Friday, September 15, 2006

Film Fest celebrates winners

Express Staff Writer

Three awards were given at the Sun Valley Film Festival. The first two were judged by festival founders Mary Gervase and Claudio Ruben. Festival board members voted for the third award.

The Best Children's Picture was awarded to "The Peace Tree," a film about two young girls, one Muslim and one Christian, who dream of celebrating each other's festivals, Christmas and Eid. Their parents are resistant to the idea. Directed by Mitra Sen, this film shares the voices of children who try to enlighten their parents to the importance of sharing and celebrating diversity together.

Best Film was awarded to "The Big Question," an Italian film shot simultaneously with Mel Gibson's "The Passion of Christ," and featuring the cast and crew of that movie. Off of the big motion picture set, they discuss their own concepts of spirituality, independently of the story line of Gibson's film. Francesco Cabras, one of the directors, flew in from Italy to screen the film and answer questions.

The Frida Award was donated by Bex Wilkinson, who said it is named after "my inspiration, Frida Kahlo, and was given to the filmmaker who had a message of meaning, great artistic content, the potential to make great work and helped deliver a message of transformation."

The award was given to the best up-and-coming spiritual filmmaker, Diego Rafecas, who flew in from Argentina to present his film, "Un Buda." The film follows two brothers orphaned as children in the 1970s, when their parents—taken by the military—were among Argentina's "disappeared."

"This was a $1,000 cash prize that I offered from my production company, Frida Productions, to inspire filmmakers to create works of film that help transform suffering into healing, pain into light," Wilkinson said. "The board viewed six films of first-time filmmakers and voted on what they felt was the best picture."

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