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The 2021 Naples International Film Festival Announces Filmmaker Award Winners


The 2021 Naples International Film Festival Announces Filmmaker Award Winners

The 2021 Naples International Film Festival announced the filmmaker award winners during the Closing Night Awards Ceremony on Sunday, October 24.

The jury prize for Best Narrative Feature (and a cash prize of $2,500) went to Lissette Feliciano's Women Is Losers, and the jury prize for Best Documentary Feature (and $2,500) was given to Justin Monroe's Holy Frit. Audience Awards went to Jonathan Keijser's Peace by Chocolate (Best Narrative Feature), Christopher Chambers' A Fire Within (Best Documentary Feature) and Maria Brendle's Ala Kachuu - Take and Run (Best Short Film). Both feature films received cash prizes of $1,000 and the short film winner received a cash prize of $500.

NIFF's trio of judges for the 2021 edition of the juried competition included Cinema Management Group's Lydia Ianni, producer Suzanne Warren (Hacksaw Ridge) and journalist/critic Dan Kois (Slate).

The filmmaker awards selected by the festival programmers included Austrian filmmaker Bernadette Wegenstein winning NIFF's coveted Focus on the Arts Award and $1,500 for her film, The Conductor; Robin Hauser's $avvy winning the Impact Award for the social and racial awareness explored through her film; Deirdre O'Conner's One Moment winning the Indie Spirit Award; and Jim Bernfield's Me To Play selected as the Programmers' Choice honoree. Roshan Sethi's 7 Days took Best First Feature honors, while Like the Ones I Used to Know director Annie St-Pierre won this year's Rising Star Award. Each of these filmmakers also received a $250 cash prize.

The Filmmaker Awards ceremony was an emotional one with $avvy's Robin Hauser stating that she hoped she would "have the courage to make another film" so she could return to NIFF once again. Christopher Chambers said that following an extensive and successful film festival tour for his film, A Fire Within, he was overwhelmed to see it for the first time with an audience in the theater. Holy Frit's Justin Monroe concluded the filmmaker awards acceptance speeches with an impassioned thank you to the Artis-Naples/NIFF team and Naples film fans for their support of the filmmakers and their work, emphasizing what the experience-from being accepted into the film festival, to the hospitality and generosity of the organization, to the very vocal approval of the audiences-means to filmmakers and how it helps propel their films' paths forward.

As part of an overarching theme of celebrating "The Art of the Short," NIFF opened for the first time with a presentation of five short films for the Naples film fans at Artis-Naples' Hayes Hall. In-person and in-theater screenings and filmmaker panels, including presentations under the stars in Norris Garden on Artisa"?Naples' Kimberly K. Querrey and Louis A. Simpson Cultural Campus and at Silverspot Cinema delighted audiences who were happy to return to the theater to see films on the big screen. Audiences were also able to engage with filmmakers in the way that has made NIFF famous as one of the nationally recognized "Coolest Film Festivals in the World."

The Naples International Film Festival wrapped things up in entertaining and multidisciplinary style following the filmmaker awards with a special presentation of Robert Zemeckis' Back to the Future featuring a live performance of Alan Silvestri's classic score by the Naples Philharmonic, conducted by Principal Pops Conductor Jack Everly.

The 2021 Naples International Film Festival Award Winners:


Best Narrative Feature - $2,500

Women Is Losers
Director: Lissette Feliciano

Best Documentary Feature - $2,500

Holy Frit
Director: Justin Monroe


Focus on the Arts Award - $1,500

The Conductor
Director: Bernadette Wegenstein

Impact Award - $250

Director: Robin Hauser

Indie Spirit Award - $250

One Moment
Director: Deirdre O'Conner

Programmers' Choice Award - $250

Me To Play
Director: Jim Bernfield

Best First Feature - $250

7 Days
Director: Roshan Sethi

Rising Star Award - $250
Like the Ones I Used to Know

Director: Annie St-Pierre


Audience Award Winner, Narrative Feature - $1,000

Peace by Chocolate
Director: Jonathan Keijser

Audience Award Winner, Documentary Feature - $1,000

A Fire Within
Director: Christopher Chambers

Audience Award Winner, Best Short Film - $500

Ala Kachuu - Take and Run
Director: Maria Brendle

Special thanks to Festival Presenting Sponsors Dr. Richard Lublin and Christine Stahl, and to the Collier County Tourist Development Council for additional generous support. Thanks also to Rebecca Lambert and Jonathan Sonne and the Woodruff Institute, Bobbi and David Drobis, Entech, Stan and Sarann Kraushaar and media sponsors Gulfshore Life and Naples Daily News.

Home of The Baker Museum and the Naples Philharmonic, Artis-Naples is unique among cultural institutions nationwide, equally dedicated to both the visual and performing arts featuring artists of global distinction.

Led by CEO and President Kathleen van Bergen and Sharon and Timothy Ubben Music Director Andrey Boreyko, we offer audiences more than 800 paid and free events annually within a variety of venues and settings situated throughout the 8.5-acre Kimberly K. Querrey and Louis A. Simpson Cultural Campus. Artis-Naples welcomes thousands of visitors each year for a broad array of artistic and educational opportunities perfect for audiences of all backgrounds and interests. The cultural campus is home to five buildings, including two performance halls (Frances Pew Hayes Hall and Myra J. Daniels Pavilion), The Baker Museum, the Toni Stabile Education Building and the Kohan Administration Building. In the 2014-15 season, Andrey Boreyko assumed the title of music director and serves in this capacity for Artis-Naples. Boreyko is internationally recognized as one of the most exciting and dynamic conductors working today. This appointment, which concludes in 2022, is his first American post. The Wall Street Journal says van Bergen and Boreyko have ushered in "an impressive new phase" for classical music in Southwest Florida.

The Naples Philharmonic has long been recognized as one of the cornerstones of Southwest Florida's arts community. As part of Artis-Naples, the Naples Philharmonic performs more than 140 orchestral and chamber music concerts, as well as opera and ballet, education, community and special event concerts annually between September and June in the 1,477-seat Hayes Hall, the 283-seat Daniels Pavilion and around the Southwest Florida region. Jack Everly is Principal Pops Conductor and in the 2021-22 season celebrates 12 years in this role, bringing pops performances that celebrate music in its many forms. In 2017, Romanian conductor Radu Paponiu was named assistant conductor of the Naples Philharmonic and director of the Naples Philharmonic Youth Orchestra, and in 2019, he was promoted to associate conductor.

The Baker Museum is one of the foremost fine art museums in Southwest Florida. The museum hosts several traveling exhibitions annually to complement installations of works from its permanent collection. Comprising more than 4,000 objects, the museum's broad holdings of 20th- and 21st-century art reflect the generosity and commitment of area collectors. Of particular strength are The Baker Museum's collections of American and Mexican modern art and significant gifts from the personal collection of Olga Hirshhorn. With more than two decades of collecting and exhibiting, the museum is dedicated to stewardship and scholarship from both its growing permanent collection and outside sources. At the same time, The Baker Museum seeks out the best traveling exhibitions from the leading arts institutions in the world-including recently the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Smithsonian Institutions-to enrich the Southwest Florida community. In fall 2020, Artis-Naples celebrated the opening of an 18,000-square-foot expansion of The Baker Museum, designed by Weiss/Manfredi Architecture/Landscape/Urbanism, that created new spaces for multidisciplinary exploration and social interaction.

In addition to creating and presenting visual and performing arts, Artis-Naples provides robust education and community activities for students of all ages. Each season thousands of Collier County Public Schools interact with Artis-Naples education programming both on its cultural campus and in classrooms. The Lifelong Learning program provides engaging lectures and study opportunities for adults seeking to engage more deeply with the arts. The Friends of Artis-Naples, with more than 4,000 households who give $75 or more, offers activities, travel experiences and events geared toward creating a deeper relationship between patrons and the arts. In 2017, Artis-Naples acquired the Naples International Film Festival (NIFF), expanding its film offerings and providing a platform for the festival's continued excellence and growth. In 2019, NIFF was named one of MovieMaker magazine's "Top 25 Coolest Film Festivals in the World," and in 2021 it celebrates its 13th year in the community.

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