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By Film Threat Staff | April 12, 2006

The Sarasota Film Festival Competition, Audience Awards and Filmmaker Honorees were announced at the annual black-tie Filmmakers’ Tribute Dinner hosted by the Longboat Key Club & Resort, the Official Resort of the Sarasota Film Festival, on Saturday evening, April 8th, 2006.

The evening, which was introduced by Dinner Chair Mary Ann Robinson, Board President Neil McCurry, Festival Executive Director, Jody Kielbasa and Master of Ceremonies, Joe Pantoliano (who was in for the screening of his new film, THE AMATEURS), is where the Festival pays tribute to its filmmaker Honorees and Award Winners, including the distinguished recipient of the Regal Entertainment Group’s Career Achievement Award. This year’s Honoree is a great friend of the Sarasota Film Festival, a Golden Globe and EMMY Award winner, Academy Award® nominee, and incredibly talented Producer/Writer/Actor/Director, William H. Macy. Previous honorees of the Regal Entertainment Group’s Career Achievement Award include Jon Voight, Alan Alda, Sydney Pollack, Richard Dreyfuss, Robert Benton and Leslie Caron. In addition to Mr. Macy, the talented filmmakers to be honored that evening were Academy Award® nominated Actress Felicity Huffman, honored with the Breakthrough Performer Award; Director/Screenwriter Robert Towne, honored with the Excellence in Filmmaking Award; Producer Paula Wagner was the recipient of the Excellence in Producing Award; and the inaugural recipient of the Florida Medal of the Arts, a prize to be rarely given which honors an artist that has changed the way we perceive his or her art form, recent Academy Award® Honoree, Director Robert Altman.

Serving as presenters for the Filmmaker Honorees were actor Jason Ritter (in town for his film OUR VERY OWN) who gave the award to Felicity Huffman; SFF Board Chairman Dr. John Welch who presented to Robert Towne; SFF Advisory Board member and Creative Artists Agency topper Rick Nicita who presented to Paula Wagner; Regal Cinemas Fred Buffum who presented to William H. Macy; and the President of Film Florida Ed Stramm who was on hand to re-introduce William H. Macy who presented the Tribute to Robert Altman. Festival programmer Tom Hall announced the Jury Competition Awards, while our snazzy Master of Ceremonies Joe Pantoliano did the honors for the Audience Awards, and Festival Chairman, Dr. John Welch, joined by SFF Executive Board member Gerd Petrik, announced the Young Filmmaker and Scholarship Awards.

Among this year’s Competition Jury members were: Narrative Feature Competition: Picturehouse Executive Vice President Marian Koltai-Levine, Entertainment Weekly film critic Lisa Schwarzbaum, York Times journalist Stephanie Zacharek. Best Documentary Feature Competition: indieWIRE journalist Brian Brooks, Filmmaker Jonathan Caouette, Producer Randy Finch, VP of Acquisitions & Distribution at Wellspring Marie Therese Guirgis. Independent Visions Competition: Submarine’s Josh Braun, IFC Films VP of Acquisitions Sarah Lash, and Screenwriter and Film Threat Magazine Editor Chris Gore.

Each of the competition awards carries a $5,000 cash prize for the filmmaker.

The 2006 Narrative Feature Competition Award was presented to OLD JOY, directed by Kelly Reichardt, and starring Daniel London and Will Oldham.

A Special Jury Prize was presented by the Narrative Feature jury to THE DEATH OF MR. LAZARESCU, directed by Cristi Puiu, and starring Ion Fiscteanu and Luminita Gheorghiu.

The 2006 Documentary Feature Competition Award was presented to CLEAR CUT: THE STORY OF PHILOMATH, OR, directed by Peter Richardson.

A Special Jury Prize was presented by the Documentary Feature jury to BLACK SUN, directed by Gary Tarn.

The 2006 Independent Visions Competition Award was presented to FIND LOVE, directed by Erica Dunton.

A Special Jury Prize for Screenwriting was presented by the Independent Visions jury to SOMEBODIES, written and directed by Hadjii.

A Special Jury Prize for Originality was presented by the Independent Visions jury to WILD TIGERS I HAVE KNOWN, directed by Cam Archer.

The Young Filmmakers Showcase, featuring original short works by inspired young filmmakers from Manatee and Sarasota Counties presented the Best Director Award and $1,000 Scholarship, to Bryce Bochan (Booker High School) for the film CHASER GREEN; Best Screenplay and $500 Scholarship to Nicole Bucchino (Lakewood Ranch High School) for her film BLACK; and the Best Actor Award to 16 year-old Parker Lawler from Osprey for his work in the film RED WAGON CONFESSIONS.

The Best Short Family Film Award was presented to director Mitra Sen for her film THE PEACE TREE, which was chosen by a jury of 6 young cineastes, ranging from elementary to high school grades, all with an avid appetite for film: Dan Cuesta, Ross Morris, Deter Hudson, Saramaile Tate, Chantal Guerro, Alex Vercheski.

The Gerd Petrik Scholarship of $1,000 was awarded to Aaron R. Sexton of Manatee Community College in Bradenton, FL; The Dr. John Welch Scholarship of $1,000 was awarded to Chen Shalem, a graduate student from Israel in his first year at Florida State University’s Film School; Film Florida’s Sara Fuller Student Scholarship of $500 was awarded to Danny Daneau, Director of the short film, November Guest, in this year’s Shorts Program. Danny is a graduate student in the Film School at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.

Following the presentation of the Scholarship winners, Executive Director Jody Kielbasa presented the Pinnacle Award to Gerd Petrik for his unflagging support of the Sarasota Film Festival

Special recognition goes to winners of our Audience Favorite Awards for Best Narrative Feature, Best Documentary, Excellence in World Cinema, and Best Short Film. Each category carries a $1,000 cash prize presented to the filmmaker.

An Ensemble Award In Acting was presented earlier in the week at Luncheon Under The Banyans to OUR VERY OWN with Mary Badham, Allison Janney, Jason Ritter with director Cameron Watson on hand.

The 2006 Sarasota Film Festival Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature to NEO NED from director Van Fischer.

The 2006 Sarasota Film Festival Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature to ABEL RAISES CAIN by directors Jennifer Abel and Jeff Hockett.

The 2006 Sarasota Film Festival Audience Award for Best In World Cinema to LADY VENGEANCE by director Chan-Wook Park.

The 2006 Sarasota Film Festival Audience Award for Best Short Film to DAMMI IL LA by Matteo Servente

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