Call for entries have been announced for the 2020 Niagara Falls International Film Festival, which will take place Sept. 9-12. The third edition of NFIFF will once again work to deliver an entertaining and invigorating film experience for Western New York film fans – as well as continue to be a force in the community of Niagara Falls to revitalize it and celebrate the area's rich history.
NFIFF founder and President Bill Cowell said, "Just as we enjoyed growth this year in terms of the number of attending filmmakers, audiences and screenings, we expect the same for the third year of the film festival. In fact, some special events and guests are already in the planning stages that will be exciting to present to the film fans in Niagara Falls.”
In two years, NFIFF has established a precedent of bringing Academy Award winners and guests representing the Hollywood classics to Niagara Falls to both celebrate their work and connect them with independent filmmakers making entertaining and provocative work today.
This year, NFIFF opened with a celebration of Academy Award-winner Louis Gossett Jr. and influential legend Samuel Fuller. The gala celebration and opening night reception featured a display of the first Niagara Falls Walk of Fame stars set to be installed: four-time Academy Awards President Cheryl Boone Isaacs and two-time Academy Award winner Mark Bridges.
Isaacs was in attendance and presented the festival's Legacy Award to Gossett Jr. Christa and Samantha Fuller were presented with NFIFF's inaugural Icon of Industry Award for Samuel Fuller, and both Fuller and Gossett Jr. were presented with their own stars on the Walk of Fame, as well.
Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster presented a proclamation to Cowell while "The Voice" singer Mikaela Astel performed.
Following a festival-long salute to Fuller, NFIFF capped things off with a screening of Fuller's “The Big Red One” with Christa and Samantha Fuller, and several of the film's stars (Robert Carradine, Perry Lang, Kelly Ward and Bobby Di Ciccio) in attendance. Moderated by filmmaker and film historian Michael Schlesinger, the post-screening Q&A was both entertaining and frequently emotional – with fond remembrances of Fuller and the film's star, Lee Marvin. The moment was made one to remember thanks to a surprise call from another of the film's stars, Mark Hamill, who played the message to a very excited audience and cast.
NFIFF continued with another tradition established the prior year, by making a special presentation of the film festival's Humanitarian Award to Medal of Honor recipient David Bellavia to honor his military service during the Iraq War. A Special Humanitarian Mention was given to Matt Shapira for his "Saving the Planet" murals he painted around the world. Cowell had also arranged for Shapira to paint a mural at the Hard Rock Café, Niagara Falls USA.
Presenters at the filmmaker awards ceremony included NFIFF Ambassador of Film Janel Tanna, NFIFF Creative Adviser Stanley Isaacs, and last year's Best Documentary recipient, Annalaura Di Luggo.
Submissions for 2020 can be made at https://filmfreeway.com/NiagaraFallsInternationalFilmFestival. More information is available at http://nfiff.com/.
NFIFF filmmaker awards categories include: