Winners of the 2011 Palm Springs International ShortFest! 

The Palm Springs International ShortFest, billed as the largest short film festival in North America, has announced its Festival award winners! 331 short films were screened, but in the end, only 18 categories were awarded.

I love and totally support the Palm Springs International ShortFest, many winners move on to nab an Oscar! According to Festival Director, Darry Macdonald, "It’s been a remarkable year for ShortFest, with record attendance and a rapturous response to the programming by audiences, industry and filmmakers alike. The Film Market and industry programs were particulary active, adding hugely to the Festival’s success. I’m confident a number of major future filmmakers emerged here this year and will go on to enliven the feature film world."

And the winners of the 2011 Palm Springs International ShortFest are:


BEST OF FESTIVAL AWARD - $2,000 cash and Software Package courtesy of The Showbiz Café & Store; Ultimate Stock Footage Collection courtesy of FootageFilm; Post Production award courtesy of Greenhouse Studios; and Final Cut Pro courtesy of Apple. The winner of this award is eligible to submit their film to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for Oscar consideration.

Bahiya & Mahmoud (Jordan/USA), Zaid Abu Hamdan

Aging couple Bahiya and Mahmoud have fallen into a reliable routine of bickering and making one another miserable until the morning that Mahmoud wakes and finds Bahiya gone.

PANAVISION GRAND JURY AWARD – Panavision Camera Package valued at $60,000.

UMOJA: No Men Allowed (Australia), Elizabeth Tadic

Fed up with being abused by the men in their village, a group of tribal Samburu women in Northern Kenya create their own successful community where no men are allowed. But will the jealous men they left behind leave them in peace?

FUTURE FILMMAKER AWARD - $2,000 cash and Pipeline Filmmaker prize courtesy of Film Source LA, Smart Post Sound, Rushes and The Pipeline. Mitsuyo Miyazaki, Tsuyako (Japan/USA)

In Japan, 1952, Tsuyako tries to live the life that has been set out for her—husband, children, work at the factory and care for her family. Yet when her friend arrives from Tokyo, Tsuyako finds herself entranced by the dream of a different life.

JURY SPECIAL CITATION – The jury presented a special citation for Excellence in Filmic Storytelling to Nullarbor (Australia), co-director and writer Patrick Sarell and co-director Alistair Lockhart.

The Eyre Highway through Australia’s Nullarbor Plain has the longest stretch of straight road in the world—perfect for passing that slow motorist alongside you. When two cars meet in this desolate landscape, will it be the tortoise or the hare who wins the day?



dik (Australia), Christopher Stollery

When a young boy draws a picture of what appears to be him rubbing his best friend’s ‘dik’, his parents are thrown into paroxysms of guilt and self doubt, accusing each other of all manner of sexual peccadilloes.

Runner-up – Tsuyako (Japan/USA), Mitsuyo Miyazaki

Johnny & Lyman: A Life Together (USA), Paul Detwiler, Michael Chen

Having met on the beach in Santa Monica in 1945, Johnny and Lyman have been partners for more than 60 years. In 2008, they joined 18,000 other gay and lesbian couples in America in applying for a marriage license. This is their story.

Runner-up – The Unforgettable Hampton Family (USA), Julie Cohen


The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore (USA), William Joyce, Brandon Oldenburg

A gorgeously rendered allegory about the curative effects of story, this animated tale concerns a man who has built his whole life around his love of books.

Runner-up – Danny & Annie (USA), Dave Isay, Tim Rauch


New this year, the Palm Springs International ShortFest debuted the ShortFest Online Film Festival. Ten films were chosen to represent the festival online to receive the ShortFest Online Audience Award. The film will be available to screen online for the next three months.

Stephany + Me (USA), Peter Shanel

Ben has no luck at love until he meets a woman in the most unexpected place – a massage parlor!

All first place winners in these categories received a cash award of $2,000. First place winners in the Animation and Live Action categories become eligible for Academy Awards consideration. Second Place recipients received a $500 cash prize.

BEST Live Action short 15 MINUTES AND UNDER

First Place ($2,000) – Cat and Mice (Kattenkwaad) (Netherlands), Nova Van Dijk

A young thief, who steals local cats then returns them for reward money, suspects his brutish neighbor of kidnapping a local girl, but finds that appearances can be dangerously deceptive.

Second Place ($500) – Nowhere Elsewhere (Au Milieu de Nulle Part Ailleurs) (Canada), Annick Blanc

Jury Special Citation - Pass the Salt, Please (USA) for Best Onscreen Pairing

BEST Live Action short over 15 minutes:

First Place ($2,000) – The Hours' Home (A Casa das Horas) (Brazil), Heraldo Cavalcanti

While the employees of a phone sales company think they’ve hooked a sucker in the form of a lonely little old lady who’s interested in their sales pitch, they soon learn that she can work the phone even better than they do…

Second Place ($500) – The Shore (UK), Terry George

BEST AnimatION short:

First Place ($2,000) – The Lost Town of Switez (Poland/Canada), Kamil Polak

A spectacularly animated story about a traveler whose journey is diverted when his carriage driver falls asleep. An epic tale across wild lands and towns that glimmer like jewels, about a man who becomes a hero.

Second Place ($500) – Interregnum (Canada), Nick Fox-Gieg

Jury Special Citation - The Cord-Woman (La Femme Á Cordes) (France) for Best Sound Design

BEST Documentary short:

First Place ($2,000) – 75 Watts (Canada), John Cullen

A young man’s body betrays him on a daily basis, until he picks up the one thing that can calm his mind and enliven his spirit.

Second Place ($500) – Collaboration Horizontale (Ireland), Ciaran Cassidy


All first place winners in these categories will receive a software package courtesy of The Showbiz Café & Store. All student filmmakers in Festival competition are eligible for these awards.


First Place - The Promised Land (Israel), Vanessa Knutsen

An Israeli woman gives shelter to an illegal Nigerian émigré and her son in this moving story about family and fealty.

Second Place – Kiss (Australia), Alex Murawski

BEST STUDENT Live Action short over 15 minutes:

First Place – Bekas (Sweden/Iraq), Karzan Kader

Winner in the Best Foreign Film category at the 2011 Student Academy Awards. Two brothers living on the streets in Kurdistan hatch a daring plan to get to American—which they are pretty sure lies just across the border.

Second Place – Negative (Israel), Yoav Hornung


First Place – The Birds Upstairs (USA), Christopher Cinq-Mars Jarvis

Exquisite animation exposes a couple’s despair when, after years of trying, they at last have a child who, to their dismay, doesn’t look anything like them. A beautifully disturbing examination of familial expectations.

Second Place – Heavy Heads (Denmark), Helena Frank


First Place – Goodbye Mandima (Kwa Heri Mandima) (Switzerland), Robert-Jan Lacombe

Robert-Jan Lacombe’s moving remembrance of the wrenching moment when his family boarded a plane and left behind the vivid world of the rural African village that shaped his childhood.

Second Place – Wajeh (Israel/Palestinian Territories), Murad Nassar


Taj Musco (cinematographer), Eh Jeung (South Korea)

The bond of two sisters gets in the way as that fine line between lust and love gets blurred.

The Alexis Award for Best Emerging Student Filmmaker went to Eh Jeung (South Korea), directed by Taj Musco. The recipient will receive Final Cut Pro courtesy of Apple. The Alexis Award is selected by the Festival’s programming team and was created in honor of Alexis Echavarria, a young filmmaker, whose talent as a budding filmmaker and gift for inspiring excellence among his fellow students were cut short suddenly in 2005 at age 16.

Bridging the Borders Award presented by Cinema Without Borders went to Bekas (Sweden/Iraq), directed by Karzan Kader. The winner will receive a HP professional mobile workstation, EliteBook 8760w; prize and promotional support provided by HP. Runner-up was The Promised Land (Israel), directed by Vanessa Knutsen. The winner will receive Adobe Premiere Pro CS 5.5.

Allison Anders (Director – Border Radio, Gas Food Lodging, Mi Vida Loca), Effie T. Brown (Producer - Real Women Have Curves, Rocket Science) and Kirsten Smith (Producer/Writer - Legally Blonde, 10 Things I Hate About You, The House Bunny) served on the ShortFest jury.

Designated by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as an award-qualifying Festival and accredited by the International Short Film Conference, the Palm Springs International ShortFest and its Short Film Market, are the largest and most prominent short film showcase in North America. Over the course of its first 16 years, the Festival has presented 80 films that have gone on to receive Academy Award nominations. The Festival and its concurrent 3,000-film Film Market continues to serve as a scouting ground for new filmmaking talent and is well attended by those in the business of buying and selling short films.

The Palm Springs International ShortFest is supported by an ever-growing number of new and longtime sponsors with local, national and international prominence. The Title Sponsor is the City of Palm Springs with Presenting Sponsors The Desert Sun and Spencer’s. Major Sponsors include Persol, MAKE, Panavision, The BottomLine, Greenhouse Studios, KPSP Local 2, The Pipeline, Australian Consulate General in Los Angeles and Palm Springs Life. The official host hotel and media center is the Renaissance Palm Springs. More information is available online at or by calling (800) 898-7256.

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Stephenie Meyer's "The Host" Gets Release Date! 

Stephenie Meyer's "The Host" is getting a big-screen treatment with Saoirse Ronan ("Hanna," "Atonement") attached to star! Open Road Films has announced that it will distribute the adaptation in the U.S. on March 29, 2013.

Andrew Niccol ("Gattaca," "Lord of War") will direct from his own adapted screenplay. Shooting is set to begin February of 2012 in Louisiana and New Mexico.

Meyer, who gave us the super-successful "Twilight" series, said that she's "thrilled to be adding another fantastic partner to an already amazing group. Everyone involved has so much passion for the project. It really is a dream team."

"The Host" tells the story of Souls, an alien race set to take over earth and inhabit the bodies of humans.

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"Cars 2" Drives Atop Box-Office Weekend with $68 Million! 

Pixar continues to be the king at the box-office! "Cars 2" becomes the 12th film of the animation studio to debut at No. 1. The animated adventure, featuring the voices of Larry the Cable Guy as Mater and Owen Wilson as Lightning McQueen, landed at the top with $68 million.

"Cars 2" also becomes the first Pixar film that's not loved by the critics, yours truly included. ("Cars 2" movie review)

Meanwhile, "Bad Teacher" surprised with a strong No. 2 debut of $31 million. The film, featuring a winning performance by Cameron Diaz, was a hit-or-miss love-affair that benefited greatly from the actress.

Previous weekend's box-office champ, Ryan Reynolds' "Green Lantern" fell hard to No. 3 with $18.4 million. The superhero flicks suffered a steep 65% decline from its opening weekend. So far, "Green Lantern" has made $89.3 million. But according to The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. wants to make a sequel! Really?

Here's the Top 10 Box-Office films for weekend of July 24th:

1. "Cars 2," $68 million ($42.9 million international).

2. "Bad Teacher," $31 million ($12.9 million international).

3. "Green Lantern," $18.4 million.

4. "Super 8," $12.1 million ($10.5 million international).

5. "Mr. Popper's Penguins," $10.3 million.

6. "X-Men: First Class," $6.6 million.

7. "The Hangover Part II," $5.9 million.

8. "Bridesmaids," $5.4 million ($11.5 million international).

9. "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," $4.7 million ($13.5 million international).

10. "Midnight in Paris," $4.5 million.

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Watch My "Cars 2" Movie Review! It's Mater-licious 

For my written review of "Cars 2," click here.

Here's more info of the film from Yahoo:

Star racecar Lightning McQueen and the incomparable tow truck Mater take their friendship to exciting new places when they head overseas to compete in the first-ever World Grand Prix to determine the world's fastest car. But the road to the championship is filled with plenty of potholes, detours and hilarious surprises when Mater gets caught up in an intriguing adventure of his own: international espionage. Torn between assisting Lightning McQueen in the high-profile race and towing the line in a top-secret spy mission, Mater's action-packed journey leads him on an explosive chase through the streets of Japan and Europe, trailed by his friends and watched by the whole world. Adding to the fast-paced fun is a colorful new all-car cast that includes secret agents, menacing villains and international racing competitors.

Also Known As:
Cars 2 in Disney Digital 3D
Cars 2: An IMAX 3D Experience
Cars Two
Genres: Kids/Family, Animation and Sequel
Running Time: 1 hr. 53 min.
Release Date: June 24th, 2011 (wide)
MPAA Rating: G
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Production Co.:
Pixar Animation Studios
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Produced in: United States

Cast and Credits
Starring: Owen Wilson, Larry the Cable Guy , Tony Shalhoub, Cheech Marin, Michael Caine
Directed by: John Lasseter, Brad Lewis
Produced by: Denise Ream, Mark Nielsen

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R.I.P. Peter Falk 

Peter Michael Falk, best known for his role as Lieutenant Columbo died peacefully at his Beverly Hills home after a long fight with Alzheimer's Disease. He was 83.

Falk was nominated twice for an Academy Award, one for 1960's "Murder, Inc.," and 1961's "Pocketful of Miracles." (Read a complete appreciation for his talent right here)

He had been suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's disease according to his daughter, Catherine Falk. So long Mister Peter Falk :sad

Take a look at the trailer for his brilliant, Academy-nominated performance in "Murder, Inc."

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