The past week was a whirlwind of creative energy, community-boosting moments, innovative films and overall, a seriously cool culmination of indie spirit in Red Bank, NJ at the second annual Indie Street Film Festival! It’s hard to believe that another year has come and gone! And after an inspiring 5 days, the team behind Indie Street Film Festival was beyond honored to announce this year's award winners!
"Like Me", directed by Robert Mockler, was named the best narrative feature and "Unrest", directed by Jennifer Brea, took the top prize for best documentary feature as we concluded five days of film screenings plus a wide array of special events and entertainment in Red Bank, New Jersey.
Short film winners included Best Narrative Short – "Hold On", directed by Christine Turner and Best Documentary Short – "Little Potato", directed by Wes Hurley and Nathan M. Miller. Best Animation Film was awarded to "Pussy", directed by Renata Gasiorowski.
The jury, including noted film critics, producers and filmmakers Alison Willmore (Buzzfeed), Dominic Davis (Rooftop Films), Heidi Reinberg (Producer), Leah Sapin (Human Rights Watch), Meredith Alloway (Writer), William Cusick (Filmmaker/Programmer), James Belfer (CEO, Cartuna), James Siewert (Award-Winning Director/Animator) and Ben Wiessner (Producer, Ornana Films), also presented Special Jury Awards for Best Editing to "Fish Story", directed by Charlie Lyne and Best Comedic Vision to "Business", directed by Kati Skelton.
Red Bank artist and resident Gerda Liebmann earned an Audience Choice award for Best New Jersey Film for her first documentary, "You will be Persecuted". Audience Favorites included Best Narrative Short – "Resolutions", directed by Tamara Fisch and Best Narrative Feature – "Life Hack", directed by Sloan Copeland. Among the many discussions presented, notable panels included Adaptation, which included festival Advisory Board Member and noted Actor/Producer Arian Moayed (Rock the Kasbah) and Oscar-winner Mara Kassin, and Meet the Programmers, featuring Larisa Apan (Hamptons Film Festival) and Opal Hope Bennett (Nantucket Film Festival, Doc NYC).
A community mural project at Kitch Organic, an appearance by special surprise guest Actor Amir Arison (The Blacklist), a community barbecue, provided by JBJ Soul Kitchen following the screening of "Barbecue", a documentary directed by Matthew Salleh, and the world premiere of "Brothers", the latest work from New Jersey filmmaker Jack Ballo, about two brothers who lived off the grid for four years in the woods of Sayreville, NJ filmed using only the camera in Ballo’s iPhone, were also festival highlights.
“The films we’ve shared made us laugh, cry and hungry,” noted Jim Scavone, Executive Director of Red Bank RiverCenter, and the festival’s Managing Director. The films were screened and the special events held at multiple theatrical venues in Red Bank, including the historic Count Basie Theatre, the Two River Theater, Bow Tie Cinema and Red Bank Middle School. Winners from each feature film category will enjoy a shared 1-week theatrical release in NYC.
At the awards presentation, Indie Street Film Festival’s Artistic Director Jay Webb confirmed the event would return to Red Bank in 2018 and planned a long-term commitment and partnership with sponsors and the local arts and business communities. Webb also posed a rhetorical question, asking attendees why support for independent artists and filmmakers was important.
"In a world of digital content overload that demands more curation and leaves us less physically connected, gathering people in the community around film screenings and the arts is something our whole team believes is of critical importance,” Webb concluded. “Audiences in a theater or at a live art event in the presence of the creators will feel the shared emotional vibrations of the exhibition and truly become a part of the story. Offering locals, especially young people, these types of shared creative experiences can help them learn to accept human differences and not be afraid of them.”
For more information about the screening of films from the festival, or how to connect with Indie Street Film Festival organizers, artists and filmmakers, visit www.indiestreetfilmfestival.org or follow us on social media!