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2017 Winners

2017 Winners

New Vision Award
Sponsored by  JetBlue Airways  and  Bahamas Bus & Truck


Spirit Of Freedom Narrative
Sponsored by  Backstage  and

My Enemy My Brother 

Spirit Of Freedom Documentary
Sponsored by  Backstage  and

I Am Shakespeare

Honorable Mention 

Spirit Of Freedom Documentary
Sponsored by  Backstage  and


Short Film
Sponsored by  Liquid Courage

Screenwriters Residency Program

YOUTH, directed by Brett Marty

Film in Production with BIFF and Source Management 
Sponsored by Aliv & Cocoa Coffee House

Competition Categories:


Sponsored by Backstage and

BIFF has held Spirit of Freedom as one of its themed categories since it's very first festival.  Each film in this program explores the potential of the human spirit and how freedom affects - or is absent from - our lives.    


Sponsored by JetBlue Airways and Bahamas Bus & Truck

Our New Visions competition is a showcase for emerging artists, providing festival audiences with the opportunity to discover the next generation of visionary filmmakers. A Grand Jury Prize will be presented to the New Vision film category.    


Sponsored by Liquid Courage

A short film is 31 minutes or less and often the only place where young filmmakers have the chance to explore story telling through cinema. Film Festivals are one of the few venues where multiple short films can experienced. BIFF is pleased to present one of the most interesting and diverse lineups of short films. A Grand Jury Prize will be presented to the Short film category.


Sponsored by Source, AlivUniversity Of GeorgiaInkTipCocoa Coffee HouseRomora BayThe Landings

Screenwriters will be mentored by industry professionals and judged for a Grand Jury Cash Prize in Harbour Island.


Elise Barnett

University Of Bahamas Film Critic | Short Film Juror

Elise Barnett, nineteen year old university student, is an English Language major and first generation college student. Upon enrollment at The University of The Bahamas, Elise received recognition as the recipient of the President’s Scholar Award for the 2015-2016 academic year, and in 2017, won the annual Templeton “Laws of Life” Essay competition. As an aspiring author and linguist, Elise actively engages in recreational reading and writing. 

Jill Bohling

A24 | New Visions Juror

Jill Bohling joined A24 in 2013 and has enjoyed helping the company grow from a small NY based distributor to the Academy Award-winning studio behind Moonlight, now producing original content and distributing internationally.  A24 is also responsible for  favorites including The Lobster, The Witch, Room, Amy, Ex Machina, and Spring Breakers, and TV shows such as Amazon’s Comrade Detective and NBC's The Carmichael Show.  Jill has loved being a part of a team that finds and gives a platform to new and original voices.

Billie Carroll

Professional Blogger | Short Film Juror

Billie Carroll is a professional blogger, social media influencer and entrepreneur living between the Bahamas and NYC. 

Raised in the Bahamas, Billie continued her education in the US where she studied advertising and psychology at SMU. Billie proceeded to move to NYC to work in the fashion industry. 

As a content creator, Billie has partnered with countless brands to build social media campaigns for her audience. With this experience, Billie is using her platform to curate and market her next project - a boutique here in Nassau, Bahamas. 

Breyant Marshall

University Of Bahamas Film Critic | New Visions Juror

Breyant T. Marshall is aspiring filmmaker whose interests range from creating cultural documentaries to thought-provoking indie films.  Her latest project is entitled “Adelaide: From the Enslaved to Freedom”, where she documented the history and culture of this famous slave site. Breyant is also working on a digital archive, where she videos Bahamian authors.

Sam Morrill

Vimeo Director of Curation | Short Film Juror

Sam Morrill joined Vimeo in 2009 where he currently serves as its Director of Curation, leading Vimeo’s five-person Curation Team. From customer support, to content acquisitions, to curating Vimeo’s lauded Staff Picks channel, Sam has experienced Vimeo’s growth and evolution from a variety of different angles. In 2016, Sam led the launch of Vimeo Staff Pick Premieres, a weekly program in which the most celebrated short films from the festival circuit premiere online exclusively on Vimeo. When he’s not watching videos, he’s probably traveling, watching baseball or searching for the last golf ball he hit into the woods. Sam resides in his hometown of Brooklyn, New York.

Jib Polhemus

Producer | Screenwriters Residency Mentor & New Visions Juror

Jib Polhemus has worked in the entertainment business for over 20 years.   He recently founded the literary management company,  SourceManagement  +  Production where he represents writers and directors.   He is also President of Simon West Productions where he produces Film and TV with director, Simon West (Con Air, Tomb Raider, Expendables 2).   As President of Simon West Productions, he has developed and sold numerous high profile projects to Warner Brothers, Universal, FOX, Paramount, Sony and others including BLACK HAWK DOWN directed by Ridley Scott.   Recently, he Produced GUN SHY starring Antonio Banderas and Olga Kurylenko and Executive Produced STRATTON starring Dominic Cooper and Connie Nielsen.   Previously, he Executive Produced WILD CARD starring Jason Statham and Stanley Tucci for Lionsgate.   In addition, he co-produced blockbuster EXPENDABLES 2, starring Sylvester Stallone,   Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bruce Willis, and Executive Produced STOLEN starring Nicolas Cage.   In 2011, he co-produced The MECHANIC, starring Jason Statham and Ben Foster, and also Associate Produced Paramount’s mega-blockbuster LARA CROFT: TOMB RAIDER, starring Angelina Jolie. In television, he has developed and sold shows to most of the top networks including CBS, NBC, FOX, ABC and WB. He is currently developing shows for e1 and Lionsgate.

In his free time, Mr. Polhemus is on the advisory board of Bahamas International Film Festival, lectures for the Columbia College of Chicago (LA) and judges the screenplay contest for UCLA Master’s Writing Program. He resides in Los Angeles, CA.

Arianne Rocchi

VP of Publicity at Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing | Spirit Of Freedom Juror

Arianne Rocchi is the VP of Publicity at Magnolia Pictures/Magnet Releasing. Joining Magnolia over ten years ago, Mrs. Rocchi has worked on films including Food Inc., Blackfish, the Oscar-winning Man on Wire, and this year’s Oscar nominated I Am Not Your Negro.  Magnolia's busy schedule saw her work on over 29 films last year, ranging from Denmark’s nominated entry for Best Foreign Film, A War, to the disturbing documentary Tickled. She also worked with Amazon Studios on the release of The Handmaiden from director Park Chan-wook and with Werner Herzog on the release of Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Modern World. Prior to her time at Magnolia, Arianne was in the marketing department at Landmark Theaters.

Steve Shore

Programmer & Producer | New Visions Juror

Steve Shor has worked in a variety of positions at a number of Studios.  His array of experience ranges from casting, production and agency/management positions, including ten years with Columbia/TriStar Pictures as Manager of Business Affairs.

Steve was on the programming committee for the AFI International Film Festival (ten years) and consults with other festivals.  He is currently the  program director to the Sonoma International Film Festival; program director at the Long Beach Int’l Film Festival and a programmer/consultant for the Newport Beach Film Festival. He was also programmer for the Abu Dahbi Film Festival (two years), a board member (eight years) of the Hartley-Merrill International Screenwriting Prize.


Ide Thompson

University Of Bahamas Film Critic | Spirit Of Freedom Juror

Ide Amari Thompson is a “true true” Bahamian-American writer and poet who hopes with his work to “wake the sleepers wide.” As a Junior at the University of the Bahamas studying History, English, and Linguistics, Ide is well suited to integrate and interrogate Bahamian and Caribbean social life and ways in which these cultures interact with and are influenced by other cultures. He believes that all forms of literature and especially film are avenues by which various groups can learn about not only their difference but more importantly their commonalities. 

Dara Cohen

Producer | Screenwriters Residency Mentor

Dara Cohen is a producer and executive with over 20 years of experience in development, production and programming.  She has worked in development at The Mark Gordon Company, Red Hour Films, Revolution Studios, USA Network, CourtTV, Island/Def Jam Records, Maker Studios and A+E Studios.   She has collaborated with writers, directors, actors, producers, top recording artists and social media influencers to create engaging content across all platforms.    Dara has extensive experience in sourcing material and IP, negotiating rights, and overseeing development through production and delivery of projects.   While at CourtTV, she developed, secured deficit financing, staffed writers and directors and produced their first scripted series  Til Death Do Us Part.    She has produced 13 movies with the USA Network and SyFy Channel, and executive produced  Ring of Fire  for Lifetime (nominated for 4 Emmys),  House of Joy  for NuvoTV, and the digital series  The Temp Agency  for Vuguru. 

Ken Friedman

Writer & Producer | Screenwriters Residency Mentor

 Ken Friedman, born in New York, is a graduate of the NYU School of Film. As a student he wrote and directed SHOWDOWN, winner of the National Student Film Festival. Ken Friedman has written numerous feature films, including WHITE LINE FEVER (Jan Michael Vincent, Kay Lenz), HEART LIKE A WHEEL (Bonnie Bedelia, Beau Bridges), JOHNNY HANDSOME (Mickey Rourke, Ellen Barkin, Forrest Whitaker and Morgan Freeman) and CADILLAC MAN (Robin Williams, Tim Robbins). Ken Friedman often works as a rewriter, including the films THE FUGITIVE, UNLAWFUL ENTRY, BAD GIRLS, THE GETAWAY and most recently THE BANK JOB (Jason Statham). For television, he wrote and was Co-executive Producer of the limited series, THE GRID (Julianna Margulies, Dylan McDermott). Ken Friedman also directed and wrote the feature film MADE IN USA (Chris Penn, Lori Singer, Adrian Pasdar), which premiered at the Director’s Fortnight at Cannes and was featured at many film festivals including Sundance and Munich. Ken Friedman is currently the Tenured Professor of Writing and Head of Thesis Writing at Graduate Film at the Tisch School of the Arts, New York University.


Nate Kohn

Professor, Director, Roger Ebert’s Film Festival Academic Associate Director, Peabody Awards | Screenwriters Residency Mentor

Dr. Nate Kohn is professor at the University of Georgia, Associate Director of the George Foster Peabody Awards, festival director of Roger Ebert's Film Festival, director of the University of Georgia MFA program in screenwriting and award-winning producer. Dr. Kohn produced   Zulu Dawn   starring Burt Lancaster and Peter O’Toole; the independent feature   Somebodies , which premiered at Sundance (2006);   Rain , the Bahamas’ first indigenous feature which premiered at Toronto (2007) at the Bahamas International Film Festival (2008) and on Showtime (2010); the feature film   Bottleworld   (2010); he was Executive Producer on the BET television series   Somebodies   (2008); he was Producer on the feature length documentary   Bayou Maharajah   that premiered at the SXSW Festival (2013); he produced the Emmy Award-winning short documentary Ebertfest 2012 ; and he was Executive Producer on   The 73rd, 74th  and 75th Annual Peabody Awards Specials for PivotTV/Participant Media (2014, 2015 and 2016).   He has served on juries and mentored screenwriters at the Atlanta, Hawaii, Kerala, and Bahamas International Film Festivals. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles and of the book   Pursuing Hollywood: Seduction, Obsession, Dread   (AltaMira Press, 2006).

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