Festival Laurels (all categories + nomination laurel + special mention laurel)
- Jury Prize
Feature Film Winner: The Sisterhood of Girls Who Won’t Date Me by Max Radbill
Jury Member, Sean Price says:
Simply reading the title aloud for The Sisterhood of Girls Who Won’t Date Me should be enough of a giveaway that this feature is about as subtle as a lit match in an oxygen plant. Though this is also exactly what makes Max Radbill’s debut feature successful. Playing like a Nickelodeon flick gone post-watershed, The Sisterhood never shies away from it’s genre, it’s influences or it’s identity, rather, it blurts them out at every given moment like a crazed toddler with a megaphone.
The Sisterhood is unapologetically consistent in maintaining a persona of self awareness, sometimes going too far with sound and visuals, though it’s talented cast’s strong commitment keeps it grounded at some sort of bizarre level. Special mention should go to Matthew DeHoff for his portrayal of dim witted buffoon Marcus, and to Saalika Khan, whose portrayal of Tracy demonstrates that even the most minor of characters can steal a scene or two. Topping this all off with a quick narrative pace ensures that while you may find yourself questioning some of Radbill’s decisions, you are certainly never bored.
With such a mix of praise and criticism in this review, it would be fair to state that The Sisterhood of Girls Who Won’t Date Me may be somewhat divisive. The toil and effort put in however cannot be disputed, creating an end result which is unyieldingly defiant and very aware of what it’s audience is. Not every film needs to challenge our perception of life, I guarantee this one won’t, but that is not to say that popcorn isn’t an art form either, it totally is, and The Sisterhood is very much well made popcorn all the way.
Runner up: Shanda’s River by Marco Rosson
Short Film Winner: Breaker by Philippe McKie
Jury Member, Sean Price says:
Through it’s ten minute runtime, Breaker presents viewers with a flurry of vibrant neon colours and nightmarish cyberpunk attire akin to the most rambunctious of Kabukichō alleyways. Philippe McKee’s thriller reeks of influence from Mamoru Oshii, offering us a small glimpse into a world of sentient technology and ever expanding web networks. Breaker follows a young rogue hacker whose mind becomes infected, and subsequently overrun by an autonomous weapons program seeking self preservation from it’s pursuing creators.
While the narrative of Breaker may come across as quite the mouthful, especially considering the short runtime, not much is truly expanded on regarding the program, the company which created it, or the pursuers themselves. Breaker instead, and rather smartly, opts for a more self-contained chase narrative pitting the rogue hacker against one such pursuer across Tokyo. Considering the simple narrative, it is very clear where the ambitions of the film lie, providing wonderfully flamboyant visuals and smooth cinematography that wisps us through some of Tokyo’s hidden gems.
Breaker is a film with a great attention to detail across all areas, and a clear understanding of it’s genre. All that’s left now is to wait and see if it remains an impressive stand-alone project, or becomes a cog in the wheel of a much larger universe.
Runners up: Mariposas by Adrian Carey, Black Island by Damon Hocking, Pre Retro by Ross Graham
— please note: Our jury votes independently to the selection committee.
- Best Short Film made for less than $5,000
Winner: Rendez-vous by Jimmy Boutry and Thibaud Chaufourier
Festival Director says:
Rendez-vous’ plotting is a mere ghost of a thing… but with this measly budget, Jimmy Boutry and Thibaud Chaufourier really go ‘all out’ and deliver one of the most stunning dream incarnations I’ve ever seen in short film. It is memorable, and iconic, almost like the Louis Vuitton ad, L’invitation au voyage, featuring David Bowie. In truth, it is just too short a film… otherwise it is flat out perfect.
Nominees: The Drawing Class by Lanxin Meng, Red Water by Luke Konopasky
- Best Short Film made for between $5,000-$10,000
Winner: Retina by Justin Heyl
Festival Director says:
There is a lot of kitsch in Retina. It’s steeped in a kind of glossy ‘gotcha’ feeling. And ironically, it definately earns this attitude. The film is brash with violence, bold visuals, and a heap of surrealist motifs that would even make the likes of Nicolas Winding Refn and Alejandro Jodorowsky grin with delight.
What makes Retina fresh though isn’t is ballsy narrative of robotic birth (to what appears to be a human mother), but rather its variety of shots, and the speed and ease with which it propels the carnival narrative from introductory shots to glammy closing credits. It’s brash as they come, but memorable, and a hell of a fun viewing experience (even on a second and third scan).
Nominees: What Is Real by Duane Michals, Breaker by Philippe McKie
- Best Short Film made for more than $10,000
Winner: This is Jack by Darrett Sanders and Amanda Tepe
Festival Director says:
Caricatures float in and out of This is Jack. It’s a wonderful of personas, music cues and jokes… and guess what? It’s barmy and fun. It’s like a contemporary Gregg Araki film, minus the edgy sex. Amanda Tepe rocks a good scene, as do many of her fellow ensemble members, who bark at the screen with an almost circus like performance: here is my moment, I’m in the spotlight, and I’m going to entertain you!
Continuing the metaphor of the circus, one can’t help but bring about the only elephant in the room: the script. There is nothing really bad to say about it, but one can’t help but feel as if it is riddled with anxious cliches, and at times feels like an overall simulated of many teenage films we’ve seen before. However, the film, with its 20 minutes runtime, must be commended for its pace, and overall speed.
Few shorts enjoy such a casual ease with their entertaining elements, and there is no denying that a feature film directed by Darrett Sanders and Amanda Tepe would be an awesome (indie) event.
Nominee: The Distant Sea by Nic Wassell
- Best Feature Film made for less than $5,000
Winner: Texoma by Matt Jenkins and Charles Stanley
Festival Director says:
Texoma’s greatest element is its authenticity. The film is quite well shot, and consistent with its technical skill for its measly $3,000 budget. The cast, which gather a strong set of characters, provide a taste of this particular Texan way of life, enriched with the ideas of community, generational dynamics, and the importance of locality to the film’s own ideals of land. There is also a very strong ideal surrounding the propriety of smaller American town’s, and the implications these might have across the way one’s lifestyle might change over the course of a lifetime.
There is a sense here of the old western saga narrative, though in scope this isn’t by any means a John Ford film, it does hold some water in this comparison: the film is character driven, and its attention to the turmoil faced by its characters are handled in the same manner, grounded often in the clash of internal and social expectations of individuals placed under conflict.
Nominees: Macie on a Good Day by Brandon C. Lay
- Best Feature Film made for between $5,000-$10,000
Winner: Nutshells by Rob Carpenter
Festival Director says:
There are issues in Nutshells, I can’t deny that. The film isn’t an ‘all out’ art house effort, and yet, it retains some great art house elements – character arcs which are built around internal conflict, a particular simplistic approach to the material visually, and a heartfelt character arc of non-genre issues.
The problem though, or perhaps the reason for not calling this an outright ‘five out of five’ showstopper effort is quite simple: imbalance. The film doesn’t have any sort of style shouting at you, nor does it have any sort of consistent flavor in the filmic cinematography. Something which one can’t help but feel as though Nutshells is currently missing in order to make it stand out in the crowd of submissions.
It is however consistently coherent, something many indie films are not; and further to that point, it is never offensive. In fact, my personal note would actually be to return to the editing suite, and see what a 4:3 black and white cut would look like – let’s see what Nutshells might feel like as a film when it delves stylistically into the materialistic tone that it is already harnessing so well in its narrative. Or, perhaps, on the flip side, one would recommend Rob Carpenter return to the drawing board and fire up another film. Only this time he ought to imagine his next film without the art house plot, and focus on making a film which could be more genre based, and perhaps more welcoming to this current filming style.
Otherwise, one must commend the overall cast, as an ensemble, they deliver and maintain a certain freshness with the fairly fun script penned by Carpenter. Furthermore, the lead character of Bill Gotts, played by Casey Manderson, is both realistic and comfortable to watch – which is a credit to both the star and filmmaker of this film.
Nominee: The Quiet One by Jonathan Pegg,
- Best Feature Film made for more than $10,000
Not enough entries to run this category.
- Best Webseries
Winner: Brian for Hire by Krishna Ribeiro
Festival Director says:
We’ve seen it before in a webseries, that’s for sure – the unemployed dropping in and out of jobs and various scenarios (aka gag jokes)… however, there is a secret weapon here, and it is in the form of Knoa Knapper. He is fantastic as Brian, in the funny webseries Brian for Hire.
There’s also one additional note one must add, which is – an actor is only as good as the script, and the co-stars on screen with them. In this case, one can’t help but feel that Brian for Hire is the best example of this syndication. The porn shop scenes, which result in a brave Knapper standing on the road with various naughty signs probably illustrates this best: an actor, and the team surrounding him, willing to go wild to entertain their viewers.
Hat tip to the team who achieved something quite rare: make a webseries people actually ‘want’ to watch for entertainment value, rather than just doze infront of the screen bored of work.
Nominees: Together Forever by Ted Wilkes, The King’s Oak by Core Of Monkos
- Best Cinematography of the season
Winner: Jimmy Boutry’ cinematography of Rendez-vous
Lush, epic and somehow bite-sized, one can’t help but commend Jimmy Boutry’s cinematographic efforts in Rendez-vous
Nominees: Natalja Safronova’s cinematography of 1st June, Willem Helwig’ cinematography of A Change of Heart,
- Best Actor of the season
Winner: Jackson George in This is Jack
Jackson George gives it his all. He speeds his dialogue, he moves with ease on screen, and keeps at it with an admirable conviction throughout the entire production.
Nominees: Jackson George in This Is Jack, Johnny Zito in a la mémoire de Lune, Matthew Iannone in The Sisterhood of Girls Who Won’t Date Me, Pariac Birmingham in The Red Boot, Josh Hunt in The Cost of Living
- Best Actress of the season
Winner: Amanda Tepe in This is Jack
About as memorable a comedic performance can be.
Nominees: Robine Landi in Interference, Jamie Miller in Dead Color
- Best Score of the season
Winner: Baden Jack Burns’ music for Potty the Plant
Though there are moments when the budget and performances don’t match the musical aspirations set out by its composer, there’s no denying the ambition and dedication placed into the scoring and composition of Potty the Plant
Nominees: The End of Days,
- Best Genre Piece of the season
Winner: Pre Retro by Ross Graham
As science fiction pulp goes, this one is a treat of time hops and rewound states. The cast shine with this smartly written short.
Nominees: Potty the Plant by Aeddan Sussex, Breaker by Philippe McKie, The Sisterhood of Girls Who Won’t Date Me by Max Radbill, Shanda’s River by Marco Rosson
- Best Direction of the season
Winner: Breaker by Philippe McKie
Soaked in glorious neon, science fiction pulp and a variety of awe inspired camera angles, Philippe McKie serves up a wonderfully delightful treat with Breaker!
Nominees: Mariposas by Adrian Carey, Pre Retro by Ross Graham, Black Island by Damon Hocking
- Best Writing of the season
Winner: Stag Do 2017 by Velton J Lishke
Though not the most original topic for a film, it is by far one of the most original takes on a stag do ‘gone wrong’ scenario. Also, loaded with head spinning dialogue!
Nominees: Macie On A Good Day by Brandon C. Lay, Texoma by Matt Jenkins and Charles Stanley, The Cost of Living by Ahmad Dabiri
- Best Editing of the season
Winner: Elise Lausseur’s editing of Rendez-Vous
Elise Lausseur’s editing is easy going and breezy. She keeps a pace, and cuts with style.
Nominees: Alex Morley’s editing of Interference, Lenylson Luan Gomes’ editing of The Hat, Andy Hilton’s editing of The Quiet One, Josiah Cuneo’s editing of What is Real
- – BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
Winner: To the Power of Ten by Richard Kattah
Loaded with moving performances, To the Power of Ten really is in the power of its cast, who collectively shine with ease.
Nominations: Vigilantes by Michael Mastrangelo, Potty the Plant by Aeddan Sussex
- Special Mention
Aemorraghe by Patrick Devaney
Matthew DeHoff in The Sisterhood of Girls Who Won’t Date Me
Is Radiation the Asbestos of the 21st Century? By Hjalmar Ilmer
Nomvula (After the Rain) by Chad Suspense
UNPRODUCED SCREENPLAY COMPETITION
– Best Genre Piece
Winner: Divided We Fall by Slavica Bogdanov
Loaded with war film squealing, Divided We Fall is a fired up and gritty script.
Nominees: Stoning the Jasmine by Zaina Deeb, The Devil’s Gun by James Christopher
– Best Technique
Winner: The Rental by L. P. Lee
There is a slight of hand to L. P. Lee’s handling of characters and scenarios in this script which is technically quite apt.
Nominee: Stoning the Jasmine by Zaina Deeb, Ethereality: The Lasaker Chronicles by Andrew Amani
– Best Micro Budget Script
No selected scripts for this category.
– Best Character Arc
Winner: Julie by Stephen Cottage
A heap of characters go through all sorts in ‘Julie’, and it is all humorous and engaging.
Nominees: Stabat Mater by Gianni Cardillo, Mohsen Melliti and Edoardo Rossi, Hadley Quinn by Stephen Cottage
– Best Music Video
Winner: Destroyer by John Byron Hanby IV
Surreal, dark, and beautifully shot – Destroyer might be one of the best music videos I’ve seen this year.
Nominations: Mandy Machine by Benedict Coen, Wiccan by Benedict Coen, Thunder by Amiel Kestenbaum and Raphael Kadishzon, Float Away by Patrick Blake
– Best Cinematography
Winner: Less is More by Christopher Salvito
An air of elegance, within the technical side of the production, moves through this video, making it quite memorable and enjoyable to watch.
Nominations: Destroyer by John Byron Hanby IV, If You Don’t See It Neighbor by Julian Marcipar, Ghosts by Michael Mantsourani
– Best Editing
Winner: Ragamuffin by John Byron Hanby IV
With the impending doom moving towards the running, dancing, fighting figures, one can’t admire the ease with which the edit of the video is forged in.
Nominations: Dope D.O.D by Anton van der Linden, Hemi by Laris Kilimci, Zig Zag by Amber Johnson
– Special Prize: Best Experimental Video
Winner: The Pirate Boy by Sofia Touboura
Please note: When the details of a particular technician of a nomination has not been readily available (such as an editor, cinematographer etc., we have simply referred to the director instead).