Sixth annual Buffalo Niagara Film Festival
In total, 95 feature films, documentaries, music videos, student films and short films were shown at two different venues, the Rapids Theatre in Niagara Falls and the Market Arcade Film and Art Center in Buffalo.
The closing ceremony featured a night of tributes to veterans and the showing of “Kaziah the Goat Woman” and “If I Should Fall.”
Kaziah Hancock has created 1,000 portraits of fallen military heroes, and seven recent paintings were revealed of fallen soldiers from Western New York and Canada. Those portraits were given to the families of the fallen soldiers.
Canadian honored soldiers included Trooper Marc Diab of Ontario, Sgt. Janick Joseph Benoit of Ontario and Cpl. Nicholas Ashley Bulgar of Ontario.
Western New York honored soldiers were Sgt. Steven C. Ganczewski of Niagara Falls, Staff Sgt. Aram Jordan Bass of Niagara Falls and Lance Cpl. Timothy G. Serwinoski of North Tonawanda.
“If I Should Fall: a True Story of the Afghan War Experience” told the story of Canadian soldier Diab, who made a video for his funeral to deliver a message of comfort from beyond the grave, if something should happen to him while he was overseas.
When he died on March 8, 2009, after his vehicle hit an IED, there was a huge outpour of support from his community.
The documentary tells the story of his life through his family, friends and fellow soldiers. Diab was the 112th Canadian soldier to die in Afghanistan. He was 22.
The closing ceremony also celebrated the connection America and Canada has with each other and their strong relationship.
City of Niagara Falls Mayor Paul Dyster commended the Buffalo Niagara Film Festival organizers and the “fantastic job” they do.
He said he was “honored” to host the event and have the ceremony take place at the Rapids Theatre.
“I feel especially connected to one of the films,” said Dyster, who is of American-Canadian decent.
He spoke about the “partnership” between the United States and Canada.
Referencing the upcoming War of 1812 celebrations, Dyster said the War of 1812 was “not a friendly war, describing it to be similar to a Buffalo Sabres vs. Toronto Maple Leafs game.
He said with the upcoming celebrations, they are not celebrating the war itself, but the fact that theses two countries have “lived in peace for 200 years.”
Lorraine Dignar, a representative for the Canadian Consulate in Buffalo also spoke. She spoke about Canadian heroes that go to the Middle East to fight for and serve their country.
“Canada must not forget [Diab] and won’t forget him,” she said.
Before the movies were shown, Staff Sgt. Angie Johnson, contestant on this season of NBC’s The Voice, sang the National Anthem and Ashlee Amoia of the Scintas, sang the Canadian National Anthem. Later in the evening, the two entertained by performing a full set for the crowd.
The closing ceremony also featured awards that were given out to the best films from the two weeks.
Best sci-fi, fantasy or horror film went to “Grounded,” best cinematography award went to “Masque,” audience award went to “If I Should Fall,” best music video went to “Verdi Cries,” best screenplay third-place went to “The Voyeur,” best screenplay second-place went to “Resilience,” best screenplay first-place went to “The Mother Puckers.”
Other awards were given for best student film to “Aloneliness,” best short film went to “Masque,” best documentary went to “Wolves Unleashed,” most innovative film went to “A Wake” and best feature film went to “Bullycam.”
“It was awesome,” said film festival Founder and President Bill Cowell. “It was a great closing ceremony. We had a lot of people show up. It was great.”
For more information about the film festival visit www.theBNFF.com.