Excellent news about two Florida Film Festival 2006 award winners hit the wire recently, and like proud parents, we couldn't be happier or more excited about filmmakers Sian Heder and Mike Akel's success. Sian's wonderful short film, MOTHER--which is just begging to be made into a feature--followed up its Oscar-qualifying Grand Jury Award for Best Narrative Short by getting into competition at the Cannes Film Festival (the first film from her AFI program to do so). She apparently wowed the jury there as well, since MOTHER shared Third Prize in the Cinefondation Awards with Agnes Kocsis' A VIRUS.
Last week's announcement of the very impressive Los Angeles Film Festival lineup featured a familiar (and friendly) face amongst all those predominantly World Premieres in the Narrative Feature Competition: CHALK, Mike Akel's hilarious mockumentary about a year in the life of a small group of Texas high school teachers. Winner of a Special Jury Award for Ensemble Acting at FFF in April, this comedy is so well-crafted and evokes such a great resonse from audiences, that it wouldn't surprise me if it gets grabbed up soon by some lucky distributor. Truly honest and funny films about the teaching experience are few and far between, and there is an untapped market with vast potential for a gem like this one.