Niagara Falls International Film Festival 2019 Announces Filmmaker Awards with Matt Shapira, April Wright, and THE BOY HERO winning big
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Original Article Link – Article By: By John Wildman

Matt Shapira’s BIG MUDDY took home the award for Best Narrative Film, April Wright’s GOING ATTRACTIONS: THE DEFINITIVE STORY OF THE MOVIE PALACE was given the nod for Best Documentary, and C.D. Malloy’s SING YOU A BRAND NEW SONG: THE WORDS AND MUSIC OF COLEMAN MELLETT won the Audience Award.

Following a rare Closing Night presentation of the full reconstructed version of Samuel Fuller’s classic THE BIG RED ONE at the Regal Niagara Falls (720 Builders Way) on Saturday, September 21, the Niagara Falls International Film Festival (NFIFF) announced the award winners for the 2nd edition of the film festival.

Matt Shapira’s BIG MUDDY took home the award for Best Narrative Film, April Wright’s GOING ATTRACTIONS: THE DEFINITIVE STORY OF THE MOVIE PALACE was given the nod for Best Documentary, and C.D. Malloy’s SING YOU A BRAND NEW SONG: THE WORDS AND MUSIC OF COLEMAN MELLETT won the Audience Award.

Matt Shapira (BIG MUDDY), Stanley Isaacs (Creative Advisor, NFIFF)
Niagara Falls International Film Festival’s Founder and President Bill Cowell said, “In our second year at Niagara Falls, we built upon successes we established last year, as well as adding some exciting new features and highlights. And our award winners all shared a common theme which is – and will always be – at the center of this film festival: heart.”

NFIFF closed out a festival-long salute to Samuel Fuller with a screening of Fuller’s beloved THE BIG RED ONE. with Christa and Samantha Fuller, the filmmaker’s wife and daughter, and several of the film’s stars (Robert Carradine, Perry Lang, Kelly Ward, and Bobby Di Ciccio) in attendance. Moderated by filmmaker and film historian, Michael Schlesinger, the post-screening Q&A was an entertaining and frequently emotional one – with fond remembrances of Fuller and the film’s star, Lee Marvin. The moment was made all the greater thanks to a surprise voice message from another of the film’s stars, Mark Hamill, who was unable to attend.

The awards ceremony followed, led by the special presentation of the film festival’s Humanitarian Award to Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia to honor his military service during the Iraq War and a Special Humanitarian Mention for Matt Shapira, due to his “Saving the Planet” murals he has painted at Hard Rock Café locations throughout the country. Presenters at the filmmaker awards ceremony included NFIFF’s Ambassador of Film, Janel Tanna, NFIFF Creative Advisor Stanley Isaacs, and last year’s Best Documentary recipient, Annalaura Di Luggo.

Jeffrey Benson (THE BOY HERO) (Photo by NFIFF)
THE WALL OF MEXICO’s Lyn Moncrief won a Best Cinematography Award, which brought with it a $15,000 prize from Panavision. Olympia’s Gregory Dixon received an Honorable Mention for Best Directing and Rob Margolies and Tim Realbuto shared an Honorable Mention for best Storytelling for their work on YES. Kyle Thompson’s THE BOY HERO was named Best Short Film, and the film’s young star Jeffrey Benson took home a special Rising Talent Award.

Kyle Thompson (THE BOY HERO), Janel Tanna (2019 NFIFF Ambassador of Film)
NFIFF opened with a Red Carpet Gala on Wednesday, September 18 at The Rapids Theatre (1711 Main Street) celebrating Academy Award-winner Louis Gossett Jr. and Samuel Fuller. The Gala celebration and Opening Night reception featured a display of the first Niagara Falls Walk of Fame stars set to be installed this year with the names of Cheryl Boone Isaacs and Mark Bridges. Isaacs was in attendance and presented the festival’s Legacy Award to Gossett Jr. Christa and Samantha Fuller were presented with NFIFF’s inaugural Icon of Industry Award for Samuel Fuller, and both Fuller and Gossett Jr. were presented with their own stars on the Walk of Fame, as well. Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster presented a proclamation for the Bill Cowell and the Niagara Falls International Film Festival and Recent finalist form “The Voice”, Mikaela Astel, performed.

Highlights included appearances by THE WALL OF MEXICO stars Xander Berkeley and Jackson Rathbone, Maxim cover girl and the star of two films (INTERVENTION, TURNOVER) at this year’s NFIFF, Janel Tanna, and the star of Fuller’s THE NAKED KISS, Constance Towers. However, it was Fuller himself, who loomed large over the course of the film festival, as his independent filmmaking spirit was an inspiration to the filmmakers and film fans throughout the fest.

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