La. International Film Festival (LIFF) concludes with Golden Boot Awards

Staff Writer
Gonzales Weekly Citizen

The First-ever Louisiana International Film Festival & Mentorship Program (LIFF) wrapped up Sunday evening April 21 with an Award Ceremony and filmmaker reception at the Renaissance Hotel that conferred The "Golden Boot" Awards upon deserving filmmakers.

The Best Documentary Award went to Leslie Zemeckis for BOUND BY FLESH, her examination of conjoined (and exploited) twins Daisy and Violet Hilton featuring Lea Thompson, Nancy Allen, Timothy Stack and Blake Boyd. Zemeckis flew in for her screening with producer Sheri Hellard before flying right back to LA to take part in Los Angeles' Festival of books to showcase her book Behind the BurlyQ.

Best First feature went to LONELY BOY. The romantic misadventures of a schizophrenic bachelor Franky (played by writer and producer Alev Aydin) are heartbreakingly and humorously told in this moving and original new American film from director Dale Fabrigar. Aydin and producer Troy Daniel Smith attended the screening.

Actor Dennis Quaid claimed the Golden Boot for Best acting for his performance in AT ANY PRICE, Ramin Bahrani's powerful family drama starring Quaid and Zac Efron as father and son at odds with each other.

Festival goers conferred two Audience Golden Boots –a tie between the opening night, Morgan Neville's acclaimed new documentary looking into the lives of backup singers who literally work in the shadows of music's greatest artists, TWENTY FEET FROM STARDOM. In Neville's illuminating documentary starring Lou Adler, Stephanie 'Stevvi' Alexander, and Patti Austin, we take a peek into the world that lies just outside the rays of the spotlight. Backup artists have harmonized with the biggest bands in pop music, but in this documentary, we finally learn who these singers are and what lives they lead. Morgan Neville and Merry Clayton (Dirty Dancing; Maid to Order; Nine and a Half Weeks) attended the New Orleans screening of the film, which features interviews with artists such as Sheryl Crow, Mick Jagger, Darlene Love, Bette Midler and Stevie Wonder, among others. Clayton and Jonathan Batiste and Stay Human Band performed after the screening.

The other Audience Award Winner was DISCONNECT a wonderful new thriller directed by Henry-Alex Rubin and starring Jason Bateman, Alexander Skarsgard, Max Thierot, Hope Davis and Paula Patton.

After its opening in New Orleans, LIFF continued in Baton Rouge through the weekend with screenings of over 50 films--including three US premieres and two world premieres. US premieres included: GOOD PEOPLE GO TO HELL, SAVED PEOPLE GO TO HEAVEN, Holly Hardman's penetrating investigation of the complex world of evangelical Christianity along America's Gulf Coast, with a personal appearance by the director at the screening; DEAN SPANLEY, directed by New Zealand's Toa Fraser and starring Peter O'Toole in one of his finest performances, Sam Neill as a priest who may or may not have been O'Toole's dog in another life, Jeremy Northam and Bryan Brown; and Bernard Rose's powerful new modern day take on Leo Tolstoy's "Master And Man," BOXING DAY. Rose introduced his screening and did a Q&A with the audience following it.

World Premieres were BY AND BY: NEW ORLEANS GOSPEL AT THE CROSSROADS, the story of the Electrifying Crown Seekers, a family-based New Orleans gospel quartet that, after 47 years together, are facing an uncertain future in a post-Katrina environment; and Festival Co-artistic director Dan Ireland's world premiere of the director's cut of his film JOLENE, which launched the career of its incredible star, the amazing Jessica Chastain.