The Sounding, about a a silent young woman struggling for freedom in a mental institution, Fanny’s Journey, a drama of Holocaust survival, and To the Edge of the Sky, a documentary about families battling to save their sons’ lives from Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, were among the outstanding new films honored at the closing ceremonies of the 22nd Stony Brook Film Festival, held at Staller Center July 20-29, 2017.
The Sounding received the Jury Award for best feature; Fanny’s Journey and To The Edge of the Sky finished in a tie for the Audience Choice Award for best feature. Alan Inkles, founder and director of the Festival, welcomed the winning filmmakers at the gala closing ceremony July 29 at Staller Center for the Arts. Awards were presented by John Anderson, film critic and Master of Ceremonies, a long time MC for the awards reception.
This year’s edition of the annual Stony Brook Film Festival presented by Island Federal Credit Union, July 20-29, had the largest attendance in the event’s history.
“The audience scores were the best in our 22 years,” Inkles said. “Great films, great guests and packed houses nightly. It’s what I envisioned for Stony Brook when we started this festival and it was certainly achieved this year.”
Winners in all categories were:
The Sounding: 2017
Jury Award Best Feature
United States – 93 min
Directed by Catherine Eaton.
Written by Bryan Delaney and Catherine Eaton.
With Catherine Eaton, Teddy Sears, Harris Yulin, Frankie Faison and David Furr.
Writer-Director-Actress Catherine Eaton gives a stunning performance as Liv, a mysterious woman residing on an island off the coast of Maine who has chosen to remain silent for years. When she suffers a terrible loss, Liv suddenly begins to speak as she weaves a language out of Shakespeare’s words. After a series of events result in her being committed to a psychiatric hospital, Liv becomes a full-blown rebel, fighting for both her voice and her freedom. A powerful, uplifting drama.
Produced by Catherine Eaton, Caitlin Gold, Veronique Huyghebaert, Aliki Paraschis and Jessica Vale. Edited by Marco Perez. Director of Photography: David Kruta. From Corsetless Productions.
2017 Audience Choice-Best Feature (tie)
France, Belgium – 94 min
Directed by Lola Doillon. Written by Fanny Ben-Ami, Lola Doillon, Anne Peyrègne.
With Léonie Souchaud and Cécile De France.
In French with subtitles
In 1943, after avoiding the authorities with other Jewish children in France for three years, 13-year-old Fanny and her sisters are quickly sent to an Italian foster home. When the Nazis arrive in Italy, their caretakers plan an escape to Switzerland. Suddenly left on their own, eleven children do the impossible. Based on a true story, this moving tale of bravery, strength, and survival features exceptional performances by the young cast.
Produced by Saga Blanchard, Marie de Lussigny. Edited by Valérie Deseine. Director of Photography: Pierre Cottereau. A David-Films, Scope Pictures, France 2 Cinéma, Rhône-Alpes Cinéma, and Ce Qui Me Meut Motion Pictures production. From Menemsha Films.
To the Edge of the Sky
2017 Audience Choice-Best Feature (tie)
World Premiere – United States – 118 min
Directed by Todd Wider and Jedd Wider.
How far would you go to save your son’s life? To the Edge of the Sky follows four families as they fight the FDA to gain access to a potentially lifesaving drug for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, a fatal disease their sons suffer from and the number one genetic killer of boys in the world. With a promising drug on the horizon, we witness the transformation of the mothers of four boys into “the rogue moms” as they become political activists and heroes during their righteous battle against time and the FDA. A challenging and uplifting documentary from Long Island brothers Todd and Jedd Wider (Client 9, God Knows Where I Am).
Produced by Brian Ariotti. Edited by Mona Davis and Colin Nusbaum. Director of Photography: Gerardo Puglia. A Wider Film Projects film.
Laura Gets a Cat
2017 Special Recognition by the Jury – Spirit of Independent Filmmaking
United States – 83 min
Written and Directed by Michael Ferrell.
With Dana Brooke, Michael Ferrell, Jason Kravits (Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt).
Laura is a 30-something unemployed writer living in New York City and struggling with adulthood. She has a ‘weekend’ boyfriend she can’t commit to, friends who seem to have achieved their dreams, and a vivid imaginary life she uses to run away from reality. When she starts a new relationship with a coffee shop barista, real life proves too complicated and she tries to actually run away. Veteran stage actress Dana Brooke shines in this funny, fresh, poignant independent feature.
Produced by Michael Ferrell, Chris Prine and Devin Sanchez. Edited by Chris Prine. Director of Photography: Paul Rondeau. From Living Boy Productions.
2017 Special Recognition by the Jury – Achievement in Social Impact
New York Premiere – United States – 72 min
Directed by Joanne Hock.
This inspirational documentary follows several students from the Northwest School of the Arts, in Charlotte, N.C., after it is chosen to be the first high school permitted to perform the musical The Color Purple. From auditions through opening night and beyond, the filmmakers follow these students as they pursue their dreams while struggling with homelessness, low-income neighborhoods, gang-related violence and single-parent households. A behind-the-scenes look at an amazing group of teachers and students who work relentlessly to put on a triumphant musical production that propels them into a world of opportunity they never expected.
Produced by Robin Grey, Sara Patel. Edited by John Disher. Director of Photography: Joanne Hock. From GreyHawk Films.
Across the Line
2017 Jury Award-Best Short
World Premiere – Israel – 29 min
In Arabic and Hebrew with subtitles
A film by Nadav Shlomo Giladi
A Jewish settler, hurrying home for Shabbat, encounters a stubborn Palestinian hitchhiker.
2017 Audience Award-Best Short
Latvia – 11 minutes
A film by Pavels Gumennikovs
In Latvian with subtitles
A young man without legs chases down surprised purse snatchers for the girl he loves.