‘Hand of Glory’ wins Best Actress, Best Director awards in Chicago

Staff Report

CHICAGO — Hand of Glory, an acclaimed independent film shot entirely in Rockford and Belvidere, took home two top awards from the Prairie State Film Festival in Chicago Aug. 11.

Heather Dorff won Best Actress for her portrayal of Karen, an alcoholic prostitute unable to escape an enigmatic past. Dorff, who was unable to attend the award ceremony, tweeted later that she was “truly honored.”

Accepting the award on her behalf was former Rockford journalist Stuart Wahlin, who subsequently brought home the award for Best Director.

Accepting his award, Wahlin said he was humbled to even be considered among his fellow nominees for top director. He added the recognition was very encouraging as he embarks on his second feature film.

Hand of Glory was also nominated in the Best Feature, Director’s Choice, Best Sound and Best Actor categories. Darren Marlar, of Loves Park, is now a two-time Best Actor nominee for the film, in which he plays a lonely widower seeking Karen’s affection.

The dark thriller received Best Special Effects and Honorable Mention awards at the Los Angeles Movie Awards earlier this summer, and the film has been an official selection at numerous festivals.

Marlar is also slated to star in Wahlin’s next feature, Slay Utterly, inspired by the so-called Midwest Axe Man case, which remains unsolved after 100 years. Wahlin indicated the most notorious of the crimes occurred in Villisca, Iowa, where two adults and six children were murdered in their sleep in 1912. Wahlin indicated, however, Slay Utterly will not be a period piece.

We’re setting it in modern day, but in rural locales,” he explained. “The story follows a beleaguered FBI agent who begins to connect several far-flung crime scenes throughout the Midwest. A number of compelling suspects begin to emerge, and we’re going to keep you guessing.”

From the Aug. 15-21, 2012, issue

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