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The Angel Film Awards

The Angel Film Awards – Monaco International Film Festival 2010
2nd – 5th December 2010

The Angel Film Awards in Monaco– a glamorous three-day extravaganza, where the films in competition promote, unusually, peace and love – a refreshing antidote to the usual violent and gratuitous fodder thrown at us from Hollywood.

Started eight years ago by Rosana Golden and Dean Bentley, specifically to showcase non-violent films, the Angel Film Awards may eschew violence but this is no hippy dippy affair, with chic and stylish post screening VIP champagne receptions at some of the best hotels and clubs in Monaco.
AFA Festival Director, Producer Golden and Bentley personally select the 20-odd films that screen each year and are well aided in the screenplay awards by the dynamic London-based producer Daniella Gonella of DG Productions.
An impressive jury was led this year by US based Professor Karl Bardosch, who has 30 years experience in film and television. The other jury members included renowned French actress, Celyne Durand – the Dame of Honour, British actress Sophie Berenice, who was also a most elegant and accomplished Master of Ceremonies, British actress Nahid Mannon and London based writer and director, Rick Friend of Production Friend, himself a previous winner of two screenplay awards at the Festival.

The big winner in the Feature Film section this year – an absolute tour de force, was the epic historical drama 'CHERKESS' (Jordan) - a visually sumptuous feature telling of impossible love and clash of cultures between the Cherkess and Bedouin peoples. This film not only won the 'Best Feature Film', picking up the coveted Angel Trophy, but also 'Best Director' for Mohy Quandour, who also produced the film and wrote the winning screenplay; Best Original Story, Best Newcomer Award for the first-time actress Sahar Bishara and Best Supporting Actor for Mohadeen Komakhov.

Another multiple winner was 'ALL THE WAY UP' (UK) - a touching drama about a life-changing encounter in a lift, which picked up the Best Short Film Award for producers Shane Hamill and Ben Sweet, and Best Director of a Short for veteran British Actor Sir David Jason, who made his directorial debut with this film. Sir David who attended the glittering Monte Carlo event also received the Lifetime Achievement Angel Film Award for his contribution to the entertainment industry.

Other notable awards went to 'EVA' (Romania), a period feature, for Best Cinematography (Mihai Sarbusca) and Original Music (Vladi Cnejevici). The Best Actor in a feature went to Ryo Horikawa for his performance as a rock singer in the drama 'ASAKUSA DAYDREAMS' (Japan) - which also gained a Best Actress Award for Ai Tamura. This remarkable feature, which deals with the complex relationship between a father and daughter, also picked up the Angel Independent Spirit Award for its rare approach to film-making. It was all shot in one take, a feat which will take it into the Guiness Book of Records this year! Also in the Features section 'PIECES' (Japan) received the Angel Humanitarian Award for its sensitive approach to loneliness and homelessness and 'IMMIGRATION TANGO' (USA) received the award for Best Ensemble Cast & Best Supporting Female Actor.

In the Feature Documentary Section - two stunning documentaries stole the show. Claude Green's 'SO WHAT DOES YOUR MP DO?' (UK) gave us an intimate and at times surreal insight into the life of a British MP, winning the Best Feature Documentary and Best Narration categories and 'SOUNDS OF BEIRUT' (USA/Lebanon), Seth Koury's stunning love affair with the diverse and rich music of Lebanon won him the Best Director of a Documentary Feature and Best Cinematography.

Other notable Short Film Awards went to: 'RADIO GERONIMO' (UK) - Best Short Documentary and the Independent Spirit Award - an amusing and insightful look at the alternative radio station which operated from the same site as this year's Angel Film Awards; 'SIMON SEZ' (UK), a behind the scenes look at an International horse event, filmed on the Queen's private estates, which received the Special Mention Award for producer Patricia Applegate, Best Short Documentary Cinematography and Best Short Director Awards for Tamara Sumner Petersen and Paul Petersen; 'NIGHTFALL OF EDEN' (Cyprus/Greece) with its stunning visuals - Best Cinematography (Sofronis Sofroniou), an exotic reworking of the Garden of Eden; to renowned British actor Adrian Dunbar - Best Male Actor for 'ALL THE WAY UP' (UK); to David Griggs the young director of 'PARKING PLACES' (UK) for Best Newcomer; to actress and musician Mariana Preda for Best Actress in a Short 'DOINA' (Romania). 15 years old Mariana also performed Schubert version ‘AVE MARIA’ on Pan Flute a traditional Romanian instrument the at the festival; to 'I WISH' (Spain) for Best Original Story - a touching tale of the life of a homeless man on the streets of San Francisco; to 'BEING MARTIN' (UK), one man's struggle with Klippel Feil Syndrome, which received the Humanitarian Angel Award and to 'FIRST DARKNESS' (UK) - an experimental look at an artist reconciling her creative life with grief, which received Best Art Film for newcomers Claire O'Hagan and Denise Wyllie. The Angel Peace Award & Best Cinematographer went to "NIGHTFALL OF EDEN" (Cyprus, Greece) - An experimental portrayal of peace & war in the Garden of Eden.

In the new category of Animation - 'ATROZ' (Spain), the charming tale of a disgruntled teddy bear received the Best Short Animation Award and 'THE HAPPY LIFE' (Greece) - a stylish and slick tale of a cartoonist and his wife received the Special Mention Animation Award.

In the new Screenplay Categories, awards were won by John de Holland, Luisa Petrolani, Carsten Rauin, Mohydeen Quandour, Lou Hamilton, Alexander Hayten, Conny S. Reich and Sophie Berenice.

After the awards, music was provided by rising British star Becky Johnstone and festival organiser Dean Bentley, who performed with celebrated Japanese and international superstar, Boro.

The Angel Film Awards, staged at the Art Novo Theatre, Novotel, a stunning new Monegasque setting, were a friendly, even cosy – but business-like affair. In spite of the serious yacht posturing in this part of the world - these awards are slowly growing in reputation as one of ‘THE EVENT’ not to be missed on the International Film Festival circuit!

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Chatelin Bruno
(Filmfestivals.com)

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