The Bahamas International Film Festival (BIFF) wrapped up its third annual celebration of films, events and panels presented amidst idyllic Bahamian settings on December 10th, 2006, with its Awards presentation and Closing Night bash surrounded by the pools of sharks, colorful fish and stingrays nestled among the tropical beauty of the Atlantis Paradise Island Resort, one of the festival’s Founding Sponsors along with the Islands of The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism. The Bahamas International Film Festival surely is “Cinema In Paradise.”

BIFF showcased a slate of fifty narrative, documentary and short films over the festival’s four days. “The high caliber of representation of films presented this year’s was incredible,” says Leslie Vanderpool, the Festival’s Founder & Executive Director. “There were significant messages from many countries with a special concentration in the Caribbean.”

The Festival presents three juried competition categories; the “Spirit of Freedom” (both Narrative and Documentary sections) presented by Chopard, and the “New Visions” award going to the filmmaker in the Narrative section presented by Hard Rock Café. Audience Awards, in which all festival films are eligible, are also presented in the categories of Best Narrative Feature and Best Documentary.

The Festival’s Executive Director, Leslie Vanderpool, welcomed the participants and thanked the filmmakers, guests, honrees, sponsors and Board. She then brought on BIFF’s Chairman of the Board, Mr. Andrew Law, who introduced the competitions, jurors and presenters.

The ‘Spirit of Freedom’ is the theme of the Grand Jury Competition, as each cinema artist explores the potential of the human spirit and how freedom pervades our lives. With a combination of narrative and documentary features, this showcase provides insight into the mosaic of cultures that make up our world.

The 2006 BIFF ‘Spirit of Freedom’ Narrative Feature Film Award was presented by Chopard’s Rodney Chee-A-Tow, with the following jury statement: “For powerfully and empathically portraying a cautionary time in our shared human history, the ‘Spirit of Freedom’ Narrative Award is presented to the fully realized…”

CHRONICLES OF AN ESCAPE [Crónica de una fuga] (2006, Argentina), Directed by Israel Adrián Caetano, and starring Rodrigo De la Serna, Pablo Echarri, Nazareno Casero.

Jurors for the Spirit of Freedom: Narrative Competition include: Film Publicist Mickey Cottrell, Agent/Manager Breanna Benjamin, Producer Molly Mayeaux.

The 2006 BIFF ‘Spirit of Freedom’ Documentary Competition Award was presented by Chopard’s Rodney Chee-A-Tow to:

ENCOUNTER POINT (2006, Israel/Palestine), Directed by Ronit Avni & Julia Bacha, and starring Ali Abu Awwad, Sami Al Jundi, Robii Damelin, Shlomo Zagman. Co-Director Ronit Avni was on hand to accept the award.

Jurors for the Spirit of Freedom: Documentary Competition include: Human Rights Activist Clint Kemp, Hamptons Film Festival Artistic Director/Berlinale Selection member Rajendra Roy, Co-President of Zeitgeist Films Emily Russo.

The 2006 BIFF New Visions Competition Award was presented to:

HALF NELSON (2006, US), Directed and co-written by Ryan Fleck, Starring Ryan Gosling, Anthony Mackie, Stephanie Bast. Director/Writer Ryan Fleck and Writer/Producer/Editor Anna Boden were on hand to accept their award.

The Jury Has also selected a Special Jury Prize film for Honorary Mention:

PREMIUM (2006, US), Directed by Pete Chatmon and starring Zoe Saldana, Dorian Missick, Hill Harper. Director Pete Chatmon was on hand to accept his award.

Jurors for the New Visions Competition include: Filmmaker/Actress Sara Driver, Moving Pictures Editor Elliot Kotek, and President of Shoreline Entertainment Morris Ruskin.

The Audience Awards were presented by Mr. Kelly Mondesir from sponsor FedEx Express.

The 2006 BIFF Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to:

JOHNNY SLADE’S GREATEST HITS (2006, USA), Directed by Larry Blamire, and starring John Fiore, Vincent Curatola, Robert Giardina. Star John Fiore was on hand to accept the Award.

The 2006 BIFF Audience Award for Best Documentary went to:

ELEUTHERAN ADVENTURE (2006, Bahamas), Directed by Kareem Mortimer Director Kareem Mortimer was on hand to accept the Award.

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