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Best Film Winner "Hawaii"


Last updated 2/7/2019 at 2:35pm

They say it’s the journey, not the destination that counts. So while we never actually see the lead character reach his geographic goal, the wild journey we’re taken on makes up for it.

“Hawaii,” directed by Jesus del Cerro, is one of those films that sticks with you on several levels – story, cinematography, dialogue, and editing.

The film is also rooted in recent geopolitical history, so film drama and history make for a realistic fit. Even with subtitles, sometimes a film killer for some, it’s no wonder that it won both the Judges Choice for Best Feature Film and the Big Kahuna – People’s Choice Festival Winner at the Sixth Annual Borrego Film Festival over the MLK weekend.

This year’s five-day film fest was nearly a sell-out for all film blocks. The BSPAC theatre screened 70 films in 14 blocks covering five genres – Animation, Documentary, Latino, Feature, and Short.

Free panel discussions were also held on three subjects: Character archetypes, film distribution & marketing, and an on-stage script reading for a film project in the works by Matt Bosson, with Borrego Springs locations contemplated. Filmmakers so seem to love our desert.

On the final day of screenings, all 10 films in the morning and afternoon blocks were free to the public, first come, first serve. As it turned out, the morning session offered up the Judges Award for Best Short Film to “Traces” by director Guichart Cecilia; in the afternoon session, the audience was treated to the Judges Award for Best Latino Film, “Ainhoa.”

Film submissions keep getting better and better every year since the Festival’s inception in 2014. That’s due in no small part to the growing buzz on the streets of America and the world that we treat the films and directors with great respect and appreciation. Director Michael Driscoll flew all the way from England to participate in the screening of his film, “Two Black Coffees.”

Filmed in black and white, the film starts at the dramatic ending, slips back and forth between time-forward scenes and flashbacks, and uses reverse slow motion in between. Fascinating, but you’d better not have blinked for the entire eight minutes. Driscoll says he had a great time screening his somewhat experimental film here in Borrego. He’ll be back.

The opening night gala at the de Anza Country Club, film directors and reps were treated to good dining and a formal reception, and they each made good on the opportunity to introduce themselves and their films.

The Saturday night gala at the Palm Canyon Hotel and RV Resort was anything but formal. Both filmmakers and All-Festival Pass holders ate fine food from the kitchen of Matt Hildebrandt and his staff, and later rocked the night away with Patty and Dayton Borders of Izon Eden. The interactions between filmmakers and filmgoers were very congenial, and one was left with the impression that we’re all on the same team in terms of a fervent appreciation of films.

The Awards Ceremony at La Casa Del Zorro was a mix of relaxation and expectation: It was Showtime!

After a wonderful meal, those directors present to accept their awards in the various genres each expressed their gratitude for the chance to have folks see and appreciate their film; they were passionate about the film they presented; and they definitely revealed their love for Borrego and the people who make up this community.

Festival Chairman Fred Jee summed up his thoughts on the experience: “The energy level for this year’s Festival was very, very high. The comments we’re getting on our website from filmmakers indicate that they were well-respected and well-honored for their work. They enjoyed their time here, and connected with a very intelligent audience. This Festival has given them a chance to show their wares in a facility that really does honor their work.”

Jee has his own work cut out for him making the 7th Borrego Springs Film Festival better than this one. But we all know he and the Festival Committee will pull it off.

So let’s get to the winners, sorted by genre, title, and director(s):


Judge’s Choice: Bulky Items by Jeff La Bars and Jeremie Balais

People’s Choice: One Small Step by Bobby Pontillas & Andrew Chesworth


Judge’s Choice: Straight to the Pen by Paul & Lori Sutton

People’s Choice: Pangolins in Peril by Muhammad Ali Ijaz


Judge’s Choice: Ainhoa by Ivan Sainz-Pardo

People’s Choice: Tin Cup by Pat Battistini

Short Film

Judge’s Choice: Traces by Guichart Cecilia

People’s Choice: Krieg by Jeff Fry

Feature Film

Judge’s Choice: Hawaii by Jesus del Cerro

People’s Choice: Poor Greg Drowning by Jeffery Scott Collins

People’s Choice

Festival Winner

Hawaii, feature film by Jesus del Cerro