Calf Rope wins Audience Award at the 34th Virginia Film Festival
Calf Rope received its strongest endorsement yet as a prospective feature-length film by further proving its ability to grab the hearts of viewers of all ages by winning the coveted Audience Award for Best Narrative Short at the prestigious Virginia Film Festival (VAFF) last week in Charlottesville, VA. This five-day event is one of the longest-running and best attended regional film festivals in the country with over 8,000 film fans and industry professionals invading "C-ville" this year for VAFF. Calf Rope director, Bradley Hawkins, and his wife (Terry Hawkins) were thrilled to be among the literal thousands of ticket holders in attendance, and were honored to be provided all-access industry professional passes for the festival as the the director and guest of a selected film for the fest.
The primary draw to VAFF each year is its inclusion of several feature films that have recently received early Oscar buzz prior to their wide releases. This year's big draws were Wes Anderson's The French Dispatch which hosts an all-star cast, Belfast (directed by Kenneth Branagh), The Power of the Dog (starring Benedict Cumberbatch and directed by Oscar-winner, Jane Campion), The Electrical Life of Louis Wain (also starring Cumberbatch and Claire Foy), The Harder They Fall (with Regina King, Idris Elba, and LaKeith Stanfield), Spencer (starring Kristen Stewart, now considered as the Oscar frontrunner for Best Actress),C'Mon C'Mon (starring Joaquin Phoenix), and Mass, which included a wonderful tribute and Q&A session with veteran actor, Martha Plimpton, who co-stars in the film with Ann Dowd, Jason Isaacs, and Reed Birmey.
Additionally, the wide-acclaimed Hulu limited series, Dopesick (co-starring Michael Keaton) was screened which included a fascinating Q & A session with its noted screenwriter, Danny Strong, who was joined by Virginia author Beth Macy to discuss series based on her book of the same name.
Out of the 85 films selected for VAFF, there were 400+ short films considered but only eight were chosen, with Calf Rope being honored as one of those eight, along with 2020 Oscar nominee for Best Live-Action Short, Feeling Through. To have Calf Rope win the Audience Award for Best Narrative Short over the other seven terrific short films selected for the festival was a dream-come-true for Hawkins and his wife. The win for the Audience Award was all the more impressive since no one besides the two Hawkins' in the near-capacity audience for its screening knew anything about the film beyond perhaps seeing the trailer or reading its write-up in the program, and had no connections at all with anyone associated with Calf Rope. Additionally, only eight awards are presented each year at VAFF (four awards for features and four for shorts) which makes the one win for Calf Rope all the sweeter:
2021 VAFF Audience Awards:
Narrative Feature: The Machinery of Dreams
Documentary Feature: Stay Prayed Up
Narrative Short: Calf Rope
Documentary Short: When We Were Bullies
2021 VAFF Programmer's Awards:
Narrative Feature: The Speech
Documentary Feature: Socks on Fire
Narrative Short: The Acolyte
Documentary Short: In the Shadow of the Pines
Though the Virginia Film Festival was held from Oct. 27 -31, there is no award ceremony held at the event, and award winners are announced each year during the first week of November.