The Savannah Film Festival wrapped Saturday with top prizes in the juried categories going to “Like Cotton Twines” for narrative feature and “The Freedom to Marry” for documentary feature and best editing.
The 19th edition of the fest ran from Oct. 22 to 29 and included screenings of “La-La Land” with director Damien Chazelle attending, “20th Century Women,” “American Pastoral,” “Arrival,” “Loving,” “Lion,” “Manchester by the Sea,” “Moonlight” and “Trolls.” Miles Teller was there to present “Bleed for This” and accept the Vanguard award, while Sam Claflin and Molly Shannon were recognized with the Spotlight Award. Shannon starred in Chris Kelly’s comedy “Other People,” which received an enthusiastic reception at the fest.
Presented by the Savannah College of Art and Design, the festival has become a key east coast stop for films on the awards contenders circuit. With a relaxed atmosphere and scenic setting in the historic southern Georgia town, the week-long event draws townspeople as well as a large contingent of film, TV and art students, who participate in master classes and panels and eagerly network with industry members in from Los Angeles and New York.
Students at the career-oriented private non-profit college can pursue specialties including animation, branded entertainment, game development and sequential art. One of the highlights of the festival was a virtual reality demonstration that included an impressive student-made VR short, “Say It With Music,” a musical set among the patrons of a fine dining restaurant.
The popular Docs to Watch section included several films that are sure to land on this year’s Oscar shortlist. Among the documentaries that screened with Q&As with their respective directors were “Life, Animated,” “Gleason,” “Miss Sharon Jones,” “OJ: Made in America,” “Weiner” and “The Ivory Game.”
Also nabbing honors from the fest were Mahershala Ali with the Discovery award and David Harbour with the Virtuoso award.
“Like Cotton Twines” revolves around an American teacher who confronts sex trafficking in Ghana, while “The Freedom to Marry” looks at the events leading up to the battle to legalize same sex marriage.
Other juried awards included best director, which went to Marc Raymond Wilkins for “Bon Voyage,” and Peyton Kennedy, who won the breakout performance award for her performance in “American Fable.”
Awards for short films included best animated film to “Second to None” from Vincent Gallagher, best narrative short to “Rated” from John Fortson, best SuperShort to “Game Night” by Joel Fendelman, best global short to “Enemies Within” from Selim Azzazi, best documentary global short and the Visionary award to “Frans Lanting: The Evolution of Life,” best narrative global short to “Shok” and the Transcendence award to “Love is a Sting.”
Student awards went to “The Listening Box” for best student short, “Dreamkeeper” for best short by a SCAD student, while the jury award went to “Cottonmouth.”