A message from SOFF programmer Jeff Howard:
Every year it’s a challenge for me when I look at the votes from the juries and figure out which films are getting awards. Invariably I see see some omissions that I cannot abide. Sometimes it’s that coincidence that a film comes in second place many times, not getting an award. Sometimes it’s the theatrical experience; most of the juries watch these films at home. I watch them all at home and then watch them a second time on the big screen with an audience.
How to fix the problem? I do not want to be a programmer that lobbies jury members to choose change their votes. Instead we invented the Programmer’s Prize. I get to give this prize to any films that slipped through the cracks.
For SOFF 2019, the two films that I have to step in and give awards to are Brolga and Man Under Table. I think Brolga is beautiful in every way; storytelling, directing, cinematography, editing, everything. Everything about this short film from Australia is wonderful. It had to win an award. Man Under Table is a film that I have a difficult time describing, because it is an absurdist, deconstructionist film that manages to maintain its vision perfectly at feature length. It might be the most realistic film ever made about screenwriting and indie filmmaking, including the fact that when you are at a bar the people around you might be cut out of cardboard.
This year was really tough. There were several comedic shorts that were simply hilarious. In fact, there were so many that we just don’t have awards for all of them. My apologies to the filmmakers of First Person, Friends Roman, Overshared, Rallentando!, and Shoot ’em Dead. You made great comedy and I doubt anyone realizes that might be the most difficult thing to do on film.