Award Winners of LIFF 2017

BATON ROUGE, April 26, 2017- The 5th annual Louisiana International Film Festival & Mentorship Program (LIFF) took place April 20 – 23, 2017 at Cinemark Perkins Rowe in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. LIFF 2017 hosted a four-day cinematic extravaganza consisting of 70+ film screenings, as well as Q&A discussions, workshops, panels, live music performances and gala celebrations with catering by festival Chef Sean Rivera from Gastreauxnomica and drinks from Hayride Scandal.

An estimated 5,000 film lovers walked through the doors with over 100 filmmakers and special guests in attendance including such notables as: Oscar-winning actress Renée Zellweger, Oscar-nominated documentary director Leslie Iwerks, accompanied by Dottie Brennan, Lally Brennan and Ti Martin (ELLA BRENNAN: COMMANDING THE TABLE), Professor at New York University Tisch School of the Arts and producer Marco Williams (TELL THEM WE ARE RISING: THE STORY OF BLACK COLLEGES AND UNIVERSITIES), famed Blind Boys of Alabama singer Clarence Fountain, writer Eric Marciano and director/writer Lee Breuer (THE BOOK OF CLARENCE), and MotherDaughter producer-director team Nena and Cassie Jaye (THE RED PILL).

Producer/Director TaRhonda Bazille, THE RYAN FRANCIS STORY

Producer/Director Cassie Jaye, THE RED PILL

Mentorship speakers included Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome of Baton Rouge, Dwight Henry (Actor, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD), Carol Bidault (Women In Film & Television Louisiana), Steven Adams (Head of Management & Partner, Buffalo 8), Robert Patla (Content Acquisition Executive at XLrator Media) and more.

The acclaimed film PATTI CAKE$ launched the Opening Night Gala with executive producer Josh Penn and co-producer Noah Stahl attending. The Fox Searchlight Pictures film by director Geremy Jasper now moves on to Close the Cannes 49th edition Directors’ Fortnight.

Producer Noah Stahl, PATTI CAKE$

Of special note, LIFF 2017 was the occasion for the inaugural Dan Ireland Award, a juried cash prize of $3,000 for New Voices/New Vision to be awarded to the film’s director. In addition to his long career as a director, teacher and co-founder of the Seattle International Film Festival, Dan served as the Artistic Director of LIFF until his untimely death on April 14, 2016. The Dan Ireland Award was created in order to commemorate his dedication to new talent, storytellers and visionaries.

Speaking at the Dan Ireland Award Ceremony, Chesley Heymsfield, Executive Director of LIFF, said about Dan, “It was very hard for our entire team because when you work at an organization like this which is a grassroots community built organization to support local people, you become like family and it was very important for us to start the Dan Ireland Award this year.”

Renée Zellweger, Dan’s long-time colleague and friend noted, “Dan Ireland was my mentor. He was a walking celebration of life and not just his. He drew so much joy from discovering and championing new talent. He loved film. He loved the shared experience of cinema and he believed in the power of storytelling on the screen to unite us, to bridge our differences, to educate and transform us lured on that journey by the filmmaker across the entire spectrum of human emotions to transcend everything else in the world for a couple of hours. He launched a galaxy of lucky stars through his direction and mentorship. He has left a legacy of beautiful films and an extensive list of cinematographers, composers, writers, directors, producers, actors who are indebted to him for opportunities and support while realizing their creative dreams. I am so grateful that his spirit is celebrated and his mentorship mission will continue here at his beloved Louisiana International Film Festival through the Dan Ireland Award.”

Actress Renée Zellweger speaks at LIFF 2017

Jay Dardenne, former Lieutenant Governor and current Commissioner of Administration for the State of Louisiana presented Judy Ireland, Dan’s Sister, with a recognition from the State and said, “Louisiana has a character all its own. I think that’s a great description of what this festival is all about. It’s got a character and attracted great characters like Dan Ireland who was so dedicated to make this the success that it is today and it is with a great deal of pleasure representing Governor John Bell Edwards and the State today to present his sister Judy with a recognition from the State of Louisiana remembering Dan’s legacy and contribution to the State and contribution to this outstanding and growing festival that’s here to stay just like we hope the film industry is here to stay for a long time in the State of Louisiana.”

Judy Ireland accepted the recognition from the State and noted, “On behalf of the Ireland family, I want to say a huge thank you for having me down here to witness all of this southern love for my brother and I truly feel you are a huge part of our family as well as Dan’s California contingent.”

LIFF Program Director and friend of Dan, Ian Birnie said, “Dan hired me the first year they were conceiving the festival and it was a real adventure. The idea seemed like a delightful concept so I joined the team and we started working together. I’m thrilled by the growth of the interest and growth of the audience. ”

Jurors Glen Pitre (Director, ONE NIGHT OFF CAMPUS), Michael Scott Myers (Screenwriter, THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD), and John Wirt (Journalist) presented the Dan Ireland Award 2017 to KILLS ON WHEELS, an off-beat action comedy about two disabled youths who team up with a wheelchair bound female assassin written and directed by Attila Till (Hungary, 2016). Juror Glen Pitre said, “We unanimously gave this to a film which is not only very well crafted, and very surprising and just a joy to watch, but also celebrates the triumph of imagination of over adversity which is a lot of what this festival is about.”

The Dan Ireland Award was sponsored by: Winifred & Kevin Reilly, Jr., Renée Zellweger, Vincent D’Onofrio, Dennis Yares and Greg Kachel.

Co-star of THE WHOLE WIDE WORLD, Mr. D’Onofrio (FULL METAL JACKET, DAREDEVIL), who attended LIFF 2015 with his film BROKEN HORSES, said about Dan: “He simply loved being a filmmaker. That you could start with nothing other than the urge to tell stories, to start with nothing and end up with a film. A piece of art that will travel the world and unwind in front of audiences moving them emotionally, taking them out of their real life and keeping them safe and sound, enlightening them and provoking thought before you release them back to real life. I say this because I know that’s what cinema did for Dan Ireland. I know that he could never have enough of that. And that’s what he wanted for his audiences. He would want, he would hope that young filmmakers have that same passion, a passion for the journey.”

Audience Award winners for Best Feature Films at LIFF 2017:

Narrative Feature: KILLS ON WHEELS (Hungary)

Louisiana Narrative Feature: PATTI CAKE$

Documentary Feature: THE RED PILL

Louisiana Documentary Feature: THE RYAN FRANCIS STORY


Audience Awards for Best Short Films at LIFF 2017:

Best International Live-Action Short Film: ALL I WANT

Best Louisiana Live-Action Short Film: LAST LIGHT

Best International Animated Short Film: REFLECTIONS

Best Louisiana Documentary Short Film: INSIDE THE RING
-Owen Scott, III for LIFF 2017


For further information contact:
Chesley Heymsfield, Executive Director, (917) 622-8800 or
For Photographs and more please see

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