Not everything that comes out of Hollywood is full of sex, violence, and drugs. That is especially true of the 19th annual International Family Film Festival (IFFF), which took place at Hollywood’s Raleigh Studios (the former United Artists lot), November 7-9, 2014.
The IFFF (“I triple F” is the cool kid way to pronounce it) not only harkens back to films in the spirit of Frank Capra and John Ford, it promotes current filmmakers and looks to the future with young filmmaker training programs. In his opening statement on the first day, festival executive director Chris Shoemaker emphasized that the definition of “family” that the festival used was “not rigid or linear.” The mission, he said, was to support filmmakers and to build “a peaceful global family through the discovery and sharing of quality stories by emerging artists and production companies.”
The festival included 88 films from 16 countries, featured films by filmmakers 8-17 years old, conducted a screenplay competition, and held a day-long training session for young filmmakers. It concluded with an awards ceremony hosted by Disney legend Bill Farmer, the voice of Goofy and many other animated icons, which honored writers, animators, musicians, actors and filmmakers in over 30 categories.
The Best Feature Drama award went to Hot Bath ‘an a Stiff Drink, Producer, Jeffery Patterson and Once Upon A Dream Productions. This film was an old-style, kid-safe western with a clever plot involving twin brothers separated at about age ten, who end up in an unlikely reunion 30 years later when one is an outlaw and the other a marshal.
The festival presented several special awards.
The Friz Freleng Award for Excellence in Animation is named for the animator and developer of the classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies series at Warner Brothers. This year’s “Friz” was awarded to Disney animator Mike Peraza, art director for The Little Mermaid. He also played a creative role in many other Disney classics including Mickey’s Christmas Carol, Fox and the Hound, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, and Beauty and the Beast. Peraza also has worked with Walt Disney Imagineering, bringing his special touch to the new Fantasyland and other aspects of the theme parks.
The Top Applause Feature Award, voted on by festival audiences, went to Leaving Limbo by Writer-Director-Producer Sandy Boikian and Producer Lisa Boore Lambert. Leaving Limbo explores the question, “What would happen if you went into a coma in your senior year of high school and didn’t come out of it for 19 years?”
The Pearl Award is given to the film that “best exemplifies the purity and enduring strength of the family bond.” The 2014 winner was Finding Harmony, a second award for Producer Jeffery Patterson and Once Upon A Dream Productions. This film, starring Billy Zane, Alison Eastwood and newcomer Anna Margaret, follows a family, broken on many levels, that strives to find harmony “in life, love and music.”
The IFFF is sponsored by the International Family Film Institute (IFF). The IFF also conducts year-round film appreciation and learning programs, including Intercut, a film/game design e-zine, film clubs, acting camps, film workshops and other media related training for young people.[amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00CIRH696][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B000WMA6HS][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B00004R99F][amazon template=iframe image&asin=B000ION7A8][amazon template=iframe image]