Fifteen awards were announced today in the Fear No Film portion of the Utah Arts Festival, including a Grand Jury Prize, Utah Short Film of The Year, Fear No Filmmaker Award, three honorable mentions and the best short film in each of the seven ‘boundaries’ categories around which the film festival was organized as well as two awards in the kids’ film category.
The Grand Jury Prize for Best of Show went to The Story of a Rainy Night from Iran, directed by Mehdi Fard-Qaderi, which had its third appearance in a U.S. film festival. This film was produced by Iran’s Youth Cinema Association and its narrative is about an elderly man who is celebrating his birthday and takes a new look at the relationships among his grown children. Regrettably, many in the West are subjected to media reports that demonize Iranians and subvert portrayals as loving families that face the same emotional challenges we find ourselves coping with daily. This film fills the gap elegantly with sincere emotion and empathy.
Winning the Utah Short Film of The Year prize is Wildlife, directed by Ryan Darst. Definitely an exemplar of what enterprising independent filmmakers can achieve, the filmmakers shot and set this story of revenge in Springville, Utah, a quiet small town that, however, is marked by the undercurrent explosive tensions of two different ways of life. In one neighborhood, there are two houses of interest in the story: one where the daughter is barely hanging on to her family’s religiously centered connections by way of antidepressant medication and the other across the street where a kingpin dealer and addict terrorizes his younger brother. Both are desperate to escape. The film, which played at Cannes, is actually a prologue of a forthcoming feature film. Familiar faces in this film with actors Whit Hertford, Lauren Lapkus and Jon Heder.
The Fear No Filmmaker Award went to Riccardo Di Gerlando from Italy who directed 33 giri. This 14-minute film (‘giri’ translates as ‘laps’) is a courageously expressive story, definitely driven by poetry more than by dialogue, about disability and an authentic portrayal about the condition as well as the desire for self-sufficiency. The technical quality of the filmmaking underscore the film’s impressive artistic statement.
Three short films, with solid festival portfolios already developed, also earned Grand Jury Honorable Mentions:. The first is Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution, New York, directed by Matthew VanDyke, filmed in Aleppo, Syria and featuring Nour [Kelze, producer of the film] a teacher now working as a journalist, and Mowya, a rebel fighter who spent seven months in prison being tortured by Assad’s henchmen. The second is Bad Vibrations (Malas Vibraciones), from Spain and directed by Flavia Santos, about a man, fastidious about keeping his life in order, who becomes extraordinarily obsessed with trying to explain the reason for his wife having a dildo, which he discovered in her personal belongings. The third is Love and Commando from France and directed by Laurent Ardoint and Stéphane Duprat, which sets the story of a World War II lieutenant trying to handle the simultaneous expectations of his personal life and military duty in a 14-minute musical. The film has earned three prizes at international festivals.
“What a great year for Fear No Film, with multiple highlights and keystone films. Several audience awards were decided by just a few votes, which couldn’t thrill me more,” Topher Horman, director of the program, says. “Audiences clearly loved the wide range of films. I’m honored to receive, and program, such amazing works from around the world. Fear No Film at the Utah Arts Festival is on the map for global filmmakers, and I’m excited to provide our very film-savvy viewers a glimpse into stories and artistic communities usually unavailable to many Americans, in addition to showcasing several notable Utah-produced short films. Congratulations to all of this year’s filmmakers.”
Fear No Film, held in the City Library auditorium, had full houses for many of its screenings, Horman adds. Also, the two screenings of film shorts exclusively for kids in the Art Yard proved to be a rousing success. Fear No Film is the festival’s fourth largest program.
Now in its 13th year, Fear No Film, which featured 55 shorts, has come into its own as an international event, attracting a record of nearly 500 submissions from around the world. This year’s lineup comprised 16 films from Utah, 8 from other states in the country and 31 from outside of the United States. A festival jury of filmmaking and media industry peers along with audience members selected the festival winners.
Audience award winners included the following:
Filmmaker Impulse: Discover why these artists felt compelled to create their films. — Not Anymore: A Story of Revolution, Matthew VanDyke, New York
Audience Impulse: Experience how each of these films elicit an audience reaction or a shared moment. — T.P., Bob Blevins and Bradly Werley, Illinois
Physical Impulse: Identify how our basic impulses such as breathing and our will to live aren’t always so simple. — Birthday, Chris King, California
Mental Impulse: Examine how mental impulses often initiate through our memories, imagination and emotions. — Cinnamon, Shahid Kamal, United Kingdom
Soul Impulse: Identify urges ranging from the subconscious to the spiritual. — Made of Stone, Sebastian Olivari, Chile
Impulse to Connect: Investigate ways we connect with each other. — The Story of a Rainy Night, Mehdi Fard-Qaderi, Iran
Impulse to Disconnect: Explores the anxieties of living in isolation, bad breakups, and separation from ideals. — our perfect first date, Desiree Lavoy and Eytan Millstone, New York
Fear No Film KIDS! Award:
3 and up: Viva La Roach!, Sameer Al Jaberi, United Arab Emirates
8 and up: I’ve Just Had a Dream, Javier Navarro, Spain