All the exceptional films screened at DCIFF in Washington DC March 4-8th were in competition and it is with great pleasure that we congratulate the winners and wish both the creators and the films great success going forward.
Best High School Films
- First Place: The Program (USA/2019/17 mins) directed by Autumn Morgan
- Second Place: Happy Pill (USA/2019/7:18mins) directed by Wyatt Richards
- Third Place: Static (USA/2019/4:45mins) directed by Jackson Little.
Best Metro DC Film
- The Imminent Expiration of Seth Dodson (USA/2019/11:36mins/fiction) directed by Alex Craig
Best Narrative Short (fiction)
- Maradona’s Legs (Germany/2019/20mins) directed by Firas Khoury
Best Series Pilot/Episode
- Good Genes (USA/2020/19mins) directed by Hannah Welever
Best Documentary Short
- Our Alexandria (USA/2019/17mins) directed by Robin Hamilton
Best Documentary Feature Film
- Medicating Normal (USA/2019/76mins) directed by Lynn Cunningham and Wendy Ractliffe
Best Animated Short Film
- Chapped (USA/2019/7.52 mins/stop-action animation) directed by Chelsea Rugg
Best International Film
- Sema (Speak Out) (Dem.Rep. of Congo/2019/45mins/feature) directed by Macherie Ekwa Bahango
Best Feature Film
- Love Type D (UK/2019/95mins) directed by Sasha Collington
Best of Fest
- Life In Synchro (USA/2020/53mins/documentary) directed by Angela Pinaglia
Leading up to this year’s festival, we will be highlighting the fascinating stories behind our 2014 filmmakers and their submissions.
For director Ron Judkins, the phrase “it takes a village” could not have been truer than during the production of his feature film Finding Neighbors. Ron’s village consisted of those near and far with the help of 313 different backers on Kickstarter and his local neighborhood of Atwater Village in Los Angeles.
“Our original goal was to hit 200 Kickstarter backers, assuming family, friends and crew members would contribute. Then it started expanding and we began gaining support from people we didn’t even know,” Ron explained. “One of our largest backers was a complete stranger; Sam’s story really spoke to him.” Finding Neighbors follows a stay-at-home graphic novelist, Sam Tucker, battling a mid-life crisis and forming new relationships with his next-door neighbors, while trying to preserve his marriage.
Ron also felt a personal connection to his main character. After winning two Academy Awards® for Best Sound (Jurassic Park, Saving Private Ryan), Judkins brought his first directorial film The Hi-Line to Sundance in 1999 and gained a distribution deal with Showtime. He hoped his success would parlay into some larger films but instead, they were continually delayed in development.
Ron decided to take matters into his own hands. He approached his longtime Atwater Village neighbor, Judy Korin, with a finished screenplay and she immediately agreed to join the project as a producer along with his wife, Jennifer Young. Judy wasn’t the only one in Atwater Village to embrace Finding Neighbors. “When obtaining film permits to shoot the film, we would go door-to-door and apologetically explain we were shooting Finding Neighbors throughout Atwater. We expected people to be upset but were surprised at the moral support and offers of help from the neighborhood,” Judy said during a phone interview.
One such example was makeup artist Kelcey Fry, whose work appears in The Artist and The Pirates of the Caribbean films. Kelcey volunteered her time to mentor Finding Neighbors’ makeup artists, both of whom were just getting started in their careers. Another neighbor had a sound studio in his backyard and helped saved post-production costs by letting the crew do some of their ADR work there. Says Judkins, “This film would not have been possible without the generosity of our Atwater Village neighbors.”
Finding Neighbors will be making its East Coast première at DCIFF on Sunday, February 23rd at 5pm. Be sure to check out the Finding Neighbors website for great behind the scenes clips including a look into how animation was integrated into the film, as well as a listen in on the soundtrack. You can also sign up for Ron’s production sound masterclass at DCIFF, starting at 2pm on Sunday.
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Tagged Academy Award, Atwater Village, DCIFF, East Coast premiere, feature film, film festival, Finding Neighbors, indie film, Jennifer Young, Judy Korin, Kelcey Fry, kickstarter, Ron Judkins, Showtime, Sundance, The Hi-Line, washington dc