Film fest wraps up with awards ceremony

Apr 25 , 2008

The Herald-Dispatch

HUNTINGTON -- There really is nothing like seeing a film on the drive-in movie-sized screen at the Keith-Albee Performing Arts Center.

The Greater Huntington Film ion wrapped up another great weekend of film last week during the fifth annual Appalachian Film Festival.

At the Saturday night awards ceremony at the Frederick, it was inspiring to listen to such prolific regional filmmakers such as Bill Richardson, of Williamson, W.Va. His "Crash Gordon," took second place in the features category.

Other winners included first place feature: "Tattered Angel," Will Benson, Cincinnati and third place: "Grilling Bobby Hicks," Tommy Wood and Marc Benton, Lawrenceville, Ga.

Documentary winners were first place: "Change Comes Knocking: The Story of the North Carolina Fund," Rebecca Cerese, Durham, N.C.; second place: "Mountain Top Removal," Michael O'Connell, Pittsboro, N.C.

Screenplay winners were first place: "Juniper Bass," C.B. Wilson, Ruther Glen, Va., and second place: "11:11," Meg Lansaw, Wilmington, N.C. (formerly of Huntington).

Short film winner was "Joe Mover," Gabe Fazio and Lev Gorn, Sunnyside, N.Y.

Young Filmmaker first place went to "Anthropophobia," Zachery Groff, McLean, Va.

Micro-Film winner was Simulacra," Tatchapon Lertwifojkul, New York City.

Nashville star

North Carolina film maker Michael O'Connell, whose powerful film, "Mountain Top Removal," (mostly shot in West Virginia) took second place at the Appy, also won the 2008 Reel Current Award from the Nashville Film Festival.

He was presented with the award last week by former vice president and Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore at the Regal Green Hills Cinemas where the festival took place.

West Virginia resident and fighter for Marsh Fork Elementary School, Ed Wiley and his granddaughter, Kayla Taylor, joined O'Connell and the film's producers Gill Holland and Augusta Brown Holland at the presentation. Wiley said he liked the film because it allowed the audience to connect with the emotions of families dealing with mountain top removal mining.

Props to the paddlers

Heath Damron and the brave kayakers in the Marshall University Whitewater Club have been at it again.

Damron's film, "Another Year: In the Life of the Marshall Whitewater Club," won the Paddler's Choice Award in late February.

The short film features a bunch of local paddlers such as Chris Barry, Casey Cunningham, Damron, Stacey Bowen, Jim Denvir, Seth Collins and others paddling down roaring and windy, boulder-filled creeks in the mountains.

Ramped up with a good soundtrack of tunes, it's a real rush watching them run "Headless Horseman" on Lower Mill Creek, the Back Fork of the Elk, Brush Creek Falls and a first descent of Juggernaut Falls on Loup Creek.

"Another Year" also has some footage inside the pool sessions at Marshall, the training ground for area paddlers wanting to learn and hone the skills in the hardboats.

Go online at to see the film and new videos just shot this spring. Go online at to see more of the films and learn how you can watch the touring roadshow of whitewater films.

Honeydripping with Sayles

Famed filmmaker John Sayles ("Matewan") has his latest film at the West Virginia International Spring Film Festival.

"Honeydripper," starring Danny Glover and Charles Dutton, tells the story of the Honeydripper Lounge, a "juke joint" in 1950 rural Alabama that resorts to the help of a mysterious young drifter musician to try to save the Honeydripper.

The film rolls at 3 p.m. Saturday. Go online at

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