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‘Stranger Things’ and ‘Walking Dead’ actors among stars honored at 25th LI International Film Expo

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Stars of television and film and burgeoning creatives sat in attendance at Sunday’s award ceremony for the 25th annual Long Island International Film Expo in Bellmore.

“Stranger Things,” “Homeland” and “Orange Is The New Black” actress Catherine Curtin and “The Wire” and “The Walking Dead” star Chad L. Coleman, were among the famous faces in the front rows of the show.

Curtin, perhaps best know for her role as Claudia Henderson, mother to Dustin Henderson in Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” was among the evens top honorees. LIFE presented her the award for Excellence in Creative Achievement, a title which resonated with strongly as she delivered a teary-eyed speech.

“I’m not sure if I’m really supposed to be here or not,” she said. It’s funny, when I was a kid, I thought it’d be so cool to do something creative, something artistic. And you know, you don’t think you’re going to do that.

“The whole time you’re making art you feel like ‘I’m just a fraud,'” she continued. “It’s so nice to be here and have somebody say ‘you are creative,’ ‘you are a creative person.'”

Catherine Curtin

Coleman, one of the ceremony’s presenters and the producer and star of “Wishlab Inc.,” which made its American debut at this year’s LIFE, was surprised with a jury award for Inspirational Work in the Sci-Fi Genre.

“I had no idea this was going to happen, but I’m so moved by it,” Coleman said following the ceremony. “It’s so humbling to know people admired what we did.”

“The Blacklist” actor Lukas Hassel, “The Grudge” star Tara Westwood and Sal Rendino, best known for his role in “Billions,” also presented several awards throughout Sunday’s event.

Chad L. Coleman

An emotional evening

This year’s four-day festival, showcased over 100 feature-length and short films from Long Island, American and international film makers, before Sunday’s awards ceremony hosted by Kevin Brown. LIFE presented various awards for films, directors, actors, cinematographers and various other categories.

Perhaps the evening’s most moving speech came from Kevin Kline, the subject of the Best Documentary Feature winner, “Delivering Hope.” The film follows his journey to become the first person in history to run the northernmost 300 miles of Alaska’s dangerous Dalton Highway in winter, carrying a backpack loaded with 1,856 names of children who fought pediatric cancer to one of Earth’s highest points.

Kevin Kline

He told the story of Chelsea Campbell, who kickstarted his journey and inspired his Snowdrop Foundation to raise funds for cancer research.

“We started ‘Snowdrop Foundation’ for Chelsea Campbell’s 16th birthday and we didn’t present it to her,” Kline said. “On the 364th day that she and I were friends, at her request, I was a pallbearer at her funeral.

“Never let it be said that one person can’t make a difference, because I ran my first marathon one month after I buried Chelsea, and there was only one person in the world wearing a snowdrop foundation I’m running for Chelsea shirt,” he continued. “Now we have over 1000 people worldwide, and we have donated over 5.35 million dollars for cancer research. To the Campbell family, thank you for letting us tell Chelsea’s story.”

The next chapters

The final award of the evening for Best Feature Film went to “Montauk 77,” staring father-daughter duo Michael and Michayla Scully. Michael Scully also directed the film, which chronicles a criminal pact between a down-on-his luck ride-share driver and a newly orphaned 15-year-old.

For both Scully’s “Montauk 77” marked a first feature-length endeavor.

“We’re in talks to start writing the next film, which might go in a different direction,” Michael Scully said. “It’s still a little bit up in the air, we have several ideas. All I can share really is we might be switching genres up from heartwarming heist to horror-thriller.”

Both father and daughter expressed hopes to spend more time behind the camera on their next project than be there own stars.

“I might play a small role in his next film,” she said. “I’d prefer actually to go into fashion design, go into the fashion industry, like costume design and work behind the scenes.”

Michael and Michayla Scully

The ceremonious 25th incarnation of LIFE marked a new chapter for the event. Expo founders Henry Stampfel, Anne Stampfel and Debra Markowitz introduced Sunday’s audience to couple Manny Serrano, the event’s technical director, and Lindsay Serrano, secretary of the Long Island Film/TV Foundation, who will oversee the festival going forward.

“We have Manny and Lindsay Serrano coming about and they have different ideas, they’re younger,” Henry Stampfel said, who owns the Bellmore theater alongside his wife Anne Stampfel. “They are going to bring us forward, they have great ideas on how to make it a nicer event, a different event.”

Scroll down for more photos from the evening.

Lindsay and Manny Serrano