Winter 2018


FESTIVAL LAURELS (all categories)


  • Jury Prize – Feature Film: Holy Spirit by Mike Baran

Jury Member, Sean Price says:

Michael Foerster and Tom Schuster lead a rambunctious cast in Mike Baran’s zany satire on ad executives, blasphemy and whiskey. Schuster, a country heartthrob is hired to play Jesus for a new whiskey marketing campaign, turning him into an overnight celebrity in the process. Foerster attempts to manage his newly developed star, though some unexpected developments plunge both men into a chaotic series of events. Holy Spirit is not content on just being any one thing, constantly blending multiple genres, which are only complimented by Baran’s continued shift in visual style throughout. There is a great confidence to Holy Spirit, one that seems to have infected the cast, who all give great performances throughout.

Nominees: The KNOW by Boomer Galassi and Adam Galassi

  • Jury Prize – Short Film: De-Mente by Lorenzo Ayuso

Jury Member, Sean Price says:

Short films can often fall into a trap of limitations as a means to manage their micro budgets. Single locations, small casts and a heavy focus on dialogue is the surest way to minimise any financial risk, though often at the cost of limiting their narrative potential. De-mente is able to subvert these risks with it’s wonderfully claustrophobic cinematography and vibrant colour palette, courtesy of Roberto Castelli, turning a standard living room set into a nightmarish fever dream. Writer/Director Lorenzo Ayuso creates a wonderfully original atmosphere, squeezing as much as he possibly can out of every small detail to ensure there is never a dull moment through the short’s twelve minute runtime.

Nominees: In Absence by Kacey Dolan, A Calm Sea Sways by Ross Donald, The Guitar by Michael Boston

— please note: Our jury votes independently to the selection committee.




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

Winner: Ramekin by Cody Clarke

Festival Director says:

Ramekin is a wonderful puzzle of a film – one which seems quite comfortable sitting between a surrealist film and a comedic one. There was a bizarre tough of Wes Anderson meets David Lynch in this film – where the stakes were always on an even keel, making the film neither threatening, as well as never boring.

The success of the film largely relies on its smart use of budget, which punches its lead performance from Jamie Saunders to front and center, along with its brilliant belief in an absurd concept. There’s also credit due to Adriano La Rocca, who carries a certain energy in his scenes that keeps things fresh.

Overall the film at times is stronger than other parts, but it is, for its very small budget, an impressive piece – one that will hopefully delight audiences on VOD.

Nominee: The KNOW by Boomer Galassi and Adam Galassi

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

Not enough titles to allow for this competition to run.

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

Winner: The Radicalization of Jeff Boyd by Uwe Schwarzwalder

Festival Director says:

Considering the film’s budget, Uwe Schwarzwalder has delivered a very polished film. The type which would play quite comfortably on TV, or even at certain genre festivals.

My main qualm is really the film’s lack of depth, which seems to be entirely glossed over with locations and overall themes.

This isn’t to say that Schwarzwalder lacks skill as a director, or even actor, but perhaps that taking on both roles at the same time has prevented him from either giving a more developed performance, or a stronger artistic tone in the direction.

Ultimately the film succeeds overall in all of its key areas, but fails to outdo itself at any point.

Nominee: Holy Spirit by Mike Baran

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

Winner: In Abscence by Kacey Dolan

Festival Director says:

I’ll keep my thought short due to the simple reality that this project poses: Kacey Dolan has succeeded in capturing a moving, informative and interesting subject with a no-budget scale. Praise is due to her efforts, as the short documentary capturing the lives of refugees feels less exploitative than a simple exercise in storytelling. There isn’t anything ‘off’ about this project, and I hope it is the beginning of an interesting filmography from this filmmaker.

Nominees: Sanitiser by Jay Powrie, Edelweiss by Sam Bradford, Papercut by Damian Overton

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

Winner: Making Marks by Ben MacGregor

Festival Director says:

Observational documentaries are rarely my thing. I often find the genre to be overworked, and overly informative. The great thing about Making Marks though is its ability to shine a light on characters, or rather beings, that have been disregarded by art history, and provide them a platform which is both artistic, and informative.

Ultimately the film’s ease, and overall tone, is what makes it such a charmer. Kudos to the team as well, as it doesn’t seem to carry any ‘real’ production faults, and seamlessly floats into a comfortable production flow of quality.

Nominee: The Somnambulist by Duane Michals

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

Winner: Pitfall by Ben Desmond

Festival Director says:

Though war films are a submission I dread – as there are just far too many of them (especially of WWI and WWII films set in the battlefields of empty fields, trenches and random forests), Pitfall carries an interesting fresh premise of survival as its real vehicle, and it is this, which goes hand in hand with its fairly unique cinematography, framing and edit, which allows this film to be more than just another cookie-cut exercise in patriotism.

Furthermore, the film’s overall ethical tone, which turns its opposing sides into humans fighting for life, the film elevates itself further with its closing note – a chilling ‘what if’ ending which ultimately places a rebel soldier in a deadly situation which has no real salvation. Praise is due to director Ben Desmond for his delivery of this tense tone.

Nominees: De-Mente by Lorenzo Ayuso, The Guitar by Michael Boston, Time by Alon Daniel

  • Best Web Series

Winner: The Grimoire Chapters: Rem Michael Davis

Wonderfully Gothic, consistently delivered, and full of intriguing beings – The Grimoire Chapters are a pleasure!

Nominees: Time Travel by Jonathan Nolan, How I Met Your Grandfather by Andrew Medeiros & Spencer Daniel, The Strategy of Water by Fabio Pellegrinelli, Berliners by Paula Galimberti, Gonzalo Piñán and Pedro Deltell




  • Best Cinematography of the season

Winner: Blair Winders’ photography of The Wish and The Wisp

A soft and delicate child-like-wonder-eye carries The Wish and The Wisp to fruition.

Nominees: Davide Pedace’s photography of Under Your Skin, Tania Freimuth’s photography of Pitfall

  • Best Actor of the season

Winner: Kieton Beilby in Papercut

Beilby’s performance as a public figure with a love to hide is wonderfully consistent, memorable and moving.

Nominees: Eric Lang in The Wish and The Wish, Jeffery Richards in Know Danger, Michael Foerster in Holy Spirit, Michael Boston in The Guitar, Josh Kieser in Papercut

  • Best Actress of the season

Winner: Michelle Donnelly in A Calm Sea Sways

Donnelly’s portrayal of grief is respectful, convincing and fresh. 

Nominees: Paula Galimberti in Berliners, Juliette Kida in Robber

  • Best Score of the season

Winner: Ally Pickering’s score of Bright Eyes

Like with the score of Garland’s Ex Machina, Bright Eye’s score helps ground the film’s futuristic setting, as well as drive a tense bolt of fear to the audience mind as to what dangerous vision the film is set in.

Nominees: Miguel d’Oliveira’s score of Pitfall, Luigi-Maria Rapisarda’s score of Beta, Nor Seyedmorteza’s score of Robber

  • Best Genre Piece of the season

Winner: Love at the End of Earth by Evan Morton

This Sci Fi delight is moving, and a wonderful well-thought-out technical beast.

Nominees: Red Wine by Victor Bess, We Need to Talk by Robert L Butler Jr, The Caterer’s Revenge by Jonah Jones, Schmoopie by Mary C. Ferrara

  • Best Direction of the season

Winner: Pitfall by Ben Desmond

Desmond’s direction of Pitfall keeps the film slick and top-shelf material. 

Nominees: Making Marks by Ben MacGregor, Foreign by Timothy Ross, Eat Jeremy by Sam South

  • Best Writing of the season

Winner: Papercut by Damian Overton

Compactly written, compassionate and sensitively delivered – this character piece is both moving and increasingly relevant with the reintroduction of ‘morality clauses’ following the MeToo movement.

Nominees: Follow the Crows by Alex Secker, Relivation by Wim Bax and Wouter Springer, Eat Jeremy by Sam South, Caishen – The God of Fortune by Ding, Robber by Andrew Greco

  • Best Editing of the season

Winner: Kai Erfurt’s editing of Beta

Packing action, like a comic book, isn’t an easy task – Beta delivers this mostly through its editorial slicing and dicing.

Nominees: James Kellett Smith’s editing of Aconcagua, John Fuller’s editing of Survival

  • Best Ensemble of the season

Winner: the cast of Eat Jeremy

A tight body of wonderful performances bring Eat Jeremy to life, despite its deathly subject.

Nominees: the cast of Beta

  • Special Mention

Maniera Greca by Kirineos Papadimatos, Last Resort by Klifford Barkus


– Best Music Video

Winner: Hider – Don’t Pretend It Was Nothing by ScaryJacks

Charming and moving, the two things no one really expects from a music video.

Nominations: Dominik Baer – Colliding in the Dark by Dennis Gleiss, I’m Older – The Collider by David Morris

– Best Cinematography

Winner: Rafael Fabres’ cinematography of Peregrino – O’Death

Beautifully shot, and filled with a lush variety of locales and various titillating sights – Rafael Fabres’ photography is a treat.

Nominations: Three Hat Media’s cinematography of Jeremy Parsons – Burn This House Down, J.B. Lawrence’s cinematography of Forgive, Francis Frenkel’s cinematography of Distant Thunder, Sunday Morning (Again)

– Best Editing

Winner: Liudmila Komrakova’s editing of Taste of Night

A dark streak of romance runs through Taste of Night, and it is mostly achieved through the time shifts which the editor delivers.

Nominations: Johannes S. Karpe’s editing of Sexy Blonde – Our Untold Story– Special Prize: Best Music Video Production

– Special Prize: Best Music Video Production

Winner: Bashton – Scandal by Pablo Mengin-Lecreulx

With its stunning 2500 painting, Scandal is a visual feast for the eyes!



– Best Genre Piece

Winner: Brains! by Mik Paul

Barmy and fun, Brains! is the zombie comedy we need right now.

Nominees: The Cry of a Black Rose by Felah Voltaire and Vincent Sheridan

– Best Technique

Winner: Cherry Glazed by Christine Sherwood

Written with a keen eye for detail, as well as a strong voice in terms of its characters and descriptions.

Nominees: Our Breakthrough by David Spring, Before Charlie by Amit Koul

– Best Micro Budget Script

Winner: Bus Stop by Vanessa Bailey

Though lacking in screenwriting polish, Bus Stop oozes filmability and a ready-to-shoot scenario.

Nominees: The Snip by Eamonn Shaughnessy

– Best Character Arc

Winner: The Snip by Eamonn Shaughnessy

Comedic, and fairly well rounded, The Snip is a solid character journey.

Nominees:  The Cry of a Black Rose by Felah Voltaire and Vincent Sheridan, Our Breakthrough by David Spring, The Shakespeare Plays by Martin Keady