The Blue Water Film Festival (BWFF) Board of Directors announce that their annual event will not take place in 2014. The board cites the need for additional staff and volunteers as well as financial independence and an increase in festival audience attendance as reasons for the event’s postponement.
The film festival began in 2009 and showcased the work of Michigan and Canadian independent filmmakers as well as brought Michigan-born, nationally-known comedians and icons of television and film to the Blue Water Area. Comedy nights included live performances by television’s DAVE COULIER (Full House, HBO’s Comedy Relief), funny lady LONI LOVE (Chelsea Lately, Tru TV’s World’s Dumbest…) and stand-up J CHRIS NEWBERG (America’s Got Talent, The Laugh Factory).
Past BWFF judges have included Academy Award-nominated producer, STEVE BANNATYNE (“If a Tree Falls…”, “Informant”); CHRIS GORE (founder of Film Threat magazine, author of “The Ultimate Film Festival Survival Guide”); actress, KATHLEEN ROSE PERKINS (Golden Globe Award-nominated “Episodes”, “American Horror Story”); Emmy and Academy Award-nominated hairstylist and director, STACEY K. BLACK (“Glee”, “The Artist”); screenwriter John Fitzpatrick (“Roseanne”, “Rugrats”); former Walt Disney animator, JOHN WEBBER (“Pocahontas”, “Lilo and Stitch”, “Hercules”); former Vice President of Production for Columbia Pictures, KATHRYN J. MCDERMOTT (“Spiderman”, “Men in Black”, “Something’s Gotta Give”) and the Curator of Film for the Detroit Institute of Art, ELLIOT WILHELM.
Memorable guests include horror film star, SID HAIG (“The Devil’s Rejects”, “Kill Bill: Part II”, “House of 1,000 Corpses”); actor, CURTIS ARMSTRONG (“Moonlighting”, “Revenge of the Nerds”, “Ray”) and podcaster and author, MIKE WHITE (“The Projection Booth”, “Cinema Detours”). The festival’s Golden Mitten Award, given to a current or former Michigan resident that has made a powerful and lasting impact on the entertainment industry, was presented live on stage to Primetime Emmy Award-winning actor and highly-respected director and producer, TIMOTHY BUSFIELD (“Thirtysomething”, “The West Wing”, “Field of Dreams”); posthumously to Primetime Emmy Award winner and comedienne, GILDA RADNER (“Saturday Night Live”, “The Woman in Red”, “Haunted Honeymoon”) and finally in 2013 to Academy, Emmy and Tony Award-winning actress, ELLEN BURSTYN (“Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore”, “The Exorcist”, “Requiem for a Dream”).
Special events presented include “An Evening with Colleen Moore” where the festival paid tribute to the Port Huron-born actress and silent film star by featuring guest speaker, Director of the Detroit Film Theatre, Elliot Wilhelm, showcased several of her most popular films and had Wednesday, October 6th 2010 officially declared “Colleen Moore Day” by the City of Port Huron. In 2011, over 1,000 horror fans descended on McMorran Place Theatre for the BWFF’s American mid-west premiere of “Mimesis”, directed by Motion Picture Institute President, Douglas Schluze (“Dark Heaven”, “Dark Fields”, “Hellmaster”). After the festival’s premiere, “Mimesis” was picked up for distribution by Anchor Bay Entertainment and most recently, has been licensed by premium cable giant, SHOWTIME for their 2014-2015 television season. The American mid-west premiere of “Informant” by Academy Award-nominated producer and Port Huron-native, Steve Bannatyne was presented in 2012 and featured a live Skype Q&A session from Los Angeles. “Informant” was released in select theaters in September 2013, had commercials played on the IFC television channel as well as took home top documentary prize honors at five national film festivals.
In its five year history, 87 individual Michigan and Canadian-independent filmmakers had 110 short and feature length films showcased at the Blue Water Film Festival and over $10,000 was awarded to the winning filmmakers. Since 2009, 6,240 minutes or 104 hours of film have been submitted to the Blue Water Film Festival and screened by the Film Selection Committee. Each year, festival staff traveled to close to 30 different Michigan or Canadian film festivals and events to recruit films, participate in panel discussions, serve as adjudicators or judges and promote the Blue Water Area as a dynamic location for cinematic projects. In total, over 10 films or television programs were shot in the region with the assistance or liaisonship of festival staff. The Blue Water Film Festival has been featured on television programs and in newspapers and magazines across the country as well as countless online content.
Another season is in the books and the BWFF organizers want to thank you for your interest in our event.
We want to thank all of the filmmakers and our judges, as well as Golden Mitten recipient Ellen Burstyn.
Congratulations to all of our winners:
2013 BLUE WATER FILM AWARD WINNERS
Billy Jackson Downriver
Benjamin Strack for Abed
Brandon M. Verdi for Downriver
Chris Porter for Vanishing Act
Katie Oliver as Crystal in Downriver
Nick Skardarasy as Alex in Downriver
2013 FILM SELECTION COMMITTEE FAVORITE
Tinisha Brugnone for Downriver
2013 Silver Award winner (3rd Place)
Downriver- Tinisha Brugnone
2013 Gold Award winner (2nd Place)
Abed – Ryan Lieske
2013 Platinum winner (1st place)
The Whistle – Jonathan D’Ambrosio
GOLDEN MITTEN AWARD:
Academy Award-winning actress, Ellen Burstyn appeared at this year’s Blue Water Film Festival as the event’s recipient of the Golden Mitten Award. The award recognizes “an individual from Michigan that has made a significant mark in the arts and entertainment field.”
Burstyn originally hails from Detroit and began her career in theatre during the late 1950s and over the next decade it included several films and television series.
Burstyn’s performance in the acclaimed 1971 ensemble drama “The Last Picture Show” brought her first Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, after which she moved from supporting to leading film and stage roles. Burstyn received a second Academy Award nomination for her lead performance in “The Exorcist” (1973), and won the Academy Award for Best Actress the following year for her work in Martin Scorsese’s, “Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore.”
In 1975, she won the Tony Award for her lead performance in the Broadway production of “Same Time, Next Year,” and received a Golden Globe Award and a fourth Academy Award nomination for her performance in the 1978 film version of the play.
Burstyn has worked consistently in film, television and theatre since, receiving multiple awards and nominations along the way, including seven additional Golden Globe Award nominations, five Emmy Award nominations (one win), and two more Academy Award nominations for Best Actress for her performances in the films “Resurrection” (1980) and “Requiem for a Dream” (2000).
Ellen Burstyn was the first woman elected president of Actors Equity Association (1982-85), and served as the Artistic Director of the famed Actors Studio where she studied with the late Lee Strasberg.
BLUE WATER FILM SOCIETY:
If you enjoyed this year’s Blue Water Film Festival, please consider joining the Blue Water Film Society. Membership benefits such as preferred seating and invitations to exclusive BWFF events are listed on the “Become a Member of the Blue Water Film Society” tab on this website. Please click to join today.