Henry Spritz, writer and director of “Sunner” accepted the Tourmaline Prize in the feature-length film category. John T. Meader photo

WATERVILLE — The Maine Film Center recently announced the winners of the Tourmaline and Audience Favorite Prizes from the 25th annual Maine International Film Festival.

This year’s festival featured nearly 100 films, 22 of which were made in Maine.

The Tourmaline Prizes, awarded for the first time this year and named for Maine’s state gem, are juried awards recognizing the best Maine-made films of the festival. These prizes were given in two categories: feature-length film and short film.

Winner of the Tourmaline Prize in the feature-length film category, as well as a cash prize of $5,000, is “Sunner,” the story of two young artists who attempt to create a memorial for their hometown and their generation’s experience before there’s no one left who remembers.

Written and directed by Henry Spritz, “Sunner” was filmed in Belfast, Sanford, Portland and Westbrook using local talent.

Winner in the short film category, as well as a cash prize of $2,500, is “Le Carrefour (The Intersection).” Daniel Quintanilla, who directed the film with Jessamine Irwin, accepted the Tourmaline Prize during the Maine International Film Festival. John T. Meader photo

The winner in the short film category, as well as a cash prize of $2,500, was “Le Carrefour (The Intersection).” Directed by Daniel Quintanilla and Jessamine Irwin, the film tells the story of the friendship between Cecile, a French-Canadian, and Trésor, a Franco-African immigrant seeking asylum in Lewiston.

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Their interwoven stories reflect the repeating history of discrimination and oppression that French-speaking Mainers have faced and continue to endure.

“It’s so important to recognize and celebrate Maine’s filmmakers, who each year create such original works that highlight the people and stories of our state,” says Mike Perreault, festival director, according to a news release from Waterville Creates Communications Coordinator Mary Ellms. “It’s a tremendous achievement to create independent film here, and we’re proud that these inaugural Tourmaline Prizes will help enable these talented filmmakers to continue their work.”

Throughout the festival, audiences voted for their favorite feature films, and the winner of this year’s Audience Favorite Award is “Hopeful: The Story of MaineWorks,” directed by Ian McCrudden.

Another Maine-made film, “Hopeful” is the story of Margo Walsh, who built a business from her kitchen table as a single mother. Her company, MaineWorks, exclusively employs ex-cons and people in recovery, is fully operational in Maine, and is expanding to five other states.

For more information, visit mainefilmcenter.org.

 

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