Lañinbwil’s Gift “Best of Fest” in Guam International FIlm Festival
From the October 7, 2011 Marshall Islands Journal: Lañinbwil’s Gift producers sat dumbfounded in the Micronesian Mall theaters as Guam International Film Festival organizers on Sunday called out their film as the winner of the “Best in the Fest” — the top award of the program. Based on comments earlier in the day, they figured a Taiwan film was headed for glory as best film. Co-producers Jack Niedenthal and Suzanne Chutaro throught after the first few awards were announced and Laninbwil’s Gift wasn’t among them that “that was it” and they would have to be satisfied with being a “finalist,” said Chutaro. Then the announcer said it was time to award the best film of the festival. “…And the winner is…Lañinbwil’s Gift.” “The air rushed out of my lungs and I just sat there,” said Niedenthal. “My wife elbowed me in the ribs and said, ‘go up to the stage.’”
Chutaro said she was stunned by the announcement. Both made speeches after receiving the award. Of the 130 films from 24 countries at the Guam International Film Festival, Lañinbwil’s Gift won the best film award. “Over the three days of the festival, everyone kept talking about ‘Night Market Hero,’ a film from Taiwan,” said Niedenthal. “It was really well done.” He figured this was the film that would get the top award. But on Sunday afternoon, before the awards ceremony, every seat in the 250-seat cinema was filled for the showing of Lañinbwil’s Gift — a mix of Marshallese and other Guam residents. “People kept commenting on how natural the acting in the film (Lañinbwil’s Gift) was,” Niedenthal said. Chutaro, Niedenthal, and actor and local attorney Philip Okney, who joined with the co-producers at the film festival, were welcomed home Monday night at Amata Kabua International Airport by banner-carrying Majuro Co-op School students who were involved in the film and relatives who congratulated them on the big win, the latest award that the “made in Majuro” film has garnered. The film stars over a dozen Bikinian people and Niedenthal works as the Trust Liaison for the people of Bikini Atoll.
The Guam Legislature in a resolution last week recognized Jack Niedenthal for his contribution to the Marshall Islands. “Jack Niedenthal wears several hats and has proven to be a true asset to the Marshall Islands and Micronesia,” said the Guam Legislature’s resolution signed by Acting Speaker Benjamin JF Cruz, Committee on Rules Chairperson Rory J. Respicio, Senator and sponsor Sam A. Mabini and Legislative Secretary Tina Rosemuna Barnes. The resolution was presented to him during the Guam International Film Festival last weekend by Senator Mabini. “Among several roles, today he is Chairman of the Board for the Marshall Islands Social Security Administration, Presidnet of the Majuro Cooperative School, Board of Director Bank of Marshall Islands, Regent on the Board of Directors for the College of the Marshall Islands, Founder of Microwave Films, Filmmaker, Author, Community Advocate, Loving Husband and Devoted Father,” the resolution said. “For this, we recognize and commend Jack Niedenthal and for all his work and his participation in the Guam International Film Festival 2011.” The resolution from the Committee on Rules of the Guam Legislature offered its official expression of recognition “on behalf of the Guam Legislature and the people of Guam.”
Lañinbwil’s Gift chalked up more international recognition by winning the “best film” award at the Guam International Film Festival last weekend.
It has already won:
• Best foreign language film in the Hawaii Ocean Film Festival.
• The International Award for Feature Films at the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival in Washington state. And the film was a “finalist” at the Moondance International Film Festival in Boulder, Colorado. It is also in competition for the Asia/Pacific Screen Awards, which will be issued later this month. It has been sent to big film festivals in Seattle, Cleveland, Atlanta and Alaska.