23rd Annual International Beverly Hills Film Festival Honors Winners from Around the Globe
On April 23, the famed Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel—site of the first-ever Academy Awards in 1929—hosted the closing night of the 23rd Annual International Beverly Hills Film Festival® (BHFF), culminating in an elegant Gala Awards Ceremony.
This year’s big winner was “Phi 1.618,” a sci-fi adventure directed by Bulgarian filmmaker Theodore Ushev, who took home the prestigious Golden Palm Award for best film in all categories. Other notable winners included Peter Stormare, awarded Best Actor for his role in “Hangman,” and Kelly Reilly, who received Best Actress honors for her performance in “Promises.” Multiple awards were bestowed upon prolific French novelist, playwright, screenwriter and filmmaker Amanda Sthers’ for her film “Promises,” which also won the Special Jury Award for Best Feature; and Ryan Moore’s deeply layered and heartwarming “When We Danced” also nabbed two prizes for Best Editing and the Special Jury Award for Best Short Film.
Best Short Documentary went to “By Design: The Joe Caroff Story,” directed by Mark Cerulli, and the Special Jury Award for Best Documentary went to “Case for Kindness,” directed by Steven Sawalich. Throughout its five-day run, the BHFF showcased a dazzling array of red carpet premieres, expert panel discussions, and exclusive networking events. The talented forces behind this year’s festival included Nino Simone, founder and director of BHFF; CFO & producer Anthony Severini; publicist and producer Heather Burgett; and producer Adam Ottmar, who also hosted the Awards Gala. The richly diverse line-up encompassed 150 official selection films and 150 finalists for the screenplay competition—with over 30 countries represented. The event kicked off on April 19 with an Opening Night Red Carpet gathering at TCL Chinese 6 Theatres, boasting 15 Official Selection Premieres amid grand Hollywood splendor.
Over five days, industry insiders converged on this iconic festival to engage with thought-provoking panels focused on screenwriting, directing, production, and financing strategies for up-and-coming filmmakers who were able to connect with leading agents and managers, including CAA’s Bradie Stenlauf, Buchwald’s Chris Allen and Gersh’ Gaby Cohen. Accolades handed out throughout the evening also include: Katerina Munis won Best Director for “Daedalus,” while “Blowin’ Smoke’s” Jack Lucarelli and Michael Lazari took home the award for Best Producer, and Piero Basso’s powerful work on Daniel Talbott and Samantha Soule’s “Midday Black Midnight Blue” earned the Best Cinematography honor—with the film also receiving the Audience Choice Award for Best Feature.
Two additional Audience Choice Awards were awarded. “King of Kings: Chasing Edward Jones” won the audience’s votes for Best Documentary. The film is from French filmmaker Harriet Marin Jones, with executive producers Debbie Allen and Quincy Jones. The Audience Choice for Best Short Film went to “Swipe NYC” from esteemed writer/director/producer Sue Zarco Kramer. The festival boasted entries from over 30 countries that were competing for its filmmaking and screenplay awards. Best Foreign Film went to “La California” from Cinczia Bomoll of Italy. Best Animation went to “Moirai, Thread of Life” from Mark Chavez, and Best Student Film went to “Papito,” directed by Ramiro Vargas. The BHFF Awards night also featured the announcement of Brent Bishop’s Golden Palm Screenplay Competition victory for his script, “Song of the Bigfoot.” First runner-up for the big screenplay prize went to “Carpenterland,” written by Heidi-Marie Ferren, and the second runner-up award went to “The Burden of Light,” written by Helen Alexis Yonov.
Established in 2001 by celebrated filmmaker, producer, and philanthropist Nino Simone, today’s International Beverly Hills Film Festival® (BHFF) stands as a shining beacon for emerging talent within the global film community. Referred to as “one of the most exclusive festivals in the world” by KTLA-TV News, this annual showcase fosters a spirit of creativity, unity and artistry among industry professionals. Over its 23-year-long history, this esteemed festival has evolved into a vital hub for innovative cinema from around the world – inviting both established artists and rising stars alike to participate in the rich tapestry of storytelling magic. While film festivals are popular, the Annual International Beverly Hills Film Festival stands out as a historical and internationally recognized gathering of some of the most well known indie and mainstream entertainment industry professionals.
For more information about BHFF and its award winners, please visit the official BHHF website beverlyhillsfilmfestival.com.