Sunday, January 14, 2007

Omaha Film Festival 2006 - A Year In Review - Feature Films

Greetings all. 2006 was quite a year. We had our first annual film festival in March as well as having some special screenings in July and we started our “Call For Entries” for the 2007 festival in June. We’ve been receiving and reviewing hundreds of feature films, documentaries, short films, and screenplays from around the globe and have narrowed those fields down to what we feel is going to be an excellent second annual film festival.

Since we’re getting ready to make all of our announcements for the upcoming festival, I thought it would be good to go back and update everyone on the films that we screened in 2006. So, following is a list of the feature films from last year. Enjoy.

EXPIRATION DATE - Director: Rick Stevenson

Omaha Film Festival – Best Feature Film, Audience Choice Award.

“Robert Guthrie etches one of the most original Native American characters ever caught on film. He gives a captivating performance in this whimsical comedy about death and destiny.” Stephen Farber, Movieline

Expiration Date screened at 12 film festivals and won the top award at four of them, including the Audience Choice and the Best Feature Film at the Omaha Film Festival! The film is currently enjoying a theatrical run throughout the US and will be available on DVD in April, 2007.

Director Rick Stevenson was in attendance at our festival and gave a great Q&A after each of the screenings of his film and a fantastic acceptance speech discussing the state of independent film today during our awards ceremony.


Sweet Land - Director: Ali Selim

Omaha Film Festival – Audience Choice Finalist

Sweet Land celebrates a gutsy, old-fashioned sort of love, which Mr. Selim lovingly presents in scene after scene of glorious 35-millimeter images. Jeannette Catsoulis, The New York Times

Sweet Land had a great film festival run and is now enjoying a theatrical run, currently playing in over 31 states. The soundtrack is available for purchase on their website, and the DVD will be made available sometime in 2007, after their theatrical run.

Lead actress Elizabeth Reaser was nominated for an Independent Spirit Award and Sweet Land is nominated in the Best First Feature category.

Locally the film will be shown at various times at the Mary Riepma Ross Theatre in Lincoln, NE from 1/5 through 1/18 and director Ali Selim will be at the screenings for Q&As on the 12th and 13th.

Director Ali Selim was in attendance at our festival and we had a very enjoyable Q&A after each of his screenings.


Freeze Out - Director: M.J. Loheed

Omaha Film Festival – Audience Choice Finalist

"The most authentic poker movie since Rounders." -- John Vorhaus, author of the Killer Poker book series.

Freeze Out has screened at several film festivals and won Best Feature at one and was a Runner Up for the Audience Choice award at our festival. MJ is currently in talks to get his film distributed on DVD.

Director MJ Loheed was in attendance at our festival and the Q&As ranged from filmmaking to actors to poker. The audience members were comprised of fans of all three.

Posted by MJ Loheed on WAB about OFF’06: “Jeremy Decker the fest organizer put on an excellent festival. It was organized, there were shuttles between the venues, Omaha was a very cute and friendly destination, and the locals were definitely into seeing the films.” “…the Omaha fest was simply a great experience.”


Cyxork 7 - Director: John Huff

Cyxork 7 was one of our comedy entries last year and has many recognizable stars in this behind the scenes look at the making of a sci-fi movie. It has been an official selection at over a dozen film festivals and has won awards at three of them. The film is currently enjoying DVD distribution on their website. Check out their website for their trailer as well as reviews and other fun things.


Fatwa - Director: John Carter

Fatwa {fät’ wä’) NOUN: a ruling on a point of Islamic law given by a recognized authority.

Fatwa, starring Lauren Holly (Dumb & Dumber, What Women Want,) was picked up by Capital City Entertainment, the only full-service film production company in Washington, D.C. and has been sold in both foreign and domestic markets. Links to purchase a copy of the DVD are on their website.


Filmic Achievement - Director: Kevin Kerwin

Filmic Achievement – Over 5,000 Film Students. Only One Filmic Achievement Award.

Filmic Achievement has been an official selection in 18 film festivals and has won a best feature film and a best director prize at two of them. The DVD is not currently available as they are in talks with a distributor, though the only commercially available (and autographed) DVD of this film was given to the Omaha Film Festival for auction at one of our summer-time special screenings.


The Garage - Director: Carl Thibault

The Garage has been an official selection to 41 film festivals continuing on through mid-2007 and so far has won 7 top prizes as well as being nominated for 8 others. Check out their website for trailers and other information about the film.


Jimmy and Judy - Directors: Jonathan Schroder & Randall Rubin

Jimmy and Judy, starring Edward Furlong, Rachael Bella and William Sadler, certainly had our most raucous crowd. It was accepted into four film festivals and won two major awards including the MySpace Award at the Newport Beach Film Festival. They are currently enjoying a small theatrical run.

The filmmakers were in attendance (as well as many other “interesting” characters) and they gave a great Q&A after their screening.


Lenexa, 1 Mile - Director: Jason Wiles

We were the world premiere for this film. They are currently not screening at any more festivals as they are in negotiations for distribution.


LITTLE ATHENS - Director: Tom Zuber

“…the quality of the acting in the film is astonishing… visually the film is amazing.
A stunning effort all around, 'Little Athens' is as much a sociological study as it is a film." -- Film Threat

Little Athens follows a whirlwind day in the hapless lives of small town youth caught in a dead-end post-high school void.

The film has screened at dozens of festivals including Toronto and AFI and the rights were purchased by ThinkFilm with DVD sales starting on November 21, 2006.


Mad Cowgirl - Director: Gregory Hatanaka

"Theaters showing Mad Cowgirl should install seatbelts, because audiences are in for the ultimate wild ride" - Film Threat

Mad Cow Girl screened at several film festivals including Toronto’s After Dark Film Festival and is currently playing to a small theatrical run across the country. DVDs are now available on Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, etc.


Mojave Phone Booth - Director: John Putch

Mojave Phone Booth, featuring a very recognizable cast, has screened at 27 film festivals (premiering out ours) and has received 8 major awards.
Director John Putch was in attendance and had an enjoyable Q&A after his screening.


Scared New World - Director: Chris Brown

Scared New World has screened at several film festivals domestically as well an upcoming screening in June in South Wales at the Swansea Bay Film Festival. DVDs are now available on their website. If I could give out an award for best sound track, this film would have received it.

Producer and lead actor Yahn Soon was in attendance and we had a great Q&A following his screening. He is currently in preproduction on his next film and given the topic and story idea, I’m really looking forward to this one.

Posted by Yahn Soon on WAB about OFF’06: “Jeremy and his legion of volunteers pulled off a fairly big event for a first year fest. Everyone was nice, the area of Omaha that my film showed at (the Old Market), is a re-vitalized section of town with great restaurants and bars and a busy nightlife. … in a few years this will be a fest that the entire city looks forward to”


Self Medicated - Director: Monty Lapica

Self Medicated has screened at dozens of festivals and has won 38 major awards including several grand prize awards, which means that they won more film festival awards than any other film in 2006.


Shimmer - Director: Andrew Robinson
We were the world premiere for this Nebraska film. They are currently seeking additional entries into other film festivals and are looking at self distributing DVDs.

The filmmakers as well as a huge crowd of their cast and crew (as well as many of the people that were around during filming) were in attendance to see this film shown on the big screen.


The Suicide Notes - Director: Keith Feighan

“Everybody that writes one ends up dead.”

The Suicide Notes has screened at several festivals and the filmmakers are currently in post production on their latest film “Placebo” so look for that possibly in 2008.

Keith Feighan and producer Faith Sherry were in attendance and had one of my favorite Q&As of the festival. Many of the filmmakers that had entered and attended our festival came to this screening so the nature of the Q&A was very technical which I enjoyed very much.


The White Horse is Dead - Director: Pete Red Sky

The White Horse is Dead enjoyed a small theatrical run and was picked up by Pathfinder Home Entertainment and is currently available on DVD at


You Are Alone - Director: Gorman Bechard

4-stars "Compelling. There’s never a single phony minute in the entire 84 minute running time." - Film Threat

You Are Alone has screened at 14 festivals and has won four awards including two for Best Feature and one for Best Actress. DVDs are currently available on their myspace page. Also, Gorman just released his latest novel so look for that on their myspace page as well.


Under our special screenings during the festival, we screened New Line Cinema film “Hoot” two months before its national theatrical release and ThinkFilm “When Do We Eat” before its national distribution.

Also, in our special summer screenings at the Pizza Shoppe, we rescreened “Expiration Date,” “Scared New World,” and “Filmic Achievement” as well as ThinkFilm release “Half Nelson” a month before it’s national theatrical release. Since its release, “Half Nelson” has done well, including several nominations for the Independent Spirit Awards which will be held in February. Their nominations include Best Feature, Ryan Fleck for Best Director, Anna Boden & Ryan Fleck for Best First Screenplay, Shareeka Epps for Best Female Lead, and Ryan Gosling for Best Male Lead. What an opportunity for Omaha to have a chance to see this great film a month before the rest of the country!


Many new updates and announcements will be coming for the 2007 festival in the upcoming days and weeks so stay tuned and be sure to check out the website.

Thank you for your time and help support art in Omaha.

Program Director,
Omaha Film Festival


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