Hal Hartley’s “Trust,” a comedy-drama about the unlikely romance between survivors of dysfunctional families, was the grand prize winner in the feature category of World Fest-Houston, the 13th annual Houston Intl. Film Festival.
The festival, which ended a 10-day run April 28, honored “Trust” with the best feature and best screenplay awards. “One Cup Of Coffee,” a comedy-drama about ambition and obscurity in the minor leagues of 1950s baseball, received the best director award for first-time filmmaker Robin B. Armstrong.
The documentary award went to Harriet Eder and Thomas Kufus’ “My War,” a view of World War II through the eyes and viewfinders of German soldiers who, during the Russian Campaign, were armed with homemovie cameras. “My War” was one of the sleeper hits of the fest, drawing the largest audience recorded for any docu in recent Houston Film Festival history.
Ian Sellar’s “Venus Peter,” Otakar Votocek’s “Wings Of Fame,” Stephen Wallace’s “Blood Oath” and “One Cup Of Coffee” were voted special runnerup feature awards by the festival jury, which included fest director J. Hunter Todd and Houston-based producer Fred T. Kuehnert (“The Buddy Holly Story”).
James Lapine’s “Impromptu” won the audience prize, voted by ballots collected at each fest screening.
Rod Steiger, Ginger Rogers and animator Chuck Jones were on hand to receive lifetime achievement awards during an April 27 awards banquet at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts.
As usual, the fest awards program was a long and protracted affair. In addition to giving grand prizes for features, the Houston festival also votes gold, silver and bronze awards in dozens of film, video and tv divisions. Categories range from Low-Budget Feature to Commercial Dealing With Restaurants.
Todd sounded a downbeat note at the end of World Fest-Houston. “Attendance as a whole seems to be down 24% from last year, ” he said. “And that’s despite the fact that we had, overall, a better crop of films this year.”
More than 80 features were screened over a 10-day period at the AMC Greenway 3, the Houston Museum of Fine Arts, the General Cinema NASA Point Theater and the Rice U. Media Center. Director Sam Irvin and co-star Lauren Hutton were on hand for the April 19 opening-night screening of their black comedy “Guilty As Charged” at the Houston Museum.
Other notables who accompanied their films to World Fest-Houston included directors Xavier Koller (“Journey Of Hope”) and Robert Dornhelm (“Requiem For Dominic”), actor George Takei (“Blood Oath”), producer Daniel A. Sherkow (“Impromptu”) and prizewinning filmmakers Robin B. Armstrong and Hal Hartley.
For the 1991 edition of the Houston Intl. Film Festival, Todd added a new name – World Fest-Houston – and announced new aims. He expanded the festival to include a film and video market that attracted representatives of Prestige Pictures, Intl. Film Exchange and Turner Broadcasting.
Todd also inaugurated a “discovery program” in concert with several European film festivals. Winners of top prizes in the Houston fest’s many film and video categories will be offered to such festivals as Sitges (Spain), Crakow (Poland), Bilbao (Spain), La Rochelle (France) and Mannheim (Germany). Under terms of the agreement, other festivals also will make their prizewinners available to Houston for next year’s World Fest.