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Stony Brook Film Festival 2022

The 27th annual Stony Brook Film Festival, presented by Island Federal Credit Union, wrapped up with a Closing Night Awards Ceremony on July 30.  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 21 to 30. 

This year’s winners included BerenshteinJury Award for  Best Feature; ContraAudience Award for Best Feature; All That Glitters and Summer of Bees tied for the Jury Award for Best Short; Ousmane — Audience Award for Best Short; Peaceful   Opening Night Feature Award; Lost TransportClosing Night Feature Award; Lentini Opening Night Short Award; and Mila Closing Night Short Award.

In addition, Glob Lessons, directed by Nicole Rodenburg and written by Rodenburg and Colin Froeber, received The Spirit of Independent Filmmaking Award which is given every year 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. 

This year’s Festival bestowed a special Humanitarian Award on Dr. Gabriel Sara, co-star of and consultant on the opening night feature, Peaceful. A cancer specialist at Manhattan’s Mount Sinai West, Dr. Sara helped launch The Helen Sawaya Fund, a philanthropy program whose mission is to enhance the experience of cancer patients through art and music. 

“The dignity and empathy which Dr. Sara brings to his work became the impetus for Peaceful, a film that touched us all so deeply,” said Alan Inkles, Director of the Stony Brook Film Festival. “We are proud to confer [this award] on Dr. Sara for his vital and important work in improving the lives of cancer patients.”

Highlighting the live Awards Ceremony was a presentation by the filmmakers of Red River Road, winner of the 2021 Spirit of Independent Filmmaking Award. Writer/director Paul Schuyler proudly announced that Red River Road was acquired for distribution by Gravitas Films with the help and support of the Stony Brook Film Festival.

“For over 27 years, filmmakers have continually conveyed to us that we are the most hospitable festival they’ve been to,” said Inkles. “We are able to treat our filmmakers like royalty because we have two constituents in mind when we plan our festivals — our filmmakers and our audience. With the support of Island Federal and many of our other supporters, we are proud to provide a full experience to our audience, bringing together filmmakers and cast members from all over the world to give first- hand accounts of their process.”

During the Festival, the Staller Center announced its Fall 2022 Live Performing Arts season which kicks off on Sept. 23 and includes performances by Michael Feinstein, Katherine McPhee and David Foster, and Vic DiBitetto, among others. Visit www.stallercenter.com for the entire Fall season line-up.

Catherine Deneuve and Benoît Magimel in a scene from Peaceful. Photo courtesy of Staller Center

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 21 to Saturday, July 30. The popular festival, now in its 27th 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.

Presented by Island Federal, the 2022 Festival lineup offers 38 films from over 28 countries. The Festival kicks off with the North American premiere of Peaceful, starring Catherine Deneuve, Benoît Magimel, and Gabriel A. Sara. A life-affirming drama about acceptance and resilience, Peaceful follows Benjamin, an acting teacher with a terminal illness as he navigates his final months and days. The beating heart of the film comes from Gabriel Sara — a cancer specialist from Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan in real-life — who portrays Benjamin’s very humane specialist Dr. Eddé. Catherine Deneuve’s powerful performance as Benjamin’s mother is unforgettable.

“This year’s Festival is somewhat of a family affair, with several real-life family members making films, and members of our Stony Brook family returning,” says Festival co-programmer Kent Marks. “Our Sunday night independent feature, the very touching This is a Film About My Mother, which was shot in Ithaca, New York, stars real-life siblings Tess and Will Harrison and was written and directed by Tess.”

The theme of family continues with the mesmerizing Korean independent film, Seokkarae. Written and directed by Mike Beech, and starring his wife, Jiwon Lee, the character-driven film depicts a quiet twenty-something attempting to keep the family business going despite tough odds. Jungle is another such collaboration, written by real life partners Claudia Verena Hruschka and Kieran Wheeler, with Wheeler directing and Hruschka giving a gut-wrenching performance in this hard-hitting short from Australia. 

From Australia to Stony Brook, The Switcheroo is co-directed by Stony Brook brothers Ryan and Anthony Famulari. Made for next to nothing during COVID, this hilarious comedy has the brothers serving as the entire crew, with Anthony cast in the very funny role of a man and his clone. Two more co-directors are sisters Austin and Westin Ray with their UK-based quiet thriller Before Seven. The Ray’s, Festival alums from 2014, served as directors, writer (Westin) and composer and cinematographer (Austin). Another SBFF festival alum is John Gray, who won the audience choice award for his 2020 film Extra Innings, and is back this year with the intriguing family drama The Little Drummer Boy.

Women will take center stage at this year’s SBFF, both in front of and behind the camera. SBFF’s opening and closing night features and shorts were all helmed by female directors. In all, 17 of the Festival’s 38 films were directed by women. Two films, Kitchen Tales and Before Seven, were made with nearly all-female crews. 

The Jackie Stiles Story and Nasima are two completely different documentaries about female athletes from the middle of nowhere — a small Kansas town and a small seaside village in Bangladesh — who both beat the odds and made a huge impact in their respective sports of basketball and surfing. 

There are heroines from all walks of life, whether in the New Zealand drama The Justice of Bunny King, the Israeli epic Image of Victory, the Albanian thriller Vera Dream of the Sea, or the American indie Peace in the Valley, all of which feature knock-out performances by their lead actresses.

Reflecting on current issues, two films in the Festival, Olga and Berenshtein both take place in and around Ukraine, and both are from times when the Ukrainian people faced down an oppressive regime — whether it be from the Nazis or their own government.

Mila, a must-see short film on SBFF’s closing night, is a debut effort by writer/director Cinzia Angelini and made by 350 animators from 35 countries, who volunteered their services to help Angelini get her story made after all major studios turned it down. Inspired by events of the 1943 Trento bombing in Italy, this heart-warming story depicts a young girl who has lost everything but still clings to hope. 

The closing night feature, Lost Transport, is a powerful and deeply moving film set during the final days of World War II, uniquely told from a female perspective. When German soldiers abandon a deportation train, leaving the fate of its occupants in the hands of advancing Russian troops, three women from vastly different backgrounds, set aside their differences, working together to survive.

“The diversity of filmmakers is a hallmark of Stony Brook Film Festival, with student filmmakers, seasoned pros, and nine first-time directors represented this year,” says Festival Director Alan Inkles. “We are very excited to have filmmakers from all over the world join us in-person this year for their premiere screenings. Our audience can gather in a huge theater with Long Island’s largest screen, to see movies the way they were meant to be seen. Not only are these films not available on any streaming format, but you also get to hear directly from the filmmakers themselves, ask them a question at our live Q&A, and even vote for your favorite.”

For 27 years, the Stony Brook Film Festival has hosted 549 filmmakers from 78 different countries, featured nearly 55 World Premieres and over 75 U.S. premieres. In total, the Festival has screened almost 1100 independent films from all over the world. The Festival kicks-off with an Opening Night Party and closes with an Awards Ceremony and Closing Night Party.



Thursday, July 21 at 8 p.m.

Feature: Peaceful, France

Short: Lentini, United States


Friday, July 22 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Olga, Switzerland, Ukraine,  France

Short: Kitchen Tales, United Kingdom


Friday, July 22 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Glob Lessons, United States

Short: Before Seven, United States


Saturday, July 23 at 4:30 p.m.

Doc Feature: The Jackie Stiles Story, U.S.


Saturday, July 23 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Contra, Germany

Short: The Little Drummer Boy, U.S.


Saturday, July 23 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Peace in the Valley, U.S.

Short: Elevate, United States


Sunday, July 24 at 4:30 p.m.

Documentary Feature: Nasima, U.S.


Sunday, July 24 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Berenshtein, Israel & Ukraine

Short: The Switcheroo, United States


Sunday, July 24 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: This is a Film About My Mother, U.S.

Short: North Star, United States


Monday, July 25 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Hit the Road, Iran

Short: Summer of Bees, Finland


Monday, July 25 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Seokkarae, Korea

Short: Saving Elodie, United Kingdom


Tuesday, July 26 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Hard Shell, Soft Shell, France

Short: Almost Winter, United States


Tuesday, July 26 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: The Justice of Bunny King, NZ

Short: The Dress, United States


Wednesday, July 27 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Image of Victory, Israel

Short: Milk, United Kingdom


Wednesday, July 27 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: The Test, France

Short: Free Fall, France


Thursday, July 28 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Haute Couture, France

Short: Jungle, Australia


Thursday, July 28 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Sons of the Sea, South Africa

Short: Ousmane, Canada


Friday, July 29 at 7 p.m.

Feature: Vera Dream of the Sea, Kosovo & Albania & Republic of Macedonia

Short: All that Glitters, United Kingdom


Friday, July 29 at 9:30 p.m.

Feature: Black Box, France & Belgium

Short: Aysha, Germany



Saturday, July 30 at 8 p.m.

Feature: Lost Transport, Netherlands & Luxemborg & Germany

Short: Mila, United States



10:30 p.m.

Ticket information

All 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 goers can choose from a Gold Pass, Festival Pass, or Individual Pass. Passes start at $20. All passholders will hear from filmmakers throughout the Festival and have the opportunity to rate and vote on favorite films to help choose the winners of this year’s Festival. 

Gold Passholders receive entry to all films, VIP reserved seating, a Stony Brook Film Festival swag bag, discounts at local restaurants and businesses, access to Opening and Closing Night After Parties, filmmaker Q&A’s, and the Closing Night Awards Ceremony. Festival Passholders receive entry to all films and guaranteed seating for sold-out films, filmmaker Q&A’s, access to the Closing Night Awards Ceremony, discounts at local restaurants and businesses, voting for Audience Choice Award, and a Stony Brook Film Festival Passholder gift. For more information or to order, call 631-632-2787 or visit stonybrookfilmfestival.com.

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