The 10th annual Run & Shoot Filmworks Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival (MVAAFF), a nurturing and competitive environment that allows emerging and established filmmakers to test their creativity, took place in Oak Bluffs, Mass., from Aug. 7 to 11, and concluded its 10th year by honoring independent filmmakers and producers.
Co-founded by husband-and-wife team Floyd and Stephanie Rance, the five-day festival attracted filmmakers, directors, writers and actors to Martha’s Vineyard, as well as island residents, shopkeepers and tourists.
“We congratulate the 2012 winners and applaud all of the talent and creativity showcased throughout this year’s MVAAFF. Floyd and I are extremely proud of the work we have done thus far and look forward to a bright future on Martha’s Vineyard,” Stephanie Rance said.
The event is much more than a film festival; it is a place where participants can network and create lasting relationships. Because of the island’s size, they are much more likely to run into the same person, thus creating an opportunity to pitch ideas, organizers said.
The five-day festival, which showcased more than 60 independent films, also featured workshops by Darrien Gipson, the national director of SAGIndie, and Sheldon Levy, executive vice president at Saatchi & Saatchi advertising agency.
CNN, in its third year of sponsoring the festival, for the first time gave out the CNN Outstanding Documentary Award. This inaugural award was given to director Deborah Riley Draper for her compelling documentary on the first African-American supermodels, “Versailles ’73: American Runway Revolution.”
The other honors awarded were:
Saatchi & Saatchi “Nothing is Impossible” Award: “Wolf,” directed by Ya’ke Smith, a compelling feature that deals with molestation and the church.
HBO Short Film: “The Tombs,” directed by Jerry LaMothe, a gripping short film about a Brooklyn man’s three-day journey through New York’s infamous central booking jail system.
HBO Feature Film: “The Last Fall,” directed by Matthew Cherry, in which a professional football journeyman struggles with life’s complexities after his professional career is over.
HBO Documentary: “The Contradictions of Fair Hope,” directed by S. Epatha Merkerson and Rockell Metcalf, asks of viewers, “There is a heaven side and a hell side: Which side will you be on?”
The Rances, Keisha Taylor (CNN), Sheldon Levy (Saatchi & Saatchi) and Lucinda Martinez (HBO) presented the statues to the honorees amid a crowd at the Martha’s Vineyard Performing Arts Center.
“It is exciting to be a part of the festival and see the very creative and compelling work that the filmmakers are presenting,” Martinez said. “HBO is always interested in supporting the efforts of these great artists emerging from our community who can deliver work that is entertaining, educational and very relevant.”
“Winning the Saatchi & Saatchi Award was a very pleasant surprise! When you pour your blood, sweat and tears into a project, it is validating and exciting when people recognize the hard work, and being recognized by Saatchi & Saatchi is a testament that hard work does pay off,” Smith said.
“It is an honor to be a recipient of the HBO Best Feature Film Award at the 2012 Martha’s Vineyard African American Film Festival. There were a lot of great filmmakers in competition this year, and it was an honor to be included in the same field of such outstanding individuals at one of the premier film festivals in the country,” Cherry said.
After the well-attended and highly anticipated HBO short film competition concluded, it was time for the awards ceremony. All of the sponsor’s nominees and finalists were acknowledged, and now it was time to announce the winners.
All of the filmmakers at the festival shared a camaraderie and seemed genuinely supportive of one another. When Merkerson’s name was called for Best HBO Documentary, everyone sprung up and rejoiced.
As winners exulted, Floyd Rance was already looking forward to the next festival.
“We will also be launching a new addition to the Run & Shoot family in 2013. Stay tuned,” he said.
The annual Run & Shoot Filmworks Martha’s Vineyard African-American Film Festival honors the best and the brightest in African-American film and cinematography. Since its inception in 2002, the MVAAFF has been a fertile ground for new talent and a door opener for many aspiring filmmakers. For further information about the festival, visit www.mvaaff.com. For sponsorship inquiries, contact 718-715-8096 or firstname.lastname@example.org