A film with deep Memphis connections has won a major prize at the 72nd Venice Film Festival in Italy, which concluded last weekend.
Free In Deed
, a joint US/New Zealand production helmed by Jake Mahaffy
, won the prize for Best Film in the festival's Orizzonti category, beating out 34 other films from all over the globe.
The Orizzonti category is for "films that represent the latest aesthetic and expressive trends in international cinema." The lead judge for the category was legendary filmmaker Jonathan Demme.
Director Mahaffy opened his acceptance speech by thanking his Memphis crew: "This is a very collaborative kind of filmmaking. I can't mention everything but I want to mention a couple of things - first of all the City of Memphis that had a profound soul and we did our best to capture some of that. I am grateful to the people who participated."
Included in the large crew that shot the film here last year were Memphians Ryan Watt, Nicki Newberger and Adam Hohenberg, who served as associate producers. Acclaimed Memphis filmmakers Sarah Fleming and Morgan Jon Fox served as first assistant director and unit production manager, respectively, with Gloria Belz providing hair and makeup. Among the 51 Memphians with speaking parts in the film are RaJay Chandler, Prophetess Libra, and musician Preston Shannon. New York producer Mike Ryan, who has brought numerous films to the Bluff City over the past few years, served as one of three lead producers.
The film tells the story of a Pentecostal minister trying to save an ailing young boy through faith healing.