SHIP BOTTOM – The Lighthouse International Film Festival concluded its 11th season of film and fun with its annual celebration and awards ceremony, held at Joe Pop’s Shore Bar & Restaurant in Ship Bottom on June 9, 2019.
Just like every other year, members of the LIFF Society and film-goers alike came together to celebrate the success of another great season by naming the top films and filmmakers. Attendees enjoyed drinks, a taco bar, and baklava as they mingled, discussing their favorite films, shorts, and documentaries featured this season.
The films focused on a wide array of topics, from the Huckleberry Finn-like adventure of a man with Down syndrome to the real life story of the vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, to a portrait film on pollution in Brooklyn. These stories are told in countless different ways, whether it is in a feature-length film or documentary, capturing glimpses of life at all kinds of angles.
Some films were directed by lesser known filmmakers, and some by Oscar-winners such as Guy Nattiv. Nattiv’s short film “Skin” won the 2019 Oscar in the Short Film category and was screened as the opening film during the festival.
As the celebration winded down, the winners were announced.
In the Documentary category:
- Best Documentary: “Cold Case Hammarskjold” directed by Mads Brugger
- Social Awareness Award: “Sea of Shadows” directed by Richard Ladkani and Sean Bogle
- Special Mention: “Dons of Disco” directed by Jonathan Sutak
In the Short Film category:
- Best Short: “Drip” directed by Jillian Cantwell
- Best Short Documentary: For A Better Life” directed by Yasmin Mistry
- Social Awareness Award: “Extremophiles” directed by Leah Shore
- Special Mention: “Baggage” directed by Stacey Maltin
In the Narrative Features category:
- Best Film: “One Man Dies A Million Times” directed by Jessica Oreck
- Social Awareness Award: “One Man Dies A Million Times” directed by Jessica Oreck
- Special Mention: “Two Times You” directed by Salomon Askenazi
Audience Awards include:
- Short Film: “Coffee and a Donut” directed by Cary Patrick Martin
- Documentaries: “Sea of Shadows” directed by Richard Ladkani and Sean Bogle; “For Sama” directed by Waad Al-Kateab and Edward Watts
- Narrative Film: “A War Within” directed by Kasper Tortsing
The LIFF also presented the Jennifer Snyder Bryceland Filmmaker Award to “Kifaur” directed by David Hembridge. This award honors one filmmaker with a $2,500 special prize for a work that displays “artistic excellence, incorporates environmental and social themes and inspires optimism in audiences.”
In a welcome letter to festival attendees, LIFF Executive Director Amir Bogen wrote: “From our opening film Skin, by Oscar winner Guy Nattiv, to our closing film, the fascinating Netflix documentary, American Factory, by Julia Reichart and Steven Bognar, we have outdone ourselves, yet again, in selecting and programming some of the best films out there, today. Many of our films have screened at the biggest festivals in the world – Toronto, Sundance, SXSW, and Cannes – while others are hidden gems that we have had the pleasure of discovering for our awaiting audiences.”
This was Bogen’s first year acting as executive director. In 2018, he acted as deputy executive director.
A LIFF volunteer at the end-of-season celebration noted that she thought this year had a great turnout. While she was sad she did not get a chance to see the films for herself – as a busy volunteer schedule dictated – she got the sense that viewers were really happy with the 2019 films.
The festival was comprised of 5 Spotlight Films, 7 Narrative Feature Films, 6 Documentary Films, nearly 80 Short Films, 11 Episodic Films, 6 Long Shorts, and 4 Surf Films. Winning films were chosen by the LIFF Jury, made up of a series of experienced and seasoned writers, directors, producers, and even film teachers.