In 2003 at the 27th CIFF we launched our Director's Spotlight Award. The purpose of this program is to showcase directors with distinguished careers by featuring a retrospective of their past and present work. Over the years we have celebrated filmmakers who have had their talent embraced at movie theaters across the country and around the world. This year is no different.

Kurt Kuenne

Kurt Kuenne

Kurt Kuenne is an award-winning filmmaker and composer of fiction and documentary films. Born in Silicon Valley, he graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television in 1995, where he won the Harold Lloyd Scholarship in Film Editing and studied scoring for motion pictures and television. He directed his first feature in 1999 – the teen drama "Scrapbook," which landed him on Filmmaker magazine's annual list of the top 25 new faces of independent cinema. His next feature, the documentary "Drive In Movie Memories," opened the 2001 Telluride Film Festival before traveling the festival circuit and becoming a PBS favorite. In 2002 he won the Nicholl Fellowship in Screenwriting from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & SciencesŪ for his screenplay "Mason Mule." Kurt then went on to direct a series of black and white short comedies "Rent-A-Person" (2004), "Validation" (2007), "Slow" (2007), and "The Phone Book" (2008) which altogether won over 40 awards. His six-year passion project, the documentary "Dear Zachary," premiered at the 2008 Slamdance Film Festival to rave reviews and standing ovations, and was later named one of the Top 5 Documentaries of 2008 by the National Board of Review. "Shuffle" (2011) is his latest feature, which is currently traveling the national festival circuit. At present, Kurt is also working as a writer, composer, and lyricist, turning the New York Times Bestselling novel The Looking Glass Wars into a musical for the stage.

Kurt Kuenne Films Screening:

Handshake

USA
Directed By Patrick Smith
Running Time: 5 Minutes

In this animated film, an innocent greeting between two people is quickly transformed into a tangled struggle, illustrating the twists and turns of love at first sight. {more}

Masks

Singapore, USA
Directed By Patrick Smith
Running Time: 8 Minutes

Masked men exploit an edible smaller species as a renegade scientist prefect a cloning process to satisfy demand, but the clones conceal a destructive secret. {more}

Puppet

USA
Directed By Patrick Smith
Running Time: 6 Minutes

A young man fabricates a simple sock puppet, not knowing the abuse the entity will soon inflict upon it's creator. {more}

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