LION ARK Wins Best Documentary at 2014 Palm Beach International Film Festival

By: Apr. 14, 2014

The dramatic live action rescue documentary Lion Ark brought its tally of awards to six at Palm Beach International Film Festival winning the audience vote for Best Documentary in a field of 28 documentaries. In its 19th year, the Palm Beach International Film Festival featured 165 films, closing with Jason Priestley introducing Cas & Dylan, which he directed, starring Richard Dreyfuss.

Independent documentary Lion Ark is proving a huge hit with audiences on the film festival circuit, winning four audience votes at San Diego Film Festival, Sedona International Film Festival, Anchorage International Film Festival, and now Palm Beach International Film Festival; as well as winning jury awards for Best Documentary at Omaha Film Festival and Sun & Sand: The Mississippi Film Festival; and earning a coveted 45th Image Award nomination for Outstanding International Motion Picture from the NAACP (America's largest and oldest civil rights organization - the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People).

Tim Phillips, Director of Lion Ark, who collected the latest award from Randi Emerman, President of Palm Beach International Film Festival, said: "We are especially pleased to receive this award because it is voted for by the people who come and see the movies. We always wanted to make a film about a serious animal protection issue that would leave people smiling and feeling uplifted and inspired. We also wanted to make the lions the stars of the film and give people a real insight into the lives of these animals. It is wonderful to see people responding so positively to the film and see them falling in love with these magnificent lions on their journey to freedom."

Lion Ark tells the story of how Bolivia banned the use of animals in circuses and when the circuses defied the law, the team that had secured the ban returned to track down each circus and rescue every animal. One of the most ambitious and dangerous animal rescues undertaken concludes with a huge airlift of 25 lions to freedom in Colorado.

The ground-breaking film, made by ADI Films and CSI actress Jorja Fox's company Seafox Productions, is more in the style of an actionadventure than traditional documentary, with little use of talking heads, opting instead to put the viewer in the thick of the action as it unfolds.

An indication of how the story is gripping audiences, saw the audience stay put following Wednesday's Palm Beach International Film Festival screening in Boca Raton, bombarding director Tim Phillips with questions for almost an hour before he said "I think someone else may need this theater!"

The makers are looking to agree distribution in the coming months, but in the meantime have a gala red carpet premiere in Austin, Texas next month to raise funds for another epic rescue (May 25th), special tribute screenings honoring the late Dr. Mel Richardson in Chico, California (May 31st), and is also lined up for festival shows in Austria and South Africa.

For more information and to watch the trailer, visit

The Palm Beach International Film Festival is committed to supporting the emerging filmmakers of today and tomorrow. For The Past 12 years, the festival, recognized as one of the Top 25 Independent Festivals in the world, has showcased thousands of award-winning films, hosting filmmakers, actors, industry professionals and press from around the globe. The PBIFF has hosted a bevy of top celebrities and filmmakers including: Academy Award® Winners Adrien Brody, Anthony Hopkins, Tommy Lee Jones, Faye Dunaway, Dennis Hopper, Louise Fletcher and Michael Caine; Academy Award® Nominees Salma Hayek, Edward Norton, Robert Evans, Sylvester Stallone, Woody Harrelson and Burt Reynolds. Along with countless other legends, stars and filmmakers that have created movie magic for The Past 80 years, including: Roger Moore, Faye Wray, Esther Williams, Anouk Aimee, Samuel L. Jackson, Cyd Charisse, Richard Zanuck, William Friedkin, Brett Ratner, Jacqueline Bisset, Michael Clarke Duncan and Rod Steiger.