The star-filled awards ceremony of the Long Island International Film Expo held in Bellmore on Sunday honored both established figures and newcomers to the film industry.
Actress Cathy Moriarty was presented with the Long Island Creative Achievement Award for her acting career.
Moriarty has stared in numerous films including "Raging Bull," "Soap Dish," "Mambo Kings," "Analyze That" and "The Bounty Hunter." Actor Armand Assante ("Gotti," "Hoffa" and "American Gangster") was also presented with an acting award. Even though he was overseas and couldn't attend in person, he accepted the award via videotape.
The ceremony was co-hosted by comedian Jackie "The Jokeman" Martling and actor Brian O'Halloran (Clerks), who kept the laughter going and the energy flowing through the two hour awards show. Since Film Awards are often noted as occasions to "dress up" in fancy designer attire for red carpet arrivals, ironically perhaps the funniest moment of the night was when Director Stevan Mena from Bellport, won two awards for his horror film Bereavement. The director admitted the wins were so unexpected that he wore shorts and flip flops to the awards ceremony, prompting numerous jokes from host Brian O'Halloran about his casual attire.
"Put some pants on at an awards show son," O'Halloran joked.
The good humored director took the jokes in stride and said from now on he would where shorts to all awards ceremonies.
Organizers of the expo say it's unusual for a horror film to win best feature film, but Bereavement was an acceptation. Mena commented on his double wins for Best Director and Best Feature.
"Even thought it dealt with dark subject matter…the awards validated his horror film by saying 'it's a sick film, but they liked it.'"
Other big winners included Maggie Marvel, which won "Audience Award for Best Feature." The film was from last year's Best Feature winners the Brennan Family from Port Washington. Maggie Marvel won three awards for best actor, audience pick for best feature and best supporting actress. Perhaps the most emotional acceptance speech of the night given by 11-year-old best supporting actress winner Diana Brennan, who proclaimed through tears of joy that her sister had won the same award last year for the Brennan's first film "The Video Guys".
"Purgatory Comics", the first feature film by Lake Grove resident Ralph Suarez, won best Long Island Feature. Massapequa Resident Rick Beiber's film "The 5th Quarter" won for best feature shot on 35 millimeter film. "Mildred Richards" a unique "radio play turned into a movie" won for best Student Film and Best Actress. "The Last Day of Summer" grabbed the Best Story win.
Nassau County Film Office Director and Expo Organizer Debra Markowitz says it is difficult to select winners because each of the films selected to show in the Expo are so good.
"We pick about 150 films out of about 400 or so to get in in the first place is quite an honor and quite hard to do," she said. "But once you're in if you win an award...and out of 18 award (catagories) out of 150 awards out of 400."
Best Student Film – Mildred Richards
Best Short 35 mm – Clemency
Best Short Film – Cemetery Club
Best Long Island Short – Bedfellows
Best Long Island Feature – Purgatory Comics
Alan Fortunoff Humanitarian Film Award – Hindsight
Best Foreign Short Film – Predilection
Best Foreign Feature Film – Polygamy
Best First Short Film – Poetry Man
Best First Feature – Drawing with Chalk
Best Feature 35 mm – The 5th Quarter
Best Feature Film – Bereavement
Best Documentary – Miracle Ball
Best Director of a Short Film – Clemency – Joseph Albanese
Best Director of a Feature Film – Bereavement
Best Story – The Last Day of Summer
Best Animation – Skylight
Jury Prize Best Feature – A Little Help
Audience Award – Maggie Marvel
Gold Pass Award – Jackie Robinson: My Life