Angel Film Awards - Monaco International Film Festival 2009 3rd - 6th December 2009
Press Release - Sunday, December 06, 2009
Last week I attended the Angel Film Awards in Monaco- a glamorous threeday extravaganza, where the films in competition promote, unusually, peace and love - a refreshing antidote to the usual violent and gratuitous fodder thrown at us from Hollywood.
Started seven years ago by Rosana Golden and Dean Bentley, specifically to showcase non-violent films, the Angel Film Awards may eschew violence but this is no hippy dippy affair, with chic and stylish post screening VIP champagne receptions at some of the best hotels and clubs in Monaco.
Festival Producers Golden and Bentley personally select the 20-odd films that screen each year and are well aided in the screenplay awards by the dynamic London-based producer Daniella Gonella of DG Productions. Together they head an impressive Jury which this year included British composer and
screenwriter Martin Kiszko, Italian actor Luciano de Luca, Hollywood Reporter film critic Natasha Senjanovic and the effervescent UK TV presenter, actress and model Konnie Huq, who also had the wonderful title of Dame of Honour and Master of Ceremonies.
The big winner this year - Best Feature Film - winning the coveted Angel Trophy was "CURVE OF EARTH"" (USA) - a provocative dark comedy set in L.A.'s San Fernando Valley and starring William Forsythe as a rock and roll photographer relegated to producing lurid erotic pictures of women, after years of drug and booze abuse. This may at first seem to contradict the values of the Angel Awards - however in a somewhat touching manner, Forsyth's character undergoes an amazing and repentant transformation in a performance, which earned him the Best Actor Award at the Festival. The film was also awarded Best Ensemble Cast and Forsyth and many of the actors attended the Festival adding much glitz to the event.
The Best Feature Award was closely contested by the South African offering "TORNADO AND THE KALAHARI HORSE WHISPERER""- the true story of an emotionally tormented horse and a damaged young man and his journey of self-discovery. The film did manage to pick up six awards - including Best Cinematography, Direction, Soundtrack, Script and the Humanitarian Angel Film Award.
Also based on true events, "THE TOMB ROBBERY PAPYRUS"", (Germany, UK, Spain) written and directed by Lily Rampenthal, picked up the Independent Spirit Award. Remarkable for its historical accuracy and unusual approach including Computer Generated Imagery, it tells the story of an archaeologist's quest for an ancient Egyptian royal tomb.
Other notable feature films included "MY AIR HOSTESS ROOMMATE"" (China) - a quirky romantic comedy which received two awards and from the same producer/director, Jiang Qingmin, "JUN-AI" (PURE LOVE), (Japan/CHINA) - a multi-award winning film and yet another true story - which was awarded the Peace Celebration Angel Film Award. Starring Keiko Kobayashi (who alsowrote the screenplay) and pop singer Yasutaka - this is a stirring love story set during Japan's wartime occupation of China. Also in the Feature Categories - "RELIABLE SYSTEM" a drama from Poland was awarded Best Actress (Alina Janowska) and Best Original Story and "WHAT IF" was awarded Best Documentary.
Short films showing at the festival were a wonderful melee of self- expression - ranging from the truly original to the downright weird and wacky.
"NOUS DEUX ENCORE" (Greece, Monaco, France, USA) picked up the Best Short Film Award. Directed by Heather Harlow and captured visually through countless photographs, it is a moving homage to the late Greek husband of a former French television journalist, Maxie Leoussis. which takes us into the soul of the love affair that changed her life forever, "BASKET BRONX"" (Spain/USA) mixed a little Zen philosophy, with basketball winning the Angel Peace Award in the process.
Boy meets girl short "ENCOUNTER"" (Spain) grabbed us with two powerful performances picking up Best Actor and Best Actress awards for Alex Garcia and Mar del Hoyo.
A gritty storyline about child marriage laws in the US earned Diane Namm Best Director Award for "THE SACRIFICE" (USA) and a uniquely original concept saw the visually stunning "TIME TRAVEL BOYFRIENDS" (UK) receive the Best Original Short Story for film-maker Josephine Halbert.
In the categories honouring the Best Screenplays, British writer and director Rick Friend picked up two awards for a couple of very different film scripts. Twenty years in the making, "NON POSSUMUS", the true story of a six-year old Jewish boy abducted by Pope Pius IX in 1858, was described by Daniella Gonella as one of the best screenplays ever entered for the Angel awards and won the Best Epic/Historical Screenplay. "STUCK", a satirical attack on materialism, adapted from Friend's stage play (Time Out London Critic's Choice) and in contrast only six weeks in the making, won Best Comedy Drama.
Other winning screenplays included "STORMDANCER" by Katherine Huston & John A. Lange (Best Family Adventure Screenplay), "OPEN DIARIES" by Sasha Schriber (Best Factual Screenplay) and "GRIEF FROM MADAME BUTTERFLY" by Barry Leach (Best Black Comedy Screenplay).
The 2009 Angel Film Awards Lifetime Achievement Award went to the rock poet and musician Donovan and life long muse and wife Linda. The Angel Film Awards, are growing in reputation as one of THE Independent Film Festivals!