, is designed to provide viewers with a history of the artist’s early life experiences, especially the death her husband, brother, and friend Robert Mapplethorpe, and a deeper look into her eclectic body of work. As a documentary feature, we learn more about the complex and remarkable personality of Patti Smith. Most people know about the raw, unapologetic nature of Patti Smith’s work. Yet, the open narration of the film allows viewers to better understand the inner workings that infused her art. The film features her music, poetry, and other visual media, and applies a dreamy, disjointed, mostly black-and-white visual approach, effectively creating a film that can be viewed, in itself, as an elegant work of modern art. --bca
Water LiliesWater Lilies - Ah, the French. They know romance, they know desire, and in Céline Sciamma's first feature, she proves that the French, or at least Sciamma, knows adolescent, lesbian angst. Set against the surreal backdrop of a synchronized swim team, Sciamma follows the trajectories of three young ladies, Marie, the virginal tomboy who pines for Floriane, the nubile Captain of the swim team who's a bit of a Lolita, and Anne, Marie's awkward, slightly overweight best friend who has decided that François, the local stud, will be her first love. The drama is over-heightened, the way things are during adlosence, but the emotions are real. Sciamma hits every note on the nose, and this debut feature is a tantalizing promise of great things to come. --mrc

Best Director

It's a Tie!

Mike LeighwinnerMike Leigh for Happy-Go-Lucky - Leigh (VERA DRAKE, SECRETS AND LIES) surprises longtime fans with this bubbling, almost plot-free, happy-go-lucky picture. Hewing to his usual technique in which months of rehearsals, improvisation, and backstory development precede the script, Leigh enabled his actors to fully inhabit their roles, and evokes award-worthy performances. The helmer uses an unforgettable palette of primary colors to underline the optimism of his free-spirited, WYSIWYG main character. --djy
Guy MaddinwinnerGuy Maddin for My Winnipeg - Some reviewers claim that in addition to the eccentric characters encountered in the scripted documentary My Winnipeg, the true central character is the city itself. Truly, though, we are only able to experience the history, affection, and disdain for the icy burg through the mind of the film's brilliant director and actual protagonist, Guy Maddin. For over twenty years, Maddin has inserted himself and his family members into his narrative films so frequently that it has often been hard to extract the person from the work. And now with his peculiar version of 8 1/2, Maddin has actually created not only a new genre, but an entirely new form of cinematic storytelling -- the "docu-fantasia". Using his unexampled cinematic style for narrative scenes combined with historical documentary footage and intensely personal narration, Guy Maddin succeeds in producing a hilarious, moving, and sad tribute to the city most everyone would rather leave. --sc
Cristian MungiuCristian Mungiu for 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Day - 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, 2 DAYS is a harrowing lesson in the need for safe, protected access to family planning. It is also a story of friendship, of a woman in terrible trouble, abandoned by everyone but the one friend who will submit to the unspeakable to protect her. The procedure at the heart of the film is just a device to tell a very intimate, human story about two lives caught up in a political situation far beyond them. Director Cristian Mungiu treats the film like a suspense thriller, building tension and paranoia until we, as an audience, also feel like we are under surveillance. It is hard to watch this film unchanged. It is impossible to leave it unmoved. Mungiu directs the lead actresses in a story that is more than a political parable; it embodies the misery of simple people trapped in a complex system. --bk & nc
Tomas AlfredsonTomas Alfredson for Let the Right One In -Director Tomas Alfredson makes all the right choices in bringing to the screen the parallel stories of an adolescent vampire who is lonely for human companionship while satisfying an insatiable appetite for human blood and a lonely boy who lives next door and is much bullied by his classmates.   Vampire fans will no doubt be entertained by Alfredson’s approach which does not spare the gory details.  Those looking for depth in their cult films will be thrilled as Alfredon convincingly highlights both the human and vampire conditions.   He does justice to his strong source material, the Danish novel of the same name.  --bk
Kelly ReichardtKelly Reichardt for Wendy and Lucy - Following her great success with OLD JOY, director Kelly Reichardt is establishing a reputation as a first rate director of unique moods and undercurrents.   WENDY AND LUCY has a disposition all its own.  Reichardt  paints a memorable portrait of a young female drifter at wit’s end when her money runs low, her car gives out and her dog disappears while on a stopover in Portland en route to Alaska.   We know little about Wendy by the end of the film but her image and her ordeal are unforgettable. --bk

Best Actress

Kristin Scott ThomaswinnerKristin Scott Thomas for the role of Juliette Fontaine in I’ve Loved You So Long - Released from prison after a 15-year sentence, Juliette moves in with her younger sister, a college literature instructor with a loving husband and two adorable adopted daughters. Kristin Scott Thomas is a revelation as Juliette, who struggles to figure out how she fits into this world, or if she even deserves to, after what she's done. This is a woman who is both walled up and defenseless, tangled up in emotion yet casting cold eyes. Thomas embodies all of the character's warring feelings and reactions with incredible economy (and fluent French), in this story that is ultimately about rehabilitiation, reconciliation and familial love. --bcu
Anamaria MarincaAnamaria Marinca for the role of Otilia in 4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days - Anamaria Marinca plays Otilia, the college student who helps her friend Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) procure an illegal abortion in late-80s Communist Romania. Among an excellent cast, Marinca in particular stands out. As Otilia, she perfectly captures the mood of the film and draws the audience into the story, which is mostly told from her perspective. Otilia’s ordeal, and Marinca’s performance, will stick with you long after the film ends. --ad
Sally HawkinsSally Hawkins for the role of Poppy in Happy-Go-Lucky - A tricky character like Poppy could’ve come off all wrong.  An eternally optimistic London schoolteacher with a goofy smile and a kind word for everyone she meets, she might have been an infuriating bubble-head or, worse yet, a saintly figure designed solely to teach people how to live a better life.  But, for all her whimsy and light, she’s much more than she initially appears.  Sally Hawkins worked together with director Mike Leigh in his usual method of developing the character before a screenplay was written.  Throughout the film, they gradually, expertly reveal nuances about Poppy in her interactions with other characters (such as her laidback flatmate, a hotheaded driving instructor, and even a derelict homeless man).  Her cheerfulness is omnipresent, but in her words and actions, she’s also aware of disappointment and frustration, and she knows how to handle a situation that can’t just be laughed away.  Hawkins creates not only a winning, likable heroine, but also a believable one. --ck
Lina LeanderssonLina Leandersson for the role of Eli in Let the Right One In - Cinema is chuck-full of tweens capturing our hearts with edgy, beyond their years performances.  Take Jodie Foster in TAXI DRIVER, Natalie Portman in BEAUTIFUL GIRLS or Kate Winslet in HEAVENLY CREATURES for example.  However, these pre-pubescents have nothing on Sweden's newest wunderkind, 13-year-old Lina Leandersson. Playing the isolated role of a 200 year old, sexually ambiguous vampire child starving for a connection of any kind could have been campy or forgettable but Leandersson brings a disturbingly quiet, almost emotionless portrayal to the screen that no child should be able to deliver.  She's curious and sad, loving and vengeful, innocent yet shockingly seductive and for a newcomer to the business she could make even the most seasoned on-screen vixens envious.   I haven't been this excited about a foreign import since RUN LOLA RUN's Franka Potente sprinted across the screen - let's just hope Leandersson's career doesn't end up betraying me in the same painful way because right now it's Lina Leandersson for the win. --dm
Michelle WilliamsMichelle Williams for the role of Wendy in Wendy and Lucy - Impressive in what’s practically a solo turn, Williams plays a vagabond who holds everything close despite circumstances that bring her to the economic brink. Dignified, scared, and lonely, she accepts friendship only from her dog, Lucy, and lets go of herself only when locked in a grimy gas station bathroom. Williams plays the role stripped of glamour and with nuanced minimalism, carrying the viewer into her stoic sadness. --djy

Best Actor

Richard JenkinswinnerRichard Jenkins for the role of Prof. Walter Vale in The Visitor - In a part written especially for him, Jenkins plays a boring white man sleepwalking through his life in academe, hiding in a shell since his wife’s death. An encounter with an African couple who are illegal immigrants causes him to re-engage with the world: a visitor now in a strange place. In a note-perfect performance, Jenkins allows us to watch a character’s soul be gradually awakened by altruism, music, and romantic love. --djy
Brendan GleesonBrendan Gleeson for the role of Ken in In Bruges - Brendan Gleeson delivers another nuanced performance as Ken,  hit-man and surrogate father to his partner-in-crime, Ray (Colin Farrell). As he attempts to engage Ray in pleasantries about the medieval city of Bruges, decked in a delicate lace of Christmas ice and fairy lights along the canals,  the shared burden of their last (botched) job obviously weighs heavily upon him.  As a counterpoint to Ray's blurts and outbursts of obscenity and unfocused energy,  Ken takes their exile to Bruge in stride, waiting patiently for further instructions from their   apoplectic and oddly philosophical  boss (played by Ralph Fiennes).  Gleeson makes Ken believable and sympathetic, a killer-for-hire with a soft-spot for his loose-cannon sidekick. --kp
Jean-Claude Van DammeJean Claude Van Damme for the role of Jean Claude Van Damme in JCVD - In JCVD, directed by Mabrouk El Mechri and based on the screenplay by Frédéric Bénudis and El Mechri, Jean-Claude Van Damme plays himself as a hapless, fading action hero who inadvertently gets caught up in a robbery/hostage situation at the local post office when he returns home to Belgium for a visit. Van Damme turns in a surprisingly nuanced performance, in which he shows us his human side while at the same time parodying his action-hero image and the cult of celebrity. --ad
Sean PennSean Penn for the role of Harvey Milk in Milk - Over the last few years, Sean Penn has mastered the role of the emotionally detached protagonist in films such as DEAD MAN WALKING and MYSTIC RIVER.  Because we had grown comfortable seeing him in those roles, the idea of casting him as the lead in Gus Van Sant’s biopic of Harvey Milk sounded odd.  Yet, three months after the release of the film, it’s difficult to imagine anyone else in that role.  In MILK, Penn amazingly captures the charismatic charm of the late politician that proved to be such an important factor in developing the movement that transformed the political culture of San Francisco in the 70s.  In doing so, he also succeeds in bringing attention to the life of a man who proved to be a true groundbreaker in progressing the rights of the LGBT community. --gc
Mickey RourkeMickey Rourke for the role of Randy "The Ram" Robinson in The Wrestler - Mickey Rourke gives himself completely in this role. His broken down body and inner being hold nothing back. It becomes hard to tell where the real-life Rourke ends and the Wrestler (Randy The Ram) begins. He leaves himself completely exposed to the audience as if he needs them to understand how he became this person and how hard it would be for him to change. --bl

Best Supporting Actress

Elsa ZylbersteinwinnerElsa Zylberstein for the role of Léa in I've Loved You So Long - When a lead actor delivers an unbelievably strong and memorable performance, the supporting roles often seem truly secondary and occasionally second rate.   In I”VE LOVED YOU SO LONG Kristin Scott Thomas’ performance as a woman trying to get her life together after serving a fifteen year prison sentence is truly exemplary but Elsa Zylberstein challenges her every step of the way.  Zylberstein plays the understanding, loving sister who risks her marriage by taking in to her home a woman that society has scorned and dismissed.   The consequences of this compassionate act provoke complex emotions from within her that are vital and genuine.  --bk
Ronit ElkabetzRonit Elkabetz for the role of Dina in The Band's Visit - Although Eran Kolirin’s gentle, deadpan fable about an Egyptian police band mistakenly stuck in a tiny Israeli hamlet features a large ensemble cast, Ronit Elkabetz (a previous Chlotrudis nominee for OR (MY TREASURE)) nearly steals every scene she appears in.  As Dina, the uninhibited co-owner of a small café, she extends a warm welcome to the band and at first, nearly scares them off with her robustness, candor and visibly sexual nature.  Before long, the band relents and accepts her offer to put them up for the night, not only in her home but also with various family members.  Subsequently, we see her hook up with the band’s young trumpet-playing lothario, but she also forges a deeper bond with the band’s leader and conductor.  In each encounter, Elkabetz captures our attention in different ways, expressing Dina’s vulnerable side with both humor and wistful compassion. --ck
Nadia LitzNadia Litz for the role of Susan in Monkey Warfare - Nadia Litz easily deserves the Chlotrudis nomination for best supporting actress for her role as Susan in the film, Monkey Warfare. Susan, in the words of Chlotrudis member, Tony Brighton, “was hot. She was willing to have sex with a guy like Dan (Don Mc Kellar), so she was misguided, which makes the rest of us think, ‘maybe she’d be dumb enough to have sex with me too.’” Nadia’s character doesn’t seem entirely stupid, though. She seems to have some sense and some mystery. Then you discover the secret of her strange business as a bicycle guerrilla, and viewers can see that Nadia Litz plays the part of a strange hippie death cult member quite well. She does an excellent job personifying Susan and delivering subtle, ironic humor. And let’s just be honest, who could ever forget how sexy Nadia was when Susan needed to be fitted for a bike seat? --bca
Ann SavageAnn Savage for the role of Mom in My Winnipeg - When Guy Maddin was looking for an actress to play his sharp-tongued mother in MY WINNIPEG, he said to a friend in Los Angeles, “I wish Ann Savage were still alive.”  His friend replied, “She is, I just saw her a few weeks ago.”   From the moment she appears in the film’s opening sequence, she steals the show.  Best known for being ever-so-dramatically-strangled by a telephone cord in the classic film noir DETOUR, Savage displays her awesome talent making us wish more directors had wished she were alive when she was (Savage died Christmas Day, 2008). --bk
Penelope CruzPenélope Cruz for the role of Maria Elena in Vicky Christina Barcelona - In Woody Allen’s VICKY CRISTINA BARCELONA, Cruz plays Maria Elena, the fiery ex-wife of seducing painter Juan Antonio.  Up until her arrival, we grow comfortable with the budding relationship of Juan Antonio and young American tourist Cristina.  But then when we’re introduced to the brilliant passionate artist, the film rises to a new comedic level, as Maria Elena is not so willing to be released from Juan Antonio’s life.  With the opportunity to play such a dramatic and over-the-top character, Cruz revels in the role yet shows enough constraint so that it still remains believable.  --gc
Hiam AbbassHiam Abbass for the role of Mouna Khalil in The Visitor - Hiam Abbass, in her role as Mouna (mother of a young  Syrian being held by immigration authorities in NYC) shows us her fierce resolve to save her son from deportation, her eyes wide and troubled, her voice low and dark.  She exemplifies the trauma of familial separation due to political instability and religious persecutions in the Middle East,  fearfully guarding secrets while reaching for help and comfort from a stranger in a strange land. --kp

Best Supporting Actor

Eddie MarsanwinnerEddie Marsan for the role of Scott in Happy-Go-Lucky - Marsan plays the antithesis of the optimist Poppy in this peach of a role. A driving instructor always on the verge of exploding, Scott criticizes not just his student’s driving, but her footwear, relationships, and attitude. Baring his small, pointed teeth in disproportionate anger, his rants build to racist and paranoid tirades. Marsan shows us a Scott who, trapped in his rigidity, hates and loves Poppy equally vehemently. --djy
Michael ShannonMichael Shannon for the role of John Givings in Revolutionary Road - For a relatively young actor, Michael Shannon has, at 35, a long and respectable resume. But amid his many small roles in television and film, his most recent turn as John Givings, the emotionally troubled neighbor of the Wheelers, leaves an indelible mark on viewers. Poorly socialized and depressed, John has been subjected to numerous electroshock treatments. He says what he thinks, sees what everyone is hiding, and knows he will never be “normal” or “happy.” In other words, John is the flesh and blood expression of every other character’s inner rage and pain. Shannon’s performance is unsettling, intense and painful to watch. --pa
Tom NoonanTom Noonan for the role of Sammy Barnathan in Synecdoche, New York - A veteran character actor and filmmaker (he directed, co-wrote and starred in the 1994 Sundance winner WHAT HAPPENED WAS), Tom Noonan is almost too perfect a choice for his part: the starving performer, seeking out the role of a lifetime.  Of course, Noonan probably (hopefully?) never went to the obsessive lengths his character, Sammy, does here.  In the film’s first half, he appears only on the periphery, often in brief flashes—too brief to really register significantly.  However, in the second half, he suddenly comes to the fore, forever blurring the line between aspiring actor and creepy stalker.  Then, a strange thing happens: we actually begin to care about him as much as the man he’s portraying in the play-within-a-film.  Noonan gradually strips away the façade separating the actor from his part, and, for one shining moment, he’s arguably the film’s real tragic hero. --ck
Julian RichingsJulian Richings for the role of Dr. Heker in The Tracey Fragments - In Maureen Medved's original Canadian novel The Tracey Fragments, the title character makes many compulsory visits to her psychiatrist, Dr. Heker, a woman with whom Tracey toys, derides, and ultimately craves love and attention. For reasons not entirely obvious, director Bruce McDonald cast the unusually creepy-looking, British-Canadian, male character actor Julian Richings to play Dr. Heker -- in drag. Immediately recognizable from his tall, gaunt physique and prominent facial bone structure, Richings makes a grotesque parody of a middle-aged professional woman, but while his scenes played with Ellen Page in the complete isolation of an entirely white set are at times quite funny, Richings plays the role entirely straight. Without comment on his appearance or any self-consciousness, his professional, caring, yet distant demeanor brilliantly bring into sharp relief the bizarre role Tracey has cast him in. Or rather, she -- Dr. Heker, for the actor truly embodies the role -- is simply unable to grasp what she has become through the filter of Tracey's fragile and irascible psyche. --sc
Ricardo DeanRicardo Darin for the role of Kraken in XXY - Best known in the Northern Hemisphere for his starring roles in THE AURA, SON OF THE BRIDE and BURNT MONEY, Ricardo Darin does his best work to date in XXY, albeit in a supporting role.  Here he plays the father of a hermaphrodite.  He demonstrates external calm and internal stress when his wife invites a doctor who specializes in “normalization surgery” for the weekend.   As a parent he gently seeks to find solutions to his child’s problems by looking at the issues through his child’s eyes rather than his own, not an easy task in the middle of multiple melodramas unfolding simultaneously.  --bk

Best Original Screenplay

Cristian Mungiuwinner4 Months, 3 Weeks, 2 Days, screenplay by Cristian Mungiu - 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, AND 2 DAYS paints a vivid picture of what life in Romania was like in 1987.  Covering a period of about twenty four hours, the bleakness of Ceausescu’s Romania is craftily conveyed by superb storytelling.   What is not apparent until the end of the film is that 4 MONTHS, 3 WEEKS, AND 2 DAYS, in addition to being a nail- biting drama, is also a strange blend of black comedy, a comedy of manners and a brilliant essay on the strains of friendship.  Therein lies the genius of Cristian Mungiu. --bk
Mike LeighHappy-Go-Lucky, screenplay by Mike Leigh - Mike Leigh's dialogue, situations and films are a category all their own and HAPPY-GO-LUCKY transcends tradition to become a masterpiece of joy and hope in our cynical world.  How do you call what Mike Leigh's come up with a "screenplay" when essentially it's a collection of ideas hashed out between the Director and the Actors rehearsed over and over until every tick, breath, and smile has been perfected then placed on paper for filming?  The collaborative effort to find the character, the voice and the movement of the effervescent Poppy or the surly and sad Scott is beyond anything else nominated for Best Screenplay and Mike Leigh's process makes traditional screenwriting seem pedestrian. --dm
Martin McDonaghIn Bruges, screenplay by Martin McDonagh - Contract killers, sent to hole-up in Bruges after killing an altar boy during their planned hit on a London priest,  trade philosophical rationalizations  for their chosen profession around profanity-laced arguments for and against the attractions of their historically-significant locale. Ken – older, wiser,  and inclined to “seize the day” --  does his best to coach his co-worker on the virtues of patience and appreciation of culture, art and architecture.   Ray -- young, not very bright, and seemingly inflicted with Adult Attention Deficit Disorder -- is  bored and belligerent over their circumstances, until he accidentally stumbles upon a film being shot on location on the streets of the medieval town.  He falls for a pretty young crew member,  fixates on befriending a dwarf in the cast, and follows both in pursuit of drugs and sexual gratification.  The dialogue is cryptic but caustic in all the right places,  the exchanges between Ray and Ken are gruff and grudging admissions of their unspoken mutual affection,   and the instructions  given by the mob-boss add graphic absurdity to their dilemma : “What do we do while we're in Bruges?” --kp
Philippe ClaudelI've Loved You So Long, screenplay by Philippe Claudel - I’VE LOVED YOU SO LONG is the first directorial effort for writer/director Philippe Claudel, an award winning novelist who is a professor of Literature at the University of Lyon. While graced by the astounding performances of Kristen Scott Thomas and Elsa Zylberstein, the strength of the film lies in its script.  Claudel manages to present the core issues of the film from all perspectives.  The story, as a result, is extraordinarily well-balanced in addition to being very well told. --bk
Guy MaddinMy Winnipeg, screenplay by Guy Maddin - The screenplay for MY WINNIPEG, written by George Toles and Guy Maddin, describes some very interesting hidden truths about Winnipeg, Manitoba. The screenplay is written like a love letter from Maddin as he says goodbye to his home town. Designed to appeal to film lovers that operate on the same wavelength with Guy Maddin, many adjectives have been used to describe the part narrative/part documentary film: comic, surreal, strange, mythic, dreamlike, personal, and as one critic aptly put, “uneven but glorious.” So bizarre are the many elements of the story, one would erroneously conclude that the events described in the film were entirely fictional. Not so. Maddin conveys a number of historical events, odd as they are, that were a true memory from his childhood. Symbolic representations of people (i.e. his mother) and excellent dream-like sleepwalking scenes add some surreal layers to this beautiful film and give viewers a sense that they, too, are sleepwalking through Winnipeg. --bca
Thomas McCarthyThe Visitor, screenplay by Thomas McCarthy - One of the things independent film does best is bringing a small story to the big screen.   THE VISITOR focuses on a middle-aged college professor who is comatose since the death of his wife.  He has lost his interest in life and is merely going through the minimum amount of motion to get through each listless day.  A shocking conflict materializes out of the blue and slowly his life takes a turn for the better.  Director Thomas McCarthy’s subtle script explores the human condition without getting maudlin or didactic. --bk

Best Adapted Screenplay

John Ajvide LindqvistwinnerLet the Right One In, screenplay by John Ajvide Lindqvist, based on his novel - John Ajvide Lindqvist's first novel made a huge splash in Sweden when it was published in 2004 and soon garnered international acclaim because of its truly unique perspective on vampire mythology, puberty, loneliness, and shame. Now, in his first feature film screenplay, Lindqvist augments his reputation as a writer by adapting his novel for film. It is a remarkable feat for a novelist to let go of his words, but this is exactly what makes this screenplay special. By excising large portions of exposition, subplot, and narration, Let The Right One In stands alone as not only an excellent horror film, but a heart-wrenching, sweet, and at times, blithe coming of age tale for misfits of all ages. The subtlety with which the screenplay is crafted allows the director and actors to express nuances of longing, compulsion, and need far beyond the power of the printed page and firmly positions Lindqvist as a screenwriter of great distinction. --sc
Jean-Francois HalinOSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies, screenplay, adaptation and dialogue by Jean-François Halin, adaptation and dialogue by Michel Hazanavicius, based on certain original characters created by Jean Bruce - OSS 117, CAIRO, NEST OF SPIES is a French spoof of the James Bond films in their Sean Connery hey-day.  The  characters and storyline were lifted from  a series of books  produced in the 1950's and 60's ( the espionage-equivalent of Nancy Drew or Hardy Boy adventures), of which several were adapted for the screen as legitimate spy/action films in the 1960's.  The latest  adventure for  Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, aka OSS117,  has been twisted into an amalgam of James Bond and Inspector Clousseau films with all of the requisite gadgets, impossible escapes, and witty repartee being demonstrated by a man of remarkably low intellect and charm,  who is not afraid to use a chicken as a weapon.  --kp
Maureen MedvedThe Tracey Fragments, screenplay by Maureen Medved, adapted from her novel - Maureen Medved's novel peeks into the mind of a troubled teen girl. She is unreliable and at times unsympathetic as a narrator. Translating this scattered, disjointed tale to film would have given anyone pause, but Medved pares the story to its essence, working closely one would imagine, with director Bruce McDonald to tell much of the story with visuals and leaving unneeded exposition behind. It takes a fair amount ot skill to take a novel and transform it into a screenplay. Medved and McDonald are aided by a strong anchoring performance from the remarkable Ellen Page, but it's the strength of that screenplay that keep us focused on THE TRACEY FRAGMENTS' protagonist, without which we just wouldn't care. --mrc
Lucía PuenzoXXY, screenplay byLucía Puenzo, based on the short story by Sergio Bizzio - XXY, a movie which involves a teenaged hermaphrodite, could have easily lapsed into sensationalism. That it doesn't, that it is intead an intimate, often painful and sometimes joyful story about people discovering the truths about each other, is a credit to its screenplay. The conversations are natural, even ordinary, and the spaces between them allow the actors to continue the story by gesture, reaction, and expression. The writing makes this movie a lovely, almost gentle, story about coming of age and coming to terms. --jp

Best Cinematography

Hoyte Van HotemawinnerHoyte Van Hoytema for Let the Right One In - This beguiling vampire/coming of age tale opens in silence, with heavy snow gorgeously falling against a black nothingness.  The lack of sound or an identifiable locale tells you this is not a peaceful wintry wonderland, but something more ominous and undefined.  The backdrop gradually comes into focus – we’re in an early 1980s Stockholm suburb with most of the action set in a nondescript, gray concrete apartment complex surrounded by seemingly unfathomable woods.  But even in isolated scenes of piercing daylight and brightly-lit rooms stuffed with IKEA furniture, the story still feels like it is continually unfolding at night.  If the clever, sweet-natured screenplay gives LET THE RIGHT ONE IN its heart, the overall visual tableaux of darkness, muted color, and lingering camera shots punctuated by the occasional rapid cut aptly gives the film its unshakable sense of horror. --ck
Encounters at the End of the WorldPeter Zeitlinger for Encounters at the End of the World - For physical effort alone, surely Peter Zeitlinger deserves some sort of award, if not a medal. That he survived two months alone with director Werner Herzog on a really big island of ice at the bottom of the world is itself an accomplishment, but that he came back with such arresting and haunting images is a testament to his great talent. Zeitlinger captures astonishing images of nature like the Ross Sea and Mount Erebus, matches them with intimate shots of the people who are drawn to this place, and then pulls back to place all the pieces against the vast and awesome backdrop that is Antarctica. The visuals from this ENCOUNTER will linger with you for a while. --bcu
The FallColin Watkinson for The Fall - Watching THE FALL, one is reminded of Picasso’s quote about Matisse: “he is only an eye, but my god, what an eye!” Breathtakingly, staggeringly beautiful, THE FALL is the epitome of a film that can only be truly appreciated when viewed on a large screen. If the film’s plot and dialogue only equaled its visuals, it might have been the greatest film of the year. As it is, it is merely the prettiest. But that’s not such a bad thing. There are few directors today displaying even a fraction of director Tarsim’s visual acumen, or his ability to use every inch of the screen to create one vignette after another of eye-popping splendor. --bt & nc
Jody ShapiroJody Shapiro for My Winnipeg - In MY WINNIPEG, Guy Maddin's cinematographer, Jody Shapiro, uses a broad cinematic palette to bring flat, windblown Winnipeg to vivid life. No shot is wasted, whether dark and spiked with shadows, creating a mysterious, even sinister air, or muddled up colors that suggest madness. The pan across and abrupt closeups of a rank of frozen horses or again, aging former hockey stars, invest each scene with, on the one hand, horror, and on the other, a comic heroism. Shapiro's skills serve Maddin's vision superbly. --jp
Anthony Dod MantleAnthony Dod Mantle for Slumdog Millionaire - Once again embracing and transforming his Dogme roots, cinematographer Anthony Dod Mantle re-teams with Director Danny Boyle to tell this frantic tale of desperation and hope through a multi-faceted lens.  From the slow and cold HD tomb that is the game show stage to the hot and dirty hand-held action down on the manic and mean streets of Mumbai, the stark contrast in color, movement and staging thrusts Jamal's story to it's hopeful conclusion.  Mantle's camera work is an essential and integral part of the success Slumdog has found this awards season. --dm

Best Performance by an Ensemble Cast

Monkey WarfarewinnerMonkey Warfare - While there are other supporting roles in MONKEY WARFARE, the film is as great as it in large part due to the strong, thoroughly realized performances by Don McKellar, Tracy Wright and Nadia Litz (who is also nominated for a Best Supporting Actress award. McKellar and Wright nail their aging hippie protesters who have exchanged their radical youth for the complacency of adulthood due to a single night of misfortune. Their relationship is one of comfortability and a little boredom, so when Nadia Litz' Susan appears, Dan is instantly intrigued... as is Linda, although her interest is tempered with caution. The fascinating dynamic that develops between these three fine actors is subtle and light, and along with the strong script and direction of Reg Harkema, and quirky supporting turns by Cindy Wolfe and Rob Stefaniuk, they turn this quiet little film into a powerful and humorous homage to a time and feeling that's lost. ---mrc
The Band's VisitThe Band's Visit - In this comedy, the members of an Egyptian police band on their way to perform at a cultural center dedication end up stranded in a backwater Israeli town. Its residents take them in for a night, and the movie tells what happens. Since the town itself offers almost no diversions, its citizens and their guests are thrown back on each other to pass the time. The cast is large and its range of personalities panoramic. The several stories that form the narrative are almost independent of each other; the ensemble tells many stories, not just one. But each is necessary for the movie's success, and so the cast, in the end, is the very definition of ensemble: A group producing a single effect. --jp
The Edge of HeavenThe Edge of Heaven - THE EDGE OF HEAVEN tells the intersecting stories of six characters, spanning two generations and two countries, Germany and Turkey: university professor Nejat (Baki Davrak), his widowed father Ali (Tuncel Kurtiz), Ali’s girlfriend Yeter (Nursel Köse), Yeter’s daughter Ayten (Nurgül Yesilçay), Ayten’s girlfriend Lotte (Patrycia Ziolkowska), and Lotte’s mother, Susanne (Hanna Schygulla). One of the strengths of the film is the uniformly excellent cast, who make each story equally, and individually, compelling and all the more affecting when they come together. --jp
JellyfishJellyfish - JELLYFISH is one of those wonderfully magical films featuring multiple storylines that weave and bob until they each converge briefly before finding resolution. These storylines all focus on disappointment and the women who make up the bulk of the cast are sublime in conveying this difficult to capture emotion. Sarah Adler is powerful as the young woman adrift in life who can't seem to find an anchor or a cause to strive for. She fixates on spritely Nikol Leidman, whose unearthly portrayal of the little jellyfish baby is a marvel of child performances. Noa Knoller keeps Keren's new bride fairly superficial and self-absorbed for much of the film until the final revelations into her character, and the moving relationship that develops between Ma-nenita De Latorre's Joy and Zaharira Harifai's Malka is lovely to watch unfold. The one male role of any significance, Gera Sandler's Michael is also expertly handled. All of these roles work together to create a magnificent whole. --mrc
Synecdoche, New YorkSynecdoche, New York - Charlie Kaufman’s brilliant, haunting and indescribable film is a meditation on life, death, pain, loss, fear, disease, and, of course, performance. The ensemble cast simply could not be better, and casting here was obviosuy as crucially important as its conceit in the film narrative is. As Caden Cotard’s theatrical creation struggles under the sheer weight of its pretension and grandiose ambition, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s body and face likewise sag and falter, his disappointment and regret seeming to suffuse his skin with a sick pallor. As his wife Adele, the brief physical presence of Catherine Keener is layered with her aging voiceovers, whose dry painful coughs belie her vibrant lifestyle. Daughter Olive grows from an inquisitive youngster obsessed by her green poop (Sadie Goldstein) to a melancholy, accusatory woman (Robin Wiegert) who blames and reproaches Caden even as she lays dying. Her wife’s lover Maria is a German femme fatale played with irresistible ennui by Jennifer Jason Leigh. Bubbly, sensitive Hazel, Caden’s on and off love interest, is played by a radiant and voluptuous (who knew?) Samantha Morton, who ages into a calm, wise matron who works beside Caden with the patience of a vulture in a canyon full of cadavers. Emily Watson, frequently confused in real life with Morton, plays a version of her in Caden’s meta-spectacle, albeit a younger, sexier one. Hope Davis plays Caden’s narcissistic, oddly ethereal therapist. Michelle Williams is Caden’s second wife, an actress who may have the most honest and fearful attitude towards aging among the other characters. The too seldom-seen Tom Noonan plays an actor who’s been following Caden for years and demands to play him. And finally, stage and screen veteran Dianne Wiest is an actress who fills the seemingly innocuous but vital role of cleaning woman. There are many other fine performances here, too many to count, and if Kaufman’s directorial debut is any indication, there will be many, many more to come, in any number of thoughtful, unforgettable films. I just want to thank this guy every day for the strange beauty he’s infused into contemporary American cinema. --pa

Best Documentary

Man on WirewinnerMan on Wire - This documentary about the planning of Philip Petite's aerial walk between the Twin Towers played like a wild adventure story. Despite knowing the outcome, you can't stop anticipating the next step. The ineraction among Phillipe and his crew is great to watch, The resulting life changes after his walk only add to the emotional ups and downs. --bl
Chris & Don: A Love StoryChris and Don: A Love Story - CHRIS & DON: A LOVE STORY documents a romance between British writer, Christopher Isherwood and American painter, Don Bachardy, a relationship that lasted 30 years. The filmmaker uses archival footage, including some old home movies, and delightful animations created from cat-and-horse cartoons drawn by Chris and Don in their letters to one another. Most viewers will find their initial interest is in the couple’s age difference, which spanned 30 years. Bachardy was 18 years old and Isherwood was 48 when the couple first met.  Yet, what eventually makes the film so charming and interesting is Bachardy’s heartfelt reminiscences of the years he spent with Isherwood until his death in 1986. Almost independent of the fact that Isherwood was a well-known author, sophisticated, respected, and mature, we see Don Bachardy develop over the years to become a highly accomplished painter. The film includes many pieces of artwork created by Don Bachardy, some of the most beautiful and emotional of which are portraits that Don painted of Chris on his deathbed. In fact, the success of this film owes in large part to the great depth, intelligence, and insight viewers see in Don Bachardy as he narrates his memories of their life together. --bca
Encounters at the Edge of the WorldEncounters at the End of the World - Which is more alien: the exotic life that manages to survive in an inhospitable climate, or the people who've dedicated themselves to studying that life? Werner Herzog travels to Antarctica to find out who would make their home there. Herzog may have been expecting scientists and explorers, but he discovers the kind of dreamers he was drawn to back in Europe and the Americas. Of course, much of Herzog’s work focuses on the battle of man vs. nature (spoiler alert: nature usually wins), but in ENCOUNTERS, Herzog goes to the end of the earth to find man, if not winning, at least fighting nature to a stalemate. --bk & nc
My WinnipegMy Winnipeg - Guy Maddin took up the challenge from Canada's Discovery Channel to make a documentary about his hometown, and has created a fantastical confection of a film that explores the blurring of fact and fantasy that happens whenever anyone starts reminiscing on the town they love so well. As only Maddin can, he mixes stock footage with doctored b&w scene pastiches as he tells the story of his town, his family, and the pull of both upon him. It is inimitably a Maddin film, but it is also the story of a journey that we all can relate to: what does 'hometown' mean to me? --bcu
SurfwiseSurfwise - Doug Pray's documentary gives the audience an uncensored peek into the unconventional life and lifestyle of 1960's surf-and-sex-guru/cult-figure, Dorian “Doc” Paskowitz.  Educated at Stanford Medical School, he waded into  respectable society as a physician in the 1950's, but found himself stifled by the middle-class mindset with its focus on wealth, possessions, and social stature. Pray borrows from archival photos, stock surfing film-footage, and home movies made by family-members and students at Paskowitz' surf-camp, over which he conducts  extensive interviews with Paskowitz, his wife and children.  The commentary from  the Paskowitz children is astonishingly candid, describing their  unusual up-bringing  and education that served as both  bond and barrier between siblings – most of them have remained at least peripherally involved in the surf-camp as adults, even as they feuded over the issues of taxes,  ownership of the land, and the effort by one of the brothers to  create a financial success from their father's barely solvent brainchild. You'll  walk away from the film either admiring Paskowitz or despising him, but Pray  present an unabashed and uncensored portrait of a man who lives on his own terms and apologizes to no one. --kp

Best Short Film

Chlotrudis Award Winner!

Well-Founded ConcernsWell-Founded Concerns by Timothy Crawley (USA - 15 min.) – Nathan Weller is an unapologetic germophobe. Aside from his weekly group therapy, he lives in total isolation, happily spending his days in a sealed-off bubble of an apartment. That is, until a devastating plague hits, the outside world succumbs, and a knock on his hermetically-sealed window changes everything.

Tim CawleyTim Cawley comes from an advertising backgroundwhere he's written and produced hundreds of commercials for agencies in Minneapolis, Chicago, and Boston. In 2007, he wrote and directed Well-Founded Concerns. This is his first film.

Chlotrudis Award Runner-Up!

Parallel AdeleParallel Adele by Adele Pham (USA - 16 minutes) – Two half Vietnamese documentary filmmakers, both named Adele, weave a shared narrative of mixed Asian (hapa) experiences through interviews with 5 other hapa subjects. History, memory, and anecdotes on mixed race and ethnicity are represented by archival images, super 8 film, veritae, and interview.

Tara WhiteAdele Pham graduated from the Documentary Film Program at the New School in Spring 2008. She grew up in Portland, Oregon, and has been pursuing documentary and fiction filmmaking in New York City for the past four years. She also has a background in creative writing and design. Her film Parallel Adele has screened at the Philadelphia Asian American Film Festival, The Aurora Picture Show, APAture, the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival, and NYU.

Audience Award Winner!

AssaultGaining Ground (Land Gewinnen) by Marc Brummund (Germany - 20 min.) – A young illegal immigrant couple spends their time furtively avoiding the German authorities, until the wellbeing of their young son dictates that they resolve their untenable situation

Marc BrummundMarc Brummund was born in 1970. He studied Psychology and Journalism in Hamburg from 1991-1996, and Documentary Filmmaking in Bolzano from 1996-1999 and has directed numerous award-winning commercials. Since 2004, he has been studying Directing at the Hamburg Media School. His films include: the shorts Home (Heim, 2005), Outside (Draussen, 2005), Cow Tipping (Kuehe schubsen, 2005), and Gaining Ground (Land gewinnen, 2007).

Audience Award Runner-Up!

Mind the GapMind the Gap by Kristal Williams-Rowley (USA - 17 minutes) – Mind the Gap follows sixteen-year-old Sara Sullivan as she grapples with her father's inadvertent involvement in a classmate's suicide. Unfortunately, this is nothing new for Sara's family. As Sara explains, the average train engineer is likely to hit as many as 30 people over the course of his career. While Sara's school mourns the loss of one of their own, Sara views her father as the true victim of the incident. Through Sara's inner monologue, we're given entry into the tragic side of public transit, and become aware of the wall Sara has built up to protect herself, as well as her father from their grief.

Kristal Williams-RowleyKristal Williams-Rowley is a Boston University Film Production M.F.A graduate. She has worked as an entertainment reporter for XY TV in Boston, and as a production assistant for NBC,  Direct TV, and a teaching assistant for the New York Film Academy. In November 2007, she was awarded the Boston University Lalli Grant to direct the award winning script, Mind the Gap, written by Marcy Holland.  That same month she traveled to Madagascar to begin production  on a documentary addressing issues and challenges of development in this third world country.

Entropy and MeEntropy and Me by Car Nazzal (USA - 7 minutes) – A story of a chaotic, messy, cluttered room and the artist who lives inside of it. Trash, clothes, boxes, suitcases, pictures, books, moldy cups all pill up on the floor making it hard to tell where the room begins and ends. While she is comfortable with her room, her family and friends are not. Could such a disorganization be a work of art?

Car NazzalMy name is Car Nazzal. I am an independent filmmaker. I started making films at age twelve and stuck with it ever since. I shoot in 16mm, Super 8 and HD. I have experience with non-linear (Final Cut Pro) and linear editing. I have taken a number of film classes at De Anza College from Directing, 16mm I,II,III, and HD workshop. My passion is directing, and I am interested in learning as much as I can.

Lucky NumbersLucky Numbers by Garrick Hamm (UK - 12 min.) – Derrick is a number nut. He's in his own weird little world full of numbers. Through his obsession with counting Derrick is convinced he can predict the winning Lottery numbers and win the heart of the shows presenter Luscious Lucy. Ever the optimist. Derrick is convinced everyday will be his Lucky day. A story of hope and despair and lots of swearing. Things don't quite work out for Derrick but he wins something money can't buGarrick Hammy

Garrick Hamm is Creative Partner at London-based design consultancy Williams Murray Hamm. The ten-year-old business has been named 'Design Agency of the Year' twice, and is currently ranked both Number 1 in the UK Design Week Creative Survey and the DBA Design Effectiveness Table. He has been profiled in the Financial Times and Communication Arts and has just completed his first short film Lucky Numbers.


SpaceSpace by Mike Wilson (USA - 12 minutes) - Separated by stars, a girl and a boy attempt to rekindle their old romance. The girl works at a factory in space sewing space helmets for emergency evacuation. She is a slave. The boy lives in a paper house in the country. He has slept for a long time and when he awakes he is determined to meet the girl in space. Will his lightning bolt rocket ship carry him all the way through... Space!

Mike WilsonMike Wilson says, "I think of elaborate ideas, ones that if done in the most realistic way would require a huge warehouse, a crew of 50 and a $1,000,000 budget. However, after the initial idea is conceived, I have to come to terms with my budget of $500 and my crew of one or two and my studio space that is the size of a small living room. To compensate for my lack of money, help, and time, things must be reduced or compressed to fit the original idea. A car that was fully rendered in my imagination will become a flat printout of a car shot against a rear-projection screen. Instead of painting all of the houses in my neighborhood primary colors I will take a few discarded cookie boxes from work, hot glue the opening flaps into an arch and paint the town whatever color I like. My sets and props only have to endure long enough to be photographed. This being the case I don’t see the point in making complete objects, sketchy will do just fine."


VictoriaVictoria by Charles Sommer (USA - 12 minutes) -Victoria is a documentary short about a disheveled piano (Victoria) and the people who play her. Located in a homeless and low-income dining room in San Francisco, it could be argued that Victoria has never sounded so good.

Charles Sommer is a musician and documentary filmmaker living in San Francisco. After leaving his native Louisville, Kentucky eight years ago, Charles landed in San Francisco's Tenderloin district, working with the homeless and low-income at the Anthony Foundation Dining Room. He's been there ever since. Charles is in the beginning stages of a documentary about the stories of people who survived war in their home countries and emigrated to the Tenderloin -- just a few blocks from the birthplace of the United Nations.