Noting she will "always treasure this moment," Rome Brooks captured a top acting award at the Cobb International Film Festival. The former Cartersville resident's accolade — Lead in a Feature Film category — paid tribute to her portrayal of Mary in "The Wake of Light."
"I was sitting in the theater at the awards show and they called out the list of the five actors nominated in the best lead performance category," she said. "Then they said 'and the winner goes to' and my name popped up on the screen and my mouth dropped. I jumped up and ran down the aisle, giving a few high fives on the way.
"I was so excited and had a huge smile on my face. I ran track in high school and college and the elation of winning a race was a similar feeling; total exhilaration. I was so proud that I was able to bring this recognition to 'The Wake of Light.' It's a special film that I hope we can bring to as large an audience as possible."
Currently residing in Los Angeles, California, Brooks was raised in Cartersville, graduating from Cartersville High School in 1998. Before being known by her stage name, Brooks went by her given name — Beth Cousins — when she lived in Georgia.
"It will always be a highlight of my life," she said about the festival award. "'The Wake of Light' [is] so special and so personal to me. To receive the highest award makes me so proud of the hard work everyone did. It is an incredible testament to the amazing screenplay that Renji Philip wrote.
"I will always treasure this moment in time. It makes me want to come to Georgia and make a film."
"The Wake of Light" was written, directed and produced by Philip, who has worked with Brooks in five films. Knowing her acting strengths, he shared he wrote Brooks' character with her in mind.
"It's a personal film in that it's a small, intimate setting that hopefully reaches great emotional depths," Philip told The Daily Tribune News prior to the film festival. "You have the literal story of a young woman caring for her elderly father, who meets a young man on cross-country road trip and falls for her and asks her to join him. She's forced to make the hardest decision of leaving her father or pursuing love.
"Then you have the existential journey of the character who feels a deep calling to the spiritual world and is in search of answers to questions she's had since she was a child. Ultimately I hope audiences can relate to the character's quest for faith and the film's poetic presentation of that longing."
Formerly called the Marietta International Film Festival, the fifth annual Cobb International Film Festival was presented Aug. 1 to 4 at the Earl and Rachel Smith Strand Theatre in downtown Marietta. “The Wake of Light” was screened on the event’s opening night, and the awards were announced Sunday at 5 p.m.
In addition to Brooks’ nomination, “The Wake of Light” also was up for six additional awards in the Cobb International Film Festival: Best Domestic Feature Film, Director in a Feature Film, Writing in a Feature Film, Best Supporting in a Feature Film, Cinematography in a Feature Film and Best Local Film.
"We were in the audience at the award show, and I knew we were in the company of some excellent films, filmmakers and actors," Philip said. "To win Best Domestic Feature Film, best director, best lead performance for Rome Brooks and best supporting performance for Matt Bush was a huge and incredible surprise. Our small but incredibly talented cast and crew worked very hard on this film, so it's a huge thrill to be able to share these wins with them."
"Incredibly grateful" for how "The Wake of Light" is currently being received, Philip said he is looking forward to sharing "the film with as many people as possible."
"The film has been an official selection in 10 film festivals to date," he said. "Looking ahead, 'The Wake of Light' will be participating in the California Independent Film Festival; Frame 4 Frame Festival in Texas; The Knoxville Film Festival; The Catalina Film Festival; Festival Angaelica in Duluth, Minnesota; Rendezvous Festival on Amelia Island, Florida; and the International World Music and Film Festival in D.C.
"We are planning to participate in as many film festivals as possible until March of 2020 and start seeking distribution with a company that will hopefully open the film in theaters nationwide, followed by streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon and iTunes. Following our domestic release, we will be seeking international licensing agreements in territories all over the world."
Further details about “The Wake of Light” can be obtained online at www.thewakeoflightmovie.com.