• The Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) named Spotlight the best film of 2015 as part of the group’s Monday, Dec. 14, annual awards event. Among the 55 professional critics who cast votes are Asheville writers Ken Hanke and Justin Souther for Xpress, Tony Kiss and this writer for Asheville Citizen-Times, Marcianne Miller for Bold Life and Michelle Keenan and Chip Kaufmann for Rapid River.
Spots 2-10 on the best film list went to Mad Max: Fury Road, Room, Brooklyn, Carol, The Big Short, The Martian, Inside Out, Bridge of Spies and Trumbo. Best actor went to Bryan Cranston for Trumbo (runner-up: Michael Fassbender, Steve Jobs), best actress to Brie Larson for Room (runner-up: Saoirse Ronan, Brooklyn), best supporting actor to Sylvester Stallone for Creed (runner-up: Mark Rylance, Bridge of Spies) and best supporting actress to Alicia Vikander for Ex Machina (runner-up: Kate Winslet, Steve Jobs).
Spotlight also took home best ensemble (runner-up: The Big Short); its writing team of Tom McCarthy and Josh Singer won best original screenplay (runner-up: Bob Petersen and Pete Docter, Inside Out); and McCarthy finished second to Max Mad: Fury Road’s George Miller in the best director category. Mad Max’s John Seale was awarded best cinematography (runner-up: Luca Bigazzi, Youth); Room’s Emma Donoghue earned best adapted screenplay honors (runner-up: Charles Randolph and Adam McKay, The Big Short); Amy won best documentary (runner-up: Best of Enemies); Son of Saul claimed best foreign language film (runner-up: The Assassin); and Inside Out was named best animated film (runner-up: Anomalisa).
SEFCA’s Wyatt Award — named in memory of charter member Gene Wyatt and given annually to the film that best captures the spirit of the South — went to Bryan Carberry‘s and Clay Tweel’s North Carolina-set documentary, Finders Keepers.
• The Asheville School of Film is hosting a free grand opening celebration and open house Sunday, Jan. 3, from 3 to 6 p.m. at its new downtown Asheville facility. Potential students and the local film community are invited to tour the freshly renovated space, meet faculty and guest instructors and learn about upcoming part-time and short-term classes and seminars.
Established in 2014, the School of Film is focused on providing affordable part-time and weekend classes in film production for all experience levels. Classes scheduled for 2016 include the eight-week Filmmaking 101 (introduction to the filmmaking process), 201 (preproduction and short film production), 301 (postproduction) and documentary filmmaking courses. A screenwriting course, silent film history weekend and directing weekend workshop will also be offered.
Grand opening attendees may RSVP via the School of Film’s Facebook page or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Free street parking is available as well as spots in the United Way lot across the street. Complimentary light snacks and adult beverages will be provided. ashevilleschooloffilm.com