“This festival was one of the most competitive yet,” said festival director Alan Inkles. “Nearly 3,000 films were submitted, and only 36 were selected for the Festival, so Chuskit was really a very special film – it’s a must-see.”
The Grand Prize is awarded when the jury and the audience rank the same film the highest. This is the second year in a row and the ninth time in the Festival’s 24-year-run that a film has received a Grand Prize.
Chuskit is a charming, family-friendly treat from a part of the world seldom seen on screen. The entirety of the film was recorded in the Himalayas, and tells the story of a paraplegic girl who harbors hopes of going to school. Priya Ramasubban, director of Chuskit, attended the Festival and participated in a Q&A with the audience.
In God I Trust received the Jury Award for Best Feature, and The Silent Revolution received the Audience Choice for Best Feature. It was the East Coast premiere of In God I Trust, directed by Maja Zdanowski, and the film is continuing with the festival circuit and looking for US distribution. Maja Zdanowski and lead actor Marc Senior attended the Festival and participated in a Q&A with the audience. Maja was also a participant in the Festival’s Filmmaker Panel. The Silent Revolution is slated for a festival and art house rollout later this summer and fall.
Films honored at the 2019 Festival:
2019 Grand Prize
New York Premiere – India – 90 min
Written and Directed by Priya Ramasubban.
With Jigmet Dewa Lhamo and Morup Namgyal.
Chuskit’s dream of going to school is cut short when she is rendered a paraplegic after an accident. Confined to life indoors, she continues to dream of going to school, but her tradition-bound grandfather feels that the school in their remote Himalayan village can’t handle her special needs. Caught in the middle of this struggle are her parents and brother, who respect grandfather’s old-world views, but also want to keep Chuskit’s spirit alive.
In Ladakhi with subtitles.
Produced by Priya Ramasubban. Edited by Jabeen Merchant. Director of Photography: Arvind Kannabiran. A Kaavya Films production.
2019 Jury Award for Best Feature
In God I Trust
East Coast Premiere – Canada – 97 min
Directed by Maja Zdanowski. Written by Paul St. Amand and Maja Zdanowski.
With Marc Senior, John Cassini (Se7en) , Steven Roberts, Bilal Oliver, and Melissa Roxburgh (Star Trek Beyond).
A suspenseful, sharp-eyed study on the unpredictable realities of race and religion in America. Inspired by true events, this film follows three separate story lines that converge during a random encounter at a diner in a small Northern Idaho town. The audience may find their own assumptions questioned as these complicated, true-to-life portrayals keep one guessing until the final credits. Featuring nuanced performances, Grammy nominated singer-songwriter Bilal Oliver, and an amazing landscape, this is the unique vision of a talented and truly independent filmmaker.
Produced by Paul St. Amand, Maja Zdanowski and Jesse Norsworthy. Edited by Maja Zdanowski. Director of Photography: Corey MacGregor. An IGIT Film production.
2019 Audience Choice for Best Feature
The Silent Revolution
East Coast Premiere – Germany – 111 min
Written and Directed by Lars Kraume. From the book by Dietrich Garstka.
With Leonard Scheicher, Tom Gramenz, Ronald Zehrfeld (Sweethearts), and Florian Lukas (The Invisibles)
When a class of Seniors in the Communist-controlled GDR discovers what is really happening during the Hungarian Uprising of 1956, they decide to remain silent for one minute to show solidarity with the victims. After this draws more attention than expected, the students find themselves accused of a counterrevolutionary act. A true story of courage in the face of an unforgiving, authoritarian regime.
In German and Russian with subtitles
Produced by Miriam Düssel, Susanne Freyer, Kalle Friz, Isabel Hund and Thomas Kufus. Edited by Barbara Gies. Director of Photography: Jens Harant. An Akzente Film- und Fernsehproduktion, Studiocanal Film, Zero One Film and Zweites Deutsches Fernsehen (ZDF) production. From DistribFilms US.
2019 Jury Award Best Short
Toke is Cheap
Canada – 23 minutes
A film by Kerry van der Griend
A teenage boy who sells marijuana is met with an unusual request from his father.
2019 Audience Award Best Short
New York Premiere – Luxembourg – 15 min
In French with subtitles
A film by Cyrus Neshvad
An old man’s suicide attempt is interrupted when he learns that his granddaughter is ill.