The Beaufort International Film Festival is a Smashing Success and Pete’s Odyssey Wins Best Animation
The first day of films at the Beaufort International Film Festival (BIFF) began Friday, 8:00 am with the Brother Warner - a documentary about the Warner brothers and how they became the WARNER BROTHERS. That’s right; I wrote 8:00 am!
As mentioned previously, the BIFF screening schedule is not for the faint of heart. There are Beaufortonians that have seen EVERY film at all four BIFF festivals since its inception. This year over 4000 people watched the films and attended the Festival’s events.
The films were terrific and meeting the other producers and directors was pure joy. Talk about input… years ago, I can remember years ago catching up with renowned Bill Plympton at the Florida Film Festival. It was he and I and another artist, Graham Toms, just talking art and animation. I longed to do that again. Two years ago, I met director, Tom “TK” Reilly at BIFF – we talked film, sports, politics- it was great! This year at BIFF it was more of the same – in spades, I met several other filmmakers and screenwriters. Among them, were Gregg Smith whose beautiful film, KEEPING THE MAY RIVER WILD won the Southern Lens Award. Gary Weeks, an actor, writer, director from Los Angeles (formerly of Georgia) brought two films – a live-action drama, the feature DEADLAND and a comedy short live action CLONES GONE WILD. Gary is engaging and humble and very talented. My wife liked the fact that he brought his mother with him to the festival. Mark Albertin was another filmmaker at BIFF. His documentary, DISPLACED was a poignant film that related how several whole towns in South Carolina were moved during the late 1940’s to make way for the Savannah River Nuclear Plant – a plant whose main purpose was to produce plutonium for weapons during the Cold War. In some towns 7 generations of history were wiped out. Mark has made several films that have focused on local history. He is a great fellow to chat with about filmmaking.
Mark Albertin (l) Larry (r)
The Last film of the day was DEADLAND (107 minutes) which began at 8:50 at night.
At 8:30 am, on Saturday, the block of animated finalists started the day. PETE’S ODYSSEY was the third of the three finalists screened. After PETE, I answered questions about the making of the film and the process involved with the over 6,000 drawings. It also gave me as chance to thank exec. producers Charlotte and Bill Rinderknecht for their support and trust during the making of the film. And even though they were not there, I took the opportunity to acknowledge the wonderful job done by the students from Bloomfield College in New Jersey.
After the animation we stayed and watch several more films. Blurry-eyed, in the early afternoon, we wandered over to the Shoofly Kitchen for lunch. The Shoofly is a new eatery in Beaufort; and they specialize in boxed meals – lunches and dinners. What a great concept! The meals were delicious and easy and very affordable (I like that part).
With our tummies full, we took a stroll around Beaufort, it’s really an idyllic town located on the inland intercoastal waterways between Port Royal and Hilton Head. Beaufort has also been deemed one of the 10 best art towns in America.
After our walk it was nap time to refresh ourselves and prepare for the evening Gala.
Vivien Leigh and I
We arrived at the Performing Arts Center of the USC Beaufort campus site of the Gala, a bit early; it gave us time to reacquaint ourselves with a few old, old, I mean very old friends… Orson Wells was one, Vivien Leigh was another, Shirley Temple another, as were; Captain Jack Sprat, Elizabeth Taylor and Joan Crawford. The Festival had arranged for the local celebrity impersonators to amuse everyone prior to the Gala. They kept in character no matter what you said to them. Hey, Shirley Temple even sang On the Good Ship Lollypop!
The Gala is where special guests are introduced and the awards given in the different categories. Once inside, the Arts Center, the campaign was flowing! We don’t drink… so we toasted with a nearby water fountain. It was all good fun - with another red carpet area, media, and crowds of festival goers and filmmakers – just having a good time. Beaufort does how to party!
After a while, the crowd was herded into the auditorium for the evening’s festivities.
Festival Director Ron Tucker was the emcee for the event and the presentation was first class! For the awards, video clips were shown from the finalists of each category and then the Jean Ribaut (pronounced John Ribow- it’s French) award (best of for that category) was presented.
For animation, after the video clips, PETE’S ODYSSEY was announced as Jean Ribaut (best of) winner. Now I’m not a big award type person – I just like to have the film seen. But from there on, everything was in slow motion. I kissed my wife, Tricia, made my way to the stage to accept the award. I was very grateful to the town of Beaufort for hosting such a wonderful event. I thanked my wife for her support – and mentioned that I had forgotten to thank her at the screening and noted that I better do it now or risk sleeping on the couch tonight. That line got a laugh – which made me relax some – though I don’t know what I said after that…just a blur! The award itself is this massive hunk of crystal. Finally, I somehow managed to return to my seat with the hunk!
The special awards at the Gala were really special. Actor Michael O Keefe introduced actor Blythe Danner who received the “Excellence in Acting” Jean Ribaut. Blythe in turn introduced Pat Conroy who received the “Inspiring Original Work for Film” grand Jean Ribaut. Pat Conroy is a GREAT storyteller and most of his works retell the story of him growing up in the Beaufort area… to listen to his stories was a real treat!
Hunk in hand, sooner or later the night had to end… but it was a grand time had by all. We said our “goodbyes” and were a bit sad that the Festival was over
The Beaufort International Film Festival is the best festival I have been to this time around. The town is supportive and friendly – the Festival amazing, the festival goers love films and filmmakers. I know that we will return to BIFF as often as possible. My thanks to everyone!