Summer 2019


 

Jury competition:

  • Jury Prize

WINNER: Something to Live For by Adva Reichman

Festival Director says:

Something to Live For has a very bold yanking quality to it. It yanks you out of one genre, and its perceived perspective, and drops you into another… and then repeats itself again, and again. For a moment, one feels quite comfortable aligning themselves with Nabila. And at other times, completely repulsed by her.

All in all though, pushing aside one’s perception of how we might interpret the contents of the text, it is easy to say a few very simple truths: the film, from detail to detail, is a very well rounded and perfectly executed item. It is, by all means, a fantastic actor vehicle, a well-shot and beautifully assembled project (I say this in reference to the edit, the scoring and the overall pacing of the script).

There is very little one could say about Something to Live For in a negative light, though perhaps its politics is the only thing that feels bitter – not so much its message, but rather the fact that it needs to carry a commentary about an on-going war… though, even this, and the way which it handles the different ‘sides’ of the West Bank conflict is mature, well-thought-out and meaningful.

Long story short – Something to Live For is fantastic. Watch it!

Nominees:

Dollhead by Mike Egbert – “Though not the flashiest of shorts, Dollhead is consistent, well timed and well toned. To be completely honest, shorts are rarely this good.”

bás a dhó by Ty Tush – “The authenticity of this film’s cinematic form – that of a 4:3 screen, a sense of stillness and cinematic language, is quite fantastic.”

Fantastic Plastic by Sarah Tafel – “A perfect short film I wish I had made.”

Before My Eyes by Mason Bowen – “The film has a particular grand class about it that is rather rare in shorts.”


Main competition: 

  • Best Short Film made for less than $5,000 

Winner: One Afternoon in the Woods by Connor Webb

Festival Director says:

Webb’s film is a fun run around the woods, helped greatly by his three-lead cast – James Viller, Madeleine Gray and Johny Gill. It has the flavouring of a great genre film, as well as the class of a more edgy thriller. Basically – it is a great use of budget.

The film does, on the softer side of things, lack any sense of class. It is, to a degree, a reminder of that pedal-to-the-metal type of ‘Gamer’ narrative. Though, one should add a side note to this – this is a real advantage here, as so few shorts know where or what they are… whilst of course, this wooded gun-o-run picture knows exactly who and what it is. There is a sense of a profound filmic hyperrealism as well, a sort of In Bruges ‘in-joke’ when it comes to how the film delivers its beats, motif and well – punchline. 

All in all, it’s entertaining and a fun short film. What more could you ask for?

Nominees: 

10 Minutes to Live by Alexandria Bond, Grant Morningstar and Amr Nabeel – “As an edgy sort of film, this really did hit the WTF mark… reminiscent of those films Sebastián Silva likes to make.”

Boys will be Boys by Michael T. – “A great mixture of cinematic filming and mobile phone shots. Michael T. captures a world and his characters with an ill-fated sense of authenticity.”

Bus Stop by Vanessa Bailey – “The film has a certain polish to it that feels much greater and grander than its limited budget.”

  • Best Short Film made for between $5,000-$10,000

Winner: Alder by Vanda Ladeira

Festival Director says:

From the bursting light, to the costume, the makeup, the premise – this is a surrealist dream evoked with some great physical acting and stunning imaginative alluring elements… Alder is a short film to rule them all! 

This fairytale romp – shot in what I presume to be a sound stage, has all the chutzpah and veneer that a madhat Guy Maddin film has to offer (cue reference to the wonderful Twilight of the Ice Nymphs). 

Perhaps, the only downside, when one forgets that this is all a bit of a magical thing… there is a feeling that this project is a sum of all its parts – a craftsman’s delivery of excessive skill… but who the hell cares. It’s original, it has charm and is memorable.

Nominees:

Dollhead by Mike Egbert – “Egbert’s film is loaded with a kaleidoscope of dangerous and bizarre characters. It’s all a bit whacky and wonderful, really. Highly recommended!”

Love Lives in a Void by Johnny Zito – “There seems to be a great crossover of a kind of Abel Ferrara beast and Miranda July hearty being in this little film. Some interesting framing and original lighting help make it distinct as well. All in all, quite unusual and noteworthy.” 

Don’t Blame Jack by Dale John Allen – “The short hits you. It hurts. But is also rather beautiful, and very effective with its use of locations, actors (supporting cast even give it their best) and its distinct cinematography.”

  • Best Short Film made for more than $10,000 

Winner:  Honor Among Thieves by Justin Eugene Evans

Festival Director says:

I’m not much of a fan of Justin Eugene Evans’ script. In all honesty, I felt that this was a poor excuse for a shoot – a sort of genre humbug just whipped together… but, and what a big but – the film is everything that you would expect. You see, eh – I’m not a huge fan of Marvel films. And I don’t tend to like there – you guessed it – scripts. 

So, in lieu of that, like with my appreciation of Marvel films, I have to give credit where credit is due – Justin Eugene Evans’ film, Honour Among Thieves, looks and sounds and is just like great Marvel blockbusters. In fact, it is so good with what it does, that I was somewhat confused as to why we had received this short film… as I would have easily believed it to be the sort of high budget feature film making that goes on in Hollywood, and would not need our support. But it does. And it deserves it. 

For looking like a Marvel film should, with that pristine polished look (your lights work a charm), and that crisp sound and witty dialogue, congrats on making one hell of an impressive short popcorn flick!

Nominees:  

Lovely by Gabriela Tollman – “The film has a sort of HBO quality to it. And I mean this in the best of ways. It has a really close proximity to its character, one which is mounted in a well-defined world and delivered with a consistent tone of sorrow and focus. It’s engaging, and alluring.”

Melody by Bernard Kordieh – “The film is mounted with a great many passions, and often leans into its beauty with a great sense of cinematic language, time and space. It also, in terms of production values, comes loaded with a very impressive look and style.”

  • Best Feature Film made for less than $5,000 

Winner: Super Mix by Joshua Armstrong

Festival Director says:

In terms of budget usage, one can’t fault the gritty sci fi wonder Super Mix. The film is, like most features, the sum of all its parts. So, what we have here is a nice hand in the genre department, as well as a firm understanding of drama and performance. Then there’s the photography, which never gets too ahead of itself (no flashy lighting systems here), but is consistent and self-aware (the genre plays a hand in the film’s minimalism here, becoming part of the ‘visual’ story).

Overall, Joshua Armstrong is the real showcase here. There’s not much going on, no offence to the players… but it is Armstrong’s film, and it is his ‘making’, and one can see that. The corners cut in terms of scale are excused by a firm ‘filmmaker’ hand in terms of working the dough in the kitchen… well, the editing suite. I hope this makes sense!

All in all a great debut, and one that I’d comfortably pin as a better experience than most micro-budget features; let alone debuts.

Nominees: 

Jed Or Alive by Ed Mellin – “With its camera becoming a third wheel – a sort of witness to the comedic chaos, Ed Mellin’s film finds a very inventive way to rework the low-budget skills documentaries. This is also a buddy film though, and reeks of that Joe Swanberg mastered in the last decade with films such as Drinking Buddies and Happy Christmas.”

Voyeur by Delilah Napier and Lucy Powers – “Actor themed films seem to be repeated things at festivals. We get so many of them, and most of them are ‘all the same’… but rarely, very rarely, do we get one like this… Voyeur has something original to deliver, and it does so with a sheen and class that almost recalls the early ‘good seasons’ of HBO’s Girls. There’s character, lightness and plot. All great.”

HaMLET by Giorgi Mergrelishvili – “I think it’s safe to say that this is the most creative anyone has been when making a film on a phone with a Shakespeare text. Bravo!”

Ice Patrol by Adam Newman – “Though the film never really explores any stakes that we haven’t seen before, it still delivers a fine feature film on a very limited budget with some very moving and well-rounded performances.”

  • Best Feature Film made for between $5,000-$10,000

Not enough entries for this category to run. Boo.

  • Best Feature Film made for more than $10,000 

Winner:  Vortex by Christophe Karabache

Festival Director says:

Vortex reminded me of one specific film – Cat Chaser. Cat Chaser is a notorious 1989 film directed by Abel Ferrara. Like Cat Chaser, Vortex has a nutty lead (Peter Weller in Cat Chaser). And a certain dirty gritty arty vibe. Both films also exhibit a great awareness for the history of pictures and violence. There’s lots of violence to be had here… both in the sense of psychological one, and a cultural one.

Karabache has, over the last few years, delighted us here at TMBT. And he does so once again. This film is a maze of nightmares, loaded with ugly and loveable characters… visuals that evoke the Jean Luc Godard ‘Pierre Le Fout’ ideas and even the whiff of a post-colonial world of destruction and the memory of this.

This is a plain old great piece, and cool one, just as to be expected from Mr. Karabache!

Nominee:

Bang! by Richard Szotyori – “Comical, stylish and fun… Bang! comes rather full of Bang!

  • Best Webseries 

Winner: Kaplan’s Korner by Jeanine Anderson, Sara Ballantine and Steven Carter – “A film might have provided a better arc, and a more rounded feeling… but all in all this is a great kick-ass comedy featuring some great ‘mature’ actors delivering some fantastic moments.”

Nominees:

Humdrum by Connor Webb – “The show has that sort of breezy buddy comedy vibes which made TV in the 90’s so much fun.”

Boundless by Julie D. Dunn, Sean Higgs and Victor Lockhart – “Noir is well and truly alive in this robust webseries. Also, features a solid ensemble and an eye for photographic detail.”

Life XP by Trevor Addie – “This feels like a Gamer rehash… but it is stylish and bold. Bravo!”

The Odyssey of the AOR by Joshua Burdick – “There’s a great ‘modern-day’ vibe here for the makings of a sort of Pi rip off.”


Other categories:

  • Best Cinematography

Winner: The photography of Lovely by Anka Malatynska – “A relishing picture is brought to life here. Just amazing really. Lenses, lights, filters (assuming they were even used), are just capitalized on. Stunning work. Gush over.”

Nominees: 

The Photography of Dollyhead by John Freeman – “Subtle and well balanced, Freeman’s photography is consistent in creating alluring and well-crafted images.”

The photography of Vortex by Aurélian Pechméja – “Aware of light, and shadows, Pechméja finds a great many variety of ways to show us the horrors of mankind, this film’s lead monster and the locales he moves through. Much like The House That Jack Built, this film carefully navigates the feelings of documentary and art.”

The photography of Buries Seeds – “A beautifully shot documentary which both captures the personal space of its lead chef, as well as the environments of its subjects. Quite stunning.”

The photography of Honor Among Thieves by Justin Eugene Evans – “The film’s western looks are well-calibrated and enhanced greatly by careful lighting and a great care for the film’s clean appearance.”

The photography of A Brief Case by Ben Lingham- “Scrumptiously shot with a real eye for colour, texture and light sources.”

  • Best Black and White Cinematography – not enough entries to run this category.
  • Best Genre Piece

Winner: One Last Ride by Maxim Lecompte – “The film, like it’s bride, has a certain Gothic allure which is both comical, self-aware and romantically grim. The film is, for all purposes, a great exercise in genre loving.”

Nominees:

Super Mix by Joshua Armstrong – “The film’s heart is found mostly within its tone and understanding of its genre. Delicious.”

Dollhead by Mike Egbert – “Walking a tightrope of comedy and horror, Dollhead finds some perfect footing between the two. It’s got those creepy moments with some stunning genre-based lighting, and some comedic camera looks that make it seem a tad bit perfectly done.”

Jed Or Alive by Ed Mellin – “A willing victim of parody, Jed Or Alive taps into the comedic side of Grizzly Man. Great stuff.”

  • Best Period Piece

Not enough qualifying entries for this category to run.

  • Special Mention

Pate by Matthew Emery – “Its use of VFX to bring about its retro world is a delight.”

Afloat by Shannon Mahoney – “Unlike most documentary shorts, the ease this one has is very conversational and has a feeling of wanting to get to the heart of its subject, rather than the subject. It is a welcomed alteration, and reminds viewers that not all documentaries need to be a bundle of histrionics and facts.”

The art direction of Fantastic Plastic – “The entire team have designed a delicious film. The makeup, the costumes, the placement of the actors… it is all just sensational!” 

Special Award: Best Seasonal Film

Winner: Monsters In Havasu by Jamon Holmes – “For its investigation of seasonal customs in the boating community, one has to feel a great excitement for something so unusual and fresh.”

  • Best Black and White Cinematography

Not enough entries for this category to run.

  • Best Actor

Winner: Jordan Tweddle in Don’t Blame Jack – “The confessional element of this film, which is very raw and intimate, is brought to life thanks to Tweddle’s commitment to the material. His performance is quite outstanding.”

Nominees: 

Chris Goodwin in Ice Patrol – “I remember years ago reading Catherine Keener interviewed about how playing the ‘supporting part’ has always provided her with interesting roles… I think it is safe to say that her plea for those roles to be taken seriously applies here with Mr.Goodwin, who finds more to do with this minor part than most actors would.”

Raymond Morris in Dollhead – “Elijah Wood better watch out – Morris could have taken away his Maniac remake and made it his own!”

Gage Magosin in Dollhead – “A great performance from a very talented young performer. Magosin provides a certain energy to the project which helps balance its darkness.”

Johny Gill in One Afternoon in the Woods – “Gill runs, and screams, and provides a hell of a lot to this little short. He is, for means purposes, the perfect victim.”

  • Best Actress

Winner: Cheryl Silekis in The Window on the Seventh Floor – “Silekis’ performance is just plain outstanding. I have nothing else to add.”

Nominees:

Vanessa Bailey in Bus Stop – “Bailey drives her own film – her performance is impeccable.”

Charlotte Dunnico in Jenna the Great – “Though at times Dunnico comes across as too mature for the part, there’s no denying her efforts to make Jenna real and relatable. Kudos to both Dunnico and her supporting cast, who often play off of each other to create some great drama.”

Ruby Marez in Corações em Fogo – “Comical and often presented ‘out of sorts’, Marez has a hint of that old Hollywood star quality.”

  • Best Ensemble Cast – dependent number of qualifying entries

Winner: The cast of Final Curtain – “This film, about actors, entirely relies on (surprise) its actors. And they do a wonderful job in making it seem real.”

Nominees: 

The cast of Voyeur – “A great ensemble is gathered here, rounded with a great sense of realism and commitment by the entire team, especially compounded by the leads (who are also the writers, directors, producers… ) – Lucy Powers and Delilah Napier. It’s quite great really.”

The cast of HaMLET – “Oodles of effort has been put into making this phone film, and it is mostly kept alive thanks to the film’s entire reliance on its cast of funny and tense actors.”

The cast of Dollhead – “A great team helps bring both the comedy and horror of this short film to life. Bravo!”

  • Best Score

Winner: Peter Lewington’s score of A Brief Case – “A wonderful score highlights the film’s genre and tone.”

Nominees: 

Nami Melumad’s score of Something to Live For – “The film’s score helps enhance our perception and alignment with its lead, often inviting, rather than say distracting. It’s awareness for the film’s emotional range is also commendable.”

  • Best Direction

Winner: Fantastic Plastic by Sarah Tafel – “Tuned perfectly as a bittersweet horror, this short film encapsulates the best of genre and gender games.”

Nominees: 

Richard Szotyori’s direction of Bang! – “Szotyori finds a great many unique ways to keep his scenes engaging and fluid. It’s great on that front, and reminiscent of the style inhabited in the late stage of cinema du look – in particular in the early noughties films of say La Haine and Amelie.”

Jenna the Great by Dan Tonkin – “This lengthy short could have easily been pushed into being a feature, or perhaps a shorter short with much more punch… all the same, there’s a great sense of life to it all, and a well-textured narrative built around some nice set pieces.”

Adva Reichman’s direction of Something to Live For – “The film’s richness, both in terms of its script, images (the lighting!) and the performances are incredibly well nuanced and consistent throughout. It’s quite brilliant really.”

Johanna Ort’s direction of Wiley – “The film is very tender, delicate and whimsical. The perspective we take on, and the look the film relishes, is very well designed and cohesive with the script’s subjects and the tone of the performances at hand. Long story short – this is a brilliantly well designed short.”

  • Best Writing

Winner: Corações em Fogo by M.F. Dinan, Andrew Kadikian and Laura Breen – “The concept is explored with a great many layers and comical turns. The lead character is especially memorable, and it is darn right entertaining!”

Nominees: 

SOCial MEDia MADness by Michael Delaney – “Social Media Madness on a conceptual level, and even some of the scenes scenarios, has a great sense of originality and hilarity to it.”

Hellthy by Stephen Willis – “Though this feels like a hyper-future film, its heart really lies in pulp. A pulpy world where people are forced to rehabilitate themselves. It’s a small and intimate idea, and well thought out both conceptually and at a ‘character’ driven arc level.”

Imperfectly Healthy by Joshua Sowden – “Though this concept has been done before, there’s no denying that this particular strain of hypochondria is amusing and well designed.”

  • Best Editing

Winner: Steven Markowitz and Eliya Reis’ editing of Something to Live For – “The short moves along as if it were a feature, smoothly intersecting drama with meaning and well-designed edits. The tone is also quite well levelled throughout, often handling the actors and their performances with great care and awareness.”

Nominees: 

Joshua Briscoe’s editing of Leaving Only Footprints – “The film bolts through its evil horror set up, and maintains its fluidity through the ease with which the shots and performances are spliced together.”

The editing of bás a dhó – “For its use of cinematic language, all derived from the edit, one has to tip a hat to this wonderful short film!”


Music Video:

  • Best music video

Up by STORRY – “Just brilliant.”

Nominees:

Drown by Michael Valentino and Autumn Greenfield – “A dark music video, rarely seen these days.”

Who I Am by Asifa Lahore – “Some great and fun uses of London. Has the vibe of a sort of Alanis Morissette video – Come along with me for this journey!

The Return by Liudmila Komrakova – “As grand as a music video can be.”

  • Best cinematography

Winner: The photography of Carnival Youth – Boys Do Cry – “So cool, tres cool. So Tarantino, tres Tarantino!”

Nominees:

The photography of Wipeout Beat – “A sort of Scorpio Rising wonder.”

The photography of Sweetness in the Shadows by James River Brooks – “The image holds a great many textures and a sense of time and light. It’s beautifully done.”

  • Best editing

Winner: Hologram by Andrea Busco – “The story is well woven through its edit, and the pace is greatly enhanced by this sort of feeling that things take their time, that only the editor could express.”

Nominees:

Antoine Amen’s Wipeout Beat – “The edit is wonderfully done – a mirror maze of horror and excitement. Bravo!”

A 5th Element by Sofia Touboura – “Some nuts psychedelic shizzle is in this video, all of which is greatly enhanced by its edit.”

  • Special Mention

The cast of Invisible Man – “Everyone seems to be having a fantastic hoot performing in this. The efforts of the cast were felt.”


 

Script competition: 

  • Best genre piece

Winner: The Algorithm by Tim Adler – “The script whizzes through various scenarios that really all relish its concept, one which is entirely steeped in genre apparatus and a self-awareness that rewards the audience, rather than say… dumbs itself down to them. Would make a fun film indeed!”

Nominees:

Rough Stock by Seppe Van Beneden – “There’s a real sense of research and care in this dusty Western-style buddy script.”

Willy Won’t by Jeffrey Morin – “Bridging the road movie and drama genres ain’t easy, but Morin does it well here – we get a glimpse into these characters lives, and endure their Chicago trip along with them.”

To Love Beyond his Means by Torikai Fujio – “The slug lines are a mess, as are the edits… but the use of genre, and the sense of what it does to the film’s plot, is quite smart.”

Cyclops’s Island by Ioanna Tsinividi – “There’s a fun holiday vibe to this script that is really just a genre playground.”

  • Best technique

Winner: King Elizabeth by Eric Martin & Joe Cline – “It feels like a clunky thing, but it isn’t… King Elizabeth is a well drawn out monster of layered ideas and exciting film ideas.”

Nominees: 

Son of a Sheriff by Travis Davidson – “A fun breezy reinterpretation of an old yarn.”

The Rose Diary by Collin MacConnell – “The script is well-formed and well-polished – making it a bit of an easy read.”

Petunia’s Flowers by Tali Chais – “A wild and wonderful thing.”

Showdown in Paradise by Jamon Holmes – “A nice clean script that feels very professional.”

  • Best micro-budget script

Winner: Petunia’s Flowers by Tali Chais – “The building becomes the breeding ground for grander things, despite its limited and restricting locale. This script highlights the importance of careful design.”

Nominees: 

Wait by Cole Sims – “The House, which anchors the characters, is a sort of character of its own. Very economically done, with some care to keeping things ‘inside’ and out of the expenses of exterior and location filming.”

An Odyssey of Vengeance by Alexandru Barbu – “The script’s greatest strength is its potential to be easily shot and pulpy.”

The Earworm by David W Pedersen – “Some might argue that the living room, cab ride and office are too much for a micro budget film… but here, in the Earworm, they are used with such efficiency, that the whole thing feels very ‘doable’ and easy to shoot.”

  • Best character arc

Winner: One for the Road by Matthew Dickie – “It’s boozy and woozy – a sort of modern-day Paul Kemp (Hunter S Thompson) tale.”

Nominees: 

Field Trip by Claudio Martinez-Valle – “The film centres around a few characters who, unbeknownst to them, are living out one hell of a fun arc. This script entirely relies on the fun structure its characters live in.”

The Rose Diary by Collin MacConnell – “The characters all have their own unique dialogue, and it feels quite ‘true’ to who they all are.”

Made in America by B K (Anonymous) – “A script chockablock full of life lessons.”

Cherish by Bridget J. Addison – “Cherish, the script, has the same intentions of Cherish, its title character: it is very well meaning and hearty.”