Congratulations to both Chris Eska and Cynthia Wade for their triumphs this past Saturday and Sunday nights. First Chris wins the John Cassavetes Award (for best feature made for under $500,000) at the Independent Spirit Awards, where his film, AUGUST EVENING, was also nominated for Best Actor. This beautifully shot, touching work about families, children, responsibility, and love focuses on an aging, undocumented farm worker and his young, widowed daughter-in-law as their lives are thrown into upheaval. With its honest relationships and superb acting, this is a stunning feature debut. AUGUST EVENING screens Saturday, March 29 and Friday, April 4 as part of the Narrative Feature Competition in this year’s 17th annual Florida Film Festival.
The next night Chris’ victory was followed by Cynthia Wade’s emotional win of the Best Documentary Short Subject Oscar at the Academy Awards. Her outstanding film, FREEHELD, which I’m proud to say Enzian helped qualify by booking it for a 2-day run this past summer, chronicles the poignant story of terminally ill New Jersey Police Lieutenant Laurel Hester as she struggles to fight discrimination and transfer her pension to her domestic partner Stacie before she dies. Already a winner of the Sundance Special Jury Prize in 2007, it was no surprise that the combination of such an important subject and such skillful filmmaking (already on display years ago when Cynthia’s doc feature, SHELTER DOGS, played the 2003 FFF) brought home the gold.