And the Winners Are…
19 January, 2020, BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS–
The 2020 Barbados Independent Film Festival (BIFF) celebrated its final night with a beachside Awards Ceremony at the Southern Palms Resort followed by the ever-popular Shorts on the Beach and Final Festival Film: TOO LICKRISH, marking the end of the fourth iteration of this popular event. Co-founders Sir Trevor Carmichael and Jennifer Smith-Bent announced the winners of the spectacular 2020 Festival season on a balmy, starlit evening to a rapt audience comprised of island residents and visitors. Accompanying them were friends and patrons of the Festival, including representatives from the Embassy of the United States of America, Diamonds International, WIRRED at Walkers Reserve, and the Abidah by Accra Barbados, as well as the 20+ foreign and Bajan filmmakers participating in the 2020 Festival.
The BIFF 2020 Best of Festival Award went to Icelander Benedikt Erlingsson for the comedic tale, WOMAN AT WAR. The Best Feature Length Narrative Film was BLINDED BY THE LIGHT, written and directed by Gurinder Chadha, who also took home the Sir Trevor Carmichael & Jennifer Smith Founders Award as an Icon in the Performing Arts. THE KID FROM CONEY ISLAND, directed by American filmmakers, the dynamic duo Coodie & Chike, was recognized as Best Documentary Feature Film. Barbadian filmmaker (and former BIFF volunteer) Aerin Prescod received the Best Local Filmmaker Award for her short-but-oh-so-sweet QUEEN OF DE’ BAND.
Other award recipients included:
Roger Nygard: Carmichael Award for Exceptional Storytelling for THE TRUTH ABOUT MARRIAGE; Apolline Traore: Trident Award for Achievement in Film for DESRANCES;
Ivan Bordas Butler: Best Caribbean Feature Length Narrative for CABARETE;
Toby Wosskow: Best Short Film for SIDES OF A HORN;
Egon Feiner: Best Short on the Beach for STREET SURFERS; and
Michael Lees: BIFF Caribbean Spirit Award for UNCIVILIZED, a chilling reminder of the power of nature and the strength of human resilience.
The Festival co-founders presented musicians Roger Gittens and Andre Woodvine each with the honorary Award for Artistic Excellence for their contribution to music and film. Cuban filmmaker Gloria Rolando, who flew to Barbados to present MY FOOTSTEPS IN BARAGUÁ, her 1996 documentary about Barbadians who moved to Cuba following the completion of the Panama Canal, received a Lifetime Achievement Award. Benedikt Erlingsson also received the McNeel Impact Award for his interweaving environmental consciousness into the captivating and charming comedy feature Women At War.
Speaking shortly after the Awards Ceremony, co-founder Sir Trevor Carmichael, heaped praise on the awardees, noting “we were thrilled to present so much creative talent during our fourth Independent Film Festival. The ability of filmmakers to shape compelling stories in so many original ways made the selection process very challenging, and we could not be happier by the list of awardees chosen by our Jury Committee.” In their acceptance speeches, many filmmakers paid tribute to the Festival. Gurinder Chadha, director of Blinded By The Light, thanked the organizers for the opportunities to network with peers from Barbados and around the world. Chike Ozah, who co-directed The Kid From Coney Island alongside Coodie Simmons, said “we can’t stop talking about how your festival has been our best film festival experience yet!” vowing that “we’ll definitely be back!”
The Caribbean premiere of JOSEPH by Marcia Weekes kicked off the six-day fest at its January 14th, Red Carpet Gala in the atmospheric Walled Garden Theatre at the Barbados Museum & Historical Society. It was followed by the screening of 35+ films that included an eclectic line-up of feature-length narratives and engrossing documentaries, short films, and heartbreaking tales of adversity and perseverance. A new addition to the 2020 Season was the enchanting Hooray for Hollywood event, an evening of song and music from an array of favorite movies and featuring impeccable performances by Brits Melinda Hughes, Lizzie Ball and David Shenton and Bajans David Haynes and Petra Welch.
The Barbados Independent Film Festival was launched in 2017 by Barbadian philanthropist Sir Trevor Carmichael and entertainment industry veteran Jennifer Smith-Bent. The Walled Garden-Barbados Film Festival Trust (WGBFFT) was formed in tandem with the Walled Garden Theatre Trust –whose mission is to support the conservation and restoration of the Barbados Museum and Garrison District (UNESCO world heritage sites) and invigorate them through the arts. The WGBFFT’s mission is to manage the Festival and related initiatives that support the arts, historic conservation and greater awareness of the link between environmental degradation and human health. Both the Walled Garden Film Festival Trust and the Walled Garden Theatre Trust are tax-exempt, charitable trusts. BIFF founders Sir Trevor Carmichael and Jennifer Smith are also Co-Directors and Executive Trustees for the Festival.