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Victory International Film Festival Holds Successful Third Event, Free of COVID-19

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Tim Jagielo
Joseph Jourdan of Evansville accepts his "Audience Choice" award for his humorous and colorful short film, "Story Time."

Festival grows with uptick in attendance and bevy of international and local films; will be back to full three days in 2023

Spanish film “La Banyera” (sic) or “The Bathtub” finished to applause on Saturday night at the Victory International Film Festival.

This film depicts Ramon Rivera growing as a person and making big life changes — while on his phone — taking a bath.

It’s way more beautiful and more touching than this description, and the festival judges agreed.

“The Bathtub” earned the Jury Award, Best International Film and Sergi Marti Maltas as best director.

Several local filmmakers were also recognized.

Joseph Jourdan is 20 and lives in Evansville; he won an “Audience Choice Award” for his short film “Story Time.” It’s a distinctly fun and joyful piece combining home-made puppetry and special effects to illustrate a child’s imagination.

It goes without saying that Jourdan was excited to win — especially considering he diverted to using simple stick puppets because he ran out of time to use his other effects.

“I don't even have words to describe it. I was not expecting to win the Audience Choice Award at all. But I'm totally stoked. I'm gonna take that money and make a better short film and see what happens next.”

23-year old college student Sierra Hart of Noblesville, won for her 3D animated short “The Livlac Tree.”

“I'm completely shocked and amazed and really, really proud. You know, I did work hard at this. It was unexpected, but I'm really happy.”

Through creating her film (her first) she learned how much work goes into producing three minutes of animation.

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Tim Jagielo
Sierra Hart approaches the stage to receive her award for her animated short, "The Livlac Tree."

Owen Hollander of Evansville won “Best Documentary” for his high school student film “Never Lose Hope,” which shares eight decades-spanning stories of military service. He is away at film school and couldn’t accept his award in person.

In 2021, Director Chris White earned the grand prize “Jury Award” for his feature film “Electric Jesus,” for which he finally received his award trophy tonight. He said he enjoyed experiencing Evansville for the first time.

Overall, “Best Actress” went to Leanne Johnson of Indianapolis for her role as “Penny” in the full-length feature “Chasing Rabbits.” This film depicts a woman in pursuit of her missing father, joining a cult to try to discover his whereabouts.

“I didn't even think I was going to make any because I'm filming another movie,” she said from the podium. “And so I'm so thankful that this worked out and I drove four hours to receive this.”

She’s been in several films and said she always learns something by watching herself on screen.

“I learned that it is possible to transform into a different character,” Johnson said. “If you are invested and you prepare well, it's neat to see yourself on screen as somebody else.”

Director Eric Pascarelli said, “I've enjoyed seeing people's reactions to individual things throughout the festivals, like what jokes constantly get a laugh, or what little bits get any sort of reaction. That's been very interesting to see.”

He says, for better or worse, silly jokes that are easy for him to write do tend to get the laughs.

“The movie isn't too much of a comedy but it still gets some laughs,” he added.

Learning is also the point of the film festival. Educational panels discussed headshots, tax credits and of course, acting.

Jim Dougherty ran the acting workshop where he shared the fundamentals of the craft, including what they need to work in the industry.

“I tell them the truth about how tough this industry really is,” he said. “It's a tough road, you have to do things the right way. You have to give really good perception of who you are as an artist and as a performer.”

Indianapolis native Juanesa Gayles attended with her husband Greg. She’s an aspiring filmmaker and said the acting workshop was her favorite part.

“The information that I was given — I want to share that with others. So the teacher, he was very good.”

She said the first film festival she attended was the inaugural Victory International Film Festival in 2019. She enjoyed it, so she came back.

Said Festival director Patrick Higgs, “we've had a really great festival this year, and three really good workshops. So I'm very excited with the turnout and attendance.”

He said about 324 attended over the two-day event. He says next year they’re returning to the three-day format. It will run September 7 through the 9th.

“We got to start on the next one. So you know, this is a never ending thing. And we just want to make it bigger and better and stronger every year. And you know, this is the third one of this. So we're looking forward to next year and making it happen.”

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Tim Jagielo
The awards sit, prepared for the evening ceremony.