The Australian drama “The Sugar Factory” and “Paradise Falls,” a Depression-era saga of farmers turned bank robbers, received top prizes at the second Hollywood Film Festival’s Discovery Awards Monday evening.
“Factory” writer-director Robert Carter, who premiered the tale of an emotionally disturbed young man at last month’s Karlovy Vary fest, said he was genuinely moved by the honor and to him it was a reminder of “the generosity of Hollywood and America” to filmmakers from around the world.
The closing ceremonies, held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, were a melange of awards to tyro talent and career tributes to industry vets. The presentation was highlighted by bon mots along with emotional and amusing recollections from the honorees.
The five-day event again received high marks for its panels, which ran daily at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel. However, some felt the featured selections were weak and need to be beefed up in light of stiff competition from such events as the AFI Fest, Los Angeles Independent showcase and the launch of the American Cinematheque at the Egyptian Theater in December.
A program highlight was a choral work sung by Millennium Dream to music by honoree Dave Grusin.
Director Sydney Pollack, who has had eight Grusin scores in his pics, described the composer’s body of work as “unique and organic.”
Grusin, along with many of the honorees and presenters including Lifetime Achievement recipient Shelley Winters, repeatedly stressed the importance of the Hollywood fest’s mandate as a venue to launch emerging filmmakers. “Talent is the engine that fuels everything,” said directing honoree Norman Jewison. “What a grand idea to have Hollywood nurturing talent rather that exploiting it.”
Another high point occurred when Richard Zanuck, saluted with producing partner David Brown, outlined the five points his father Darryl had given him on becoming a great producer. They were: aim high, listen to your gut, never give up, keep your eye on the story and find a great partner.
Category winners on the film side included “Goreville, U.S.A.,” on gun control and the America militia movement, for documentary; the animated “The Return of the Sun Devil,” a Japanese fable; and “Holiday Romance,” a sly British-produced yarn about a burglar trapped in a house he planned to rob, among the short subjects.
Additionally, the jury presented special awards to actress Penelope Ann Miller for her performance in “Rhapsody in Bloom,” and to writer-director Alan Fraser for his “integrity of vision” in his unusual tale of interracial friendship “Next Time.” Fraser’s film received a second award for the best production shot on 16mm.
A separate jury awarded Steven Ayromloomi the Independent Filmmaker Award for his craft on the dramatic short “Nathan Grimm.” The cyber prize went to Entertainment Tonight On-Line, and “Titanic” received a digital award for special effects.