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Greenwich International Film Festival 2020

GIFF 2020 - Greenwich International Film Festival 2020
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GIFF 2020 - Greenwich International Film Festival 2020

The Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF) celebrated its sixth anniversary and Luxury Experience was there to help celebrate albeit virtually, with their inaugural Virtual Film Festival, due to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic. Over the course of three days, May 1 – 3, 2020, we watched 25 out of a possible 29 films offered, with lots of popcorn eaten to accompany the screenings. Documentaries, Narrative Films, and Short Films deftly captured our attention and kept us glued to our seats. Luxury Experience is proud to share our film highlights from the Greenwich International Film Festival 2020.


The Greenwich International Film Festival is held annually in Greenwich, Connecticut. Celebrating its sixth festival in 2020, Luxury Experience has had the pleasure and honor of attending this exceptional festival for the past 4 years. For 2020, with the coronavirus pandemic forcing the cancellation of gatherings, the fearless female-founded Greenwich International Film Festival team, decided that the "show must go on" and presented a virtual film festival.

We had the pleasure of partaking in the 2020 Greenwich International Virtual Film Festival and screened 25 out of 29 films presented over the course of 3 days, from May 1 – 3, 2020. We watched films in all categories including documentaries, narratives, and shorts. Of course, lots of popcorn was consumed as we binge watched these amazing the films.


A Peloton of One - Documentary

A PELOTON OF ONE, a documentary feature directed by Steven E. Mallorca and John Bernardo, won the new JP Morgan Chase Audience Award which is accompanied by a $1,000 cash prize.

MUSIC GOT ME HERE, a documentary feature directed by Susan Koch, received the Festival’s Best Social Impact Film Award presented by the Bill & Ann Bresnan Foundation. This prestigious award is accompanied by a $10,000 cash prize.

THE OTHER SIDE, a short film directed by Josh Leong, received the Best Connecticut Short Film Award, presented by the Connecticut Office of Film, Television & Digital Media and will receive a $1,000 cash prize."



BASTARDS’ ROAD, Social Impact Award Nominee, USA. Directed, produced, and edited by Brian Morris, Screenwriter: Mark Stafford, Key Subjects: Jon Hancock, Brian Britton, Dustin Kieschnick, Seth Bai, Roseanna Powers, Dianne Layfield, Chris Macintosh, Taylor Wiley. BASTARDS’ ROAD is the heartbreaking story of Marines veteran Jon Hancock, who survived intense combat battle then struggled for several years in his attempt to return to civilian life. As a way of regaining power and control of his life and fighting his demons, he undertakes an epic journey walking across the United States. His journey will take him almost 6,000 miles stopping along the way the way to visit his fellow 2/4 Marines, a unit called The Magnificent Bastards. His walk not only provides him with the comfort of reconnecting with his fellow Marines, it is also about his survival, and ultimately his redemption, as he in turn helps his unit and the families of fallen 2/4 Marine brothers.

BULLIED, USA. Directed, produced, and edited by Thomas Keith, Director of Photography: James Bustamante and Ray Wolf, Key Subjects: Jennifer Pozner, Kirk Smalley, Carol Todd, Ron Avi Astor.BULLIED is a powerful portrayal of bullying in the United States and how it negatively affects the lives of its victims, their families, and those who must live with the shame and consequences of their actions whether the bullying is done in-person, by handwritten notes or email, or by social media. With bullying victims as young as 8 years committing suicide because they are no longer able to cope with the abuse, the film opens one’s eyes that this very real and rampant issue must be stopped immediately and forever.

DRIVEN TO ABSTRACTION, USA. Directed, produced, and edited by Daria Price, Directors of Photography: Peter Sova and Daria Price, and Key Subjects: Patricia Cohen, Michael Shnayerson, Eileen Kinsella, Laura Gilbert, Luke Nikas, Martha Parrish, James Kelly. DRIVEN TO ABSTRACTION is the amazing story of an incredible forgery in the art world, a scandal that rocked the art world to the tune of $80 million. Who was to blame for this elaborate hoax that brought down the highly renowned and venerable Knoedler gallery in New York, which opened in 1846 and closed in 2011 amid lawsuits of fraud and forgery? Was it the gallery for not demanding proof of authenticity of the paintings from the con-artist who brought a seemingly endless collection of paintings throughout the years to the gallery to sell stating that the paintings were from an anonymous collector? The artist who made the convincing replicas of paintings by Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, Mark Rothko, and many others, painting them in his home in Queens, New York and supplying them to the con-artist? Or perhaps, should blame be laid at the foot of the collectors who clamored for the opportunity to add these rare abstract paintings to their collections, paying several million dollars for them, without requiring authenticity from the gallery? Whatever the backstory, it was an incredible hoax that that brings the proverb, caveat emptor (buyer beware) prominently to mind.

FOR WALTER AND JOSIAH, USA. Directed by Jamie Elias, Producers: Trent Cooper, Benjamin Blank, Jamie Elias, Addison Neville, Kurt Anderson, Editor: Stephanie Yang, Jamie Elias, Director of Photography: Addison Neville. FOR WALTER AND JOSIAH opened our eyes to the fact that the state of Montana has the highest suicide rate in the United States, with Native American reservations ranking at 22% higher than the state rate. This heartbreaking film focuses on the suicide of two beloved members of the local high school basketball team and how the team rallies up to honor their friends and find strength and purpose in their own lives.

Music Got Me Here - Documentary

MUSIC GOT ME HERE, Best Social Impact Film Award Winner, Family Friendly, USA, English with occasional subtitles for clarity. Director Susan Koch, Producers: J. Wendy Thompson- Marquez, Gary Mather & Christina Co Mather, Lysa Burke Hutton, Teresa Wheeler, Zak Kilberg, Irwin Winkler, Screenwriter: Susan Koch, Editor: Georgia Koch, Directory of Photography: Neil Barrett.Key Subjects: Forrest Allen, Tom Sweitzer, Rae Stone, Kent Allen, Austin Allen, Tolliver. MUSIC GOT ME HERE is the incredible story of Forrest Allen, a personable athlete who has a horrific snowboarding accident at the age of 18 that results in an extremely traumatic brain injury that will forever change his life and that of his family. Trapped in his body without use of his limbs or voice for nearly 2 years despite 15 surgeries and various methods of physical therapy, his mother contacts music therapist Tom Sweitzer whose own life was "saved" by music. This bittersweet heartbreaking story is the power of the human spirit and the positive impact that music can make and change our lives.


THE BLACK EMPEROR OF BROADWAY, USA, Drama. Director/Screenwriter: Arthur Egeli, Producers: Arthur Egeli, Heather Egeli, and Judith Richland, Screenwriter: Ian Bowater, Editor: Philip Norden, Director of Photography: Jonathan Mariande, Key Cast: Shaun Parkes, John Hensley, Nija Okoro, Liza Weil, Nick Moran, Nick Dorr, Eve Annenberg, Alexandra Foucard, Heather Egeli, John Clayton, Lonnie Farmer, Tim Misuradze, Sarah MacDonnell, Daniel Washington. THE BLACK EMPEROR OF BROADWAY is the story of actor Charles S. Gilpin who rose to fame and became "the most famous Black man in America. In 1920, his portrayal of Brutus Jones in Eugene O’Neill’s play, The Emperor Jones, was hailed as "revelatory." He became the first African-American dramatic star in a lead role on Broadway and was named one of its finest actors." By 1930 however, this talented actor’s career was on the decline.

FAMILY MATTERS (HEMELRIJKEN), US Premiere – Netherlands/Drama/Dutch with English subtitles. Director: Stanley Kolk, Producer: Floor Onrust, Screenwriter: Chris Westendorp, Editor: Moek de Groot, Director of Photography: Luuk Zonnenberg, Key Cast: Esmée van Kampen, Jennifer Welts, Maarten Heijmans, Tim Olivier Somer, Ayrton Kirchner, Fred Goessens. FAMILY MATTERS (HEMELRIJKEN), is a film about family obligations to one another, as in, I am my brother’s (or in this film), my sister’s keeper. When Kelly is released from prison, her sister Samantha takes the financial responsibility of taking care of her even at a huge cost as she is barely making it herself. Kelly’s brother has a wife and although better off financially than Samantha, he sees no reason why his own family should do without to help Kelly. With no one else to turn to, Samantha sees it as her responsibility to help Kelly as she believes that is what families do for one another. She provides Kelly with food and a place to live, and finds her a job, it is not long before bad girl dreamer Kelly takes up dealing drugs again, and life continues to downslide from there at a cost to all.

TEAM MARCO, USA, Family, Comedy, Drama. Director: Julio Vincent Gambuto, Producer: Sam Sandweiss, Screenwriters Julio Vincent Gambuto, B.R. Uzun, Editor: Nick Garnham Wright, Director of Photography: Powell Robinson, Key Cast: Owen Vaccaro, Anthony Patellis, Anastasia Ganias-Gellin. TEAM MARCO centers around a divorced mother, her hyper-technology obsessed pre-teen, and her recently widowed father who comes to live with them. Fun and games start when the grandfather demands that his sedentary and isolated grandson put aside technology and virtual friends and accompany him to watch he and his friends play bocce. With much effort, real and lasting friendships develop over the time-honored game of bocce.


CONVICTION, USA, Documentary, 21 minutes. Director: Jia Wertz, Producer: New York Film Academy, Editor: Jia Wertz, Director of Photography: Trishna Mahtani, Key Subjects: Jeffrey Deskovic, Dan Horace E. Anderson Jr. CONVICTION is about Jeffrey Deskovic who was wrongly convicted at age 16 of the rape and murder of a fellow classmate and sent to prison for 16 years. This film shows his courageous spirit that ultimately prevailed in his fight for freedom. Tragically, while he was incarcerated, the actual murderer committed a second murder while Jeffrey was serving time.

ELVIS, USA, Drama, Comedy, 16 minutes. Directors: Matt Valade, Connor Rog, Producer: Cathryn Schara, Screenwriter: Matt Valade, Editor: Connor Rog, Director of Photography: Andrea Van Niekerk, Key Cast: Doug Goldring, Jenn Sapozhnikov, Anthony Misiano, Kam Perez. ELVIS: A dog is man’s best friend, and Elvis is clearly Doug’s much-beloved dog. When Elvis dies, Doug has a hard time dealing with his loss that is compounded by a senseless robbery at his home. When his neighbor’s dog also suddenly goes missing, Doug rises to the occasion.

The Other Side - Short Film

THE OTHER SIDE – Best Connecticut Short Film Award, USA, Ethiopia/Drama, 17 minutes. Director: Josh Leong, Producers: Sofia Bara, Bemnet Yemesgen, Augustine Hong, Jonathan Ferguson, Khalil-El Ghoul, Sounil & Gracie Yu, Daniel & Carolina Bara, Jin & May Leong, Screenwriter and Editor: Josh Leong, Director of Photography: Tom Ingwersen, Key Cast: Ethan Herisse, Wayna, Adonai Kelelom. THE OTHER SIDE was inspired by a true story. While turning 18 in many countries is a time of celebration, for children living in orphanages in Ethiopia, once they turn 18 years of age they must leave and live on their own. For 2 brothers living in the orphanage, their only hope is that someone will adopt them together rather than be separated. Will an adoptive couple come before the older brother’s 18th birthday or will he need to leave behind his younger brother as he makes his way in the world?

WAX PAUL NOW, USA, Comedy, Mockumentary, 16 Minutes. Directed, produced, and written by Val Bodurtha, Sophie Mann, Rebecca Shaw, Editor: Debbie McMurtrey, Director of Photography: Wolfgang Held, Key Cast: Val Bodurtha, Sophie Mann, Rebecca Shaw, Paul Giamatti, Trevor van Uden, Richard Brevard. WAX PAUL NOW is a bright and witty short that reminded us of a 1930s screwball comedy in a good sense. Three friends visit Madame Tussauds Times Square in New York, and when they discover that their favorite actor, Paul Giamatti, is not among the celebrities featured, they start a campaign to have the museum include him; the result is pure comedic relief.

Until next time!


"Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF) is an all-female founded and run 501(c)3 non-profit organization that hosts a world-class film festival in Greenwich, CT. GIFF’s mission is to provide an effective platform for filmmakers to expose their work, while harnessing the power of film to serve the greater good by supporting causes that relate to basic human rights, education, the environment and health care. In 2020, GIFF held its first-ever virtual Festival May 1st to 3rd, featuring an exciting line-up of narrative and documentary features and short films from 8 countries, as well as exclusive interviews with film talent. For additional information, please visit www.greenwichfilm.org."

For more information and tickets for the next Greenwich International Film Festival, please visit the website: www.Greenwichfilm.org

Greenwich International Film Festival - 2020

Greenwich International Film Festival
0 Horseneck Lane
Greenwich, Connecticut 06830
United States
Telephone: +1-203-717-1800
Website: www.greenwichfilm.org
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