Oct. 6, 2019
Kristina Smith
Marketing Committee chairman
American Presidents Film & Literary Festival
Fremont, OH 43420
800-998-7737, ext. 217

FREMONT – Original films about President John F. Kennedy’s last speech and little-known Civil War regiments made up of injured soldiers were named the winners of the American Presidents Film & Literary Festival Awards.

The winners in each category were:

  • Best Feature Film: “JFK: The Last Speech”
  • Best Short Film: “The Invalid Corps”
  • People’s Choice: “JFK: The Last Speech”
  • Best Production: “The Invalid Corps”

The winners were announced on Saturday, Oct. 5, during the Champagne Film & Literary Awards Ceremony at the Live Edge Center in downtown Fremont.

“JFK: The Last Speech” explores the dramatic relationship between seminal Americans, President John F. Kennedy and the poet Robert Frost, which reached its tragic climax in a surprising encounter with Soviet Premier Nikita Khruschev at the height of the Cold War.

Born out of these events was Kennedy’s remarkable speech about poetry and power, which altered the life course of a group of Amherst college classmates who witnessed this compelling address and continue to exemplify in their contemporary lives a portrait of the challenges facing America.

“This is a lovely discussion about the importance of a liberal arts education and the value of learning about art,” said Tammy Kinsey, one of film competition judges. “The impact of this on educated people is clearly illustrated.”

The film was directed by Bestor Cram and introduced at the festival by Roger Mills, associate producer and member of the Amherst College class of 1964 that witnessed JFK’s last speech.

Roger Mills, who graduated from Amherst College in 1964 and witnessed Kennedy’s last speech, accepted the awards for the film. Mills is an associate producer of the film and co-editor of the book “JFK: The Last Speech.”

Throughout the festival, Mills discussed the film with the audiences and also signed copies of the book for attendees.

“I really appreciate the opportunity to share this film with the audiences here, who’ve been great,” Mills said. “It’s been fun to be here and to talk with all the people who came and watched the film. That’s what it’s all about.”

            “The Invalid Corps” tells the story of a July 1864 surprise raid by Confederates on the gates of Washington, D.C. The city was in a panic, and nearly every able-bodied Union soldier had already been sent south to the Siege of Petersburg, more than 100 miles away.

            That left clerks, government officials and the Invalid Corps, which was made up of soldiers injured in battle or by disease. This group held out for a desperate 24 hours until Gen. Ulysses Grant could send reinforcements.

            The film is directed by Day Al-Mohamed.

            “Riveting telling of a lesser-known, but important part of the Civil War,” said Craig Shoup, one of the film judges. “Day Al-Mohamed creates something that is wide in scope while staying intimate with his source material. A re-creation of sounds and battle make this an immersive experience I will not forget.”

            On the literary side, the winner of the teen essay contest also was announced at the ceremony. Michelle Peach won first prize for her essay, entitled “A Conversation with Woodrow Wilson.” Peach is a junior at St. Joseph Central Catholic High School in Fremont. She received $50 and a certificate.

The American Presidents Film & Literary Festival is organized by the Liberty and Learning Foundation, Fremont City Schools, Birchard Public Library and Hayes Presidential Library & Museums.

The festival is committed to providing a place for expanded national and international understanding of the history and current events that have and continue to shape and influence the President of the United States. Utilizing the site and community of America’s first presidential library and museum, filmmakers, film professionals, and authors will inspire audiences to explore, understand, critique and analyze the people, places, politics and power surrounding the American Presidency.

For information, visit americanpresidentsfilmfestival.org and follow on Facebook and Twitter at @ampresfilmlit.