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Stony Brook Film Festival 2021

The 26th annual Stony Brook Film Festival, presented by Island Federal Credit Union, wrapped up with a Closing Night Awards Reception on July 31. The evening recognized the outstanding new independent films screened at the festival, which was held at Staller Center for the Arts at Stony Brook University from July 22 to 31.

Making its world premiere at the festival, Anchorage won the Grand Prize this year. Director Scott Monahan and screenwriter Dakota Loesch star as two brothers who attempt to drive a trunk full of opioids from Florida to Alaska to cash in big in the Land of Gold. But their plan gets challenged by their surroundings, their shortcomings, and their tendency to dip into their own supply. This one-of-a-kind film explores the national crises of opioid addiction.

Special Achievement in Directing was awarded to Trey Nelson for his directorial debut in The 5th Man, a documentary that tells the extraordinary story of Paul Limmer, a world class track coach at Mepham High School in North Bellmore, whose dedication impacted so many lives. This film is also the first documentary to ever open the Stony Brook Film Festival.

The Spirit of Independent Filmmaking Award, given to a filmmaker whose work exemplifies the spirit and breadth of filmmaking where the focus is on the art and most often produced with an extremely limited budget, was awarded to Red River Road. Written and directed by Paul Schuyler, the film was shot entirely under COVID-19 lockdown by one family and their dog that served as the entire cast and crew.

Written and directed by Lina Luzyte, The Castle captured the Audience Award for Best Feature. The film features Monika, a thirteen-year-old Lithuanian girl living in Dublin with her mother, a pianist who works at a local fish factory, and her grandmother, who has dementia and requires constant supervision. After singing with her mother at a small locale, they are approached with an invitation to play in ‘The Castle’ which they are told is one of the best music venues in Ireland. 

Willow received the Jury Award for Best Feature. Written and directed by Milcho Manchevski, the film tells of a young peasant woman who seeks the help of an aged sorceress in the attempt to get pregnant. Centuries later, two contemporary women find themselves struggling with their own beliefs, modern science, and societal mores, in their own struggles to navigate motherhood. With its amazing images and unconventional narrative, this is a film whose story and characters exhibit that rare authenticity that makes you forget you’re watching a movie.

Noisy received the Audience Award for Best Short. A film by Cedric Hill, it features two strangers on a noisy subway who discover they have way more in common than where they’re heading. 

Rounding out the awards, The Saverini Widow captured the Jury Award for Best Short. A French film by Loïc Gaillard, it details how a widow’s life falls to pieces when her son is killed in a clash. Left with only her dog, she plots a desperate scheme. With stunning visuals and no dialogue, this film keeps you riveted to the end.

Of the winning films, filmmakers and cast and crew from Anchorage, Red River Road, and The 5th Man were in attendance to accept their awards. It was an unusual year indeed, with only American filmmakers in attendance for the live Q&A sessions following their screenings, but a joyful and celebrated return to the theater.

Virtual passes are now available to view the encore screening of the Festival on IndieFlix Festivals through Aug. 30. Passes for the entire 4 weeks are $85 per household or $25 for a weekly pass. Virtual passholders will be able to watch films multiple times and will have access to a number of features and shorts beginning each Thursday at 7 p.m. through Monday at midnight. Pre-recorded discussions with filmmakers, directors, cast, and crew will be included as well. For more information, call 631-632-2787 or visit stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

Photos courtesy of Staller Center for the Arts

A scene from Willow. Photo courtesy of Banana Films
Watch in-person or virtually this year!

Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts turns into a movie lover’s mecca when new independent films screen at the Stony Brook Film Festival on evenings and weekends from Thursday, July 22 to Saturday, July 31. The popular festival, now in its 26th year, pairs memorable short films with an array of features you won’t see anywhere else, making it a favorite of moviegoers and filmmakers alike.

The live, in-person screening of the film festival, presented by Island Federal, will be followed up by a virtual festival from Aug. 5 to 30 on the IndieFlix Festivals app. 

Presented by Island Federal, the 2021 Festival lineup boasts 35 films from over 15 countries and includes never-before-seen features from around the globe. The Festival kicks off with the world premiere of The 5th Man, a documentary on Paul Limmer, a former track coach at Bellmore’s Mepham High School. During his 50-year career there, Limmer racked up hundreds of wins, though director Trey Nelson focuses on the story of all the other kids – the ones who never felt “seen” – until Paul Limmer came into their lives. 

The film will be preceded by Feeling Through, an Oscar-nominated short featuring deaf-blind actor Robert Tarango of Selden. Other must-see features include Yamina Benguigui’s Sisters, starring Isabelle Adjani and Maïwenn, a finely crafted reflection on memory and belonging to two worlds and As Far As I Know, an uncompromising film that wrestles with questions of perspective and victimhood. Milcho Manchevski’s newest masterpiece Willow is resplendent in unforgettable images and unconventional narrative. Closing out the 2021 Festival is the intense and complexly drawn sports drama Final Set.



Thursday, July 22 at 8 p.m.

Feature: The 5th Man, United States

Short: Feeling Through, United States


Friday, July 23 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Risks & Side Effects, Germany

Short: David, United States

Friday, July 23 at 9:15 p.m.

Feature: Red River Road, United States

Short: The Following Year, Spain


Saturday, July 24 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Sisters, France

Short: Girls Are Strong Here, U.S.

Saturday, July 24 at 9:15 p.m.

Feature: Games People Play, Finland

Short: Off Duty, United States


Sunday, July 25 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Persona Non Grata, Denmark

Short: On the Sidewalk, at Night, U.S.

Sunday, July 25 at 9:15 p.m.

Feature: Anchorage, United States

Short: The Saverini Widow, France


Monday, July 26 at 7 p.m.

Feature: As Far As I Know, Hungary

Short: DA YIE, Ghana

Monday, July 26 at 9:15 p.m.

Feature: Willow, Republic of Northern Macedonia, Hungary, Belgium

Short: The Night I Left America, U.S.


Tuesday, July 27 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Fire in the Mountains, India

Short: The Music Video, Canada

Tuesday, July 27 at 9:15 p.m.

Feature: Everything in the End, U.S.

Short: Max is Bleeding, U.S.


Wednesday, July 28 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Sun Children, Iran

Short: Noisy, United States

Wednesday, July 28 at 9:15 p.m.

Feature: The Castle, Lithuania, Ireland

Short: Inverno (Timo’s Winter), Italy


Thursday, July 29 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Murder at Cinema North, Israel

Short: Devek, Israel

Thursday, July 29 at 9:15 p.m.

Feature: How to Stop a Recurring Dream, United Kingdom

Short: This Uncertain Moment, U.S.


Friday, July 30 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Lorelei, United States

Short: Swipe, United States

Friday, July 30 at 9:15 p.m.

Feature: Perfumes, France

Short: Ganef, United Kingdom



Saturday, July 31 at 8 p.m.

Feature: Final Set, France


10:30 p.m.

Ticket information

All live screenings are held at Stony Brook University’s Staller Center for the Arts, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook in the 1,000-seat Main Stage theater. Festival passes are on sale for $125, which guarantees entry to all live films at the Staller Center in July. Virtual passes are $85 with guaranteed access to all virtual films. For $250 you can purchase a Gold Pass, which guarantees entry and preferred seating for all live films at the Staller Center in July and full access to the Virtual Festival. Student passes are also available. For more information or to order, call the Staller Center Box Office at 631-632-2787 or visit stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

*This article first appeared in TBR News Media’s Summer Times supplement on June 24, 2021.