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Colby, The Babushkas of Chernobyl, Empty Space, and Until Proven Innocent are the winners of top 2016 Lighthouse International Film Festival awards. The 8th edition of the festival ran June 9 to 12.

Complete list of winners of 2016 Lighthouse International Film Festival awards

Grand Jury Award – Best Narrative Feature: Colby directed by Alex Markman, Jake Fuller
Shot almost exclusively on LBI, Alex Markman”s breakout feature film spins the story of its title character, a troubled young drifter stranded in a small beach town, who breaks into a wealthy home and cons her way into the good graces of the family that lives there. Stephanie Brait gives a pitch-perfect performance as Colby, a young woman harboring an inner battle that sways like the ocean she finds herself facing. Taking a deep look at a complex, intricate character, the film portrays a singular vision that always takes the most interesting roads along its journey.

Special Jury Award for Ensemble Performance: West Coast directed by Benjamin Weill
Four inseparable teenagers face the looming summer in a small town in Brittany (France). As lifelong fans of the West Coast rap scene, they think they are real gangstas. Together as a “gang”, they are invincible, respected, fearless and nothing can reach them, certainly not the teasing and contempt of their fellow classmates. So when Fle-O, the leader of this merry gang learns that he has to leave his town and his friends at the end of the year, his whole world falls apart. With one last expedition together in store, they find it will lead them further than they would have imagined. A fun, funny and expertly helmed film with loads of charm to spare.

Trailer for West Coast


Grand Jury Award – Best Documentary Feature: The Babushkas of Chernobyl directed by Holly Morris, Anne Bogart
In the radioactive Dead Zone surrounding Chernobyl”s Reactor No. 4, a defiant community of women scratches out an existence on some of the most toxic land on Earth. They share this hauntingly beautiful but lethal landscape with an assortment of interlopers”scientists, soldiers, and even “stalkers””young thrill-seekers who sneak in to pursue post-apocalyptic video game-inspired fantasies. Why the film”s central characters, Hanna Zavorotyna, Maria Shovkuta, and Valentyna Ivanivna, chose to return after the disaster, defying the authorities and endangering their health, is a remarkable tale about the pull of home, the healing power of shaping one”s destiny and the subjective nature of risk.

Trailer for The Babushkas of Chernobyl


Special Jury Award for Documentary Feature – Please Remember Me directed by Qing Zhao
Every day, people see 86 years old Feng and 85 years old Fang going out hand in hand to practice Tai Chi and to dine at a nearby canteen. They love to buy flowers and make fun of each other. He calls her baby girl and she calls him Mr. Silly. Please Remember Me follows the old couple in Shanghai over their final years as they fight for failing physical health and memory loss, while celebrating a life-long memory of love and elegance. Simply put, it is a beautifully told story of life and love.

Trailer for Please Remember Me


Audience Award – Narrative Feature: Empty Space directed by James Choi
Tom, an overweight young man, takes refuge at his grandmother”s cabin in rural Protection, IL, in an attempt to bury the years of being bullied and feeling rejected. While in town, he meets a precocious blind girl named Lilly, who shows him how to be accepted and loved. Tender, funny and dramatic, the film shows characters not often depicted onscreen as leads, in a unique coming of age story. Directed by James Choi and written by Judi Krant, it marks a return to LBI of the filmmaking team behind 2009 SXSW Grand Jury Prize winning film “Made in China” which played as the inaugural LIFF Centerpiece Film in 2009.

Trailer for Empty Space


Audience Award – Documentary Feature: Until Proven Innocent directed by Jenna Jackson, Anthony Jackson
In October 2006 a four-year-old from Corpus Christi, Texas named Andrew Burd died mysteriously of salt poisoning. His foster mother, Hannah Overton, was charged with capital murder, vilified from all quarters, and sent to prison for life. But was this churchgoing young woman a vicious child killer? Or had the tragedy claimed its second victim? Until Proven Innocent documents the battle by this mother of five ” and her Dream Team of pro-bono lawyers ” over nearly eight years in a desperate attempt to win her freedom. Winner of the Dallas Film Festival”s Audience Award” the film is a worthy addition to the genre of documentaries such as Making a Murderer and The Oath that focus on the murky world of the law, the possibility of missteps and oversight in the process and above all, if truth and justice will prevail, the filmmakers skillfully guide you through the case with extraordinary access to its players, and carefully craft a lasting, important film that will resonate immensely.

Audience Award – Spotlight Film: Harry and Snowman directed by Ron Davis
Grand Jury Award – Best Narrative Short Film: The Duke: Based on The Memoir ‘I’m The Duke’ by J.P. Duke directed by Max Barbakow
Grand Jury Award -Best Documentary Short Film: Joe’s Violin directed by Kahane Cooperman
Special Jury Award For Cinematic Visual Concept: FlySpy directed by Daniel M. Smith
Audience Award – Short Film: Joe’s Violin directed by Kahane Cooperman
Grand Jury Award – Best HS Student Film: Perception- by Graham Burrell
Volunteer Award: Sharon Dailey and Pat Dengler

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