Sundays tend to be a low-energy day for any film festival. Sure, the screenings are still packed, but the staff and visiting filmmakers usually move at a much slower pace after a late Saturday night full of general debauchery. Most Q&As are delivered with raspy, blown-out voices, like the one I watched THE LAKE EFFECT director Tara Miele deliver today with a charmingly fatigued smile.
This was the last day of the Phoenix Film Festival proper. Technically it extends through Thursday the 7th as many of PFF’s popular selections are replayed, but the visiting filmmakers will now be returning to their cities of origin, and all the parties, panels, and other non-screening activities ended tonight with the Copper Wing Awards ceremony.
This morning I hit the Arizona Shorts Program, which was more of a mixed bag than it had been in previous years but still contained some good work. And it afforded me the opportunity to burn with fierce jealousy over the awesome technical stuff director Paul DeNigris achieved with his entirely greenscreen-lensed FALLOUT.
Then I sat down for the aforementioned THE LAKE EFFECT, a well-acted and terrifically realized relationship dramedy about a guy who’s mid-life crisis forces him to finally grow up. I found it to be an an eerily relatable movie for me – almost too relatable. (This flick would take the Best Ensemble Acting and Best Screenplay awards that night. After seeing it, neither win was a surprise.)
The PFF staff does an excellent job with their award ceremony – they give it just enough attention to make the event feel important and special, but also move thru the process quickly enough so there’s no chance for any butts to get itchy, or for those who didn’t win to have to wait long before hitting the bar.
The Party Pavilion also had its Twitter Wall working again, where any tweets with the hashtag #phxfilm were projected in rotation on a large screen for the crowd to see.
When I noticed that the Copper Wing statuettes had been placed in a large group on a nearby table, I tweeted that I might just have to sneak over and snag one. Shortly thereafter I noticed a security guard had moved over to them, studying me with a less-than-amused expression.
Earlier in the week I’d been asked to present an award, but then tonight was told instead I was going to present two. “It’s because you’re funny,” they explained. Very flattering, of course, but once I know I’m expected to be funny usually I’m anything but. I was terrified of pulling a James Franco, and – naturally – this is exactly what happened. I was just glad my bit was over quickly so the “real” presenters could carry on with the task at hand.
Below is the list of the 2011 Phoenix Film Festival Copper Wing Award Winners:
A LITTLE HELP
WILD HORSE WILD RIDE
Ron Eyal, STRANGER THINGS
Tara Miele, THE LAKE EFFECT
Special Jury Prize for Cinematography
Greg Gricus, WILD HORSE WILD RIDE
Best Ensemble Acting Award
THE LAKE EFFECT
Dan Harkins Award for Breakthrough Filmmaker
Travis Betz, THE DEAD INSIDE
Volunteer of the Year Award
World Cinema Audience Award
ONE LONG WALL FOR CECILIA
Best World Cinema Feature
AS IF I’M NOT THERE
Best World Cinema Director
Ed Glass-Donnelly, SMALL TOWN MURDER SONGS
Best World Cinema Short
THE ROAD HOME
Best Animated Short
Best Live-Action Short
Best Arizona Short
Best College Short
Best Documentary Short
OLD PEOPLE DRIVING
Best Horror Feature
Best Horror Short
Best Sci-Fi Feature
Best Sci-Fi Short
PICTURE SHOW AT THE END OF THE WORLD
Following the awards, as one might expect, mindless and demented partying ensued.
And that’s my coverage of the 2011 Phoenix Film Festival! Liked what you read? Then make sure to submit your movie to the 2012 edition and see if you can experience it for yourself!
BONUS VIDEO – HOW TO MAKE A “FILMTINI”
This is the top-secret, off-menu drink at the Phoenix Film Festival. Only insiders know to order them… but now you can actually make your own! Watch below and see what goes into this diabolical concoction!
Paul Osborne is the director of OFFICIAL REJECTION, the acclaimed documentary about the experiences of independent filmmakers at film festivals. He also wrote and produced the indie feature TEN TIL NOON, and is currently raising funds via Kickstarter for his new film, the suspense drama FAVOR. Follow him at www.twitter.com/paulmakesmovies.