Grand Jury and Audience Awards from 2017 Florida Film Festival

By Leslie C. Halpern

Another exciting Florida Film Festival has come and gone. The 26th annual event, produced by Enzian Theater and held throughout Central Florida each April, was great as always, with more than 180 feature and short films, in addition to celebrity guests, special events, film forums, parties, and lots of wonderful food. Over the final weekend, winners of the American Independent Competition were announced and given prizes at an Awards Bash held at Enzian Theater.

Strad Style. Photo courtesy of Florida Film Festival.

I wasn’t able to see all the winning films this year, but one notable documentary winner stood out for me. That was Strad Style, directed by Stefan Avalos, which won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. In this film, Danny Houck, an impoverished and eccentric music lover, agrees to build a recreation of a 300-year-old violin for world-renown virtuoso violinist Razcan Stoica, despite having no formal training, proper workspace, or professional tools. It’s a process film where audience members follow along with each trial and error up until the final day before Stoica’s concert. It’s also a movie with heart that views its troubled central character with compassion and respect. I’m so glad Avalos (who was in attendance at the Festival) was able to go home with the award. And now for the winners:

SHORTS

  • Special Jury Award for Comic Originality was presented to No Other Way to Say It, directed by Tim Mason
  • Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Short was presented to Red Apples, directed George Sikharulidze
  • Grand Jury Award for Best Animated Short was presented to Hot Dog Hands, directed by Matt Reynolds
  • Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Short was presented to The Rabbit Hunt, directed by Patrick Bresnan
  • Audience Award for Best Short Film was presented to Summer Camp Island, directed by Julia Pott
  • Audience Award for Best Midnight Short was presented to Do No Harm, directed by Roseanne Liang

DOCUMENTARY FEATURES

  • Special Jury Award for Vision and Storytelling was presented to The Peacemaker, directed by James Demo
  • Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature was presented to Strad Style, directed by Stefan Avalos
  • Grand Jury Award for Best Documentary Feature was presented to Rat Film, directed by Theo Anthony

NARRATIVE FEATURES

  • Special Jury Award for Acting was presented to Robin Weigert – Pushing Dead, directed by Tom E. Brown
  • Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature was presented to Girl Flu., directed by Dorie Barton
  • Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Feature was presented to Dave Made a Maze, directed by Bill Watterson

INTERNATIONAL

  • Audience Award for Best International Feature was presented to I Dream in another Language (Mexico/Netherlands), directed by Ernesto Contreras
  • Audience Award for Best International Short was presented to 5 Films About Technology (Canada), directed by Peter Huang

For more information about Florida Film Festival, visit the official website.

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