2015 Logan Film Festival Recap, Award Winners

Ttitle-imagehe 2015 Logan Film Festival (LFF) event featured 32 films from both across the world and local sources, holding a total of 26 events over the two day period. Partnering with multiple local businesses on the downtown block where the Caine Lyric, Utah, Eccles, and Dansante theatres preside, musicians and education based panels heightened the 2015 program and atmosphere. The festivities brought in Cache Valley locals, travelers from Utah and abroad, Utah State University and surrounding high school students, locals music fans, and filmmakers who accompanied their exhibitions and participated in Q&A’s following the screenings. The Saturday feature documentary “Prophet’s Prey” set a festival record audience for LFF’s 4 years running, and is now playing on the Showtime premium channel. The organization saw a significant improvement in attendance numbers per event this season and an  increase in attendees overall.

 

The jury-based winning films of the event were awarded during the festival’s Saturday social held at The Factory Pizzeria. Here is a recap:

 

The Best of Festival award, receiving highest marks in all areas by the jury, went to In Football We Trust.

 

In Football We Trust captures a snapshot in time amid the rise of the Pacific Islander presence in the NFL. Presenting a new take on the American immigrant story, this feature length documentary transports viewers deep inside the tightly-knit Polynesian community in Salt Lake City, Utah. With unprecedented access and shot over a four-year time period, the film intimately portrays four young Polynesian men striving to overcome gang violence and near poverty through American football. Viewed as the “salvation” for their families, these young players reveal the culture clash they experience as they transform out of their adolescence and into the high stakes world of collegiate recruiting and rigors of societal expectations.

 

In Football We Trust was directed by Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn, was produced by Erika Cohn. It subsequently played on PBS and it is now available on DVD and Blu-ray. Learn more and follow the documentary at: infootballwetrustmovie.com.

 

The Best Narrative Feature award, receiving highest marks in it’s category by the jury, went to Wildlike.

 

In this thrilling coming-of-age adventure, a troubled teen must face the dangers of the Alaskan wild, as well as her own past, in order to find her way home. Sent to stay with her uncle in Alaska while her mother is in treatment, 14-year-old Mackenzie (Ella Purnell) is forced to flee as her uncle’s attention turns threatening. Unable to reach her mother and afraid that the authorities will return her to her uncle, she embarks on a journey across miles of wilderness to find a way back home to Seattle. As she plunges deeper into the Alaskan interior, a chance connection with gruff backpacker Bartlett (Bruce Greenwood) proves to be her only lifeline. Mackenzie shadows Bartlett across the rugged frontier, thwarting his efforts to cut her loose until he has no choice but to help her survive, and against the backdrop of a spectacular landscape, they discover the redemptive power of friendship.

 

It is the work of director Frank Hall Green and producers Julie Christeas, Joseph Stephans, and Schuyler Weiss. The film stars Ella Purnell and Bruce Greenwood. Wildlike received theatrical distribution shortly after the LFF event, and now be streamed online on all the major platforms. Learn more at at wildlikefilm.com.

 

The Best Documentary Feature award, receiving highest marks in it’s category by the jury, went to Power’s War.

 

Power’s War is an in depth look into one man’s silent protest against American’s entry into the first World War that led to the deadliest shootout in Arizona’s history.  Contemporary interviews, archival material, and original artwork come together to tell the story of the war that pitted the rights of individuals against the growing power of the federal government.

 

It was documented by director Cameron Trejo and producer Dagen Merrill. More about the project can be found at powerswar.com.

 

The Best Narrative Short award, receiving highest marks in it’s category by the jury, went to Golden Thread.

 

When Lisa, an imaginative 8-year-old girl, learns that her mother has died, she becomes determined to find a way to stay connected with her.

 

Golden Thread is an AFI thesis film directed by Jade Hærem Aksnes and produced Rachel Amanda Alterman. Follow Golden Thread on Facebook at facebook.com/goldenthreadthefilm.

 

The Best Documentary Short award, receiving highest marks in it’s category by the jury, went to Xboundary.

 

An open-pit mining boom is underway in northern British Columbia, Canada. The massive size and location of the mines–at the headwaters of major salmon rivers that flow across the border into Alaska–has Alaskans concerned over pollution risks posed to their multi-billion dollar fishing and tourism industries. These concerns were heightened with the Aug 4, 2014 catastrophic tailings dam failure at nearby Mt. Polley Mine in B.C.’s Fraser River watershed.

 

The subject is documented by Director Ryan Peterson and Producer Travis Rummel. Learn more and follow the cause at salmonbeyondborders.org.

 

The Best Student Film award, receiving highest marks in it’s category by the jury, went to Safe Space.

 

The film tells the love story of the refugee Patrick and Sara from Berlin, who are fighting together for refugee rights in Berlin. When harmless advance turns into a sexual assault, the group is forced to rethink their aims and the private love story grows to an unwanted public dimension.

 

Safe Space was directed by Zora Rux. It was produced by Fred Burle. The film can be followed at facebook.com/safespace2014.

 

The Best Animated Film award, receiving highest marks in it’s category by the jury, went to Utah-made short student film, Relic.

 

A female warrior journeys to a temple on a mountaintop were she discovers a relic of dark power that has condemned her homeland to an eternity of darkness and desolation. In order to destroy this relic and restore her homeland, she must defeat an evil and brutish golem of stone that’s hoarding its dark power.

 

Relic was directed by Utah Valley student Renza Feschser, who can be found at renzafechser.blogspot.com.

 

Additionally, the Audience Choice awarded student film Far Away from Utah-local filmmaker Bryan Hansen; and “The Hashimoto“, which honors one up and coming local young filmmaker per year, recognized director and University of Utah film studies graduate Ebrahim Ghaeini.

 

The upcoming season of the Logan Film Festival marks it’s fifth year as a collective effort, and the eighth year of festival efforts from the Northern Utah and Utah State University film community. The LFF program will be conjoined with The Block film & art festival, which brings a music stage, art galleries, outdoor art installations, vast-topic educational talks, and unique food offerings downtown for the same weekend. Learn more at theblockfestival.org.

 

The call for entries for the 2016 festival is currently open in all categories, and will close on June 30th.

 

Links to submit films via FilmFreeway, Withoutabox, and by mail or drop-off, as well as how to get involved in supporting The Block and LFF, can be found at theblockfestival.org.

 

The 2016 2-day event is planned for September 16-17.