Film News: Midwest Independent Film Festival Presents 2011 Best of the Midwest Awards

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CHICAGO – The 2011 Best of the Midwest Awards were presented on Tuesday, December 6th at the Rockit Bar and Grill in downtown Chicago, an annual ceremony that celebrates Chicago’s Midwest Independent Film Festival. HollywoodChicago.com’s Patrick McDonald and Ignatiy Vishnevetsky, the co-host of “Ebert Presents: At the Movies,” were among the presenters.

Festival Director Mike McNamara was the Master of Ceremonies, giving out eight awards for the best of the 2011 season. The Midwest Independent Film Festival convenes EVERY first Tuesday of the month throughout the year, and showcases films directly associated with the Midwest area. This year was one of the strongest ever, as reflected in the level of winners and Midwest films that were showcased.

Best of the Midwest Winners: Best Actor Dennis Farina and Best Actress Meredith Droeger of ‘The Last Rites of Joe May’
Best of the Midwest Winners: Best Actor Dennis Farina and Best Actress Meredith Droeger of ‘The Last Rites of Joe May’
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald for HollywoodChicago.com

Local Chicago legend Dennis Farina was on hand for the awards ceremony, nominated for his role in “The Last Rites of Joe May.” Local producer Steven A. Jones, director John McNaughton (”Henry, Portrait of a Serial Killer”) and Windy City Live contributor Mark DeCarlo (also a presenter) were also at the event.

Winning Best Feature Film was “The Last Rites of Joe May,” the excellent Chicago-based character study starring the iconic Dennis Farina.

The 2011 Best of the Midwest Award Winners are as followed….

Best Music Video
Winner: “Call the Press and Send Their Best,” directed by Michael Starcevich and Mattew Achterberg.

COMMENT: Michael Starcevich does it again, with an amazing experiment that culminated into an unforgettable music video experience.

Best Short Film
Winner: “A Certain Breed,” directed by Scott Smith

COMMENT: A highly comic “mockumentary” on overzealous animal shelter volunteers, filmed on location at the Grand Avenue Anti-Cruelty Society in Chicago.

Best Music Video: Producer Nicole Taylor of Concentrated, Midwest Independent Film Festival Director Mike McNamara and Director Michael Starcevich
Best Music Video: Producer Nicole Taylor of Concentrated, Midwest Independent Film Festival Director Mike McNamara and Director Michael Starcevich
Photo credit: Patrick McDonald for HollywoodChicago.com

Best Editing
Winner: Randy Palmer, Jr. and Brooks Ruyle, “Ballhawks”

COMMENT: Host Mike McNamara called this the “sexiest category,” because who doesn’t love a good editor? “Ballhawks” is a great documentary about a certain breed of Chicago Cubs fans.

Best Actress
Winner: Meredith Droeger, “The Last Rites of Joe May”

COMMENT: Child actress Droeger knocked it out of the park as Angelina Rapp, the daughter of a single mother and foil for main character Joe May.
 
Best Cinematography
Winner: Joel Edwards, “Mumbai Golf”

COMMENT: The stark and oddly beautiful slums of Mumbai are the backdrop for Joel Edward’s photography in this unique sports documentary.

Best Actor
Winner: Dennis Farina, “The Last Rites of Joe May”

COMMENT: Roger Ebert called this a “role of a lifetime” for veteran actor Farina, a true born-and-bred Chicago neighborhood guy, walking the familiar streets as small timer Joe May. Farina completely understood and embodied the memorable character.

Best Screenplay
Winner: Dean Peterson, “Incredibly Small”

COMMENT: An underrated gem of 2011, Peterson starts with a strong script about a crumbling relationship, and directs a beautifully composed film from that script.

Best Director
Mike Diedrich, “Ballhawks”

COMMENT: The Cubs documentary takes it, as Mike Diedrich acknowledged both his film and the induction of Ron Santo to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

Best Feature
“The Last Rites of Joe May,” directed by Joe Maggio

COMMENT: As Chicago born-and-bred as its star, Dennis Farina, this film is a break-out for director Joe Maggio. Maggio said, “My biggest concern was shooting in Chicago and not being a native Chicagoan, and I was going to get it wrong. But I feel like I got it right, with a lot of help, and I’m thrilled that the movie has the authenticity, feels like a Chicago film, because that’s what we were going for.”

The Midwest Independent Film Festival kicks off again on the first Tuesday of the month, February 7th 2012. Click here for details about the festival and how you can participate in what Chicago Magazine called “the place to be and be seen for veteran pros and up-and-comers.”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

By PATRICK McDONALD
Senior Staff Writer
HollywoodChicago.com
pat@hollywoodchicago.com

© 2011 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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