By Peter Knegt | Indiewire April 8, 2009 at 9:36AM
David Miller's "My Suicide" was the major winner at the 14th Annual Gen Art Film Festival, which announced its winners at last night following the screening of closing night film "Finding Bliss."
"By all measures this has been our most successful festival to date," said Jeffrey Abramson, Gen Art VP of Film, in a statement. "We sold out all screenings and passes - and the majority of the 14 filmmakers were on hand the entire week to support each other's films, which created an incredible feeling of encouragement, camaraderie and excitement which was absolutely contagious."
Gen Art, which showcased seven features and seven shorts from emerging filmmakers, bestowed the Acura Grand Jury Award for Best Feature went to "My Suicide," and the Acura Grand Jury Award for Best Short went to Liliana Greenfield-Sanders' "Adelaide." Prizes of $10,000 and $5,000 were presented to the winners, respectively. Both films also took home the Festival's Audience Awards. "Suicide"'s Gabriel Sunday also was honored with the "Stargazer Award" honoring breakout talent for excellence in acting. The triple win for "My Suicide" follows on the heels of its win of the Crystal Bear Award at the Berlin International Film Festival.
"David Miller is a pied piper of filmmaking," Abramson told indieWIRE. "His immediate and extended family is filled with such incredible creativity and support it's difficult to not catch the fever. The comraderie that was built across all of this year's filmmakers and talent was infectious and spread to the audience as well. Only at Gen Art can one experience such focussed attention and energy."
Miller's "Suicide" is a frenetic, intense portrait of Archie (Gabriel Sunday), a teenager who chronicles his isolated high school existence through the lens of a video camera. Archie causes a serious stir when announces his video class project will detail his own suicide, which subsequently leads him (and the viewer) on a cautionary journey that explores the social repercussions of the complex technology available to today's youth. Miller's unique collaboration with a group of young media artists, including Sunday and Miller's son, Jordan J. Miller, who co-wrote and co-edited the film, brings a authenticity to the film rarely seen in examinations of youth.
"Jordan - who is also my son - was a freaky young filmmaker and was about 13, 14 showing his extreme sports movies and being on panels at Sundance," Miller said at the film's Gen Art screening Saturday night. "We started a youth group together called Regenerate, that basically works with young artists to create media for other young people on important issues like suicide - which is the number two killer of our young people. And we would just sit around going, what movie could we make that would fit the mission of our group? And we came up with this idea, and we've been working on it for four years."
"Suicide" next screens at the San Francisco International Film Festival.