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Local News / Entertainment

Wednesday, 6 July, 2011 1:05 AM

DWIFF is Multi-Cultural and Global

Michigan Connections to Top Hawaii Film




Photo by Lars Hjelmroth

Director Brian Kohne and cast member Raymond Rolak celebrate the top comedic honors for the all Hawaii film of "Get A Job" at the Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival. Rolak presented at the industry Tech-Fair on improving the profit model of films distributed in Poland.

by Jacek Adamski Web Team



DETROIT -- There was an Arabic presentation, religious dilemma’s, and displays of indigenous cultures. The perennial ‘Bodega’ chronicle was a highlight also. “Corner Store” the uniquely Detroit story of the ‘Party Store’ journey hit a home run. Truly, the Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival made the mark on international participation as well. With the Wayne State University ‘Moving Media’ competition as part of its staging, the DWIFF had something for everyone. There were the arty love stories and adventurous shorts that became a platform for the student writers and directors.

The nine commercial feature films presented were the highlight of the Festival. Having the comedic “Get A Job” was a coup for the DWIFF. In fact, it got the Best Comedy Award. The rocking music and star power drew to light a deeper story from the all-Hawaii cast. A surfer who tries to catch a big wave where there are no waves has a profound similarity to the troubles that are mimicked today. This is the common tale when local culture is erased by a stronger patriarchal society that imposes on indigenous traditions. The fact that the popular Maui singing sensation, “Barefoot Natives” had 11 songs from “The Slack Key Circus” CD throughout “Get A Job” made the movie an all-inclusive project. No other entry had such a dynamic soundtrack as the contemporary comedy. Willie K and Eric Gilliom showcased a tremendous range in their performances. Also, having Director/Writer, Brian Kohne presenting to the audience and explaining some of the nuances of filming in Hawaii and his hilarious tales and dilemmas of the viewing of the ‘dailies’ was a treat for film goers.

Each night after the ambitious DWIFF schedule of showings, post viewing networking and afterglow hospitality took place with casts and crews. Two popular watering holes and eateries that highlighted the festival and film industry were Motor City Brewing Works on Canfield Avenue and Lefty’s Tavern on Cass Avenue in Detroit. It was also convenient having the Tech-Fair showcasing the Michigan film industry on the WSU campus. Prentice Hall was a brilliant selection and central location for the tutorials presented.

The feel-good factor was also present at the DWIFF awards presentations. It was a full house and standing room only during the announcements at Prichard Auditorium, part of the WSU Law School complex. Emcee Norman Wagner presented the DWIFF feature awards and Kohne paraphrased contemporary author Steven Pressfield in accepting the top comic prize. With passion Kohne said, “If you do the work you are a pro. He was well received when he added, “I salute you, you young professionals.”

The best feature was presented to “In the Woods” about a camping trip with plenty of twists. Director Vilma Zenelaj had enough surprises to hold audience interest. The local docu-drama “Fordson – Faith, Fasting, Football” by director Rashid Ghazi sold out their performance. “What a nice problem to have,” said DWIFF’s Suzanne Janik. “We couldn’t get one more person in for that showing.”

In its fourth year, the DWIFF has two components, feature films in five categories and a student short division sponsored by the Wayne State University Moving Media project. There was also a 48 Hour Film Challenge. Shane Sevo and Judyth Slayton presented awards and moved the packed program along. The auditorium was full of students, family and cinema buffs. Besides the nine feature films there were more than 60 juried short films entered. The festival also included the presenting of documentaries in another sub-festival entitled “Detroit Docs”. It was the ninth year for that endeavor.

Best of Show in the Moving Media was Anna Fleury’s, “Love Succinctly”. She is now directing one of this summers Michigan Creative Film Alliance endeavors “Beaty Queen”. The MCFA is a cinema collaboration of Michigan State University, University of Michigan, and Wayne State University film departments. Fleury is currently a graduate student at Wayne State.

Jil Szewski got top editing honors for “One.of.Five”. The experienced director was able to showcase her project with so many cuts and highlighted angle changes.

Two interesting shorts that did not get a laurel but had uniqueness were Angeline Piotrowski’s, “Xingu” which had a surprise lesson and Scott Galeski and Joe Johnson story of hope, “PROTANGELINE”.

Another Michigan premiere was “Corner Store” directed by Detroiter Joe Doughrity, which follows the comedic antics in a party store. “Everyday Sunshine- The Story of Fishbone” and directed by Christopher Metzler got best documentary. It had the story and the musical sound of funk which is still so popular in Europe. It is amazing that the funk genre, techno music and blues are such an ambassadorial movement to Euro tastes still today. The Detroit music history is not just known for the Motown sound.

Famed Hollywood cinema editor, Richard Chew opened the festival with a keynote address and Matthew Seeger, Interim Dean of the College of Fine, Performing and Communication Arts at Wayne State was ever so hospitable with his welcome.

The industry Tech-Fair had a wide avenue of topics to enrich anyone interested in the film business. Frank Collins of Wayne State put together an ambitious enrichment schedule. He complimented the energetic efforts of the volunteers and interns. Well received presentations at the Tech-Fair included the experiences of film festival veteran, Robert Joseph Butler, who gave a spirited presentation on the pitfalls and politics of film festivals and Wayne McLean’s’ talk on tweaking scripts and situations of filming in Canada.

Another of the international components had Raymond Rolak presenting about wardrobe that included enhancing the profit model of films to be released in Poland.

Kelly Gottesman of WSU-TV highlighted the artwork of David Sherban. Sherban designed the dynamic Tech-Fair poster that was seen all over campus and the New Center areas.


  • Best Feature – “In the Woods”, Director- Vilma Zenelaj
  • Best Comedy – “Get A Job”, Director- Brian Kohne
  • Best Documentary – “Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone”, Director- Christopher Metzler
  • Best Children's – “My Friend Peter”, Director- Steve Kopera
  • Best Short Drama – “After You Left”, Director- Jef Taylor
  • Best Short Comedy – “Two Men, Two Cows, Two Guns”, Director- Pardis Parker
  • Best International – “Lavan”, Director- Guilhad Emilio Schenker
  • Best Animation – “Under the Bed”, Director- Patrick Mallek
  • Best Detroit-Windsor Feature – “The Bicyclist”, Directors- John Wilberding and Oren Goldenberg
  • Best Detroit-Windsor Comedy – “Corner Store”, Director- Joe Doughrity
  • Best Detroit-Windsor Documentary – “Fordson: Faith, Fasting, Football”, Director- Rashid Ghazi
  • Best Cross Category – “The Dancer”, Director- Seth Stark
  • Best Detroit-Windsor Short Drama – “The Spirit of Isabel”, Director- Robert Joseph Butler
  • Best Detroit-Windsor Short Comedy – “Bullies on Vacation”, Director- Devon Gummersall
  • Director's Choice – “Certain Essential Elements”, Director- Jeffery T. Schultz

The 48 Hour Film Challenge Winners

  • Best Film- Scallywag Entertainment, “The Paper Man”
  • Best Cinematography- Korean Bath House, "Even in Death"
  • Best Original Screenplay– Trollvision, "The Clown of Torment"
  • Best Editing- The Untitled Gary Busey Project, "One.Of.Five."
  • Honorable Mention- LB Entertainment, “Real Hits”
  • Audience Choice Award- Captive8 Productions, “All Along”

Best of Show – Moving Media

  • Anna Fleury, “Love Succinctly”





For more information about the Detroit-Windsor International Film Festival, visit


Movie poster credit:

The soundtrack of "Get A Job" featured Willie K and Eric Gilliom. Cameo appearances and the finale song had international renowned musicians Willie Nelson, Pat Simmons, Mick Fleetwood and Jake Shimabukuro as part of the wedding band.




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Unauthorized duplication or use of Text, Photos, Videos, Site Template, Graphics and or Site Design is Prohibited by Federal and International laws. See our Notice/Disclaimer and Privacy Policy.