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'God and Vodka' wins two awards at film festival

October 16, 2011|By DAVE McMILLION | davem@herald-mail.com
  • Helen Stine, co-producer of "God and Vodka," holds a trophy after her film won two awards at the conclusion of the Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

A drama that was mostly filmed in Brunswick, Md., was among the winners in the first Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown, which extended over four days and attracted about 1,000 moviegoers, according to organizers of the festival.

The film that included Brunswick footage — “God and Vodka” — is about a relationship between two people that started in childhood.

The man in the relationship dies in his early 20s and the woman tries to finish the story about the two as she gets older. The 28-minute film won the best short film category and the audience choice award, which was based on votes from people watching movies at the festival.

Helen and Michael Stine, who were co-producers of “God and Vodka,” were the only producers present during the festival’s awards ceremony, which was held Sunday at the Leitersburg Cinemas.

The Stines walked up on stage to receive a trophy from Tom Riford, president and chief executive officer of the Hagerstown-Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

“It’s wonderful that a winning film has something to do with Maryland,” Riford told about 25 people in attendance for the awards presentation.

The Stines’ son has the main role in the movie and Leah Gayman, chairperson of the board of directors for the festival, said she believes people will be hearing more about him.

“It’s arguably one of the most wonderful stories I have ever seen,” Gayman said after Sunday’s awards ceremony.

A man in the audience asked if “God and Vodka” was available for distribution.

The Stines said it was not.

“Would you like to distribute it?” asked Riford, drawing laughs from the audience.

 Gayman estimated about 1,000 people viewed movies during the festival, which featured more than 50 films at The Maryland Theatre, Leitersburg Cinemas and Bridge of Life Church on South Potomac Street.

Riford said previously that fees were paid to enter more than 250 films in the festival. The films were narrowed to 51. With the exception of the audience choice award, the winners in five other categories were determined within the last week through a scoring process, organizers said.

The other winners and their categories were:

• “Adam’s Tallit,” best student film
• “Prayers for Peace,” best animation film
• “Addiction Incorporated,” best documentary
• “The Little Things,” best feature

Three film producers from Waynesboro, Pa., were among those looking for recognition at the festival.

William Derrick, his brother Thomas and Mitch Walck produced “Machine Room,” a movie about a man named John who works in welding plant and stays after work to complete some tasks.

John notices things being haunted in the plant, and the situations are symbolic of situations that happened previously in his life, William Derrick said.

Instead of relying on blood and gore like a lot of horror movies do, “Machine Room” concentrates on psychological fear, William Derrick said.

William Derrick said the movie — filmed at Pressure-Tech Inc., in Greencastle, Pa. —  was just completed and the producers missed the deadline for entering the film in the festival.

He said he basically “begged” festival director Tracie Donahue to include the film. It was included in the festival but the only category it could have won in was audience choice.

“We’re definitely going to be submitting in more festivals,” William Derrick said.

Highlights from the event included an appearance from “A-Team” star Quinton “Rampage” Jackson at the Leitersburg Cinemas Saturday night, Riford said.

Jackson was there when a crowd let out from a movie not associated with the festival. People were excited to see him, Riford said.

“He signed autographs and posed for pictures for easily a half-hour,” Riford said.

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