Master of Ceremony & 2018 Rising Star Award Winner Jeff Lima Announces Lifetime Achievement Award to Vincent Pastore and 2019 Rising Star Award to Renée Willett
The New York City International Film Festival (NYCIFF), presented by Russian Standard, wrapped up its tenth consecutive edition with the Closing Award ceremony on March 1stat The Dolby Screening Room in New York City. Founded by Roberto Rizzo, the NYCIFF celebrates storytelling in all its forms, from feature filmmaking to short-story narrative, and web series to documentaries.
Opening night featured the North American premiere of Factory Cowboys – Working with Warhol, introduced by director Ulli Lommel. Based on Lommel’s 2017 biography “Factory Fame – Working with Warhol,” the feature film focuses on Warhol’s factory life in Manhattan during the late 1970s.
Veneno – The First Fall, starring accomplished actor Manny Pérez in the role of Dominican wrestler Jack Veneno, was also screened on Monday night and ultimately went on to win Best Feature Film at the Closing Award ceremony. Director Tabare Blanchard and Roberto Rizzo moderated a Q&A post-screening to discuss Veneno’s impact and legacy in the Dominican Republic and beyond.
Actor Vincent Pastore was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, and actress, philanthropist, and comedian Renée Willett was honored with The Rising Star Award. Both Pastore’s films The Kids Menu and St. Joseph directed by Kathrina Miccio and Renée’s film Flight 666 were screened on closing night.
This year, NYCIFF introduced new award categories including web series and sci-fi, in addition to the eight category awards, which led by the jury president, R. Couri Hay.
“The New York City International Film Festival is dedicated to showcasing the most powerful voices in cinema, as well as nurturing up-and-coming talent, so we are thrilled that our 10thanniversary celebrated new mediums and emerging platforms,” said Founder and Director Roberto Rizzo. “We watch the festival grow bigger and more recognizable every year and continue to look forward to providing a platform to celebrate the best talent in the industry.”
Debuting this year, New York City International Film Festival showcased filmmakers and documentarians who use their craft to explore social issues.
Included in Best Documentary Short category was Depicting the Invisible, which traces the creation of a portrait series by artist Susan J. Barron that depicts 15 American veterans suffering from PTSD and their inspirational stories.
Nominated in this category was also Freedom Education Project Puget Sound: College in Women’s Prison. The documentary short focuses on the subjects of the Seattle-based nonprofit which provides a rigorous college program for incarcerated women, trans-identified and gender nonconforming people at the Washington Corrections Center for Women in Washington state.
Renowned artist, Robert Cenedella introduced a special screening of his award-winning documentary, Art Bastard, on Tuesday, February 26th. The provocative feature film explores collusion and corruption within the art industry.
The world premiere of Monarch Butterfly, a psychological thriller written by and starring actress Deborah Kuhn was nominated in Best Narrative Short category.
Actress Janel Tanna, who was awarded the NYCIFF Emerging Talent 2019 Award screened her female-driven drama, Sienna’s Choice on Closing Night.
Other notable guests who attended included actor Paul Borghese, actor Beau Baxter, and producer Darrell Lawrence.