An outstanding year for NRFF London

Presenter Anya Patel

Filmmakers and screenwriters from across the globe packed the Courthouse Hotel in London’s Soho on Sunday the 25th August, despite the mini heatwave across the UK. The event was hosted by up-and-coming TV presenter Anya Patel.

The ceremony marked the end of a successful four-day festival that took place at TT Cinema and the CLOSE-UP Arthouse cinema, which are both located in Shoreditch. More than 90 high-quality shorts and features by independent filmmakers were screened. The programme included a range of genres and themes, the UK premiere of features ‘OLYMPIA’ and ‘DREAM STATE’, as well as ‘SKIN’, this year’s Oscar winner for Best Live Action Short.

Best International Actress – McKenzie Chinn – ‘OLYMPIA’. Chinn also wrote the screenplay.

Running alongside the film festival was a screenplay competition, with a notable entry from Texan screenwriter Michael Monteith, who won Best Feature Screenplay for ‘LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT’, a wonderful biopic of singer Kitty Kallen.

Kitty Kallen (No Copyright infringement intended)
Michael Monteith – ‘LITTLE THINGS MEAN A LOT’

Curators Jan Hendrik Verstraten and Massimo Barbato set up the festival 4 years ago to nurture talented artists and storytellers, and build a supportive artistic community. At this year’s event, the positive energy and enthusiasm from audiences and the filmmakers themselves helped to create a truly fun and vibrant atmosphere.

Massimo Barbato (Creative Director) and Jan Hendrik Verstraten (Festival Director)

The NEW RENAISSANCE BEST OF FEST AWARD went to the short ASHMINA directed by Dekel Berenson. Nestled between a beautiful lake and the Himalayas, Ashmina, 13, lives with her family at the outskirts of Pokhara Nepal, the paragliding capital of the world. The remote and traditional town is also a busy tourist destination where the locals are profoundly affected by the swarms of tourists who visit it daily. Forced to skip school, Ashmina helps her family make ends meet by working at the landing field, packing the parachutes of foreign pilots in return for small change. Beautifully shot and recently screened at the BFI, the film has qualified for the upcoming Academy Awards.

ASHMINA – Best of Fest
Q&A with ‘ASHMINA’ Producer Dominic Davey

This year’s NEW RENAISSANCE HUMANITY AWARD, previously won by Oscar winning-short ‘THE SILENT CHILD’ and ‘COTTON WOOL’, went to ‘THE SEA’ directed by Cameron Richards. The film raises our awareness of the tragic consequences of Alzheimer’s and dementia, and was inspired by Cameron’s own grandmother. Jenny sits alone on a beach. As she watches for birds, she is joined by best friends, family and loved ones in a series of seemingly random encounters – all leading to a devastating conclusion. It is an emotional film about the moments that make up a person’s life, with a stellar cast including Anna Friel in the lead role, Russell Tovey and David Elliot.

‘THE SEA’ – starring Anna Friel, Russell Tovey and David Elliot
Meghan Stewart and Cameron Richards receive the Humanity Award for ‘THE SEA’

‘DREAM STATE’ directed by young Danish director Asger K. Bartels took two awards for BEST FEATURE FILM and BEST INTERNATIONAL ACTOR ( Karim Theilgaard). Twenty-one year-old Bartels’ self-financed his debut, which tells the story of the complexities of millennial coming-of-age through the eyes and lens of photographer Louis. Following the death of his estranged father, Louis is left feeling he hasn’t achieved much in life. He is still chasing the same dream of becoming a famous photographer without much success. Louis’ girlfriend Rosa (Kimmie Falstrøm) tries to get him to snap out of it and grow up, but when old acquaintances make an appearance, the night draws Louis back in. ‘DREAM STATE’ premiered at CPH:PIX 2018, the biggest feature film festival in Denmark and has so far won “Best Danish Film” at the Annual Copenhagen Film Festival 2019. Distribution has also been secured for Autumn 2019.

‘DREAM STATE’ directed by Asger K. Bartels – Best Feature Film
Q&A with the ‘DREAM STATE’ cast and crew

One of our most popular film blocks is MUSIC & DANCE. The winner of this year’s BEST DANCE SHORT went to ‘SILENCED,’ a debut by the Northern Ballet and directed by Gavin McCaig.

‘SILENCED’ by the Northern Ballet – Best Dance Short
Q&A with Music & Dance finalists

Due to the high-calibre of entries, the festival added an additional award for BEST CHOREOGRAPHER OF A DANCE FILM, which went to Jordan James Bridge and ‘US’.

Jordan James Bridge – Best Choreographer of a Dance Film

There were two BEST YOUNG TALENT FILMMAKERS at this year’s festival. ‘LAND OF WINTER’ by director Tommy Creagh took the prize in the International category. The short tells the story of a lost young man (Declan O’Connor) who staggers through Dublin’s cold streets desperately trying to find somewhere still serving on a dark winter’s night on the brink of snowfall. Inspired by the work of James Joyce, the film is beautifully shot and acted by the lead characters.

‘LAND OF WINTER’ – Best International Young Talent Short
Director of ‘LAND OF WINTER’ Tommy Creagh and actor Declan O’Connor

‘ROGER’ directed by Reuben Hamlyn won in the UK category. It tells the story of Lena who embarks on her new job as a “Roger,” a service application that provides its clients with a domestic assistant with which they never directly communicate. Unsettled by her new role, Lena strives to build a relationship with her employer through unexpected means. ‘ROGER’ has been screened by the BBC and continues to win awards.

‘ROGER’ – Best UK Young Talent Short
Director of ‘ROGER’ Reuben Hamlyn

All in all, NRFF London 2019 has been outstanding, cementing the NRFF brand as a major platform for high-calibre talent on the indie film festival circuit. CLICK HERE for a complete list of this year’s winners.

A big THANK YOU to everyone who took part. If you attended the festival and have a few minutes to spare, please leave a review on Film Freeway.