‘Strad Style’ and ‘Dim the Fluorescents’ captured hearts at Slamdance | ParkRecord.com

‘Strad Style’ and ‘Dim the Fluorescents’ captured hearts at Slamdance

Festival wraps with boisterous ceremony

The Thursday-night ceremony at Treasure Mountain Inn was rambunctious, rowdy, irreverent and heartfelt, meaning it was the perfect way to end the 2017 Slamdance Film Festival.

In the end, the Jury Award for Documentary Feature and Audience Award for Documentary Feature went to Stefan Avalos' "Strad Style," an inspirational and quirky film about Danny Houck, a man living in Ohio who is so obsessed with violins that he attempts to make one, without any training, for world-renowned violinist Razvan Stoica.

Academy Award-nominated director, cinematographer and producer Adrian Belic, known for his work on the documentaries "Ganghis Blues," "Beyond the Call" and "Happy," was on hand to give the Documentary Feature Jury Award, known as a Sparky, to Avalos and Houck.

"This is for a film that captures the journey of passion and commitment, honesty and the triumph of one's vision against all odds," he said.

Avalos' was visibly surprised as he accepted his second award of the evening.

"This is amazing," Avalos said. "As all you guys know, making movies is a long journey. You wonder if you're making junk or making something good. So to be here now is incredible."

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Capping off the awards was the Narrative Feature Jury Award, which went to Daniel Warth's "Dim the Fluorescents."

Warth and his screenwriter Miles Barstead accepted the Sparky.

"Just getting into this festival was a milestone in my life and a huge honor," Worth said. "I've been so excited and inspired by the films I've seen here."

Warth turned the microphone to Barstead who simply said, "I love Daniel Warth."

Sparkys were also awarded to Ariana Gerstein's experimental short "Upcycles" and Renee Zhan's animated short "Hold Me (Ca Caw Ca Caw)."

(See story titled "Slamdance 2017 Award Winners")

Jerzy Rose's "Neighborhood Food Drive" took home The Spirit of Slamdance Award, which goes to the filmmaker who not only creatively promotes his or her film, but who brings positive energy to the festival.

Slamdance describes the "Neighbohood Food Drive" as a story "about a group of awful idiots who fail at throwing a party over and over."

"This is so nice, [but] I didn't prepare anything," Rose said during his acceptance speech. "I told my girlfriend a few weeks before the festival that I was going to go on the filmmakers Facebook group and post a lot of stupid stuff to get people to like me."

Then he smiled and held up his Sparky.

The audience award was given by Treasure Mountain Inn owner Andy Beerman's parents, Tom and Marylin.

"This is our 15th straight Slamdance," Tom said. "As gray haired or white haired folks, we may not relate to all your films, but we do appreciate and understand the effort and creativity."

Slamdance Film Festival Manager Clementine Leger announced Jamie Greenburg's "Future '38" as the winner of the Audience Award for the Beyond section, a category of films that represent diverse and orthodox views of the world.

"This is the first year we have an Audience Award just for the Beyond Section, so this is very exciting," she said.

Greenberg was all smiles as he held his Sparky.

"This is … great," he said.

At the beginning of the ceremony, filmmaker Paul Rachman, listed as Slamdance co-conspirator, kicked off the celebration with a short speech.

"Welcome to our last night of Slamdance '17," Rachman said. "This is a happy moment and a sad moment. And some of you will be happier than others, but you're all winners. You're going to go on to make some great, great films. Some of you will remember this as the beginning of your career."

"And some of you will remember it as the end of it," interjected Slamdance co-founder Dan Mirvish.

Peter Baxter, Slamdance president and co-founder, also spoke.

"Independent film is made beautiful not by those individual artists who form our celebrity culture, but by creative collaboration," Baxter said. "At Slamdance this week, we've seen beautiful filmmaking and the great promise of emerging artists that are going to continue the legacy that we set out to do when we first started in 1995."

Baxter also thanked Treasure Mountain Inn owner Andy Beerman, who took a bow to uproarious applause.

"If it weren't for Andy, we wouldn't be here tonight," Baxter said. "Andy and his wife Thea gave Slamdance a home and we've called it our home ever since. And long may we call TMI our home."

Leger rounded out the speeches and gave a shout out to the volunteers and programmers.

"They watched a lot of movies to get you here," she said. "On that note, our festival is programmed by alumni, and I just want to let you know that in the spring I'll be reaching out to you guys and inviting you to program for the next season."

Slamdance 2017 award winners:

  • Experimental Shorts Honorable Mention: Carolina Chary Quintero’s “Blua”
  • Experimental Shorts Grand Jury Award: Ariana Gerstein’s “UpCycles”
  • Anarchy Shorts Honorable Mention: Jonathan Daniel Brown’s “Horseshoe Theory”
  • Anarchy Shorts Grand Jury Award: Maxwell McCabe-Lokos’ “Ape Sodom”
  • Animated Shorts Honorable Mention: Nari Jang’s “My Father’s Room”
  • Animated Shorts Grand Jury Award: Renee Zhan’s “Hold Me (Ca Caw Ca Caw)”
  • Documentary Shorts Honorable Mention: Fabio Palmieri’s “Irregulars”
  • Documentary Shorts Grand Jury Award: Francesca Scales and Mark Olexa’s “Moriom”
  • Narrative Short Honorable Mention: Francois Jaros’ “Oh, What a Wonderful Feeling”
  • Narrative Short Grand Jury Award: Tim Mason’s “No Other Way to Say It”
  • Spirit of Slamdance Award: Jerzy Rose’s “Neighborhood Food Drive”
  • Documentary Feature Audience Award: Stefan Avalos’ “Strad Style”
  • Narrative Feature Audience Award: Bill Watterson’s “Dave Made a Maze”
  • Beyond Audience Award: Jamie Greenberg’s “Future ’38”
  • Documentary Feature Honorable Mention: Charles Fairbanks & Saul Kak’s “The Modern Jungle”
  • Documentary Feature Grand Jury Award: Stefan Avalos’ “Strad Style”
  • Narrative Feature Honorable Mention: Josh Helman’s “Kate Can’t Swim”
  • Narrative Feature Grand Jury Award: Daniel Warth’s “Dim the Fluorescents”

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