Denver Film Fest Honors Debut Feature "Brooklyn Bound" and "WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception" in Prizes at 27th Event
by Brian Brooks
Debut feature "Brooklyn Bound" by Rich Devaney received the first annual juried Best Emerging Filmmaker award at the 27th Starz Denver International Film Festival, which showcased 189 films from around the world in the Mile High City from October 14-24. Set in inner-city Brooklyn, the film, co-written with lead actor Thomas Guiffre, follows "two brothers who attempt to navigate the drug and violence infused streets." Honorable mention in the category was given to Ferenc Toth's feature focusing on a man's journey through despair, "Unknown Soldier."
Writer/director Danny Schechter's film "WMD: Weapons of Mass Deception" won the Maysles Brothers Award for Best Documentary. The film, investigates the onset of the American invasion of Iraq and how it received an "uncritical" view by the American commercial media. The film also delves into what it views as the "Bush Administration's premeditated and controlled shaping of public opinion." Acclaimed documentarian Albert Maysles presented the award to Schechter at the festival.
Two films won Denver's Krzysztof Kieslowski Award for best film. Latvian filmmaker, Laila Pakalnina's feature about a group of pranksters antagonizing a school's headmistress in, "Python," shared the prize with Zrinko Ogresta's "Here." The film is described by the event as "a series of mini-stories depicting contemporary life in morally adrift Croatia."
In audience prizes, actor/director Jerry Stuhr's "Tomorrow's Weather," the story of a monk who emerges from a monastery after a 17-year self-exile to find himself confronted with his former self, won the prize in the best feature category, while Leslie Sullivan's "A Touch of Greatness" received the nod in the documentary category. "Greatness" centers on educator Albert Cullum, considered a pioneer in his field, who utilizes unorthodox educational practices to teach his elementary school classes about literary notables including Shakespeare, Sophocles and George Bernard Shaw.
In other honors, SDIFF presented actor Morgan Freeman with its Mayor's Lifetime Achievement Award, while actor Kevin Bacon received the John Cassavetes Award. Next year, the Starz Denver International Film Festival will move its dates to November 10-20, 2005.