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Hagerstown film festival presents Tony Mendez with award named for him

April 11, 2013
  • Tony Mendez raises his Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown Mendez Award while his wife, Jonna Mendez, applauds Thursday night at The Maryland Theatre after the screening of "Argo."
By Joe Crocetta, Staff Photographer

The first night of the second annual Maryland International Film Festival-Hagerstown was capped off Wednesday at The Maryland Theatre when Tony Mendez was awarded the festival’s first Mendez Award.

Thomas B. Riford, president of the film festival’s board of directors, said the Mendez Award will be presented at the festival every year as the event’s top film award.

Mendez thrust the award in the air after it was handed to him by Riford.

Mendez had been invited on stage after the screening of the movie “Argo,” which depicts Mendez’s actions in 1979, when he helped six Americans escape from Iran.

Mendez was joined on stage by his wife, Jonna, and Joseph Tovares, senior vice president for diversity and innovation at the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, who led a question-and-answer session with Mendez.

Mendez also was honored with proclamations from Hagerstown Mayor David S. Gysberts and Washington County Board of Commissioners President Terry L. Baker. A proclamation honoring Mendez was also sent from the Maryland Senate.

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Among the questions posed to Mendez was how did it feel to sit in the theater and see his story unfold on the screen.

“To say it’s surreal would be an understatement,” Mendez said.

- Dave McMillion 

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