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Oxford Film Festival announces winners of 2020 virtual fest

The Oxford Film Festival’s 2020 virtual edition is still going, but it celebrated the best of this year’s films during a virtual awards ceremony this past weekend.

The festival is releasing a new lineup of films online that would have screened during the originally scheduled dates of March 18 through the 22 each week through September. This year’s in-person festival was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In a year of so much uncertainty and figuring out how to reinvent and innovate and not just look forward to how we would do things in the future when it came to presenting and celebrating film and the people responsible for making those films, we knew it was vital to demonstrate our appreciation for the films we did select this year,” said OFF executive director Melanie Addington. “This film festival has always tried to be a leader in our industry and this state, and following through with the presentation of our awards virtually was in the plans from the beginning of our decision to pivot to our weekly virtual fests and Off to the Drive-In screening events. We are intensely proud of these films and filmmakers, and are thrilled to officially recognize them as prize winners.”

Taking home the top Hoka award was David Midell’s “The Killing of Kenneth Chamberlin” for Best Narrative Feature, along with a $15,000 camera rental package from Panavision. The movie was noted for its inventive recreation of the 2011 police killing of an unarmed black man in White Plains, N.Y.

The Best Documentary Feature award went to Pailin Wendel and Nina Ija’s “Hope Frozen,” which also won a $15,000 camera rental package from Panavision.

Danielle Deadwyler, who performed in the film “Reckoning,” won the Lisa Blount Memorial Acting Award. The Alice Guy-Blaché Emerging Female Filmmaker Award and $1,000 from the Louis M. Rabinowitz Foundation went to Haroula Rose, who directed “Once Upon a River.” Deepak Sethi won the inaugural Angie Thomas Zeitgeist Award for his film, “Coffee Shop Names.”

The Best Mississippi Feature Film award went to Larissa Lam’s “Far East Deep South.” The jury cited the film as “a deeply human and life-affirming film that shows that the history of the American South was not written only in black and white, but in many shades of the rainbow and is deeply representative of many parts of the United States.”

Best Mississippi Documentary Feature went to Je’Monda Roy’s “Getting to the Root,” and Erin Palmquist’s “From Baghdad to the Bay” won Best LGBTQIA+ Feature. Best Music Documentary went to Travis Beard’s “Rockabul.” Garin Hovanniisian’s “I Am Not Alone” won Best Foreign Language Film.

In the short film category, Best Narrative Short went to Giulia Gandini’s “My Time,” and Best LGBTQIA+ Short went to Patrick G. Lee’s “Unspoken.” Best Documentary Short went to Johanis Lyons-Reid and Lorcan Hopper’s “The Loop.” Best Music Documentary Short went to Dillon M Hayes’ “All I Have to Offer You is Me,” and Kyle Taubaken’s “The Brothers Brothers” was named Best Mississippi Short.

In the Fest Forward category, Danski Tang’s “Umbilical” won Fest Forward Best Animation prize. Ricardo Werdesheim, Moran Somer and Osi Wald’s “Joints” won the Fest Forward Best Experimental prize.

Katrina Blair’s “Pain,” by Bandrunna Gwaup, was named Best Music Video, and Chanelle Eidenbenz’s “Elephant in the Room” took home Best Student Film honors.

The Short Screenplay competition, which awards the winner a $1,000 check, Final Draft software and a mentorship with John Norris was won by Jonathan Mirabill’s “Phelandra.” Javier Molina will receive a $15,000 check as the winner of the Artist Vodka Award for his film, “Wonder.”

New board president Steve Case was surprised with the Donna Ruth Volunteer of the Year Award for his previous work and dedication to the film festival prior to taking on the new leadership role.

For more information on this year’s winners and to purchase tickets to the virtual fest, visit oxfordfilmfest.com.


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