Life Fest Director Brian Johnston (right) and actor John Schneider

International Life Fest launches online in June

 LOS ANGELES – “October Baby,” which topped $5 million in box office sales last week, captured Best Film honors at the 2nd Annual Life Fest Film Festival while “DOONBY,” scheduled to release later this year after a limited release in February, took home the Capra Award. The awards were presented at the Festival Awards Ceremony Saturday night at the Los Angeles Convention Center. Co-hosted by Victoria Jackson, Mell Flynn, and Alfonzo Rachel, the evening capped off the premiere film festival dedicated to showcasing films that highlight the intrinsic value of life and the human experience.

In accepting the award, the film’s co-stars, John Schneider and Shari Rigby, remarked on the film’s power to reach across the cultural divide with a message of forgiveness and healing.

Named after legendary filmmaker Frank Capra, the Festival’s Capra Award was presented to Best Film nominee, “Doonby,” in which Schneider also starred. Life Fest Director Brian Johnston noted that the Capra Award honors those films with inspirational and uplifting themes that underscore the intrinsic value of life. Schneider was joined by co-star Joe Estevez and producer Mark Joseph in accepting the award. Joseph noted that among writer/director Peter Mackenzie’s inspirations in creating Doonby was Capra’s “It’s A Wonderful Life.”

Another Best Film nominee, “The Way,” directed by Emilio Estevez, which co-starred Estevez and his father,Martin Sheen, was presented with the Jury Award in recognition of its powerful theme underscoring the profound value of the human experience.

In addition to the top film honors, the 2012 Spirit of Life Award was given to Martin Sheen. As Life Fest Director Brian Johnston has observed, “Martin Sheen has been outspoken in his opposition to legalizing assisted suicide, a form of voluntary euthanasia, and his opposition to abortion. His willingness to ‘go against the zeitgeist’ and speak out for the value of each innocent life, is both brave and honorable.”

Accepting the award for Mr. Sheen was his brother, Joe Estevez. Mr. Estevez noted that their parents “had twelve children, ten of whom lived to adulthood. Of those ten, six became teachers, two are actors, one retired from public television, and one is a poet. Six of us served in the military. Three fought in combat. And all of us were honorably discharged. We all have worked with and have given generously to various charities.  So, I accept this award in the name of my brother, but in the spirit of our mother and father.”

To expand the reach of festival, Johnston announced that the International Life Fest Film Festival will launch online starting June 1, 2012. “The message of Life Fest is one which transcends borders. It is a universal message,” Johnston said. “Many of our contributors and fans could not be present to join us in Los Angeles. That is why we will be continuing the festival for our international audience. Attendees throughout the world will be able to view and vote for their favorite films and there will be separate awards and honors given to reflect the judgment offered by the international community.”

The Festival also presented several awards in various categories, including special awards for the 5×5 for Life Filmmaker Challenge.  Filmmakers were given a prop, character, a line of dialogue, and five days to write, shoot and edit a 3-5 minute short film. A total of ten submissions were received from across the country.

5×5 Filmmaker Challenge Awards

Best Use of Theme: Hello Mother & Father – Director Richard Alvarez
Best Use of Line: Second Chance
Best Use of Prop: The Choice – Director Mark Hoffman
Best Use of Character Name: Benjamin Franklin’ Little Brother – Director Camryn Kasinski
Best Cinematography: Carry On
Best Sound Design: The Choice
Best Story/Writing: Hello Mother & Father
Best Film: The Choice
Audience Award: Hello Mother & Father
Best Actor: Austin Stevenson
Best Actress: Dawn Setters

Short Film Awards

Best Use of Theme: Rusted Pyre – Director Laurence Cohen
Best Cinematography: Rusted Pyre
Best Sound Design: Rusted Pyre
Best Story/Writing: Rusted Pyre
Best Film: Backseat – Christopher  Woodring
Audience Award: Backseat

Documentary Award

Best Documentary: 7 Days of Sacrifice – Director Thomas Anderson

Feature Film Awards

Best Use of Theme: Courage, New Hampshire
Best Cinematography: October Baby
Best Sound Design: Courage, New Hampshire
Best Writing: October Baby
Audience Award: Courage, New Hampshire

Photos from the event are available to media outlets at: www.flickr.com/photos/lifefilmfest. Photo credit should be given to Life Fest Film Festival.