“A Gift for All Ages”, a Christmas film that takes viewers back to the days of black-and-white films and warms with the magic of holidays, won the “Best In Fest” award at the Full Bloom Film Festival in Statesville, NC. The heartening film is about a couple whose household is disrupted when an odd gentleman stays at their boarding house and disrupts their lives with both joy and suspicion.
Attending the festival for the film were California-based Executive Producer and actor Russell Webb, as well as Full Bloom veterans Alicia Wszelaki (Director/Writer), her husband Matthew Nothelfer (Cinematographer/Writer) and their rescue dog Teddy, who also appears in the movie.
Past Full Bloom attendees fell in love with Teddy from the animal rescue documentary Flying Fur, which was a fan favorite back in 2020 when it won “Best Short Documentary”.
Best Narrative Feature went to the film Relative, a layered dramedy sharing three days in the life of an American family as they celebrate the college graduation of the youngest child. All family members have their own issues which make for a memorable and life-changing family reunion.
The movie was written and directed by Chicago- based Michael Glover Smith, who was born in Charlotte.
“Little Satchmo“, The Best Documentary Feature, was directed by Asheville’s John Alexander, who attended the festival with his wife and one of the movie's producers JC Guest.
The documentary is the story of Sharon Preston-Folta, whose book tells the story of her life as the unrecognized daughter of jazz great Louis Armstrong. Her mother dancer Lucille 'Sweets' Preston, was Armstrong's mistress for 21 years.
Preston-Folta's book "Little Satchmo, Living in the Shadow of My Father Louis Daniel Armstrong", led was the focus of the documentary. The film was picked up by PBS for season 7 of the series "Reel South".
"Blue" was named as Best Short Narrative. It is the story of three stages of a relationship of a couple, backed up by a vivid soundtrack. Brothers Elec and Isaac McCready were the directors of the film, and are also musicians. They are also North Carolinians.
The Best Short Documentary went to "Hunger is Real: Voices of Western North Carolina". The film focused on the issues of food insufficiency in the Appalachian mountains, especially in the time of COVID.
Best animation went to "Shakespeare for All Ages", by director Hannes Ral from Germany. The animated short is an image-fest of Shakespeare's most recognizable plays.
On Friday night, filmmaker Sheldon Candis, was awarded the festival's first Buzz award for his body of work including the ESPN documentary "Baltimore Boys", about the high school basketball team the Dunbar Poets in the early 80s. The team included future NBA stars Tyrone "Mugsy" Bogues, Reggie Williams, Reggie Lewis, and David Wingate.
Candis grew up in Statesville, and graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinematic Arts.
The Full Bloom Film Festival, which began in 2015, had almost 150 submissions this year from around the world. Thirty-one films were chosen to be shown at the festival.
The festival boasts a great history of successful filmmakers. Last year's winner for "Best Feature Narrative","Samland", which premiered in Statesville is now accessible through many viewing outlets.
Full Bloom is the signature event of the Iredell Arts Council, whose mission is to "initiate, support and advance the arts and cultural activities in Iredell County."