FESTIVAL LAURELS (all categories)
WINNER: Lost in Apocalypse by Sky Wang
Festival Director says:
It feels inappropriate to do so, but I couldn’t help but think of Kim Jee-woon when watching Lost in Apocalypse. A part of the association is of course a cultural link – the Asian extreme narrative, the tough cops and the slick photography. But the main parallel line is really a compliment – as this effort by Sky Wang is very similar to the works of Kim Jee-woon – the film is polished, technically apt, and blunt. So blunt. It’s a stark, peddle-to-the-metal thrill ride of a film.
Aided mostly by its cast, the film carriers a great sense of realism, and this is mostly highlighted by the film’s ability to maintain its action based narrative within a sort of virus outbreak storyline – in other words, a merging of say The Purge with Shivers.
All in all, this film’s production values, and use of filmic techniques, make it the solid winner of our grand prize this season… because, quite frankly, no other film comes so loaded and ready to fire down its viewer.
Pin-Up by Liz Lachman – “A large scale short film full to the brim with character, an understanding for its filmic perception of time and space, and a damn right entertaining retelling of the age old ‘artist and muse’ storyline.”
Murder on the Reef by Allen Dobrovolsky and Alex Fitzwater – “For its narrative of environmental issues, Murder on the Reef is quite fantastically blunt.”
Yasmin Afifi’s direction of Releevo – “A strong and often rich narrative that understands its themes of loss, downtrodden characters and roughhousing.”
- Best Short Film made for less than $5,000
Winner: Releevo by Yasmin Afifi
Festival Director says:
The theatrical elements of Releevo do feel like a bit of a sore spot in the film, as the short opens with what feels like quite a stagey setup. Our couple, alone in their apartment, taking turns being moody and talkative… at this point it felt like that adaptation it is.
However, and what a big ‘however’ it is – as Releevo progresses onwards, revealing its twist, and its shift from a mood of darkness to desperation, the film reveals itself as less of a set piece and more of a film about time, or the running out of it. It is here, steeped in that Jim Jarmusch meets (early) Lars Von Trier tone that the film forms its filmic narrative, and even more so, highlights its effective use of its measly budget, allowing its director, Yasmin Afifi, and her cast, to stretch their emotional muscles and deliver one of the harshest and most memorable short films.
In essence, this is the sort of short film that makes this process an absolute joy.
Lean On Me by David Fowler – “For its budget, the film impressively carries a large ensemble of ideas, characters and circumstances in this drama. Fowler’s next step would be to improve on the technical aspects of his films, tightening his performances and becoming more discerning about where, what and how his camera shoots.”
The Longest Time by Kevin Rainey – “A boldly designed short film – a kick ass cast (yes, we’re biased), slickly cut, creative cinematography and a great moody score. Also, and most importantly, a fantastic use of a minimalist budget and tight schedule.”
Dagger by Zak Ferguson – “A unique story devise, and a fairly creative filming style, allows this film’s budget to be used to the maximum!”
Lucile & les Fennecs by PH Debiès – “A delightful musical and a fantastical romp! – oh and impressive stuff on such a low budget.”
Almost Sunny by Vittorio Guidotti – “When considering the production limitations of such a budget, Vittorio Guidotti proves that there’s no limit to one’s imagination to pull off a fantasy! Oh, might I add – it’s also mighty entertaining.”
- Best Short Film made for between $5,000-$10,000
Winner: Box Office Smash by Phil Dunn
Festival Director says:
In the context of its budget – a short film produced just over what we would consider no funds (less than $5,000), but yet well below any form of micro-budget opulence ($10,000), Phil Dunn’s short film Box Office Smash is well… a box office smash!
Quite frankly it is a very well oiled machine, and it salivates in its own directness of its content. Instead of scene-chewing dialogue, a large cast, or excessive scenes, we get a pleasant primitive film tale (this being in the context of Pier Paolo Pasolini’s film narratives idea). And nothing is overbaked or underbaked. It’s a fantastic balance of ease-of-access enjoyment with an alluring enigmatic idea – a man, working with a 00’s-90’s looking office, has his day become overwhelming in a less than perfect environment.
One can’t help but have your mind wander off: is this an allegory of the impending economic crash of the mid-noughties that has come to define that era of office work or just a nightmarish vision of being stuck in the office in such a time?!
All in all the production values are steadfast here, and we have a feeling of the film being quite modest all the while ambitious. As ever, with such delights, one can only quote the likes of 2010 Josh Radnor: Happythankyoumoreplease.
Tender Vow by Ashton K Bracciodieta – “Beautifully produced, with a keen eye for the film’s romantic images and domestic pathos.”
They Can’t Hear You Scream by Luke Creely – “A simple and well produced ‘countdown’ film. Somewhat reminiscent of early James Wan.”
Team Teenettes by Brian Morelan and Bianca Poroliseanu – “The humour, and well – POWERPUFF GIRLS throwback, is enjoyable… The rest is a little less than.”
- Best Short Film made for more than $10,000
Winner: Pin-Up by Liz Lachman
Festival Director says:
Pin-Up has a fantastic ‘inner photography’ opening scene – the mad auteur photographer looking for some remote idea of creativity and inspiration. Very reminiscent to a degree of the Annie Leibovitz inspired character in the one-season perfection ‘Roadies’.
Though, one might want to add that this film is more than a simple character study, and nor is it a cameo based on someone… instead, it is a well-oiled thriller disguised as some sort of industry comedy. It has the touch of a Brian De Palma film, in particular with its red room sequences, and twisted ending… but also grasps a stronghold of importance in its character’s inner workings, especially of the LA types, something I can’t recall being done all that well since ‘Laurel Canyon’ by director Lisa Cholodenko.
All in all, Pin-Up seems to tiptoe between its genre and styles, and ultimately serves up a lean meal which can be viewed and enjoyed more than once both for its performances, content and chutzpa… which is really something that can only be said of a few short films.
The Shroud by Marie Vandelannoote – “A glass doll-house full of opaque and bizarre fixtures that has been so beautifully put together, one can’t help but look in on like a God.”
Falling South by Lorraine Portman – “Its narrative is an easy thing, one built around an escape route and a new life. The characters, and the actual locale, which the film encapsulates on this journey is what makes it very endearing and flavourful. Madeline Barr is quite great as the runaway.”
- Best Feature Film made for less than $5,000
Winner: The Third Son of Fire by Matthew Pillischer
Festival Director says:
There are issues in Matthew Pillischer’s The Third Son of Fire, I won’t deny that. The quality of the photography drifts in and out of being good to tolerable to ‘please make it stop’. Likewise, the sound has an uneven effect. And one step further, there’s the pacing, which even when considering the film’s slow approach to a moody conclusion, it becomes somewhat regrettable that the whole thing is more ‘horse and cart’ than say ‘Ferrari screaming down the road’ speed.
However, the film has an immensely endearing quality of its own design: a homemade self-contained film. And when one considers its budget, and the other entries at hand, The Third Son of Fire becomes a winner for its pure unusualness, design and balls out creativity!
Red Light Solo by Ryan J. Smith – “The film has a sort of free-form narrative, one quite similar to the Jazz music it seems hell-bent to capture. Overall, the film is quite a great mood piece, something as a background filler… but it does lack direction in terms of its narrative, and misses the chance to get to know its musicians, which would have made for a more moving and interesting study than its excessive reliance on capturing live music scenes in a very repetitive ‘I am an audience member’ perspective..”
Hillbilly Symphony by Denis Nielsen – “An endearing look at a group of folk singers, their aspirations and their celebrations of being an opening act to a Blues festival. Portrayed with much character.”
- Best Feature Film made for between $5,000-$10,000
Not enough entries to run this category. Please note, films selected for this category, which are not listed here, would have been nominated in our ‘other categories’ area.
- Best Feature Film made for more than $10,000
Winner: ultravoKal by Christophe Karabache
Festival Director says:
Anyone that has followed our awards body over the last three years of operation will know that we have awarded Christophe Karabache multiple times in various categories, and the previous remarks made about his films still ring true here. His cast is sharp, and always on cue – often providing an unexpected delivery or one which fits the scenario brilliantly. His photography is surprisingly aesthetically pleasing, even when showing a grim locale or grey scene… and likewise, his films overall design often flex a certain fascination with interesting visuals. His use of music is apt, be it to create an atmosphere or highlight time. All in all, we are fans of this auteur.
This season, and the reason for this particular win is simple: this film is slick, well paced, arty, and pleasantly ugly in its depiction of amoral beings. Most of all, his use of budget is rich and layered and provides a personal touch even at a cash-friendly endeavour of $11,000.
Murder on the Reef by Allen Dobrovolsky and Alex Fitzwater – “Not the most flashy of productions, or necessarily the tightest in terms of its edit, but one can’t deny the importance and value of this film, its story and information it provides.”
Zimzum by Stefan Zeiler – “Excessively long, and beautifully shot. An experimental doctrine, somewhat similar to Herzog’s Heart of Glass.”
- Best Webseries
Winner: Stephan’s Big Awakening by Stephan Nielsen
Festival Director says:
Awakening ultimately trumps the ‘watch more’ factor by keeping its entertainment stories loosely running hand-in-hand with its presenter and camera team’s personal conversations. There’s a real sense of character and scenario here, and a viewing experience worth having through this particular project… something most web series lack.
A Great Christmas by Kevin Ralston – “Not your regular webseries, in a good original kind of way!”
The Hot Mess Express by Linzy Cox and Jennifer Hathaway – “The main factor of this web series, which really shines through, is its love for its locale. One can’t help but want to visit the Midwest of America after viewing these episodes.”
Skeleton Crew by Stuart Kiczek and Joshua R. Pangborn – “An amusing ensemble gathers for Skeleton Crew. The characters often tend to outshine the overall plotting or production values, but all in all, a fine viewing experience.”
- Best Cinematography
Judyta Potocka’s photography of Development of June – “Varied, textured and quite brilliantly shot with an eye for detail, consistency and authenticity.”
Jordan Cushing’s photography of The Inuring – “A very consistent and rich image is present in The Inuring. One which keeps your eye intrigued.”
Reece Beale’s photography of The Langford Loop – “Beale’s colours and use of sparing light helps elevate The Langford Loop, as well as enhance its genre elements.”
Gareth Taylor’s photography of Pin Up – “An eclectic, very moving, and classy image carries Pin Up into its fantastic fantastical world.”
- Best Actor
Winner: Matthew Philips’ performance in Once Were Heroes – “A very convincing and consistent quality is present in Philips’ performance as the villain of Once Were Heroes.”
Matthew Pillischer’s performance in The Third Son of Fire – “A confused on set of emotions set in over this double performance. An unusual unique effort.”
James Gulliford’s performance in The Langford Loop – “Gulliford’s performance is consistently energetic, dynamic and quite fascinating to watch in this sci-fi trap.”
Rory Wilton’s performance in Serpentine – “The casting of Rory Wilton is perfect for this role – he brings much depth to the role.”
- Best Actress
Winner: Christina Chang in Pin-Up: “Shifting gears with such ease, moving her persona from the artist craving inspiration to injured, and seduced by her own imagination… is quite a fantastic show of skill and talent in this bite-sized delight of a short film.”
Talia Ray in Grizedale – “Ray’s performance is an anxious thing, and it feels quite real.”
Samantha Seager in Releevo – “Seager is quite outstanding in Releevo.”
Holly De Jong in Development of June – “Well, so few actors could carry this sort of role off convingly – mega kudos to De Jong’s supporting cast for providing her the room with which to live as June.”
- Best Ensemble Cast
The cast of Day Off by Alexander Griffith – “A set of very convincing performances carry Day Off. An added bonus – they’re fascinating to watch!”
The cast of #ModelLife by Jazmine Campanale – “An ensemble of wacky characters keep this webseries overflowing with pouting, comedy and snappy ‘gotcha’ dialogue.”
The cast of Pin-Up by Liz Lachman – “A cast of memorable and lovable beings bring Pin-Up to life.”
The cast of Falling South by Lorraine Portman – “A hearty America is presented here – a whole heap of fantastically unique and interesting performances are present here.”
Making Friends at the End of the World by Jonathan Pegg – “A fantastic set of actors bring to life this variety show of people shoved all in one property. Quite fabulous with the handling of its performances.”
- Best Score
Winner: Icarius Projectz’s score of Caducea – “A moving score keeps this film well in its cinematic realm of fantasy, mystery and mythism.”
Runner-Up: David Stothard’s score of The Langford Loop – “Sharp, energising and on point for this film’s genre and tone.”
- Best Genre Piece
Winner: Don’t Look Back by Ashley Agren – “A fantastically balanced genre piece: strange and well-told mystery, mostly aided by its reliance on tone and familiar transcending tropes of its chosen haunting arc.”
Stephan’s Big Awakening by Stephan Nielsen – “As a documentary series, Stephan’s Big Awakening runs as a more entertaining series than most of the ‘investigatory’ BBC projects that one can find on TV these days.”
The Shroud by Marie Vandelannoote – “A whole load of moody and fun exploits fill The Shroud. Also, one can’t help but love its portrayal of Gothicness.”
Caducea by Christophe Mavroudis – “Gothic yarns are so rare in short films, and this one is a fantastical treat!”
Big Trouble in Seattle by David Fowler – “It’s a mad rush of a film. The genre of action and thriller truly reigns here!”
Beautified by Emily Haigh – “A fable full of darkness and sci-fi mystery – reminiscent of Tale of Tales.”
- Best Direction
Winner: Liz Lachman’s direction of Pin-Up: “A short film full of scale and a personality – is just a plain old fantastic joy to experience. Lachman’s direction, which finds a creative way to deliver each of her scenes, keeps the film from becoming a one-note tragedy. I’m quite jealous of this project.”
Christophe Karabache’s direction of ultravoKal: “The direction, which provides the film’s almost surreal tilted landscapes of hushed voices, is a unique perspective, and one only Karabache holds.”
Yasmin Afifi’s direction of Releevo – “A light touch runs through the design of Releevo – one which is consistent, alluring and unmistakingly dark.”
Joe Olmstead’s direction of Development of June – “A stunning memory yarn condensed into what is just shy of 18 minutes, and full to the brim with heart!”
- Best Writing
Winner: Day Off by Alexander Griffith – “A rarely seen picture of the sex worker world. Quite fantastically structured, and unpredictable.”
A Great Christmas by Kevin Ralston – “A little pacy at times, but really tonal and textured with its characters and scenario. Kevin’s writing feels more feature film friendly than say webseries… but all in all it features great development and awareness for his locales and characters.”
The Serpent in the Apple by Nathan Luttrull – “Though comedies of this nature, which include an archetype monster character, are quite commonplace in short films (please note: no one wants to see another limbo themed short film ever!)… this venture, penned by Luttrull, is a brilliant original exercise in witnessing a familiar face take on NYC, living with flatmates, making a film?! and eh getting a job. Quite brilliant.”
Behind the Sun by Ezzeldeen Dwedar (aka Azaeldin Dewaidar) – “A fascinating world unweaves itself in this short – and the dialogue is always character specific and unique.”
Carmen Lidia Vidu’s writing of Romanian Diary. Muslim Diary – “Well structured, and conceived with such personality, that the viewing experience is pleasurable simply to ‘hear’ someone’s story.”
- Best Editing
Winner: DJ Carnegie’s editing of The Visitor from the Other Side – “The edit provides the film with its tone and pace… not to mention the final twist.”
Cat Sole’s editing of How To Write A Screenplay – “An energetic and often sharp editing helps assemble and add meaning to what is otherwise just a series of ‘how to’ of writing ideas.”
- Special Mention
Elizabeth in the Park by Marie Grillo – “A commendable Eric Rohmer styled moment… though perhaps a bit heavy on its lul, despite all of its Tiny Furniture electric music.”
Cristina Baciu’s graphical work in Romanian Diary. Muslim Diary – “These well-designed series of graphics help bring life to this story.”
- Special Prize: Best Surreal Film
Genesis by Beatrix Haxby – “An alluring short full of impressive surreal visuals.”
Genesis (trailer) – 2017 from bea haxby on Vimeo.
- Best genre piece
Winner: Attic Ashes by Lorraine Portman – “There’s a sense of style here that is very much part of a genre film: comedy, drama and various enigmatic cues which allure and invite its viewers along for the thrill ride. Buy your tickets – it’s an exciting one!”
The Veil of Solace by Dion Voss – “A steadfast comedy with an interesting characteristic touch.”
Blood Means Nothing by Mark Oxtoby & Dawn Buckland – “A dense short film with some pulpy genre touches, would make for quite a fabulous film if shot with the right style.”
Deadbeat Symphony by Karan Talwar – “There’s a great sense of a sellable genre plot here… despite the over the top dialogue and insane bolts at the plot’s hand.”
- Best technique
Winner: White Wolf, Black Wolf by Florence Nahon – “For the research, its details, and darkness… White Wolf, Black Wolf is a precise and often bold script.”
My Sister’s Wedding by Ian T Burns – “A retrained script is always the most fragrant – and here is one that delivers its points on time and in the right volume.”
At the Mercy of Faith by Samuel Taylor – “Though wooden at times with its bulky approach to dialogue, and details… the script is well organised and sharp in its writing.”
This is Not the End by Ruben Latre – “With its unusual form, and strong style, This is Not the End is quite the charmer script of the season.”
- Best micro budget script
Winner: The Veil of Solace by Dion Voss – “An impressively simple concept with a fairly interesting touch of originality. Quite filmable!”
My Women of Steel by Marilyn Lee – “Its domestic, and simplicity, provides for an easy shooting project.”
- Best character arc
Winner: Breathe by Christian Pavlik – “With so many characters in toe, Pavlik keeps the real and moving elements of his beings within reach of his audience, making it all the more enjoyable.”
My Sister’s Wedding by Ian T Burns – “A farce of an ordeal with its share of quirky and enjoyable beings.”
Women of Steel by Marilyn Lee – “There’s an ease with these personas unusual for scripts of this kind. It’s quite fantastically endearing, and reminiscent of Diablo Cody’s choice of people.”
Hunting Bears by Ryan Munnelly – “Hefty and indulgent on paper, but all the while endearing and charming with its brash characters.”
Norma’s Sun by Kris Courtney – “The overall arcs, which entangle a real sense of life, are quite bold in Norma’s Sun.”
- Best music video
Winner: Somewhere In Their Heads (music video) by Gregg Houston
Festival Director says:
Oh what retro cool flows through this music video!
Failure – Fabiola by Gilles de Voghel – “A hip retro thing that captures a real sense of a community as well as its music coolness”
Pangea (music video) by Derek Frey – “what a cheesy delight – incredibly well produced scope”
Whiskey Lies – You Know Who by Kristian Kane and Lewis Carter – “A solid double life of past and present stories presented in a plushly photographed music video.”
Heaven – George Schweizer by Scott Roberts – “Though lacking in a concrete filter (such as something snazzy and retro), the video collates a solid image and flavour for its almost Gothic allure”
- Best cinematography
Winner: Jawjaw – Survive This
Festival Director says:
It’s black and white photography, which is produced with fantastic care for both the lighting, focus and lens choices, is quite fantastic.
Charlie Winston – The Weekend – “Fantastic variety show of some titillating colour and lighting schemes for its various dance numbers can be found here”
Heartbeat (music video) by Nick Mandri-Perrott – “Rich summer hues and cool underground walking passages make Heartbeat quite a fun and varied viewing experience”
A Little Too Obtuse – Useless Cities by Deborah Espect – “The subject matter is a tad all too familiar for music videos: couples breaking up and dancing… but the nature of how it is shot, and the use of Brighton (UK) makes for a unique short film.”
- Best editing
Winner: UnknownArtist – Jump Cut / The Broadcast (Official Video)
Festival Director says:
A glamorous and rich production is heightened by its head thumping edits.
Heartbeat (music video) by Nick Mandri-Perrott: “A dreamy foray into a romance which is best paced through its solid edit.”