The 2020 Oxford Film Festival celebrated the best of this year’s films and filmmakers with a virtual awards ceremony on Saturday, June 6.
David Midell’s “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlain,” took home the Hoka award for Best Narrative Feature, which included a $15,000 camera rental package from Panavision. The movie was noted for its raw, honest and inventive recreation of the 2011 police killing of an unarmed Black man in White Plains, New York.
Pailin Wedel and Nina Ijas’s “Hope Frozen,” received the Hoka for Best Documentary Feature. The prize included a $15,000 camera rental package from Panavision as well as documentary editing feedback from Joe Shapiro
The Lisa Blount Memorial Acting Award went to Danielle Deadwyler for her performance in “Reckoning.” The Alice Guy-Blaché Emerging Female Filmmaker Award and $1,000 from the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation went to Haroula Rose for “Ounce Upon a River.”
The first Angie Thomas Zeitgeist Award went to Deepak Sethi for “Coffee Shop Names.” The honoree is selected by a committee of Mississippi black filmmakers, is given to a film artist from a diverse background each year who has exhibited a unique and clear voice through their work.
Larissa Lam’s “Far East Deep South,” won the Hoka Award for Best Mississippi Feature Film, with the jury citing the film as “A deeply human and life-affirming film that shows that the history of the American South was not written only in black and white but in many shades of the rainbow and is deeply representative of many parts of the United States.”
Je’Monda Roy’s “Getting to the Root,” won Best Mississippi Documentary Feature; Erin Palmquist’s “From Baghdad to the Bay,” won Best LGBTQIA+ Feature; Travis Beard’s “Rockabul,” was named Best Music Documentary; and Garin Hovanniisian’s “I Am Not Alone,” took the prize for Best Foreign Language Film.
“In a year of so much uncertainty and figuring out how to re-invent and innovate and not just look forward to how we would do things in the future when it came to presenting and celebrating film and the people responsible for making those films, we knew it was vital to demonstrate our appreciation for the films we did select this year,” said Oxford Film Festival Executive Director Melanie Addington.
“This film festival has always tried to be a leader in our industry and this state and following through with the presentation of our awards virtually was in the plans from the beginning of our decision to pivot to our weekly virtual fests and OFF to the DRIVE-IN screening events. We are intensely proud of these films and filmmakers and are thrilled to officially recognize them as prize winners.”
In the Short Film category, Best Narrative Short went to Giulia Gandini’s “My Time,” with Best LGBTQIA+ Short going to Patrick G. Lee’s “Unspoken.”
The winner of the Hoka for Best Documentary Short was Johanis Lyons-Reid and Lorcan Hopper’s “The Loop.”
Jonathan Mirabill’s, “Phelandra” won the Short Screenplay competition for which he received a check for $1,000, Final Draft software, and mentorship from producer John Norris.
Javier Molina will receive a $15,000 check as the winner of the Artist Vodka Award for his film, “Wonder.”
With the Oxford Film Festival completing the seventh week of weekly virtual fests, in addition to it’s Virtual Art House selections, and the recent debut of it’s new OFF to the DRIVE-IN presentations, the presentation of the filmmaker awards for this 17th edition of the fest was more than a routine celebration of jury winners and honorees.
It was a declaration that the film festival defiantly has not chosen to shutter for a year or offer up a token representation of the film programming and events the city, surrounding region, and state have become accustomed to with the Oxford Film Festival.
The organization has worked to find new ways, given limitations set in place due to the pandemic, and then mapped a way forward to find a way to bring film to the fans, and connect them with the filmmakers.
Following local musician Silas Reed entertain the audience tuning in virtually, the award show was hosted by Associate Director Matt Wymer, with presentations handled by programmers Brian Whisenant, Meaghin Burke and Addington.
New board president Steve Case was surprised with the Donna Ruth Volunteer of the Year Award for his previous work and dedication to the film festival prior to taking on the new leadership role, underlining the energized outlook for the Oxford Film Festival as it continues to build on the organization’s work this year looking toward 2021.