24 September, 2012

Rome International Film Festival superlatives

The DeSoto Theatre in Rome. (Image from www.romeinternationalfilmfestival.com)

It has taken much longer to write about everything that went down at RIFF than it actually took for RIFF to happen. Here we are, 8 feature and 24 short reviews later, wrapping up with the best of the Rome International Film Festival. These are my personal picks and I include short films in the mix for the general categories.

A lot of good acting was on screen this month in Rome. "Heathens and Thieves" gave us a sprawling ensemble with a standout in Don Swayze. "Born & Raised" was anchored by an excellent Nick Loritsch, who also wrote the screenplay. Short films produced some of the best performances from actresses at the festival, with the ladies of "Life Through a Lens" and "Shoot the Moon" leading the way.

There is no sense in breaking down all of technical aspects, so I'll stick to the big ones. "American Songwriter" made a Danny Darst fan out of me. His music is a clear indicator of just how cool this guy is. Gareth Coker's score for the short film "Waking Up" resonated with me more than any other, going up against heavy hitters Sigur Rós for titles like "In Our Hands" and "La Source." Shia LaBeouf wrote and directed his debut film "HowardCantour.com" and could not have captured film critics any better. Finally, it is no secret how in love I am with Ellenor Argyropoulos' "Life Through a Lens."

Chris Giddens' short film "A Story of Our Hero (to 1910)" is an experimental film that he plans on expanding as his funding increases. I can't wait to see how it progresses. I was lucky enough to screen "Born & Raised" before the festival began, but I'm afraid not nearly enough people were able to enjoy the film, due to a late timeslot on the last night of the festival. Kristin Wright's award-winning "Superhero" borrowed the sights and streets of Macon, showcasing Georgia beautifully.

It might look odd that I give "La Source" the Best Documentary honor over "American Songwriter," but the latter doesn't fit the category very well. "La Source" is a lively and emotional look at a man's fight for water in his Haitian hometown. "American Songwriter," while also nonfiction, is a musical experience that is in category all it's own. I have already said that "Life Through a Lens" was the best short at RIFF, but I also consider it to be the absolute Best of the Fest. 

Best Actor: Nick Lortisch - "Born & Raised"
Best Actress: Kath Gordon - "Life Through a Lens"
Best Supporting Actor: Don Swayze - "Heathens and Thieves"
Best Supporting Actress: Rachel Grate - "Shoot the Moon"
Best Ensemble: "Heathens and Thieves"
Best Soundtrack: Danny Darst - "American Songwriter"
Best Score: Gareth Coker - "Waking Up"
Best Screenplay: Shia LaBeouf - "HowardCantour.com"
Best Director: Ellenor Argyropoulos - "Life Through a Lens"
Most Promising Project: Chris Giddens - "A Story of Our Hero (to 1910)"
Most Undervalued Film: Joshua Dragge, Austin Eckstein, Nick Loritsch - "Born & Raised"
Best Georgia Showcase: Kristin Wright, Jeff Shipman - "Superhero"
Best Short Film: Ellenor Argyropoulos - "Life Through a Lens"
Best Documentary Film: Patrick Shen, Brandon Vedder, Jordan Wagner - "La Source"
Best Narrative Film: Matthew Marconi, Peter H. Scott - "Heathens and Thieves"
Best Film: Michael Altman, Karon Altman, Phillip Gessert - "American Songwriter"
Best of the Fest: Ellenor Argyropoulos - "Life Through a Lens"


  1. Way to go, Born And Raised, Nick, and cast and crew!

  2. Great job Rachel Grate - "Shoot the Moon", well deserved. Congratulations to everyone!

  3. Great job Rachel Grate - "Shoot the Moon", well deserved. Congratulations to everyone!