Best of the Fest: 'In Our Hands' Takes Home Top Honors in the Humboldt Film Festival

"Better than Sundance,” announced Humboldt Film Festival judge John Coda to the large audience gathered for closing night's Best of the Fest Award Night at the 45th Humboldt Film Festival — the oldest student-run international independent short film festival in the world. The festival concluded its week-long event at Humboldt State University on April 21.
The week-long event — themed "The Power of Film" — concluded Saturday night with the judges announcing winners in each genre, including the overall "Best of Fest" award.

The award for best in animation went to “Another Dress, Another Button” by Lyn Elliot of the USA — "a stop-motion animation exploring the plight of the spare buttons: carefully saved, but never used." Honorable mention went to Timothy Hittle’s “The Quiet Life.” Hittles spent 10 years creating this clay-mation film.

Gerald Pesta of the United States nabbed best in experimental with “The Olympian,” a film inter-cutting an 1894 Edison film of Eugene Sandow with a 1996 video of Dorian Yates, offering insight into the evolution of body-building and the motion picture art form over 102 years.

“Mijo,” by USA’s Chithra Jerayam, is described as "an evocative portrayal of a mother and a child's intimate relationship in the midst of life-altering medical events.” “Mijo” won the award for best in documentary while local filmmaker Owen Roth received an honorable mention for his piece titled “Humboldt Slackers.” The documentary details the growing slack line community in Humboldt County. The sport became a YouTube sensation after Madonna featured professional slackliner "Slacker Andy" Lewis — founding member of Humboldt Slackers and valedictorian of Humboldt State's 2008 graduating class — doing gymnastic stunts on a slackline during her Super Bowl performance.

American filmmaker Adam Rose took home the award for best in narrative for his film “Queen.” “Queen” is the story of Nikki Holiday, a drag queen cabaret star, who "looks to fill the void in her life … after her plans to start a family fall apart.” Holiday was portrayed by Ryan Eggold, who also wrote, directed, and produced another finalist in the narrative category. Honorable mention went to German entry “Ab Morgen” by Raphael Wallner and Stefan Elsenbruch about a critically ill man who receives the kidney of a living donor and now "fights the circumstances of being responsible for the donor's death.”

Austrian Peter Bruenner's film “In Our Hands,” about  "a train ride from L.A. to San Diego … each passenger has a different story, but they are all headed for the same abrupt end,” won the top honors of the week as “Best of Fest”

Along with Coda, BMI award winning ("That's So Raven" theme song) musical composer for film and television, the event was judged by Directors Guild of America Award winning director/producer Tasha Oldham. Oldham is known for her Emmy Nominated documentary film “The Smith Family.” Both judges described the films as "outstanding" and the overall event experience as one not to be missed.
"Humboldt is garnering some of the best talent from around the world,” Oldham said.

Past judges of the film fest include, Alexander Payne (director of the Academy Award nominated movie “The Descendents”), and Marcia Lucas (1978 Best Film Editing Oscar winner for “Star Wars:Episode IV--A New Hope.”)?

The festival is held every spring and submissions are taken beginning September.