The 15th annual Stony Brook Film Festival (SBFF) completed its ten-day run this past Saturday with an awards reception where the festival’s winners were awarded, and the East Coast premiere of Bruce Beresford’s “Mao’s Last Dancer.” The night’s big winner at the ceremony, held on the Staller Center Main Stage at Stony Brook University, was “Five Star Day,” written and directed by Danny Buday, which won the Best Feature Jury Award. Buday was on hand to collect the prize for his film which stars “Twilight” heartthrob Cam Gigandet and indie darling Jena Malone.
Director Su Turhan was also in attendance, and went home with the Best Feature, Audience Choice Prize for “Ayla.” In an interesting turn of events, Turhan tied with director Kaspar Hedelbach, who was awarded the same prize for his film “Berlin 36.” Funnily enough, both films hail from Germany and feature strong female protagonists. “Berlin 36” is set in Hitler’s Germany, while “Ayla” provides a glimpse into the lives of Turkish families currently living in Germany.
Ben Sombogaart’s “The Storm,” which had its U.S. premiere as the festival’s opening night film, meanwhile went on to be recognized for Outstanding Achievement in Filmmaking by the jury, as it was out of competition. “Stony Brook Film Festival was honored to have this film,” said Alan Inkles, the founder and director of the festival, in a press statement. “The powerful response that included an extended standing ovation was impossible to ignore. We felt the extraordinary work merited a special award.”
In addition, the festival awarded Kathi Carey’s “Worth” the Best Short Film, Audience Choice Award, and Christina Rubinstein’s “Unrest,” the Best Short Film, Jury Award.