Sunday, October 27, 2013

Film Festivals That Do It Right!!!

We just finished covering Phoenix Fashion Week and now the time for film has begun.  The following includes coverage of one of the international festivals residing in the western US.

The Laughlin International Film Festival 2013 in its second year definitely out did itself based on how good I heard it was last year.  The Festival system that was created by Dave Davidson, Mara Karsen, and Eric Karsen Puhm is focused on the presentation and recognition of filmmakers from around the world.  They drew over 160+ entries to the festival that came from all over the United States and the world including countries Ireland, Brazil, Canada, United Kingdom, Russia, Bolivia, Mexico, India, Austria, New Zealand, Belarus, Scotland, and Antarctica.

L to R - Erik Karsen Puhm, Mara Karsen, Dave Davidson
The atmosphere of the host city of Laughlin, NV was the most welcoming to the out of town visitors for the festival.  The Tropicana Express (main Host location), Riverside Casino, the Acquarius and the Laughlin Outlets MallStadium 9 Cinemas (viewing home of the films that made it into the festival) were the perfect locations coordinated together to celebrate filmmaking at its best.  The red carpet was presented by Joseph James Artography (of Tempe, AZ) one of the sponsors of the festivals which brought the glitz and glamour to the event every night.  Friday night included a Halloween Party after the movies and an evening of bowling.  This was just one example of the activities and parties that were provided to help provide an inviting environment to all who participated in the festival for introduction, networking, and fun.

The festival had four days of films that represented the following thirteen (13) categories:  US Narrative Feature Films, US Documentary Feature Films, US Short Films, International Narrative Feature Films, International Documentary Feature Films, International Short Films, University Film Competition, Experimental Cinema, Music Videos, Extreme Sports, Animation, Youth Film, and Liff Picks Showcase.   The outstanding revelation about the categories is the Youth Film division.  Laughlin International Film Festival is enabling future growth of the filmmakers by including this category which encourages youth and students to participate and be part of a process where often times young filmmakers don’t always get their time to shine and be recognized.

The festival wouldn’t be complete without the awards ceremony.  The preceding banquet and the emcees for the evening were the icing on the cake.  The following is the entire listing of the award winners from the festival:

  1. LIFF 2013 Grand Jury Prize - Antarctica: A Year on Ice (92min.) - Closing Night Film - Directed by Anthony Powell  - Antarctica, New Zealand
  2. LIFF 2013 Director Award - Director Cole Mueller - ‘Magic Hour’ (95min.)
  3. 2013 U.S. LIFF PICK - Red Wing (108min.) - Opening Night Film - Directed by Will Wallace - Produced by Integrity Productions
  4. 2013 International LIFF PICK - Pandemonia (81min.) - Directed by Daniel Moreno – Brazil
  5. Best U.S. Narrative Feature Film - California Winter (86min.) - Directed by Odin Ozdil –
  6. Best U.S. Documentary Feature Film - Prison Through Tomorrow's Eyes (57min.) - Directed by Paul Sutton
  7. Best U.S. Narrative Short Film – Idiot - Directed by Aaron Harvey
  8. Best International Narrative Feature Film - Choosing Signs (87min.) - Directed by Owen Dara – Ireland
  9. Best International Feature Documentary - Ladder in the Lions’ Den (39min.) - Directed by Bernhard Rammerstorfer & A. Ferenc Gutai – Austria
  10. Best International Narrative Short Film - Der Räuber - Directed by Felix Schaffert – Switzerland
  11. Best University Film - Tropicana PICK – Homemade - Directed by Lior Sagi
  12. Best University Film – LIFF PICK - La Familia de Sofia - Directed by Alexandra Parral
  13. LIFF Best Drama - Blood Brothers - Directed by Jason Miller & Seth Savo
  14. LIFF Best Comedy - Blackhearts (90min.) - Directed by Malani Coomes
  15. LIFF Best Thriller / Horror - The Appearing  (90min.) - Directed by Daric Gates
  16. LIFF Best Lead Actor Performance - Robert Nolan - “Mourning has broken
  17. LIFF Best Lead Actress Performance - Jessica Lancaster - “Choosing Signs
  18. LIFF Storytelling Achievement Award - DAM 999 (108min.) - Directed by Roy Sohan – India
  19. LIFF Cinematic Achievement Award - For the Love of Nothing - Directed by Alissa Davis
  20. LIFF Outstanding Production Value Award - Paris After The War - Directed by Mark Lessley & Luis Navarro
  21. Best Youth Film - The Painted Girl - Directed by Ben Kadie
  22. Best Music Video - AZHIA 'Lonely’ - Directed by Alethea Rooth
  23. Best Animation Film – Ed - Directed by Gabriel Garcia – Brazil
  24. Best Experimental Film - Rubicon or Let's talk about Hell (103min.) - Directed by Frank Gelmeroda - United Kingdom
  25. Best Sound Track / Score - Choosing Signs (87min.) - Directed by Owen Dara – Ireland
  26. Best Television Pilot - Wilmer the Immigrant Dog – Pilot - Directed by Wilman Vergara II
  27. Best Local Film - Dream Date - Directed by Brian Brown
  28. Special LIFF Bud Holland Award (Youth)- The Painted Girl - Directed by Ben Kadie

If you think that was the end of the festival, you would be mistaken.  The morning after the awards ceremony, found filmmakers still excited to be part of the festival and joined together for the final morning breakfast and the filmmaker/director panel.  They discussed social media, distribution, representation, organization, and funding.  The closing finale of the morning gathering included a raffle of $100 Sony gift cards to three lucky winners.  Not sure you could really ask for a better ending.

The organizers were meticulous along with the support of the Tropicana Express to create an amazing experience for the attendees.  There is something to be said about an organization that takes the time to understand the needs and wants of their audience.  This is one thing that the Laughlin International Film Festival really knows.  They have an awesome approach and philosophy that runs through the entire organization and in turn is demonstrated throughout the event they have developed and executed on.
To find out what you missed and to get involved with the awesome Laughlin International Film Festival for next year 2014, go to their sponsor page or send a direct email to  

No comments:

Post a Comment