2019 Best of the Midwest Awards

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“The film festival is about
bringing people together
and supporting all of
the members of the
filmmaking community.”

MIFF Executive Director Amy Guth

The Midwest Independent Film Festival’s annual Best of the Midwest Awards inspired a swanky good time last night at The Promontory in Hyde Park. Complementing a candlelit vibe with cocktail dresses, sport coats, talented artists, and joyful supporters, the annual ceremony was a tribute to the people who help local cinema make an international impact.

Amy Guth and Dometi Pongo
Amy Guth and Dometi Pongo

At the start of the program, MIFF Executive Director Amy Guth roused the crowd by expressing gratitude for the members, guests, sponsors and donors that helped make it all happen.

“To me, the film festival is about bringing people together and supporting all of the members of the filmmaking community at every stage and every role,” she said. “This night brings all of that together in such a beautiful and wonderful way.”

Two entries emerged with multiple trophies. Runner — written, directed by, and starring Clare Cooney — won Best Short Film and Best Female Actor. Cold War — written by N. Wilder Konschak, directed by Konschak and Stirling McLaughlin, and starring Michael Blaiklock and Madeline Walter — won Best Male Actor, Best Director, and Best Feature.

The rest of the winners represented a wide variety of films and filmmakers.

The nominees and winners were announced in an Oscar-style format, with filmmakers and industry leaders providing color commentary along the way.

WGN Radio reporter Dometi Pongo launched an audience-wide drum roll. p3 mediaworks owner Curtis Gilbert pretended that he had actually won before realizing that he was only there to announce the winner. Creative consultant Melissa Thornley exclaimed that, “this is where the real money is.”

Macaroons by Camelia Bakes
Macaroons by Camelia Bakes

Daufenbach Camera founder Lawrence Daufenbach propped-up his presentation with a smart phone. Colleen Griffen, producer of 2019’s An Acceptable Loss starring Jamie Lee Curtis, recalled the early days of her “second career” when Tom Fletcher gave her a camera package for free.

And former head of the Illinois Film Office and Kartemquin Executive Producer Betsy Steinberg noted that, “I have never felt so proud to be here.”

Several sponsors energized the crowd throughout the night. SAG hosted an hour-long open bar, El Nacimiento offered tequila tastings, Camelia Bakes prepared a desert sampling, and Goose Island poured beer until the end.

All the while, DJ Ca$h Era kept things lively with a mix that included a ton of dusties.

 
2019 BEST OF THE MIDWEST WINNERS

BEST MUSIC VIDEO
4 LEAF CLOVER DIRECTED BY ANDRE MUIR FOR RAYVN LENAE

 

BEST ANIMATED FILM
LULLABY THEORIES: CEREAL FLUID
DIRECTED BY JONATHAN LACOCQUE & CLARA LEHMANN

 

BEST SHORT FILM
RUNNER DIRECTED DY CLARE COONEY

 

BEST DOCUMENTARY SHORT
GRACE DIRECTED BY RACHEL PIKELNY

 

BEST EDITING
CHELSEA KISER & DIEGO LOPEZ ATOMS OF ASHES

 

BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY
MATTHIAS GRUNSKY SAINTS REST

 

BEST SCREENPLAY
WENDY RODERWEISS STAGE FOUR

 

BEST FEMALE ACTOR
CLAIRE COONEY RUNNER

 

BEST MALE ACTOR
MICHAEL BLAIKLOCK COLD WAR

 

BEST DIRECTOR
J WILDER KONSCHAK & STIRLING MCLAUGHLIN COLD WAR

 

BEST FEATURE
COLD WAR DIRECTED BY J WILDER KONSCHAK & STIRLING MCLAUGHLIN

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