BRATS: Our Journey Home A Donna Musil Film Featuring Narration and Music by Kris Kristofferson
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Film festival fades to black with its version of the Oscars
Published Sun, Feb 25, 2007

VIDEO: 2007 Beaufort Film Festival Awards Ceremony and Iron Chef Beaufort Competition.

By TIM HAGER 843-986-5534

It's a wrap.

The Beaufort Film Festival concluded Saturday with a screening of the student feature "Kilroy Was Here" at Lady's Island Cinemas.    "Kilroy," directed by North Carolina School of the Arts graduate Charlie Boyles, won the student category and was one of the six finalists for the Ribault Award, given to the festival's overall winner.

The Ribaut -- a drawing of Jean Ribaut, the French explorer after whom the local road is named, encased in a 10-pound crystal -- went to Donna Musil for her documentary "BRATS: Our Journey Home" about military kids and was awarded to her during a ceremony at Habersham Saturday night.   Musil was on hand to accept the award and attended the screening Saturday afternoon.

Musil, who answered questions after the 1 p.m. showing, said the final product was the result of dozens of people.

"It took six years to do this," the director said.   "I had to work other jobs and put the money into the movie, because we didn't have any formal funding.   It was basically made by everybody working on it, putting in everything they had, and then we raised some money through a nonprofit.   It was literally made by (military) brats donating small amounts of money over the years.   (Raising the funding for the film) is a whole other movie."

Festival chairman Ron Tucker estimated 200 to 300 people attended the two days of screenings, with the largest audiences for "BRATS" and the Friday afternoon showing of "29 Reasons to Run," a buddy road comedy that won the best feature film award.

"We've worked on this for two years in the planning stages, and in the end we altered all of our plans," Tucker said during a speech after the "Kilroy" screening Saturday.   "I think the nature of success is greatly in the attendance.   The attendance from the 8:30 a.m. show on was greatly what we expected or exceeded what we expected."

"29 Reasons to Run" was written, directed and produced by Gary Weeks, who also starred in the movie.   Tucker said the film was truly independent -- with Weeks recruiting his friends and family to shoot, score and help finance the production.   Two other features -- the comedy "The Trouble With Dee Dee" and the British gangster flick "Johnny Was" -- were also in contention for the top award, but Tucker and the film commission chose "29 Reasons" because it embodied the independent spirit more.

"That's not to take away from the quality of 'Dee Dee' and 'Johnny Was,' because they are both obviously bigger budgeted with bigger-name people," he said.   "They all had flaws.   '29 Reasons' probably had more noticeable flaws, but it is also a shot in the arm and a boost to a young filmmaker who we think will be around for awhile."

Other winners include "Space Available," a science fiction film about overpopulation, in the shorts category; "Dear Sweet Emma," which won best animation; "You Can't Tow a U-Haul With a Hearse," a music video for Renee Austin, which won in the music category; and "The Carolina Storyteller," an unproduced script from writers Marcia Chandler Rhea and Margaret Ford Rogers took home top screenplay honors.   "BRATS" also won the Southern Lens award, presented by ETV.

The awards were handed out at the Beaufort Kaleidoscope event at Habersham Saturday night.   The event also featured the Iron Chef Beaufort competition, which wrapped up the food portion of the Kaleidoscope -- the name given to the weekend of events that featured food, art and films.   The Kaleidoscope winds down today with an art walk from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in downtown Beaufort.

Tucker, who has been asked to chair the 2008 film festival, said he was going to take a break before making a decision about his future.   But looking back at 2007, he was happy with the results.

"People had contacted me and said, 'We need to have something like a film festival," Tucker said.   "I said, 'Let's have a film festival, not something LIKE a film festival.'   I think that we did that."
The first documentary about growing up military.