"The Cruise" and "Anima" Nab Multiple Prizes at first Newport Fest
by Eugene Hernandez
Heralded in the local media as an important new festival by Miramax topper
Harvey Weinstein, the innaugural Newport Film Festival came to a close this
weekend. Craig Richardson's dramatic feature, "Anima", and Bennett Miller's
documentary, "The Cruise", were big winners at the Rhode Island event.
Each received two awards on Saturday night, during a ceremony at the
famed Hammersmith Farm in the upscale seaside community. Miller's
acclaimed documentary, "The Cruise", took the documentary audience award
and was also given a special jury prize, while Richardson's hometown entry,
"Anima", nabbed the jury award for Best American Feature along with
the "Claiborne Pell Award for Original Vision" for the filmmaker.
Niek Koppen's "The Hunt", a portrait of an English fox hunting master,
won the jury prize for best documentary, and jurors also singled out Bob
Pulcini and Shari Berman's "Off The Menu: The Last Days of Chasens"
with a special jury prize. "Chasens" has screened at numerous festival's
since closing the 1997 LAIFF, and has won numerous awards, including
a top prize at the 1997 Hampton's International Film Festival.
Elizabeth Schub's "Cuba 15", which premiered in The Hampton's last year,
and will soon air on the PBS program P.O.V., was awarded a jury prize
for documentary short-subject. In the dramatic category, George Krikkos'
"That Was You", received the audience prize, while Raymond Boy took
the jury's short-subject narrative prize and Jean Bach's short film "The
Spitball Story" won the audience award.
For Bennett Miller's "The Cruise", which indieWIRE has been following
since its debut at the LAIFF, the dual award win this weekend caps a
three-festival run that included a stop at docfest in New York last weekend.
Accepting the audience prize, a small wooden toy boat dubbed "The Lucy",
Miller thanked the exhuberant crowd and was joined at the microphone by
the subject of his film, Timothy "Speed" Levitch. On the heels of a
standing ovation reception at the screening the previous night, Levitch
beamed, "I'd like to dedicate this award to Edith Wharton who spent a lot
of time trying to get respect in this town."
In the case of Craig Richardson's "Anima", the recognition is especially
poignant given that the filmmaker lives and works in nearby Jamestown,
Rhode Island. The two awards add to the recognition the film has
already received, including a premiere spot at the Athens Film Festival
last fall, and a recent popular screening at the Gen Art Film Festival in
Other award winners included Majid Majidi's "Children of Heaven" (Iran),
selected as the Best Foreign Film; Vladimir Michalek winner of Best
Director Award for his film, "Forgotten Light" (Czech Republic); and Will
Patton, for his role in "OK Garage" which premiered at the 1998 LAIFF.
[An additional report from the Newport International Film Festival will be
published soon in indieWIRE.]