It’s the end of this year’s Beaufort International Film Festival – Beaufort, South Carolina The Island News

By Tony Kukulich

The 16th Beaufort International Film Festival (BIFF) came to a close on Sunday evening, February 27, with an awards ceremony recognizing the best of the festival.

“I say this every year – it’s the best BIFF yet,” said festival co-director Ron Tucker. “I say it every year. I think so every year.

Festival Directors Ron and Rebecca Tucker open the 16th Annual Beaufort International Film Festival Awards Ceremony at the Beaufort Center for the Arts at the University of South Carolina in Beaufort, South Carolina on Sunday, February 27 2022. Photos by Tony Kukulich/The Island News.

Held at the Beaufort Center for the Arts at the University of South Carolina, the ceremony presented awards in 20 categories including: Best Screenplay, Best Feature, Best Actor and Best Actress.

The festivities were organized by Hilton Head Island resident Anneliza Itkor. Itkor has had a long 25-year career in the entertainment industry which includes work in theatre, film, television and as a voice-over artist.

“Re-Opening,” a feature-length comedy directed by Chris Guerra and Matthew John Koppin, won two of the night’s top awards, including best feature and best comedy.

Members of the production of ‘Song for Hope: The Ryan Anthony Story’ receive the Documentary Feature Award at the 16th Annual Beaufort International Film Festival Awards.

“The Long Rider” won the prestigious audience award. The feature-length documentary directed by Sean Cisterna tells the story of Filipe Leite’s horseback journey from the Calgary Stampede in Canada to the Barretos Rodeo in Brazil, a journey of more than 25,000 kilometers that spanned eight years and crossed 12 international borders.

Tona Dahlquist of Columbia, SC, received the Behind the Scenes award for her long career as an extra in numerous films and television features, including “Forrest Gump”, “The Hunger Games” and “The Righteous Gemstones”.

Simeon Daise received the Rising Star Award. Daise made her childhood debut alongside her family in Nickelodeon’s “Gullah Gullah Island.” He appeared in BET’s “The Bobby Brown Story” and “American Soul.” Daise currently portrays Jabari on The CW’s “All-American.”

Simeon Daise receives the Rising Star Award during the 16th Beaufort International Film Festival.

The festival began with an opening reception at the Tabby Center on Tuesday, February 22. The next four days included film screenings which began at 9 a.m. and continued throughout the day until the final screening which began at 7:30 p.m. right to the works of more than 70 filmmakers who presented feature and short films; long and short documentaries; animated shorts and student films.

Here is the full list of winners from this year’s Beaufort International Film Festival:

Backstage Awards: Tona B. Dahlquist, Columbia, South Carolina

Rising Star Award: Simeon Daise, Atlanta, Ga.

Best Screenplay: Stealing the Moon, Written by, Eric Carlson, Richmond, Virginia.

Best Animation: There you are, Rui Huang, director, Los Angeles

Best student film: Winter 1979, Julia Elihu, Manager, Orange, CA.

Best Narrative Short: All That Glitters, Dan Bronzite, Director, Essex, UK

Best Documentary Feature: Song For Hope: The Story of Ryan Anthony, Chris Haigh, Director, Northridge, CA.

Best documentary short: Meltdown in Dixie, Emily Harold, director, New York

Best Feature: Reopening, Chris Guerra and Matthew Koppin, Directors, Burbank, CA.

Duty and Honor: The Veterans Journey Home: Leaving It in the Field, Frederick Marx, Director, Oakland, CA.

Best Comedy: Reopening, feature film

Best Ensemble Cast: On my corpse, short film

Best musical score: Song For Hope: The Story of Ryan Anthony, Anthony Di Lorenzo, Composer

Best Actress: Lisa Belcher, guest of honor, Austin, Texas

Best actor: Stephen Dexter, American Morning, New York

Best Director: Meital Cohen Navarro, Over My Corpse, Los Angeles

Audience Award: The Long Rider, Sean Cisterna, director, Ontario, California.

Susan AK Shaffer Humanitarian Award: Sacred Waters: Okefenokee in Peril, Mark Albertin, Director, Augusta, Ga.

The 17th Beaufort International Film Festival is scheduled for February 21-26, 2023.

The Beaufort International Film Festival is produced by the Beaufort Film Society. For more information, visit

Tony Kukulich is a recent transplant from the Lowcountry. Originally from Wilmington, Del., he comes to The Island News from the San Francisco Bay Area where he spent seven years as a reporter and photographer for several publications. He can be contacted at

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