This past Sunday night, filmmakers, screenwriters, and directors from all over the country gathered at Charleston Music Hall to celebrate the winners of the 2015 Charleston International Film Festival. From the moment I walked in the door, it was apparent that I was among a group of talented and intelligent artists.
A cocktail hour kicked off the evening in the lobby with an open bar, music, and small bites. Once the doors to the theater were opened, attendees were ushered to their seats in preparation for the awards ceremony to begin.
Hors d'oeuvres were provided by Tristan Events.
The stage was impressive and professional with a podium for the presenter, gorgeous lighting, and a table full of trophies. Jeremy McLellan, a local stand up comedian, actor, and Charleston Grit blogger, hosted the evening. He began with a witty speech welcoming us all to the gala, as well as introduced Joseph Riley to accept an award on behalf of his father, Joseph P. Riley Jr., for the mayor's involvement in and support of the arts in Charleston.
The ceremony commenced with the awards for Best Screenplay. Over 250 screenplays were submitted to the festival, but only 10 finalists were chosen. Each of the 10 finalists were honored by being asked to stand for a round of applause before the winning screenplay writer was announced. The winner, Jeff Affrunti, was awarded $500 and recognized on stage for his work on “Survival of the Fittest.”
The awards were then broken down into the categories of Jury Awards, Audience Choice, Best Actress and Actor, and finally, Best Film. Industry professionals from Los Angeles, Houston, and even Scotland took home awards. The national and international presence at the festival was astounding. From just listening to these professionals, you could hear the gratitude and appreciation for the Charleston film festival pouring out of them. The founders of the Charleston International Film Festival, Brian and Summer Peacher, closed out the night by awarding Xavier Santiago with the award for Best Film for "Pardon the Intrusion."
Festival founder Summer Peacher addressed the audience.
To hear Summer and Brian Peacher talk about the evolution and success of the film festival, now in it's 8th year, was inspiring, to say the least. They acknowledged their team and the board of directors with a deep sense of thanks and humility. I have no doubt this festival will continue to grow and thrive in the Holy City for many years to come.
Audience Choice Awards
Outstanding Supporter of the Arts