Sunday night, amid the glitz, glam, and high-gloss polish of all that is New York City, a very down-to-Earth, grass-rootsy surf community took yet another small step toward being an important pin on surfing's world map. After a long weekend of screenings, Q&As, speeches, and serious partying, the New York Surf Film Festival wrapped up its third year in existence with a low-key awards presentation, capping three days of surf films at Tribeca Cinemas in downtown Manhattan.
Dark Fall, a film by Alex DePhillipo and Andrew Gessler about a small southern New Jersey surf community, took home both the Best Feature Film and Viewers Choice awards much to the agreement of the small but vocal crowd in attendance. Outside the cinema moments after the awards presentation, DePhillipo was visibly moved to have been awarded the top two trophies.
"Somebody told me the other day, 'It's not what you shoot it on, it's what you shoot,'" said DePhillipo. "It's about the story, and I just really wanted to tell our story the right way. I really appreciate the industry giving us this opportunity to put the film out and tell our story."
But the awards at the 2010 NYSFF didn't reflect an East Coast sweep by any means. No one was surprised when Patrick Trefz's Idiosyncrasies took the Best Cinematography trophy, and anyone who's seen Irishman Mickey Smith's fantastic short The Dark Side of the Lens would agree that it was basically unchallenged in the Best Short Film category. Thrills, Spills And What Not, an almost avant-garde film by Dane Reynolds and Dustin Miller took the Best Soundtrack award.
While the weekend ended with winners and losers, NYSFF co-founder Tyler Breuer made "community" the message on the podium. "This year saw the largest amount of submissions from local filmmakers," said Breuer. "We are trying to give our local community a chance to meet and interact with all these incredible filmmakers and surf personalities and to see great films on the big screen. We just love surf films, and we are proud of our community and just wanted to give our friends and other local surfers a chance to share our passion and get together for a good time."
Dark Fall star and filmmaker Andrew Gessler echoed Breuer's message of community. "There's a lot of talent out there that's not mainstream, and this film festival is a beacon that shined a light on one of them. Alex [DePhillipo] is so passionate about this project, and it showed in the film. Thanks to the New York Surf Film Festival a small-town kid just shocked some people."