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‘In the Hearts of Men’ Takes Top Honors at AZFAME Film Festival

The second annual Arizona Film and Media Expo (AZFAME) Short Film Festival was open to filmmakers from all over the world. Judging culminated during the AZFAME event, held this month at the Phoenix Convention Center. Writer/director/editor Jared Pelletier from Toronto, Canada, took home top honors for his film, “In the Hearts of Men,” a touching wartime drama about American soldiers set in World War II.

The short film took home honors for Best Film, Best Director (Jared Pelletier), Best Director of Photography (Erik Tallek) and Best Editing (Jared Pelletier and Keith Laplume). “In the Hearts of Men” will now be seen by five major movie studios including Fox Searchlight, CBS Studios, Image Entertainment, Tsunami Studios and Universal Pictures.

Jeff Goeson, executive director of the AZFAME Short Film Festival, singled out the unique use of coloring that drew the viewer in to the battle zone. “War isn’t all green and flowers; it’s grey and smoky,” he said. “Jared and Erik used the right colorations to make the film feel gritty and dark and stressful.” Likewise, AZFAME event organizers Dana Skvarek II and Richard Ryan pinpointed the use of authentic guns and honest depiction of battle as reasons the film took top honors.

In addition to winning four of the top six awards available at the AZFAME Short Film Festival, Pelletier took home $1,000, which he plans to turn over directly in to production of his new fan film, “Halo: Faith,” based on the hugely popular video game series. With higher production values than “In the Hearts of Men,” “Halo: Faith” is set in the year 2552 and has attracted international production and acting talent including animator Kevin Lan (“The Hulk,” “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”) voiceover talent Anthony Ingruber (“Avatar,” Disney’s “Avalon High”) and visual effects artist Matthew Lee (“Avatar”).

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