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Like Cotton Twines
Like Cotton Twines

The 19th Savannah Film Festival held in downtown Savannah, Georgia, from October 22 to 29, announced the winners of the festival awards. Like Cotton Twine directed by Leila Djansi won the award for Best Narrative Feature, and The Freedom to Marry directed by Eddie Rosenstein.

Narrative and Documentary Features

Best Narrative Feature: “Like Cotton Twines” – Micah, an American teaching in Ghana, is eager to help his students, especially 13-year-old Tuigi. However, Tuigi’s father offers her as a sex slave to atone for a deadly accident he committed. Clinging to his Western morals, Micah pits himself in a battle against tribal culture and the state. Director, Leila Djansi
Best Director: Marc Raymond Wilkins, “Bon Voyage” – A couple’s compassion is put to the test when the two come across a sinking ship of refugees while on a pleasure trip across the Mediterranean.
Best Documentary Feature: “The Freedom to Marry” – An intimate film that pulls back the curtain to reveal the masterminds of one of the greatest civil rights movements of our time as they embark on their final, thrilling battle to win same-sex marriage for the U.S. Director, Eddie Rosenstein
Best Editing: “The Freedom to Marry”
Breakout Performance: Peyton Kennedy “American Fable” – When 11-year-old Gitty discovers her beloved father is hiding a wealthy man in the family’s silo to save their struggling farm, she is forced to choose between saving the man’s life or protecting her family in this fairy-tale thriller set in the 1980s rural Midwest.

Shorts and Global Shorts Forum

Best Animated Short: “Second to None” – The world’s second-oldest man hatches a plan to claim the top spot. Director, Vincent Gallagher
Best Narrative Short: “Rated” – Maggie, a wife and mother, must find the courage to own up to her own behavior when she wakes up to a world where every adult has received a Yelp-like rating floating above their head. While most everyone has a shining 4- or 5-star rating, she’s only got 2.5. Director, John Fortson
Best SuperShort!: “Game Night” – When a lonely taxi driver happens upon a football field, he falls into a memory of his past. Director, Joel Fendelman
Best Global Short: “Enemies Within” – This close-up on France’s troubled history with its former colonies has one man controlling the fate of another during the 1990s. Director, Sélim Azzazi
Best Global Short – Documentary: “Frans Lanting: The Evolution of Life” – Take a dazzling journey through time via the remarkable images of National Geographic photographer Frans Lanting. Director, Steven Kochones
Best Global Short – Narrative: “Shok” – The friendship of two boys is tested to its limits as they battle for survival during the war in Kosovo. Based on true events. Director, Jamie Donoughue
Visionary Award: “Frans Lanting: The Evolution of Life”
Transcendence Award: “Love is a Sting” – At his lowest point, struggling children’s author Harold Finch gains an unexpected house guest in Anabel Shine: a 20-year-old, hyperintelligent mosquito. Anabel has been the fly on the wall throughout history, but never managed to communicate with a human being. She will attempt to do so now, even if it kills her. Director, Vincent Gallagher

Student Awards

HBO Films Best Student Short: “The Listening Box” – A modern-day priest makes an unusual discovery in a confession booth. Director, Westin Ray – Receives a $5000 cash grant from HBO Films
Silver Screen Society Award (Best Short Film by a SCAD Student): “Dreamkeeper” – In a world where dreams connect, a by-the-book dream watchman’s routine life is interrupted when an inquisitive little girl escapes her dream. Director, Whitney Stephenson – Receives a $2500 cash grant from The Silver Screen Society
Special Jury Award: “Cottonmouth” – A drug-dealing basketball bench warmer gets caught and blames his teammate to avoid punishment, spawning a chain reaction of events on high school picture day. Director, Richard Rogers

Jury members for the professional categories included Andy Cohen (producer), Marvet Britto (owner of The Britto Agency), Liz Vassey (actor), Jon Halperin (award winning documentary producer, writer and director) Sam Lansky (Time Magazine), Josh Ludmir (VP of Business and Legal Affairs, Participant Media), Scott Mantz (Access Hollywood) and Laura Morgan (president, The Laura Morgan Group). The shorts jury included Michael James (chief cameraman/editor for the entertainment department, KTLA), Jody Gottlieb (producer, Vulcan Productions), Robert Walker (producer/entrepreneur), Kaila York (producer, Headlong Entertainment) and Leigh Seaman (television producer). The Global Shorts Forum jury included Stevie Wong (International Foreign Press), Giulia Prenna (Sen. VP, Cowlick Entertainment) and Robert Orr (screenwriter).

The 19th annual festival — held in downtown Savannah, Georgia, from Oct. 22 – Oct. 29 — gathered a diverse group of industry professionals from all fields of the business to participate in a panel and Q&A discussions on numerous topics about the film, television and digital media business. Additional highlights from this year’s event include:

The festival opened with the film “Jackie” starring Natalie Portman, and featured gala screenings of “20th Century Women,” “American Pastoral,” “Arrival,” “Bleed for This,” “Loving,” “Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonlight” and “Trolls.”

Molly Shannon and Sam Claflin received Spotlight Awards; Miles Teller received the Vanguard Award; Mahershala Ali received the Discovery Award; and David Harbour received the Virtuoso Award.

The Docs to Watch series featured several top must-see documentaries from this year that are gaining award season attention. Those who attended were Andrew Rossi (“The First Monday in May”); director Clay Tweel (“Gleason”); directors Kief Davidson and Richard Ladkani (“The Ivory Game”); director Roger Ross Williams (“Life, Animated”); director Barbara Kopple (“Miss Sharon Jones”); directors Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady (“Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You”); Adam Irving (“Off the Rails”); director Ezra Edelman (“OJ: Made in America”); director Keith Maitland (“Tower”); and directors Josh Kriegman and Elyse Steinberg (“Weiner”). The 13 filmmakers participated in a Q&A for their respective films and a panel moderated by Scott Feinberg, awards columnist for The Hollywood Reporter.

Other guests who attended SCAD and the festival included Steven Bernstein, Demian Bichir, Brannon Braga, CAA’s Tracy Brennan, Damien Chazelle, Kendal Cronkhite, Walt Dohrn, Joe Doyle, Elise Eberle, Shannon Elizabeth, Affonso Goncalves, Eric Heisserer, Anthony Hemingway, Aisha Hinds, Christina Jackson, Leonard Maltin, Peter Mattei, Mike Mitchell, Michael Nardelli, John O’Hurley, Alison Owen, Vinny Paz, Meghan Rogers, David Sandberg, Ashton Sanders, Rodrigo Santoro, Stefani Sherk, Craig Shilowich, Roxy Shih, Adam Simon, Brandon Tansley, Peter Tolan, Amirah Vann, Karyn Wagner, Shane West, Michael Wimer, Ben Younger and many others.

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