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By Film Threat Staff | April 18, 2008

The 2008 Sonoma Valley Film Festival presented nine film awards, following a celebratory week of food, wine, parties and premieres around the historic Sonoma town plaza in the heart of California wine country. The 11th annual Festival tallied the largest audience in its history, welcomed over 200 filmmakers and special guests, and screened more than 75 films from around the world.

Sonoma Valley Film Festival audiences voted on their favorite narrative and documentary films, and official juries awarded honors in five categories. At a packed Awards Ceremony, winners were presented with major cash awards and special prizes, as well as beautiful hand-blown glass wine decanters individually designed by Ryan Blythe and Blythe Glass Studios.

“The average scores in our audience balloting were our highest ever,” announced Executive Director Marc Lhormer, “and our jurors had a very difficult time selecting the winners due to the outstanding high quality of this year’s program of new independent films.”

The Neural-THX Award for Best Narrative Film, in conjunction with the McNeelys, which includes a $10,000 cash prize to the film’s director was awarded to: AMEXICANO, directed by Matthew Bonifacio

Best Documentary Feature: BEYOND BELIEF, directed by Beth Murphy

Best Animated Short (any length): ZOOLOGIC, directed by Nicole Mitchell

Best Live Action Short (under 15 minutes): THE POSTMAN, directed by Adam Bostock

Best Live Action Short (15 minutes or longer): NO. 6, directed by Robin Larson

Audience Award for Favorite Documentary Feature: ADJUST YOUR COLOR: THE TRUTH OF PETEY GREENE, directed by Loren Mendell

Audience Award for Favorite Narrative Feature: ELVIS AND ANABELLE, directed by Will Geiger

Special Jury Prize for Documentary Feature: UNSETTLED, directed by Adam Hootnick

Special Jury Prize for Narrative Feature: ELVIS AND ANABELLE, directed by Will Geiger

Special Mentions for Outstanding Comedic Shorts: JUST A SLICE, directed by Tim Tommasino and I’M PRETTY, TOO, directed by Matt Jespersen

A special award was also presented by Film Society Chairman Kevin McNeely to honor: Sonoma Valley Film Festival Executive Director Marc Lhormer and Co-Director Brenda Lhormer.

Award-winners also received a selection of sponsored gifts and prizes, including a high-end editing package contributed by Avid presented to the Best Documentary Film, and portable DVD players from LG Electronics presented to the three short film winners and the two audience award-winners.

Narrative Feature Jury:

  • Kirk Honeycutt, Chief Film Critic, Hollywood Reporter
  • Chris Gore, Founder, Film Threat
  • Michael Jones, Managing Editor Film Festivals, Variety

Documentary Jury:

  • Steve Shor, Writer and Producer
  • Marla Lewin Halperin, Producer, Writer and Publicist
  • Christina Khuly, Creative Director, Rogues Harbor Studios

Live Action Shorts Jury:

  • David Pierce, Actor
  • Paul Martin, Writer, Director, Producer
  • Jennifer Sloan, Executive Director, Arts Council of Sonoma County

Animated Shorts Jury:

  • A.J. Riebli, Pixar
  • James Murphy, Pixar
  • Paul Topolos, Pixar

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