Female filmmakers win big at the BMAs

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The Century City theater was packed for last night's Best of the Midwest

The Century City theater was packed for last night’s Best of the Midwest Awards

Seven of the ten “Best” trophies handed out during last night’s BMA awards went to female filmmakers or films that were made with significant contributions by women. It was a great night for everyone.

Master of Ceremonies LaRoyce Hawkins, who plays Detective Kevin Atwater on Chicago PD, was so touched by the enthusiasm that he offered to help promote female filmmakers “in any capacity.”

Then he extended the invitation to the entire audience, explaining that he was available to work on independent film projects over most weekends.

Describing himself as “the black guy” on Chicago PD during his opening remarks, Hawkins set a gracious, humble, and frequently hilarious tone that continued throughout the evening.

LaRoyce Hawkins at the BMAs
LaRoyce Hawkins at the BMAs

In addition to praising the work of Chicago’s independent film community, the Harvey native saw fit to show his support for the Chicago White Sox by taunting Cubs’ fans.

“You all had a great season,” he said. “The season before last.”

The hourlong ceremony was a highlight unto itself. Filling pretty much every seat in the Century Centre Cinema theater, it proceeded with an Oscar style format that featured members of the city’s film community announcing winners for each separate category.

Christine Dudley, Director of the Illinois Film Office, summed it up nicely before awarding Best Feature Film honors to The View from Tall.

“In a year of disruption and turbulence,” she said, “we can all look around and see how lovely we are.”

After the ceremony, guests mingled in the Century Bar down the hall.

 
 
 
2017 BMA WINNERS
 

BEST MUSIC VIDEO
PULASKI AT NIGHT
Directed by Natalie Morales for Andrew Bird
Also nominated: HOT SHIT, directed by Andre Muir for Towkio | LSD, directed by Sam Bailey for Jamilia Woods | SHAME, directed by Ashley Rockwood for Jess Godwin | SPECIAL MOMENT, directed by Max Moore for Post Animal

A representative accepting for Ms. Morales explained that the video contains “a great message about gun violence,” and added, “hopefully it does some good.”

 
 
BEST SHORT FILM
TANYA
Directed by Monica Raymund
Also nominated: MIRIAM IS GOING TO MARS, directed by Michael Lippert | RAP SKOOL, directed by Nnamdi Ngwe | REKINDLED, directed by Erin Brown Thomas | STARVING ARTISTS, directed by Jeff Hadick

“The reason we made ‘Tanya’ was to give the victims a name,” explains Director Monica Raymund. “This is a film about sex trafficking.”

 
 
BEST ACTRESS
ANN SONNEVILLE
Miriam is Going to Mars
Also nominated: AMANDA DRINKALL, The View from Tall | AMY PIETZ, Halfway | FAWZIA MIRZA, Signature Move | KIAH MCKIRNAN, Tanya

“As soon as I got this script, I started running around the house,” says Sonneville. “This is how we advocate for each other, especially when our government is not advocating for us.”

 
 
BEST ACTOR
MICHAEL PATRICK THORNTON
The View from Tall
Also nominated: EAMONN WALKER, Tanya | NNAMBI NGWE, Rap Skool | PATRICK BLANTON, Pronouns | TIM LYONS, Gentle Dan

“I would not have the career I have in film and TV if not for a couple of strong women,” says Thornton. “Thank you for making a little space for me in your world.”

 
 
BEST EDITING
SAVANNAH CANNISTRARO
The Good Work
Also nominated: BENJAMIN MAY, The Legend of Swee Pea | FELIX PINIERO, Signature Move | JESSE ROSESLER, Freedom Ride | MICHAEL PAULUCCI, Pronouns

“When I made this film, I made it for the family,” says Cannistraro. “It was getting a controversial response, but there’s so much sex and violence in media today. Sex and childbirth are holy.”

 
 
BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
CHRISTOPHER REJANO
Signature Move
Also nominated: AUSTIN RINK, Miriam is Going to Mars | JOEL & JESSE EDWARDS, Dust to Dust | STEPHANIE DUFFORD, The View from Tall | TARI SEGAL, Tanya

“Thanks to everyone who voted and who come to screenings,” says Rejano. “To any filmmakers, make your sets inclusive and respectful.”

 
 
BEST ANIMATED FILM
WHERE IT FLOODS
Joel Benjamin
Also nominated: SENATAUR, directed by Alec Pinkston | DIE FLUCHT, directed by Carter Boyce | LINGUA ABSENTIA, directed by Kate Raney and Jeremy Bessoff | OPEN CARRY, USA, directed by Ron Fleischer

“This is a project I worked on for more than eight years,” says Benjamin. “Just to be standing up here is such an honor.”

 
 
BEST SCREENPLAY
CAITLIN PARRISH
The View from Tall
Also nominated: BEN CAIRD, Halfway | HAROULA ROSE, Lost and Found | TERRENCE THOMPSON, Drive Slow | TIM MASON, Deja Vu

“I have to live and LA and I do TV, but I get to come back here and mix it up with you guys,” says Parrish. “This is a film about how women are better than what men think they are.”

 
 
BEST DIRECTOR
JENNIFER REEDER
Signature Move
Also nominated: ERICA WEISS and CAITLIN PARRISH, The View from Tall | MICHAEL LIPPERT, Miriam is Going to Mars | MONICA RAYMUND, Tanya | SAMANTHA BAILEY, Brown Girls

“Women make great movies and, for the most part, female directors do not harass anyone on set,” says Reeder. “The future is not just female, the future is queer, people of color … the future is justice.”

 
 
BEST FEATURE FILM
THE VIEW FROM TALL
directed by Erica Weiss and Caitlin Parrish
Also nominated: DAVE MADE A MAZE, directed by Bill Watterson | HALFWAY, directed by Ben Caird | SIGNATURE MOVE, directed by Jennifer Reeder | THE LEGEND OF SWEE PEA, directed by Benjamin May

“Thank you first and foremost to the Chicago theater community,” says Erica Weiss, who, along with co-director Caitlin Parrish, entered the film industry by way of the theater world. “Let’s have women make more.”

BackTalk
  • Jamie Fraser

    Congratulations to Ann Sonneville and all the winners!