Newport Beach Wraps, "Love Stories" Takes Grand Jury Award
by Mark Rabinowitz
The Newport Beach International Film Festival ended this year's event over
the weekend, with 11 films winning the 10 awards -- there was a tie in the
Audience Award category. The Grand Jury Award went to Jerzy Stuhr's
"Love Stories" from Poland, while Paula Goldberg's "Traveling Companion"
took home the Executive Director's Award.
The Pacific Bell Mobile Services Audience Award was split between two
award winning festival vets, Will Geiger's "Ocean Tribe" (1997 LAIFF
award winner) and Tom Rooney's "You Are Here" (1997 Fort Lauderdale
International Film Festival award winner). George Hickenlooper picked up
the American Express Best Director Award for his fest vet, "Dogtown,"
while Adam Kreutner picked up the Maverick Award for "Cicles."
Karl Hirsch walked off with the Breakthrough Film Award for "Green," and
the Short Cinema Journal Short Film Award went to Lievon Debrauwer's
"Leonie" from Belgium. Australia's Tahir Cambis picked up the
Documentary Award for his film "Exile in Sarajevo, the Student Film
Award went to "Fircraker" by Victor Vu and the BSMG Worldwide Film
Marketing Award went to "A Definite Maybe," directed, written and
produced by Rob Lobl and Sam Sokolow.
indieWIRE spoke with enthusiastic festival Executive Director Jeff
Conner, who seemed pleased with the event. "Attendance was up
dramatically, we had just shy of 16,000 people attending (the
festival)," adding, "We were able to refine the festival the way we
wanted it for the first time, with the local community and the Hollywood
community starting to understand what we're doing."
The 3rd year event hosted 107 films from 31 countries, and out of the
600-plus films submitted, Conner indicated that they were able to screen
quite a few U.S. and world premieres. In addition, distributor activity
was up, with representatives from Goldwyn, Cineville, Horizon
films and SoHo Entertainment in attendance. In addition, two films
traveled north to Los Angeles for screenings at MGM, mid-fest.
While still in the midst of the festival "post-mortem," Connor is
already looking ahead to the coming year. This year's festival had a
Cine Cafe, "a tented area for the distributors and filmmakers to meet,"
but plans for next year call for some expansion." (The Cine Cafe) was
sort of the first step. We're going to make a more active structured
Business Mart at the next festival." In addition, there are plans to
expand upon the screenplay readings already in place by adding a
Conner also told indieWIRE that the festival would soon be starting the
Film Society of Orange County, kicking off with an event in June of this
year. The society will program a year-round schedule of premieres,
screenings and events.