Dallas International Film Festival awards over $100,000 in prizes

DALLAS – The Dallas International Film Festival presented by AutoNation Volkswagen Dealers announced its 2013 award winners at its annual gala, The Dallas Film Society Honors presented by the Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation. In an evening where independent film and filmmakers were celebrated for groundbreaking work, the award winners also took home cash and prizes totaling more than $100,000.

Two provocative films took top honors in the Narrative and Documentary Feature competitions. Hannah Fidell’s intense drama A TEACHER won the narrative category and Roger Ross Williams’ GOD LOVES UGANDA won in the documentary category.

The Narrative competition jury also gave Special Mentions to Matt Johnson’s debut feature film THE DIRTIES and Xavier Dolan’s LAURENCE ANYWAYS. Jessica Vale’s SMALL SMALL THING received a Documentary Feature Special Mention.

A Dallas-based festival is going to have strong contenders in the Texas Competition and the Texas Grand Jury saw several powerful films from across the state. In the end, it was PIT STOP, directed by Yen Tan and written by Tan and David Lowery that took home the $30,000 camera rental package courtesy of Panavision. The jury also gave a Special Mention for Ensemble Cast to Sean H. A. Gallagher’s GOOD NIGHT.

For the third year, Lauren Embrey presented the $10,000 Silver Heart Award courtesy of the Embrey Family Foundation. Inspired by the film’s courage and the need to necessitate change, Embrey said TOMLINSON HILL and its director Lisa Kaselak won the award as it most represented a filmmaker’s fearless storytelling and dedication to fighting injustices and creating social change for the improvement of humanity.

Kat Candler’s BLACK METAL won the Grand Jury Prize in the Shorts Competition while Robert Machoian’s MOVIES MADE FROM HOME #6 and #15 and Manuel Branaa’s BOWL FOR FUN AND HEALTH received Special Jury Prizes in that category.

Jeremy David White’s THE FIRST HOPE was awarded the Student Short Grand Jury Prize and Timothy Reckart’s HEAD OVER HEELS won the Animated Short Grand Jury Prize presented by Reel FX.

The winners of the Grand Jury Prizes for all the competitions will each receive Movie Magic Budgeting and Scheduling software bundles from Entertainment Partners.

This year’s Audience Award winners were Jordan Vogt-Roberts’ THE KINGS OF SUMMER in the Narrative Feature category, returning DIFF filmmaker Lucy Walker’s THE CRASH REEL for Documentary Feature and Timothy Reckart’s HEAD OVER HEELS in Shorts.

Presented by TXU Energy’s Sydney Seiger, director of brand management and marketing, cash grants for the TXU Energy “Light Up the Red Carpet” Student Film Contest were handed out to students from both high schools and colleges.  In both divisions, prize money in the form of scholarship funds is split evenly between the student and the school’s audio-visual department. Taylor Martin’s DAY IN, DAY OUT won the grand prize of $7,500 for Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas; Malak Abdallahi’s POSITIVE VIBES took the first place prize of $3,000 for Fossil Ridge High School; while Rachel Cocke’s THE ELECTRICITY BETWEEN US won a community choice award for Wakeland High School. Robert Ochoa and Baylor University will share the $7,500 award for THE GIANTS IN THE SKY; Samantha Gipson and the Art Institute of Dallas will share the $3,000 first place for THE MAKEOVER; and Jeremy Williams and Northlake College were awarded the $1,000 community choice prize for SPIRITS.

For presenting sponsor, Arthur E. Benjamin, The Dallas Film Society Honors was the culmination of a Festival in which he dedicated his sponsorship to the memory of his late friend, the beloved Larry Hagman.  Benjamin also premiered his own film CHAMPION at the Festival and was so moved by Steven Bernstein’s DECODING ANNIE PARKER starring Helen Hunt that he publicly vowed to help take the film worldwide when he saw it earlier in the week, thrilling the filmmakers and audience alike. A great success story for DIFF. Said Benjamin: “Annie Parker’s story is not just entertaining, moving, funny, heart-wrenching and uplifting, but it is a cinematic achievement that needs to be told to every human on the planet.”

Any soiree in this city would not be complete without a mention of the Dallas-shot television series “Dallas” and of beloved late Texas actor Larry Hagman. Dallas Film Society CEO Lee Papert introduced Ken Topolsky, producer of the series, to present the first of the evening’s Dallas Star Awards to Hagman. Known around the world for his role as the iconic oilman J.R. Ewing on Dallas as well as Captain Tony Nelson on “I Dream of Jeannie,” Hagman was also a dedicated philanthropist. In 2012, Hagman began the Larry Hagman Foundation, saying that it was “time that J.R., who took all that money from oil, and Larry, who took all that money he made from J.R., to give back to Dallas.”

To further honor Hagman and his 62-year-long career, Ryan Trimble, a representative of State Representative Dan Branch’s office, read a resolution from the Texas House of Representatives that a tribute be made to Hagman and “that this memory of his talent as an artist and generosity as a human being continue to inspire his fellow Texans.”

The charming Mary Elizabeth Winstead (SMASHED, SKY HIGH, SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, GRINDHOUSE, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD), was next to receive the Dallas Shining Star Award, and expressed, “I’m a little embarrassed by the riches that you’ve bestowed upon me since I’ve been here – such great hospitality. Thank you very much.”

The night was capped with the Dallas Star awards presented to Academy Award Winner William Friedkin (THE EXORCIST, THE FRENCH CONNECTION) and Sherry Lansing (FATAL ATTRACTION, THE ACCUSED, TITANIC).

Val Kilmer presented Friedkin’s award for his breadth of work and powerful storytelling ability. Lansing is recognized as a pioneer after arriving in Hollywood in the late 1960s when few women worked behind the scenes, ultimately becoming the first women president of a major studio. Though each accepted individually, they couldn’t help but acknowledge the other in their speeches, as they’ve been married for more than 20 years.

“When I was 30 years old, I saw a film called THE SORCERER, and I told my friend if I could only make a film, or be part of a film, like that someday, then I would know my career in the movie business had been worthwhile,” she said, speaking of the 1977 thriller directed by Friedkin.

“Sherry Lansing and William Friedkin epitomize the beautiful art of film,” noted James Faust, creative director of DIFF. “They were inspired by film, committed their own careers to the art, and now inspire others to do the same.  The entire night was about the inspiration that the art of film produces. The Dallas Film Society could not be more pleased with the outcome of the Festival and the Honors.”


Narrative Feature: A TEACHER

Dir:  Hannah Fidell

Special Mention: THE DIRTIES



Documentary Feature: GOD LOVES UGANDA

 Dir: Roger Ross Williams

Special Mention: SMALL SMALL THING


PANAVISION Texas Filmmaker Award: PIT STOP

Dir: Yen Tan

Special Mention, Ensemble Cast: GOOD NIGHT

Silver Heart Award: TOMLINSON HILL

Dir:  Lisa Kaselak

Grand Jury Prize Short: BLACK METAL

Dir: Kat Candler

Special Mention Short: MOVES MADE FROM HOME #6 & #15

Dir:  Robert Machoian

Special Mention Short: BOWL FOR FUN AND HEALTH

Grand Jury Prize for Student Short

Dir: Jeremy David White

Grand Jury Prize, Animated Short:  HEAD OVER HEELS

Dir: Timothy Reckart



DIR: Jordan Vogt-Roberts

Cast:  Alison Brie, Nick Offerman, Mary Lynn Rajskub


DIR: Lucy Walker 


DIR: Timothy Reckart


Grand Prize winner ($7,500 prize) – DAY IN, DAY OUT

DIR: Taylor Martin, student at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts in Dallas

First Place winner ($3,000 prize) – POSTIVE VIBES

DIR: Malak Abdallahi, student at Fossil Ridge High School

Community Choice winner ($1,000 prize) – THE ELECTRICITY BETWEEN US

DIR: Rachel Cocke, student at Wakeland High School


Grand Prize winner ($7,500 prize) – THE GIANTS IN THE SKY

DIR: Robert Ochoa, student at Baylor University

First Place winner ($3,000 prize) – THE MAKEOVER

DIR: Samantha Gipson, student at the Art Institute of Dallas

Community Choice winner ($1,000 prize) – SPIRITS

DIR: Jeremy Williams, student at Northlake College


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