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Chandler Film Festival Wrap-up

— by LYNETTE CARRINGTON —

The fifth annual Chandler International Film Festival was unlike any other before it. The excitement of marking its fifth anniversary was faced with challenges posed by the pandemic. The leadership team of the festival put on their thinking caps in mid-2020 and got creative with the way it was presenting the event Jan. 21-24, 2021. Their creative thinking and willingness to be flexible was rewarded with stellar feedback from filmmakers and fans alike.

Instead of calling off the film festival, Chandler International Film Festival worked diligently with Harkins Theatres chain to make sure it followed all current COVID-19 protocols for in-person festival attendees, staff and volunteers. The festival board of directors also recognized that many people around the globe were not ready to travel amidst a global pandemic. Online viewing options were added along with a drive-in movie option which presented the screening of “Tombstone,” starring Kurt Russell, Val Kilmer, Bill Paxton and Sam Elliott. The 2021 festival enjoyed the largest number of movie viewers that it has had to date!


Actor Peter Sherayko who portrayed Texas Jack Vermillion in “Tombstone” made the trip out to Chandler for the screening of the film and also participated in a fun Q&A session after the film. Sherayko shared many fun memories from the film in which he also served as a props coordinator and buckaroo coordinator.

Another special guest at the Chandler International Film Festival was actor Elijah Nelson (“Mad Men,” “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”) who starred in the opening night’s festival-entered film, “The Unhealer,” which also co-starred Natasha Henstridge, Branscombe Richmond, Lance Henricksen and Adam Beach. Nelson stayed for the entirety of the four-day festival run meeting festivalgoers and doing red carpet interviews, and took home the Best Actor trophy for “The Unhealer.” Additionally, “The Unhealer” won the festival’s award for Best Arizona Film.

For a full round-up of the festival, visit www.chandlerfilmfestival.com.

Here is a full list of award winners from the 2021 Chandler International Film Festival:

    1. Best New Filmmaker: “Before” by Julia Monahan
    2. Best Student Filmmaker: “Breakfast at the Sunset Saloon” by Joey Coalter
    3. Best Music Video: “My Way” by Bruno Levinson and Leonardo Fiorito
    4. Best Experimental Short: “Ophelia” by Hadi Moussally
    5. Best Comedy Short Film: “Manasanamaha” by Deepak Reddy
    6. Best Suspense/Thriller Short Film: “The Keeper” by Bob Celli
    7. CIFF Art Award: “Instituto de Folklor Mexicano,” Gloria Garza-Wells
    8. Best Young Filmmaker: “A Short Film” by Angel Delgado
    9. Best Horror Short Film: “Receiver” by Cavan Campbell
    10. Best Screenplay: “Black Star Rising” by Doug Williams
    11. Best International Short Film: “Monstrus Circus” by Jordan Inconstant
    12. Best Animation Film: “Gon, the Little Fox” by Takeshi Yashiro
    13. Best Woman Filmmaker: “The Girl Who Wore Freedom” by Christian Taylor
    14. Best Short Film: “The Loyalist” by Robert Sansivero
    15. Best Documentary Short Film: “Roots of Lacrosse” by Shelby Tsioweri:iohsta Adams
    16. Dr. A. J. Chandler Award: Salina Iman
    17. Best Drama Short Film: “Reappear” by Tommy Clarke
    18. Jury’s Choice Award: “Take Out Girl” by Hisonni Mustafa
    19. Best Music Score: “A Castle in Umbria,” Music by Edna Alejandra Longoria
    20. People’s Choice Award: “Scout 10-5” by David Van Wie
    21. Best Arizona Film: “The Unhealer” by J. Shawn Harris, Cristi Harris
    22. Best Cinematography: “Highline” by Chris Smead
    23. Best Actor: Elijah Nelson for “The Unhealer”
    24. Best Actress: Sara Amini for “Kick”
    25. Best Director: Keyvan Sheikhalishahi for “Divertimento”
    26. Best US Narrative Feature: “DONNA Stronger Than Pretty” by Jaret Martino
    27. Best International Narrative Feature: “Marrying Myself” by Moshe Edery
    28. Best Documentary Feature: “Kiss the Ground” by Josh Tickell, Rebecca Tickell
    29. Best Late Night Feature: “Danni and The Vampire” by Caron Clancey
    30. Best Feature Film: “Angie: Lost Girls” by Julia Verdin


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