June 12, 2024
Annapolis, US 72 F

Here are the Winners from the 12th Annual Annapolis Film Festival

The 12th annual Annapolis Film Festival concluded its four-day cinematic celebration with an array of exceptional films from around the world. Over 80 new release films were showcased, captivating audiences and jurors alike with their storytelling prowess and cinematic excellence.

Among those in attendance was Jennifer Esposito, marking her writing and directorial debut with Fresh Kills alongside co-star Emily Bader, who will also star in the upcoming Amazon Prime Video series My Lady Jane. Through Fresh Kills, Esposito expertly guides us through a gut-wrenching view of women caught up in a mafia family. This is a point of view we’ve never seen before–Fresh Kills is the first “mob movie” written and directed by an American woman. These raw portrayals challenge old mores as we witness a young woman (Emily Bader) find her voice in a world that tells her not to have one. Fresh Kills earned two Jury Awards for Best Narrative Feature and Best Ensemble Cast (Jennifer Esposito, Emily Bader, Odessa A’zion, Domenick Lombardozzi, Annabella Sciorra, David Iacono, Nicholas Cirillo, Franco Maicas). 

Written and directed by the husband-and-wife team, Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart, Suze delves into the sorrow of abandonment and the transformative power of human connection. The film stars Michaela Watkins, Charlie Gillespie, and Sara Waisglass. When her only daughter goes off to university, a heartbroken and empty-nest mother gets stuck taking care of her daughter’s ex-boyfriend, who she can’t stand. Watkins is the emotional center of the film, with her warmth and relatability. The comedy derives from scenes with Brooke’s ex-boyfriend, Gage, played by Charlie Gillespie, as a lovable goofball whose heart is also broken by Brooke’s departure (Sara Waisglass). Clark and Stewart walked off the stage with two prizes in hand: the Special Jury Prize for Screenwriting and the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. 

Taking home the Jury Prize and the Audience Award for Best Short Film was Camping in Paradise, directed by Eirik Tveiten. Lead actors Espen Aknes and Oddrun Valestrand were in attendance for their North American premiere. Camping In Paradise is an uproarious and insightful comedy about a philosopher and his girlfriend who find themselves in a nudist colony when their car breaks down on their anniversary weekend. Director Eirik Tveiten’s previous Oscar-nominated short film, Night Ride, screened at the Annapolis Film Festival in 2022, where it also won a Jury Prize.

Amidst the abundance of cinematic talent, several films emerged as standouts, garnering prestigious awards from the festival’s esteemed jury and enthusiastic audiences.

Award Winners:

  • Fresh Kills, directed by Jennifer Esposito
  • Jury Prize for Best Feature Film
  • Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Cast
  • Suze, directed by Dane Clark and Linsey Stewart
  • Special Jury Prize for Screenwriting
  • Audience Award for Best Feature Film
  • Mediha, directed by Hasan Oswald
  • Jury Prize for Best Feature Documentary
  • Call Me Dancer, directed by Pip Gilmour and Leslie Shampaine
  • Audience Award for Best Feature Documentary
  • Camping in Paradise, directed by Erik Tveiten
  • Jury Prize for Best Short Film
  • Audience Award for Best Short Film
  • The Test, directed by Laura Waters Hinson and Claudia Myers
  • Jury Prize for Best Short Documentary
  • The Furniture (Le Mobilier), directed by Mehdi Pierret
  • Jury Prize for Best Student Film
  • Lovebugs, directed by Teddy Alvarez-Nissen
  • Special Jury Award for Imagination in a Short Film
  • You Will Not Replace Us, directed by Josh Greene and Luke Harris
  • Audience Award for Best Short Documentary

The festival, held in the historic city of Annapolis, witnessed an impressive lineup of films spanning various genres, from thought-provoking documentaries to narrative shorts and features. It included panel discussions, Q&A sessions, coffee talks, showcases, short programming, and the Shorts Challenge, a live pitch competition. Over 75 filmmakers attended, including Edie Falco with her new film, I’ll Be Right There. 

After a years-long industry struggle through the WGA and SAG strikes, the slate that emerged presented films that underscore the universal themes of family, resiliency, and connection. Throughout the festival, filmmakers shared experiences among artists and built a heartfelt community, an intentional tenant of the Annapolis Film Festival.

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