20th Annual Beverly Hills Film Festival Honors 2020 Official Selections by Announcing Winners

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Director Cam Cowan’s “Opeka” Wins Golden Palm Award; Director Derek Wayne Johnson Wins Two Awards—“Stallone: Frank, That Is” for Best Documentary and “40 Years of Rocky” for Best Short Doc; Best Actor Goes to William Baldwin for “Talk”; and “Josie & Jack” Nabs Two Awards—Best Director for Sarah Lancaster and Best Actress for the Film’s Star Olivia DeJonge

Director Cam Cowan’s “Opeka” is the recipient of the fest’s highest honor, the Golden Palm Award. The documentary chronicles the journey of Argentine soccer player turned priest, Pedro Opeka, who, over 30 years, builds a city on a landfill in Madagascar...

The 20th Anniversary of the Annual International Beverly Hills Film Festival (BHFF)—which would have been held during the first week of April—is announcing winners chosen by its Jury from this year’s Official Selections, despite the pandemic-driven cancellation of the week-long event.

Festival president and founder Nino Simone says, “When we initially postponed BHFF20, we thought we might still be able to hold the event this year. However, due to the continued challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, we had to make the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 festivities.”

He adds, “While it has saddened us all, we know canceling is the right thing to do because the health and safety of our filmmakers and thousands of attendees comes first. We also considered virtual options, but at this point, our Board agrees that it makes the most sense to now honor our BHFF20 Official Selections, while we set our sights towards hosting our next installment of the fest in April of 2021.”

BHFF20 Jury president is award-winning producer Frederico Lapenda.

Director Cam Cowan’s “Opeka” is the recipient of the fest’s highest honor, the Golden Palm Award. The documentary chronicles the journey of Argentine soccer player turned priest, Pedro Opeka, who, over 30 years, builds a city on a landfill in Madagascar, to bring its poverty-stricken residents both dignity and hope.

Two time winner director Derek Wayne Johnson nabs Best Documentary for “Stallone, Frank That Is”. The film highlights the life, career and survival of Frank Stallone, featuring interviews with Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Billy Zane, Geraldo Rivera, Nick Vallelonga and Joe Mantegna, among others. The director also wins Best Short Documentary with his film, “40 Years of Rocky.”

Best Actor honors go to William Baldwin for his role in the festival circuit hit, “Talk,” a thriller from Romuald Boulanger about a late night radio host.

Best Director goes to Sarah Lancaster for “Josie & Jack,” while Best Actress recipient is Olivia DeJonge, also for “Josie & Jack.” DeJonge will next be starring as Priscilla Presley in Baz Luhrmann’s Untitled Elvis Presley Project.

Additional Award Recipients Include:

Best Feature Film - “The Lost Bayou” from director Brian C. Miller Richard
Best Producer - Luca Severi for “That Click”
Best Foreign Film - “Punch It” from director Perrier Olivier
Best Cinematography - Sebastien Pins for “Traces”
Best Editing - Kate Amend for “Dave Grusin: Not Enough Time”
Best Short Film - “Office Song” from director Marcus Markou
Best Animated Film - “From Artists to Artists” from Viachelav Lisovskyi
Best Student Film - “Dog Eat Dog” from Jianan Ma

2020 Screenplay Awards go to Mark Schmitz for “Shores of a New Blood” (Golden Palm Award);
Frank Baruch for “Saint in the Shadow of Bluebeard” (1st Runner Up); and Armelle Lajus for “Malick” (2nd Runner Up).

A complete list of winners can be found at beverlyhillsfilmfestival.com/2020-winners.

Sadly, Audience Awards were not able to be given this year—a first in the festival’s 20 year history.

The festival will also be announcing its 2021 Call for Entries in July.

Please visit beverlyhillsfilmfestival.com for more information.

About BHFF
The International Beverly Hills Film Festival was founded in 2001 by award-winning independent filmmaker Nino Simone. The annual event is dedicated to showcasing and promoting non-studio films to the entertainment industry. Designed to bridge the world of premiere cinema with the renowned communities of Beverly Hills and Hollywood, the festival hosts world-class screenings, networking events and industry seminars.

Facebook: facebook.com/thebhfilmfest
Twitter: twitter.com/thebhfilmfest
Instagram: instagram.com/thebhfilmfest

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Heather Burgett