"The Aryan Couple" and "39 Pounds of Love" Take Honors at Palm Beach International Film Festival
by Brian Brooks
The very busy slate of April film festivals marched on with the conclusion last week of the 10th annual Palm Beach International Film Festival, with John Daly's WWII drama "The Aryan Couple" taking the best feature film award and Dani Menkin's "39 Pounds of Love" receiving the fest's best documentary feature prize.
Daly's "The Aryan Couple" stars Martin Landau as a German/Jewish industrialist who is forced to give his successful business to the Nazis in order to ensure his family's safe passage out of Germany. "Aryan" actor Kenny Doughty won the festival's best actor award for his role in the film. Menkin's "39 Pounds of Love," meanwhile, is the story of Ami, and, according to a festival release, is "a man who while unable to move any part of his body, still manages to move each and everyone of us as he teaches us a part of life's intimate dance."
In other PBIFF honors, Jeff Hare took the best director for a feature prize for "Checking Out," about an Old Shakespearean actor who invites his three children to his suicide party. When they arrive, however, they move to convince their father that life is worth living. Actress Laura San Giacomo took the nod for best actress at the festival for her role in "Checking Out," which also closed the week-long event in the famed Florida town. The special jury prize for best feature went to "Human Touch," for its "ability to depict the awakening of the human spirit," while the award for best short film went to Javier Fesser's "Binta and the Great Idea," and a special mention was given to short "Things that Go Bump in the Night" by Adam Salky.
The features jury consisted of producers Jonathan D. Krane ("Basic," "Primary Colors,") and Elliot P. Geisinger ("Amityville Horror," "Child's Play"). Santa Barbara International Film Festival executive director Roger Durling and John Hall, director of distribution at Universal Studios served as jurors for shorts and documentaries.
Audience choice prizes were announced by actress Sally Kellerman during the awards ceremony on closing night in three categories. Best feature film went to "Night of the Dog," a world premiere film created with the collaboration of six filmmakers, Jaremy Catalino, Peter Donovan, Michael Patrick Burke, Esthon Nelms, Ian Nelms, and Peter Atencio. The group directed, produced, wrote and starred in the comedy about six friends on "an epic night out." Best documentary feature went to David Gaynes' "Keeper of the Kohn," a story of a man living with autism, while Jill Effron's "A Day in the Life of a Bathroom Key" took best short film in the audience category.
"I've been involved with the Palm Beach International Film Festival for a number of years now, and I'm very proud of the way things turned out this year," commented PBIFF's new director Hal Axler in a statement on the event. Palm Beach opened April 14th with Sal Litvak's comedy, "When Do We Eat" and screened over 150 films.