Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Feature film about deaf UFC fighter wins audience award at Miami Film Festival

From MMA Junkie:

"Hamill," a feature film based on the life of UFC light heavyweight Matt Hamill (10-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC), is now two-for-two.

The film picked up the Audience Award for Best Feature Film this past weekend at the Miami Film Festival. The honor comes four months after it captured the Breakthrough Film award at the 2010 AFI Film Festival in Los Angeles.

"These awards are further proof to show that this film can survive theatrically and break the mold," said Eben Kostbar, who co-wrote and produced "Hamill" with partner Joseph McKelheer, in an interview with (

Shot on a "modest budget" for release this past November at the AFI festival, "Hamill" dramatizes the deaf fighter's life and journey to success in the UFC.

The two screenings held at the Miami Film Festival drew 1,000 attendees. Kostbar said negotiations are underway with two major distributors for a limited theatrical release this summer and, hopefully, a nationwide release afterward.

The challenge, he said, is convincing distributors to take a chance on a film with an unknown deaf actor, Russell Harvard, in the lead role.

"We thought it wouldn't do the film justice if we hired name actor," he said. "We feel the story is so inspiring and unique that the only way we could make sure it was told right, and that we would get the support of the deaf community, was to put a deaf actor."

The movie next heads to the Cleveland International Film Festival, where the UFC will document Hamill's work promoting the film as part of the "Countdown to UFC 130" program.

Hamill, of course, is slated to fight Quinton "Rampage" Jackson at the event, which takes place May 28 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

Kostbar said the UFC president Dana White's support has been a crucial part of the film's success.

"He gave us footage for free and allowed us to shoot at the event for free, and he said when it's ready to be put out there, he'll help us promote it," he said. "He told us he'd never gotten behind or supported a film before. We're super excited and thrilled to have them on board."

The film can also be seen in the coming months at the Florida Film Festival, the Philadelphia Film Festival, and the Newport Beach Film Festival.

For more information on "Hamill," go to