When filmmaker Felix Martiz left his home in California to attend screenings of his feature film "Santiago" this week at the 6th annual 2011 Beaufort International Film Festival, he wasn't sure what to expect in South Carolina.
"When I told my friends I was coming here they said 'what the (expletive) are you going to do in South Carolina?'" Santiago said. "When I got here and saw the audiences at the screenings and how open they were about sharing their feelings about my film, it meant so much to me.
"For a film that is half in Spanish to get the reception it got here means that the people in this community truly care about independent cinema."
Martiz was among twelve filmmakers, actors and screenwriters honored for their work Saturday night at the festival's awards gala at the University of South Carolina Beaufort.
Saturday night marked the second time in as many years that Austin Taylor, a student at the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, took home the festival's prize for best animated film.
Taylor said the festival has grown in leaps and bounds in the short time he has been attending.
"How they manage to put all of this together is incredible," Taylor said. "I've seen the growth from one year to the next and it's just gotten so much bigger and so much more awesome."
The festival also honored those with much longer careers in filmmaking Saturday night, including actor Powers Boothe, who received the Jean Ribaut Award for Excellence in Acting.
Boothe, an Emmy award-winning actor, said he was honored to be around such talented young directors and actors.
"I always support young filmmakers," Boothe said. "They are the heart and the future of what they do. They give people like me, who have been in the business for so long, hope."
Film editor Craig McKay, who most recently edited Robert Redford's "The Conspirator," received the Jean Ribaut Award for Excellence in Editing and praised the festival for its work.
"There would be no place for these filmmakers to have their movies seen by audiences if it weren't for festivals like this," McKay said. "I was once one of these kids, with a fire in their belly, and I know the importance of having your movie seen."
Follow reporter Patrick Donohue at twitter.com/ProtectServeBft.