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3 Greenville filmmakers awarded at Beaufort Film Festival

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The Beaufort International Film Festival was held at the USC Beaufort Centre of Art. (Photo/Provided)Filmmakers from Los Angeles to New York gathered at the Beaufort International Film Festival from Feb. 15 to 19, but all three of the South Carolina moviemakers honored with an award at the end of the week hailed from Greenville.

Sarah Shoemaker, executive director of Greenville’s International Ballet, leapt ahead of international contestants at the Tryon Film Festival last October with “Invitation to the Dance,” named the event’s best overall film.

This year, after a showing at the University of South Carolina’s Centre of the Arts, jurors named the film as the “best feature documentary” of the festival, according to a news release.

Invitation to the Dance follows five adult special needs ballet dancers and instructor Lena Forster over a year of challenges and triumphs at the studio and beyond.

“Our film depicts the beauty, inspiration and power of shared passion,” she said in a release after the Tyron Film Festival. “It also highlights that every person is unique — both in gifts and limitations. As a culture, we get to decide what we celebrate. ‘Invitation to the Dance’ is an invitation to celebrate something different and deeper from the usual.”

Shoemaker has worked as a professional dancer, actress and producer in Charleston and Greenville.

Randall Owens of Greenville also received an award for the best short documentary of the festival, ProDogTV, a series of short films featuring dogs on the job from the police beat to the runway and the bond they form with their handlers, according to the release.

In 2020, ProDogTv was awarded the best documentary and best TV pilot awards at the Los Angeles International Film Festival, as well as the best documentary short of the London Independent Film Awards.

Greenvillian Chris White also walked away from the festival as the best director for his film Electric Jesus, a coming-of-age comedy homage to the Christian hair-metal bands of the 1980s.

“Electric Jesus was born out of years of looking back, reconstructing, re-discovering moments and memories I’d long since left behind that suddenly fascinated me,” White, also the screenwriter, said in a statement, drawing from his own experience as a teenager immersed in Evangelical Christian youth culture of the era.

Other award winners announced at the Beaufort Film Society event include:

  • Beaufort Film Society Volunteer of the Year: Bonnie Krstolic of Beaufort
  • Best feature: Shot Through the Wall, directed by Aimee Long of Los Angeles
  • Best short film: Hallways and Doors, directed by J.P. Brennan of Los Angeles
  • Best student film: The Punishment, directed by Chris Sexton Fletcher of Bradenton, Fla.
  • Best comedy: One Moment, directed by Deidre O'Connor of New York
  • Best animation: Two Different Kinds Of Love, directed by Alyce Vest of Oak Island, N.C.
  • Best screenplay: Amira, written by Bob Celli of New York
  • Best actress: Cooper Shaw of Los Angeles for performance in Hallways and Doors
  • Best actor: Danny Aiello of New York for his posthumous role in One Moment
  • Audience choice, Duty & Honor Award: The Girl Who Wore Freedom, directed by Christian Taylor of Chicago
  • Susan A.K. Shaffer Humanitarian Award: Thoughts & Prayers, directed by Hope Ballard of Denver.

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