Fest Faves Take Top Honors in Atlanta: "Most High" and "The Boys of Baraka" Win Awards
by Vanessa Romo
"Most High" director, Marty Sader took highest honors at the 2005 Atlanta Film Festival, winning the narrative feature prize. The film, starring Sader alongside co-writer Laura Keys, has garnered multiple awards in the festival circuit throughout the past year. The best documentary feature award went to co-directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady for their festival favorite, "The Boys of Baraka." A second set of co-directors, this time twin sisters Lisa Lax and Nancy Stern, received the festival's audience award for their documentary, "Emmanuel's Gift."
Sader's "Most High" about a guy whose life goes from being perfectly normal to a complete state of crises after the death of his adoptive father catapults him into a full blown addiction to crystal meth, has been a favorite on the 2004/2005 festival circuit. At the 2004 Hampton International Film Festival, Sader received the prestigious Golden Starfish Award and over $180,000 in goods and in-kind services. (He has since used a portion of the prize money mentoring teens, helping them to make short films.) And at Chicago's 2004 Indiefest, Sader picked up the best actor, best director and best picture awards for himself and shared the best screenplay award with Keys.
The award for Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady's "The Boys of Baraka," is the fourth for the documentary. Earlier this month the doc about a group of troubled Baltimore teens selected to participate in a two- year rehabilitation program in Kenya was honored with the Grand Jury prize at the Newport International Film Festival, Silverdocs Film Festival's Audience Award and, in March, SXSW's Special Jury Prize.
Other festival winners in the short film category were Samantha Davidson Green's "Dead End Job" taking home a gold star for best student short, Robert Castillo's "S.P.I.C. The Storyboard of My life Getting Suspended" which nabbed best animated short and Therese Schecter's "How I Learned to Speak Turkish" honored as best documentary short.
The nine-day 29th Atlanta Film Festival opened on June 8th, screening over 150 films and videos from around the world, including works produced by Georgia filmmakers. Spike Lee was the honorary guest at the 2005 IMAGE Awards ceremony receiving the first Ossie Davis Award for innovation in filmmaking. And although the film that drew the greatest attendance was the Turner Classic Movies sponsored screening of Alfred Hitchcock's classic, "The Birds," with an audience reported at 10,000, screenings of "Hustle & Flow," "The Dying Gaul," "The Lady From Sockholm," "Rize," "9 Songs" and "Yes" boasted sold out shows.