Greenwich International Film Festival | Creating a Better World

Engaging the Power of Film and Changemakers to Create a Better World

The fourth annual Greenwich International Film Festival (GIFF), which just wrapped its festivities on June 3, 2018, presented a captivating chain of events to celebrate film, women, and philanthropy. 

Changemaker Awards Dinner at L’escale Restaurant

With fifty percent of its selected films this year written or directed by women,  GIFF gave female artists a much needed strong voice and set the tone for making an impact.

Along with that line, the female Director’s Panel Women at the Helm gave an insight of what female directors are up against. Award-winning journalist and director Hannah Storm explained her road to becoming a director in this male-dominated field. The takeaway from this panel discussion was that, where’s a will there’s a way if you are prepared to make some sacrifices. Her documentary film “Rowdy,” which played on June 3, is about Rowdy Gaines a former American competitive swimmer and three-time Olympic gold medalist who battled a serious illness known as Guillain Barre syndrome while competing. Also on the panel were Maria Giese, the founder and president of Women Directors in Hollywood,  director and screenwriter Annie Howell and Hungarian filmmaker Bernadett Tuza-Ritter with Briana Rodriguez, Managing Editor of Backstage Magzine, moderating the discussion.

GIFF’s prestigious Changemaker Awards dinner started the amazing lineup of events with a red carpet at Betteridge’s stunning showroom where cocktails and light food were served amidst the display of gorgeous jewelry and beautiful people. Instead of Breakfast at Tiffany’s, it was Cocktails at Betteridge’s on the evening of May 31. The immediately following elegant award dinner also sponsored by Betteridge took place at the enchanting L’escale restaurant.

Ashley Judd and Jenna Bush Hager

This year’s Changemaker awards went to actress and humanitarian Ashley Judd who delivered an inspiring acceptance speech about her tireless work with UNFPA as their Goodwill Ambassador and to Duncan Edwards of the Waterside School whose acceptance speech made everyone want to send their kids to his school.  Congratulations to both for their heartwarming and important work and to GIFF for highlighting their accomplishments during its festival.  Donations to UNFPA (The United Nations reproductive health and rights agency) can be made by visiting

Colleen deVeer, Wendy Wear Stapleton, Ginger Stickel

The Opening Night Party on June 1 with Lauryn Hill performing after the awards ceremony was another great event. Actor and head of the Social Impact Jury, Ryan Eggold presented the award for Best Social Impact Film to “Crime + Punishment,” (USA). This prize is awarded to one film across all categories that promote social change and awareness. The trophy and monetary prize of $10,000.00 went to director Stephen Maing. Additional awards were presented for “Find This Dumb Little Bitch and Throw Her Into A River,” (Netherlands), which won Best Narrative Feature, “The Dawn Wall,” (Austria/USA) winning Best Documentary Feature underwritten by The Bill and Ann Bresnan Foundation, “The Peculiar Abilities of Mr. Mahler,” (Germany), for Best Narrative Short, “Kayayo,” (Norway/Ghana), winning Best Documentary Short and “The Hammamis,” (USA), winning Best Connecticut Short Film.

All that remains to be said after the four jam-packed days this festival was running is congratulations to Wendy Stapleton, Colleen deVeer and Ginger Stickel on the huge success of their awe-inspiring festival, which raised almost half a million dollars for charity partners and $120, 000 for emerging filmmakers. These fabulous ladies know how to make an impact with their all female-founded festival.
Photography ChiChi Ubiña – Fairfield County LOOK