Access Sacramento’s 19th annual “A Place Called Sacramento” Film Festival presented 10 original all-local films to a sold-out audience of more than 920 attendees at the historic Crest Theatre Saturday as the culmination of this annual celebration of Sacramento filmmakers.

Cast and crew members from “Justin Time” gather on stage. [All photos courtesy: Tia Gemmel, Riverview Media Photography.]

Ten original 10-minute screenplays were turned into movies over the summer and made their world premiere at a high energy event inside the region’s largest movie venue.

While each of the films is already a “winner” having its story judged last March as one of the top 10 among all entries into the competition, in several festival specialty awards, Writer/Director William Mendoza’s “Justin Time” earned top honors.

Justin Time Best Actor in a Supporting Role Griffen Dresbach-Hill

It took home both the “Audience Favorite” and the Producer’s Choice awards, the latter includes a grand prize of a $1,000 ladies diamond ring donated by Sharif Jewelers.

“Justin Time” is the story of a how a nearly late delivery by a 1980’s Sacramento newspaper carrier intersects with a man dealing with a personal crisis. The award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role went to Griffen Dresbach-Hill who portrayed the best friend of the newspaper carrier.

Tono Sommesso Director Dawn Spinella

Other top specialty honors determined by professional filmmakers went to Writer Danya Barrow’s film “Tono Sommesso” for Dawn Spinella as Best Director, Matt Trammel as Best Actor in a leading role, and Michael Thygeson with Best Cinematography.

Tono Sommesso Director of Photography Michael Thygeson

“Tono Sommesso” is the fictional story of a blind woman who works to become a top sommelier, recognized for her ability to pair wines and food at a chîc area restaurant.


The Gift writer Ritu Atwal

Writer Ritu Atwal’s movie “The Gift” claimed the other two acting awards with Rachel Brown winning as Best Actress in a leading role, with Oliva Pratt winning for Best Actress in a supporting role.


“The Gift” explores the connection between a Los Angeles couple vacationing in Sacramento in hopes of rekindling the romance in their relationship.

“The Gift” Editor Jag Sandhu

“The Gift” also won for best editing by Jag Sandhu and Sikandar Sidhu.

Each of the 10 winning writers was called onto the stage at the Crest to make comments about the creation of their films and the inspiration for the stories. Many were based on true life incidents in their lives.

The other winning writers and their movies are (in alphabetical order):

Delta Breeze writer – director Aldo Cocco


Aldo Cocco’s “Delta Breeze” is the story of a psychologist whose own relationship troubles interfere with her ability to counsel others, until a chance encounter while walking along the Sacramento River provides new hope for the future.

The Disappeared writer Thalia Caraveo

Based on the true story of her grandmother’s immigration to Sacramento from El Salvador, “The Disappeared’ by Thalia Caraveo explores the twists brought when separated families who arrive as refugees must then face new concerns including those brought on by Alzheimer’s disease with an aging parent.


The Engagement Ring Writer – Director Romeo Trocino

“The Engagement Ring” by Romeo Trocino is set around the state capitol and features a  helpful set of bystanders who all help a young man on a desperate hunt for a missing engagement ring.


Escargot writer Judith Plank

One of the comedies in this set of films, “Escargot” by Judith Plank explores a mother and father’s concern for their son whose only friends appear to be their home’s garden snails.


The Story of Jane and Jo Writer – Director Eric Sanderson

Over the course of the festival’s 19 years, only “The Story of Jane and Jo” by Eric Sanderson fills the genre of musical. With original lyrics and a score, the film centers around the impending blind date by two neighbors who’ve never spoken before.

Writer, Producer, Director and Actor Nathan Reedy of Swipe Right


Another dating movie, “Swipe Right” by Nathan Reedy, is a comedy based on real life encounters in the world created from on-line dating phone apps where the two parties show interest with a flick of the finger across the screen.

Triple Shot Latte writer – director Amy Lawrence


A final dating movie, “Triple Shot Latte” by Amy Lawrence, is set around a coffee shop where a young man from a pharmaceutical manufacturer must win over his date who in reality has been sent there to kill him.

Access Sacramento’s Gary Martin

The films, award ceremony and thank you messages by filmmakers will air several weeks from now on Access Sacramento cable 17. Access Sacramento Executive Director and Festival Director Gary Martin hosted the program and encouraged all those in attendance to consider writing a screenplay for next years competition and to prepare by becoming a member of Access Sacramento.

Access Sacramento is a  local non-profit membership foundation providing media training and equipment resources serving Sacramento County residents with a full high-definition TV studio, checkout video equipment and an over-the-air and internet radio station, KUBU-LP 96.5 FM.

For more information about Access Sacramento, visit or call 916-456-8600.

Photos courtesy: Tia Gemmel, Riverview Media Photography Event photo galleries at

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