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Sunrise 45 Film Festival winners announced

Organizers have announced the winners in the first annual Sunrise 45 Film Festival held last weekend in Alpena. The three-day event, organized by the Thunder Bay Film Society, offered a full menu of more than 40 short and full feature films as well as a number of music videos.

“The festival went very well for our inaugural year,” said film society member and organizer Kristin Neumann. “It was definitely a learning experience, and we will need to tweak a few things for next year, but overall it ran smoothly and attendees have commented that they enjoyed themselves.”

She also said the film festival had the support the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce, which helped considerably.

“They put us in touch with the ‘A-Team’ volunteers, and we could not have done it without them,” Neumann said. “We also had volunteers reach out from the community. Our volunteers were critical.”

She expressed appreciation for the filmmakers who traveled to Alpena for the event and helped to make it a success.

“Directors came from near and far (as far away as Amsterdam!) to show their films and interact with the audience,” Neumann said.

The most well attended screenings were for “Buzzard,” “Staring Down Fate” and “The Teacher and the Student.” After these films were shown the directors did question and answer sessions where festival goers were able to ask them about their films.

“Those interactions were what made this experience unique. You just don’t get the chance to do that anywhere else,” Neumann said.

Films were screen at three venues – Thunder Bay Theatre, Alpena Civic Theatre and Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center – with awards determined by both judges and the audience. Those garnering awards were:

∫ Best Feature Film: Staring Down Fate by Jeffrey Mittelstadt (USA)

∫ Best Short Film: The Teacher and the Student by Mary Ellen Jones (USA)

∫ Best Documentary Film: Angles of the Sky by Trent McGee (USA)

∫ Best Experimental Film: Osaka in Japan by Duumok Lee (Japan)

∫ Best Dramatic Film: Cup of Tea by Jitendra Rai (India)

∫ Best Student Film: Hum by Tom Teller (USA)

∫ Best Sinister Short Film: Frost Bite by Zachary Irving (USA)

∫ Best International Film: Light Sight by Seyed M. Tabatabaei (Iran)

∫ Best Comedic Film: The Gunfighter by Stephen Florentine (USA)

∫ Best Music Video: Mataleon – “Carrie” by Giorgia Brandolese (Italy)

Neumann complimented the three venues, saying each went above and beyond to make the film festival a success.

“They helped us work out the kinks with projectors and even supplied their own volunteers to assist us with this project,” she said. “Festival goers were able to walk from venue to venue in between screenings, which gave them the chance to experience downtown Alpena.”

Serving as judges were Tim Kuehnlein (Alpena Community College and Thunder Bay Arts Council); William Vincent (Michigan State University); and John Blakemore (University of Missouri)

Festival goers also were given ballots to vote for Best Feature Film and Best Short Film.

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