The third annual Sun Valley Film Festival wrapped up a successful, fun-packed festival over the weekend with a jumping Saturday night awards party hosted by actor Michael Weaver and a rousing set by Nashville rockers Those Darlins entertained the crowd with the winners pogoing and moshing their way into the night. Sunday saw a final Coffee Talk with filmmaker Kevin Smith on hand to delight a packed house at the nexStage Theater, as well present an encore 20th anniversary screening of his landmark film “Clerks.”
“I am so pleased with this year’s fest,” said festival programming director Laura Mehlhaff. “The audiences came out in droves and the attending filmmakers all had a spectacular time viewing each others’ works and interacting with all the great industry guests.”
This year saw the launch of a new initiative at the SVFF in partnership with Nat Geo WILD and the African Wildlife Foundation. The first WILD to INSPIRE prize was awarded to Dan Duran, Sam Price-Waldman, and Brendan Nahmias for “Wolf Mountain.” Director Dan Duran will receive an opportunity to study filmmaking and wildlife in the Maasai Steppe landscape in Tanzania, Africa with Emmy Award winning cinematographer, Bob Poole.
Nat Geo WILD and Sun Valley Film Festival also announced they will be doing a second competition. More details to follow in the coming months.
The SVFF features a diverse list of awards, including two cash prizes designated specifically for Idaho filmmakers and one for student filmmakers under 18 years old. In addition to two audience awards (narrative and documentary), the festival’s juried awards include:
• The Vision Award: Recognizes a producer’s ability to keep a dramatic, feature length film in focus during the journey of the project. Winner: “Little Accidents,” Jason Berman, Anne Carey, Tom Fore, and Summer Shelton, producers.
• The “One-In-A-Million” Awards: One narrative and one documentary for feature length films made for under $1,000,000. Winners: Jeremy Saulnier for “Blue Ruin” and Anthony Powell for “Antarctica: A Year on Ice.”
• The Audience award: Winner: Mike Myers for “Supermensch.”
• The Gem State Award: Presented by festival sponsor Zions Bank, is a $1,000 juried prize that recognizes an Idaho filmmaker whose work best reflects the beauty and diversity of the Gem State. Winner: Andrew Garcia and Nathan Garcia for “The Lighthouse.”
• The Gem State Junior Award: Recognizes the best short film made by an Idaho student aged 18 or younger along with a prize of $250. Winner: Ethan Holt for “The Mind Absent of Silence.”
• The Hot Shot Award: Presented to the best film helmed by a student filmmaker under 18 years old along with a $500 cash reward, sponsored by the Marshall Frankel Foundation. Winner: Malone Lumarda for “Black Rock Creek.”
• The Shorty Award: Presented to the best short story film, no matter the genre or aesthetic. Winner: Elliot Thomson for “Le Refuge.”
• The Focus Award: Celebrates the cinematographer who most brings the film’s vision into focus.Winner: Zack Spiger for “Run.”