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Brian Cox

From left, Emmy award-winning actor Brian Cox with Alan Inkles, founder and director of the Stony Brook Film Festival at the U.S. Premiere of ‘The Etruscan Smile’ on July 21. Photo by Nick A. Koridis

The 23rd annual Stony Brook Film Festival wrapped up with a Closing Night Awards Reception on July 28. The evening recognized the outstanding new independent films screened at the festival, which was held at the Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University from July 19 to 28.

“The Etruscan Smile,” featuring acclaimed actor Brian Cox in the lead role, won the Grand Prize. The sold-out U.S. Premiere was screened on July 21 with Brian Cox, Thora Birch and Sandra Santiago attending and hosting a Q&A. 

Alan Inkles, founder and director of the Stony Brook Film Festival announced additional awards at the reception. “We received so many enthusiastic responses from our astute audience members over the ten days of the festival,” he said. “‘The Etruscan Smile’ was hailed as a favorite. I was fortunate to have Brian Cox reach out to us just as we were finishing our schedule. He had been to the Stony Brook Film Festival for his film ‘The Carer’ and was keen on having the U.S. Premiere of ‘The Etruscan Smile’ at Stony Brook.”

The Stony Brook Film Festival has awarded eight Grand Prizes in its 23-year history. “The Etruscan Smile is the ninth to receive a Grand Prize.” 

And the winners are:

2018 Grand Prize 

“The Etruscan Smile” (United States)

U.S. Premiere 

Directed by Oded Binnun and Mihal Brezis. Written by Michael McGowan, Michal Lali Kagan and Sarah Bellwood. With Brian Cox (“Braveheart,” “The Carer”), Thora Birch (“Ghost World”), JJ Feild (“Austenland”) and Rosanna Arquette (“Pulp Fiction”). 

2018 Jury Award – Best Feature (tie) 

“Octav” (Romania)

U.S. Premiere 

Directed by Serge Ioan Celebidachi. Written by Serge Ioan Celebidachi and James Olivier. With Marcel Iures, Victor Rebengiuc, Eric Aradits and Alessia Tofan.

“Symphony for Ana” (Argentina)

East Coast Premiere 

Directed by Ernesto Ardito, Virna Molina. Written by Ernesto Ardito, Virna Molina and Gaby Meik. With Isadora Ardito, Rocio Palacin, Rafael Federman, Ricky Arraga, Vera Fogwill and Rodrigo Nova.

2018 Audience Choice – Best Feature 

“The Guilty’ (Denmark)

Directed by Gustav Möller. Written by Emil Nygaard Albertsen and Gustav Möller.With Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage and Omar Shargawi.

2018 Spirit of Independent Filmmaking  

“Thrasher Road” (United States) 

East Coast Premiere

Written and Directed by Samantha Davidson Green. With Allison Brown and Christian Kohn.

2018 Jury Award – Best Short

“Unnatural” (United States)

East Coast Premiere 

A film by Amy Wang. 

2018 Audience Choice Award – Best Short

“Internet Gangsters” (United States)

New York Premiere 

A film by Sam Friedlander. 

This year the films at the 2018 Stony Brook Film Festival spanned 19 different countries and the festival welcomed over 40 filmmakers to represent their films at screenings. With support from presenting sponsor Island Federal Credit Union and others, SBU was able to welcome guests from Israel, India, England, New Zealand, Spain, Belgium, and many from the West Coast.

The Closing Night Awards reception held in Staller Center’s Paul W. Zuccaire Gallery was sponsored by HBO. Catering for the reception was provided by The Meadow Club. 

Additional sponsors include Campolo, Middleton & McCormick, LLP; Altice Media Solutions, Suffolk County; and WLIW21. Staller Center Media Sponsors include WSHU Public Radio, Times Beacon Record News Media, WALK 97.5, LI News Radio and Oldies 98.1.

The Stony Brook Film Festival will announce the start date for 2019 entries later in the year at www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

From left, Hannes Holm, Delaney Ruston, Tessa Small, Kai Nordberg, Manolo Cruz and Alan Inkles at the Closing Night ceremonies. Photo by Jasna Boudard

The 21st Stony Brook Film Festival, presented by Island Federal Credit Union, wrapped up with a Closing Night Awards Reception on July 30, recognizing the outstanding new independent films screened at the festival, which was held at Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University from July 21 to 30. Film critic John Anderson hosted the evening and Alan Inkles, founder and director of the festival, welcomed the winning filmmakers, the public and Ed Arentz of Music Box Films. Music Box Films in this year’s festival included “The Innocents” and the 2016 Closing Night film, “A Man Called Ove.” And the winners are:

2016 Jury Award: Best Feature

“The Fencer” — The screening, which was held on July 27, had a sold-out house of over 900 patrons. The film had its East Coast premiere on Wednesday, July 27, and had been Finland’s entry into this year’s Academy Awards. In Estonian and Russian with subtitles. Directed by Klaus Härö. From Matterhorn International. Producer Kai Nordberg accepted the award.

2016 Audience Choice: Best Feature

“Between Sea and Land” — Manolo Cruz, writer, director, actor and co-producer accepted the award. Cruz received a standing ovation from the full house before his Q-and-A. A Global Screen Film. In Spanish with subtitles.

2016 Jury Award: Best Short

“Italian Miracle” — Directed by Francesco Gabriele.

2016 Audience Award: Best Short

A tie: “Jewish Blind Date” — Directed by Anaelle Morf and “Venice” — Directed by Venetia Taylor.

2016 Special Jury Awards

Achievement in Filmmaking

“No Pay, Nudity” — Directed by Lee Wilkof, and written by Ethan Sandler. Nathan Lane, who stars in the film, attended the World Premiere screening of “No Pay, Nudity” on July 26 and participated in a Q-and-A with Loudon Wainwright III, Zoe Perry and Lee Wilkof — one of the festival’s highlights.

Spirit of Independent Filmmaking

“The Father and the Bear” ­— World premiere, United States. Written and directed by John Putch. From Putchfilms.

Timely Social Commentary

“Screenagers” — A documentary about finding a healthy balance between social media, video games, academics and the internet. Filmed by Dr. Delaney Ruston, local physician and mother of two, this fascinating documentary explores the question of how much screen time is too much.

2016 Opening Night Film Award

“The Carer” — Directed by János Edelényi. East Coast premiere. From Yellow Affair and the Hungarian National Film Fund. A Corinth Films Release.

2016 Closing Night Film Award

“A Man Called Ove” — U.S. premiere. From Sweden. Directed by Hannes Holm. Written by Hannes Holm, Fredrik Backman. From Nordisk Film, Tre Vänner Produktion AB. A Music Box Films release. Closing Night was sold out. Holm attended the Closing Night screening’s premiere.

Career Achievement Award

Brian Cox (“The Carer”) was presented the Career Achievement Award at the film’s East Coast premiere on July 21.

For more information, visit www.stonybrookfilmfestival.com.