The Poppy Jasper International Film Festival began April 7 and wraps up this week. This year’s event featured 205 different films from 38 countries. I had the chance to screen 147 of those films, finding some beautiful and interesting stories. As the festival wraps up, PJIFF presented Jury Awards—where each of the Festival jurors picked their favorites—Director’s Circle honorees and Fan Favorites. Below is a synopsis of the winners, and some of that group that stood out to me.
Among the Jury Awards there are a few films I referenced in previous coverage of the festival. Some of those include the comedies Under Mom’s Skirt and All The Wrong Things, the drama Day Release and the documentary In the Land of My Ancestors. There were a number of other interesting films that were recognized by the Jury, Director of Fans that also hit home for me.
First was the German film Somebody and Nobody. This moody western from director Joscha Douma is set up in the mountains on Horse Pass. Shots ring out in the dark and Aaron (David Schutter) is dead. His brother, Jonah (Jonathan Berlin), sets out to kill the bandit The Black Wolf, despite the protests of his father (Tony de Maeyer), to avenge his brother. But Jonah harbors a dark secret of his own. This is wonderfully shot and played, blessed with a great story from Belo Schwarz. This was a classically done western with great mood and action.
Among the Fan Favorites was another action drama, The Scorpion’s Tale. Maximiliano Hernandez writes and stars in this film from Jhosimar Vasquez. Hernandez is fantastic in the lead role, while Adam Irgoyen is great in a supporting role and Anthony Starke is sufficiently creepy as the villain. This has a great story and features great execution.
Among the horror film entries was the stirring short Madame. This one earned a Jury Award and was a Fan Favorite. Director Garth Jennings delivers a chilling tale of an older woman (Evelyne Buyle) living in a beautiful French apartment. She has a nasty disposition and vicious temper, egged on by the gruff and angry ghost of her father (Bernard Verley). This one has good tension and Jennings gets a good performance from Buyle as the chilling, heartless lead. This one has a pretty good twist as well.
Finally, the feature length film Return of the Thumb earned a Jury Award and was a Fan Favorite. This comedy from Florian Convey delivers a mockumentary set in the world of competitive thumb wrestling. There were some odd moments, but in the end I really enjoyed the concept and execution.
For a full list of recognized films in each category and more on the film festival, visit www.pjiff.org.
Matthew Fox is a graduate of the Radio, Television and Film program at Biola University, and a giant nerd. He spends his free time watching movies, TV, and obsessing about football. You can find him @knighthawk7734 on Twitter and as co-host of the Fantasy Football Roundtable Podcast, a proud member of the Drive-In Podcast Network.