First Eureka Springs Indie Film Fest comes to the Auditorium

Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Photos by Chip Ford / Lovely County Citizen

Crystal Us, left, is presented with one of her awards for the film "Strings" at the Eureka Springs Indie Film Fest on Saturday.

EUREKA SPRINGS -- Local father and son filmmakers and a graduate student from California swept the first Eureka Springs Indie Film Fest, held last Thursday through Saturday at the Auditorium.

Edward C. Robison III, a photographer who owns a gallery west of town, took home the Indie for Best Art Film for "Myst," and also won in the cinematography award for the film, time-lapse images of Ozark landscapes with clouds passing over them.

His son, Ethan Robison, won the Young Filmmaker Indie for "The Little Treasure Chest," a stop-action film that Ethan wrote, produced and directed, casting his stuffed animals in leading roles.

Crystal Us

Crystal Us took home the Indie for Best Drama and Best of Show for "Strings," about a mother and daughter who end up in different dimensions after an ice-skating accident. Us was also the winner of the Loretta Young Women in Film award, presented by Christopher Lewis, Young's son, and his spouse, Linda Lewis.

A graduate student in California, Us said she learned why movie makers shoot using green screen, not on location, during the five years she spent making the film.

"Ice melts, wind comes and people break bones," she said. "It's ugly out there."

Like the Academy Awards, the Indie winners were announced by local celebrity duos, with assistance from Abigail Brents. John Two-Hawks announced the Indie for best drama, "Strings," and Raven Dirge announced the silver and bronze winners in the comedy category, there being no gold winner this year.

Robert Norman and KJ Zumwalt announced the documentary winners. "Bullied: You're Not Alone," a series of films designed to be shown in schools, took the Indie for best cause-related documentary. Created by Daniel Marlow, the series also received the Judges Choice Award, announced by Teresa DeVito, festival founder and co-director.

Larry Foley received the Indie in the documentary category for "After the Tsunami," about graduate students from Indonesia who came to study at the University of Arkansas and Texas A&M after the 2004 tsunami that destroyed whole cities. The scholarship program was set up by presidents Bill Clinton and George H. Bush in their home states.

Peggy Kjelgaard and Zeek Taylor presented the Indie for best art film to Edward Robison, and announced that "The Gordon Family Tree" was judged best feature-length film. The film, partly filmed in Northwest Arkansas, also received the storytelling award.

Bayou Bennett, a Eureka native who now is a Hollywood producer, introduced Christopher and Linda Lewis, who presented the Loretta Young Women in Film award, which they established. A movie actress for more than five decades, Loretta Young produced her own television show and was a trailblazer for women in Hollywood. She brought attention to and serves an inspiration to women producers and directors, recipient Crystal Us said, in an industry that continues to be dominated by men.

"We have to keep going, ladies, because they can't ignore us for ever," Us said. "The future of filmmaking lies in the diversity of the stories we tell."

Us also received the Best of Show Indie from Bob Blair of VCI.

"I'm so blown away right now, I can't breathe," Us said.

James Greeson was the winner of the Best Original Music Score award for "After the Tsunami," which was accepted on his behalf by Larry Foley. John Rankine and Carolyn Eggert presented the cinematography award to Edward Robison, and announced the award for best performance, which went to Kathryn Rich, the young actress who played the skater in "Strings."

The People's Choice Award went to "A Life in the Day of," Teresa DeVito's poignant look at a dying man's visions of the people who filled his life. DeVito dedicated the film to Billy Goodson, a Eureka resident who died last September at the age of 69.

Local filmmaker L. Kai Robert debuted the trailer of "Eureka -- The Art of Being," a feature-length documentary on the town's artist community and creative energy. Robert also announced that the debut date, May 31 in Eureka, and that he has launched the Facebook page for the film.

Mike Bishop, director of the Eureka Springs Chamber of Commerce, opened the ceremony by thanking the organizers, the producers and directors who brought their films to Eureka for the festival and the local residents who supported it. Christopher Crane, director of the Arkansas Film Commission, announced the formation of the Arkansas Motion Picture Institute, which will bring together organizers of film festivals in the state.

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