Local filmmakers receive top prize at California Film Festival


Award-winning filmmakers from the region
Award at the California Film Festival

Mel Vapor (right), executive director of the East Bay Media Center and co-founder of the Berkeley Video Film Festival, presents filmmakers Joseph C. Stillman and Jeri Wachter with the BVFF’s 2022 “Grand Festival/State of the Nation Award” for their documentary film, “Something in the Water”. (Photo by Maria Farrington)


Jeri Wachter and Joseph C. Stillman of Gilbertsville were the proud recipients of the Berkeley Video Film Festival’s Grand Festival/State of the Nation Award on October 28 in California. Their documentary feature, “Something in the Water,” was recognized at the 31st annual BVFF, an event that highlights electronic and independent achievement and provides a platform for media coverage.

“We are honored to be recognized by such a prestigious organization because, like them, we believe that this country has many wounds that need to be healed and, in a small way, our film responds to those needs through the testimonies of people across America,” Stillman said.

The film also screened at the Morehouse College Human Rights Film Festival in Atlanta and will premiere at the South Texas Underground Film Festival later this year.

“Something in the Water” depicts the filmmakers’ 16,500-mile cross-country journey in search of common ground among the 200 Americans they interview along the way. Set before, during and after the 2020 presidential election, the film’s creators set out to confront the “time of animosity close to home and across the country, amid a contentious election, a deadly pandemic, the calculation of historical truths and an acute economic crisis”. slowdown”.

Of the experience, Wachter pointed to the “lessons” it offered, saying that ultimately “most Americans seek civility and want to speak their truth about what America means to them.” .

The duo founded a production company, Important Films Media, to offer tools and advice in the creation of independent films for individuals and companies in all sectors. Their mission is to use film as a medium to raise awareness of human rights, social justice issues and the stories that inspire the lives of others.

Despite some hesitation before beginning work on “Something in the Water,” Stillman found solace in what the documentary uncovered.

“Basically, we all want the same things: a good job, health care, food, a safe place to live, to raise our children, and despite all our differences and the problems we face as a nation , there is common ground in this country if we are willing to work to find it,” he said. “I had my doubts that it was possible when we started our documentary and when we finished I came away more optimistic than ever.”


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