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Winners of the Aruba International Film Festival’s Caribbean Spotlight Series

Winners of the Aruba International Film Festival’s Caribbean Spotlight Series (CSS) Competition were announced on Sunday night at a special Festival event held on the rooftop of the Paseo Harencia.

Encouraged by tremendous local support over the last two years, AIFF continues to expand its popular "Spotlight" series, which was created to showcase movies from Aruban and Caribbean filmmakers.

The CSS Jury Award was split between two films; the US/Dominican Republic baseball documentary BALLPLAYER: PELOTERO, directed by Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin and Jon Paly, and the Jamaican feature GHETT’A LIFE, directed by Chris Browne. The Puerto Rican drama AMÉRICA was recognized with a special mention.

The winner of the CSS Audience Award was CHILDREN OF THE WIND – an Aruban wind surfing documentary, directed by Daphne Schmon.

The Aruba short film winner was the animated WAKE UP, directed by Ken Wolff. The Aruba short audience award went to AWA BRAK, directed by Francisco Pardo and Ryan Oduber

This year’s CSS jury was led by last year’s CSS Audience Award winner, Bahamian filmmaker Kareem Mortimer, who was joined by Rigoberto Lopez, Cuban filmmaker and president of the Travelling Caribbean Film Showcase, and Surinamese film producer Eddy Wijngaarde.

The CSS films were selected by series program Director Aaron Hosé and the CSS committee.

The Film Festival kicked off on Thursday, June 22nd with a screening of THE MAGIC OF BELLE ISLE starring Virginia Madsen, who was in attendance and greeted fans on the red carpet at the Paseo Herencia.

In addition to Madsen, notable guests attending this year’s AIFF have included actors Ray Liotta, Xavier Samuel, Richard Kind and Val Lauren as well as producer Steve Stabler, and multiple Academy Award® winning film editor Pietro Scalia, among many others.

The Aruba International Film Festival continues through Thursday, June 28th. 

About the CSS Winning Films:


Documentary Feature
Directed by Ross Finkel, Trevor Martin and Jon Paley
2011, USA/Dominican Republic, 77min
Spanish with English subtitles

In the run-¬‐up to the most important day of their lives, two young baseball players from the Dominican Republic confront competition and corruption their Big-¬‐League dreams. For 16-¬‐year Dominican baseball players, or “Peloteros”, the only real chance to escape crushing poverty comes every July 2nd, the day they become eligible to sign professional baseball contracts. Pelotero provides an intimate portrait of two prospects, Miguel Angel Sanó and Jean Carlos Batista, as they navigate the calculating, mercenary and often corrupt elements the surround Major League Baseball’s recruitment of the island’s top talent. Narrated by actor John Leguizamo (Ice Age, Moulin Rouge, Carlito’s Way).


Documentary Feature
Directed by Daphne Schmon
2012, USA/Bonaire, 92min
English and Papiamento with English subtitles

In 2001, Bonaire sent a flock of thirty children to the biggest North American windsurfing championship in Florida. They blew everyone away, taking home twenty trophies. This was an unprecedented achievement for any country, much less a tiny Caribbean island of 13,000 people. How could an island with limited resources and no formal training facilities produce so many world-¬‐class athletes? To uncover this question, Children of the Wind follows the group of young Bonairean talents over the course of 15 years, as they journey from humble beginnings to international fame, transforming not only their island but the face of the sport worldwide. Narrated by actor Gbenga Akinnagbe (HBO’s The Wire, Showtime’s Nurse Jackie).


Narrative Feature
Directed by Chris Browne
2011, Jamaica, 104min
English with English subtitles

Derrick is a coming-¬‐of-¬‐age teenager living in a turbulent inner city community in Kingston. He aspires to be Jamaica’s next world boxing champion. However, elections are looming and politics divides the country and Derrick’s community. His father, a loyal party supporter, and Sin, the community’s feared don, forbid Derrick from going to the boxing gym, as doing so would mean Derrick would have to “cross party lines”. Derrick defiantly follows his heart—and is confronted with the serious repercussions of his decision. Ghett’a Life is an inspiring tale of overcoming adversity and ignorance, proving that unity in any country is worth fighting for.


Live Action
Directed by Francisco Pardo and Ryan Oduber
2012, 10min
Papiamento with English subtitles

This meditative film explores the complexity of human emotions; why we feel the way we do. Glenda is a young woman whose life is stuck in a moment. She lives in a wooden house on the beach, survives on fish, water and memories. Her intrepid search for herself is an intricate game of coping with the past and luring at the infinite future.


Directed by Ken Wolff
2012, 8min

The main character, a yellow canary, performs his weekly routine. However, as his week continues to progress, he is constantly faced with unfortunate situations. Once the weekend arrives, he drinks his sorrows away and contemplates jumping from the top of a building. He then realizes that not only is he a bird, but he can also fly...

About the Aruba International Film Festival:

The breathtaking Caribbean island of Aruba provides the backdrop for the film industry’s newest marquee summer event – the Aruba International Film Festival (AIFF).

Centered in the island’s beautiful Palm Beach district at the Paseo Herencia Entertainment Center, the 3rd Aruba International Film Festival aims to further its tradition of attracting prodigious films and stars and providing the most intimate and pleasurable setting for festival goers. The first two editions of the festival collectively offered over 50 films from over 25 different countries and played host to an array of high profile talent and film industry guests such as Richard Gere, Kim Cattrall, Jonathan Demme, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, Guillermo Arriaga, Patricia Clarkson, Thelma Schoonmaker, Milcho Manchevski, Griffin Dunne, Rudy Rodriguez and Michael Kaplan, to name just a few.

AIFF has quickly earned its reputation as the premiere event to introduce a film to the South American market. Aruba’s location, just 45 miles off the coast of South America (neighboring Venezuela and Colombia) makes it a desirable and attainable destination for South Americans as thousands of visitors from neighboring countries flock to Aruba every year for the Aruba International Film Festival experience. Latin stars have been a major draw and are received with as much excitement and fanfare as many of Hollywood’s biggest names.

Actors, directors, producers, writers, industry executives and foreign media are once again invited to converge on the island this June to experience firsthand why AIFF is making a name for itself as a “must-attend” summer event. Local festival goers will be able to see a wide variety of films from around the world and experience an exciting, one-of-a-kind event that brings the best of global cinema to their home.


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