The Bahamas International Film Festival ended on Sunday, December 12, 2004 after debuting in Nassau on the island of New Providence in the Bahamas. BIFF showcased 75 films and welcomed nearly 40 filmmakers and industry professionals in its inaugural year, December 9-12, 2004. Over four days, Festival guests experienced indoor and outdoor screenings, educational panels, receptions at historic Nassau locales, and various events and receptions around the island.
“It has been fantastic to see Bahamians show such passion and enthusiasm for the first Bahamas International Film Festival. Not only did they come out in force for regional cinema such as ONE LOVE and WHERE I’M FROM, Bahamians also embraced cinema from around the world such as MONDOVINO and BROTHER TO BROTHER. We look forward to next year’s Festival and the opportunity to bring leading independent cinema and filmmakers to the Bahamas and Bahamians once again.”
The Spirit of Freedom Competition section explores cinema, its potential to express the human spirit and how freedom pervades our lives. Showcasing a combination of narrative and documentary features, this section provides insight into the mosaic of cultures that make up our world. Mania Akbari’s 20 FINGERS (20 Angosht) was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for the Spirit of Freedom International Film Competition. The jury stated: “The grand jury prize for Spirit of Freedom goes to 20 FINGERS by Mania Akbari of Iran for her innovative style as well as the frank and honest exploration of love, sex, and marriage through the eyes of a woman traditionally suppressed in a fundamentalist religious society.” A film structured in episodes, 20 FINGERS explores the issues of men and women within the confines of tradition and family in Iran.
Enrique Pinyero’s WHISKEY ROMEO ZULU received an honorable mention. The jury stated: “We would also like to mention the personal bravery of WHISKEY ROMEO ZULU’s filmmaker, Enrique Pinyero of Argentina to expose the dangers of his profession, which resulted in his having to let go of his lifelong cherished dreams.” The film re-tells the events preceding the LAPA Airlines Boeing 737 crash on August 31, 1999 into midtown Buenos Aires that resulted in the deaths of 67 people. It exposes the collusion between the Air Force and the airline to evade air safety controls and maximize profits.
Two awards were given in the New Visions Section, which showcases films from first or second-time directors. The MODERN MAVERICK AWARD, sponsored by the Bank of the Bahamas, is given to an emerging filmmaker. Yann Samuell, director of LOVE ME IF YOU DARE received the first annual Modern Maverick Award. The jury stated: “LOVE ME IF YOU DARE receives the Modern Maverick Award for its risk taking ambition and its healthy embrace of audience’s expectations, in addition to demonstrating a superb control of film craft.” Roger Corman presented the award to the jury, who received it on behalf of Yann Samuell. The film describes the friendship of Julien and Sophie, who as adults continue the odd game they started as children—a fearless competition to outdo one another with daring and outrageous stunts.
At the same time, BIFF presented Roger Corman with an Honorary Modern Maverick Award in recognition of his extensive body of work and his contributions to the motion picture industry.
DORIAN BLUES was awarded the Torchlight Screenwriting Award for best screenplay in the New Visions Section. The jury stated: “DORIAN BLUES is awarded the best screenplay for its universally endearing content and spirit as well as the overall quality of the ensemble’s performance.” Director of the Torchlight Foundation Charlene Sullivan presented the award to Tennyson Bardwell, the director and screenwriter of DORIAN BLUES, a funny, quirky comedy that adds freshness to a coming of age story.
The filmBUZZ Audience Awards were also given to a Feature and Documentary film. Rick Elgood and Don Lett’s ONE LOVE received the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. Producer Yvonne Deutschman accepted the award. ONE LOVE is the story of Kassa, a free-wheeling Rasta man, who falls for a straight laced gospel singer Serena, when they both meet as they enter a music contest. Tom Peosay’s TIBET: Cry of the Snow Lion won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. TIBET powerfully chronicles the dark secrets of Tibet’s recent past through riveting personal stories and interviews, and a collection of undercover and archival images.
For more info, visit the Bahamas International Film Festival website.