End of 2017

FESTIVAL LAURELS (all categories)



  • Feature Film:

Winner: By Any Means by Leighton Spence  

Jury Member, Ben Rider says:

By Any Means isn’t your typical micro budget feature film. Usually they are savvy with their cash, and are little dramas set in some locale where people have an excuse to talk… I in fact know my own work falls into this terrible trope, and have done several things over the years in an attempt to get out of it (rarely succeeding). I’m not sure what it is, or why indie filmmakers get stuck in the ‘dialogue’ loop of plotting, but it seems to happen very often. There is though, on the rare occasion, an exception. A film which is made within a genre, but one that isn’t simply a ‘dialogue film’ stuck within a genre package.

By Any Means is that exception. It is a genre film which, though featuring a heap of dialogue, is more of a film set within its own ideas of ‘action’. It is a thriller film with ample grit, but shot with a solid production polish – making it glossy, and easy to follow. This all goes hand in hand with its main successful elements: it is a solid viewing experience which doesn’t stress its indie budget, or the limitations of making a low budget film.

It is for that sole reason, when looking at the stack of potential films to nominate for the Jury Award, By Any Means became a strong selection… and then a firm winner as time went on. It is a film which escapes its budgetary restrictions, all the while celebrating its own industrial understanding of the genre bite.

Runner up: Youngstown Metropolitan by Patrick Naples

  • Short Film Winner:

Winner: Lucy’s Raw Eyes by Ines Sorlat

Jury Member, Ben Rider says:

Ines Sorlat’s Lucy’s Raw Eyes is shot mostly in a stunning and delicate black and white palette – which, evidently, allows for the eye-popping blood and garnish to blend away into a more cerebral image, than say a grotesque feast. The short film, which at times feels like a cross of Tim Burton and Brandon Cronenberg’s work, making a wonderful social commentary with a bit of a Gothic humbug comedy element.

There is also the cast – a group of characters, most of whom appear for a few moments and then vanish, who are very convincing, and energetic. Furthermore, with the right shots and cutting, the world which the lead persona inhabits, played by the very talented Sarah Bartholomew, becomes tactile, and heavily textured in its understanding of ‘on screen space’, and the viewer’s understanding of filmic space.

Overall, when considering its production values, and its consistent quality, Lucy’s Raw Eyes is a rare thing – a short film which both utilizes its budget to the max, but also appears to be a ‘real’ piece of film which isn’t simply defined by the gimmick of a self contained narrative. It’s quite frankly just plain old simply great.

Runners up: Deleted Scene by Nicolò Tagliabue, Penny by Louisa Harris, Crow’s Peak by John McDonald

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



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

Winner: Youngstown Metropolitan by Patrick Naples

Festival Director says:

The notion of caméra stylo can’t be better expressed than Patrick Naples’ Youngstown Metropolitan – the film is brash, rough round the edges, and full to the brim with personal expression. Its main quality is to be found in the director’s own personal space, which he invades often as the lead actor of his own film – we see him in his room alone, on the streets alone, and in other locales which present him as the centre of his own world; one which we have been given access to through a very intimate and ‘up close’ presentation, often only afforded by filmmaker’s being their own leads, such as in the early works of Xavier Dolan.

Though the plot of a ‘young man on the edge’ is quite cliché, there is much to admire about this flick – the film is overall quite well presented for its intensely small budget, and is fairly consistent in its production values throughout. Furthermore, the cast present a strong ensemble effort, one which the film can’t help but embrace as it progresses.

Perhaps the music, which at times feels illegally ripped from Soundcloud and other various DJ filled sites, is the downfall of the film. Instead of acquiring a fresh soundtrack – which would add to the lead’s personal ‘mindspace’, the film is sprinkled with excerpts from various sources, forcing the viewer to feel as if they are watching a YouTube video.

Nominee: Light the Fire by Patrick Nentzel

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

Not enough titles to run this category.

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

Winner: Panj by S. M. Hosseini

Festival Director says:

Though the film’s colour draining did wane on my enjoyment of the photographic image, I can’t help but feel that the film was practically flawless otherwise. It provided a glimpse into a world far from the usual in terms of cinematic scope: it was personal, it was delicate, and often beautifully textured in terms of what kind of compositions, scenarios and documentary like exposures of a single person’s life in the midst of a modernist city changing the ‘old ways’ of life.

Director S. M. Hossein has delivered an exceptionally well executed micro-budget, one which should be enjoyed by all art house lovers, especially those interested in a primitive form of cinema, one which recalls silent film modes of narrative expression.

Nominees: One, Two, Guess Who by System, By Any Means by Leighton Spence  

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

Winner: Penny by Louisa Harris

Festival Director says:

An understated element plays throughout Penny – the cast perform in a pace which breathes realism, the dialogue is never far-fetched, and the scenario, despite being rather tragically comedic at times, is never too far from ‘the real’. This isn’t some shabby genre exercise, nor is it an over hyped drama full of melodramatic chords. It is simple, and easy to build an appetite for.

Furthermore, with its careful use of budget, Penny is a well balanced and well stated short film. It has the personal intimacy of a feature, all the while maintaining the almost teasing plot punching short films are all too good at delivering.

All in all, one can’t help but wish to see more from Louisa Harris after this venture – her cool handedness is felt throughout the project, and the direction, as well as casting (the workmate Ed Pinker and annoying workmate Angela Harris-Tanzer are especially highlight worthy) feel exceptionally well executed operations. Feature next please!

Nominees: Deleted Scene by Nicolò Tagliabue, Crow’s Peak by John McDonald

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

Winner: Seeing Him by Chris Jones

Festival Director says:

Seeing Him is a fairly a-typical psychological romance thriller. We have the love plot, the longing, and the loss. We have a twist of sorts, built into the pacing… and it’s all very well packaged in terms of its run-time (basically – it is one of those plot lines that were designed quite successfully for a short film).

The true beauty of this project is at its core of detail. There is an eye for detail within the character arc, which was built-in at the script level, allowing for the actors to further enhance their performances, as well as reach certain textured nuances in terms of how they performed, and the pitch with which their voices reach. Likewise, the overall design of the film, be it the lush cinematography, or the carefully constructed shot choices and prop arrangement, there is a sense that this project is both a professional effort, as much as a passion project for those involved. It is, in essence, a very well rounded affair.

Nominees:  Sarmaga by Jon Lewis

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

Not enough titles to run this category.

  • Best Web Series

Winner: Blue Collar Hustle by Geoffrey Henderson and Alonge Hawes

Festival Director says:

The strongest hand which Blue Collar Hustle plays is its cast of strong performers. As an ensemble, there is an overall sense that the team believe in the project, and furthermore, have gone to great strengths to deliver an even performance throughout the project.  There is a feeling of a collective cacophony of experience echoed throughout the pilot’s runtime – the characters are very much the centre of the show’s tone, and at times even feel filmic in their timed gestures and carefully written dialogues.

This is also a very commendable remark for the directors – Geoffrey Henderson and Alonge Hawes, who have succeeded in delivering an engaging and often three-dimensional set of character studies within their show, which is something many webseries often lack.

Though the production values often leave much to be desired on the front of cinematography, the edit keeps a certain pace that maintains the show’s flow – one which would retain viewers far beyond one episode.

There are, after all, no cheap genre tricks here, and the show does contain that almost ‘traditional’ feeling of drama which is often associated with high brow theatre. It is essentially at its heart a very commendable and rich media text.

Nominees: Deteriorate by Joshua Idusohan and Brandon Novis, Back in the Game by Andreas Toumbas, Wishlist created by Marcel Becker-Neu, Marc Schießer and Christina Ann Zalamea





  • Best Cinematography of the season

Winner: Markus Mueller’s cinematography of By Any Means

A creative and consistent image keeps By Any Means fresh with a colourful aesthetic.

Nominees: Daniel Ernst and Tui Lohf’s cinematography of Wishlist, Nicola Cattani’s cinematography of The Way Home, Mohammad Soraya’s cinematography of The Exhale

  • Best Actor of the season

Winner: Thomas Gipson in By Any Means

Strong in terms of his range, and ‘present’ in all scenes, Gipson pushes to deliver a slick performance in By Any Means.

Nominees: Jason Beaudoin in Pneuma, Jacob Dale in Street Games, Ed Pinker in Penny, Stanislao Galasso in Califà, Guy Kaplunik in Lucy’s Raw Eyes

  • Best Actress of the season

Winner: Vanessa Bailey in Seeing Him

Bailey carries a particular weight with her performance that makes it both believable, and moving.

Nominees: Colleen Hagerty in Youngstown Metropolitan, Aimee-Lynn Chadwick in Tinsel’s Town, Helen Lewis in Nick

  • Best Score of the season

Winner: Jonathan Gerbscheid’s score of Tiger

Classically chilling, Gerbscheid’s score keeps those nerves on edge!

Nominees: Sian E. Selway’s score of By Any Means, Daniel Fowler’s score of Feud

  • Best Genre Piece of the season

Winner: David’s Here by Mark Oxtoby

Cheesily authentic as a b-movie horror, David’s Here is a fun low-key exercise which delivers some camp grotesque fun.

Nominees: Pneuma by William Carne, By Any Means by Leighton Spence, Feud by Matthew Fordy and Joe Jones

  • Best Direction of the season

Winner: Deleted Scene by Nicolò Tagliabue

A whimsy short film, directed with a careful ear for tone and style.

Nominees: David’s Here by Mark Oxtoby,  The Way Home by Federico Olivetti, Infinite by Marco D Cruz, Penny by Louisa Harris, Lucy’s Raw Eyes by Ines Sorlat

  • Best Writing of the season

Winner: Youngstown Metropolitan by Patrick Naples

Brashly written, with a youthful energy, the plotting of Youngstown Metropolitan feels like a past-time form of punk ‘coming of age’ films, the type that Araki once made in the 90’s.

Nominees: Duelos (Bereavement) by Yolanda Román, Street Games by James Fink-Jensen, Nick by Jack Levy, The Rift by PH Debies

  • Best Editing of the season

Winner: The One Shot by Giorgio Miraflor

The One Shot’s edit is energetic and fun, it’s pace is brilliantly lively

Nominees: Infinite by Marco D Cruz

  • Best Ensemble of the season

Winner: the cast of Deleted Scene

Together, this energetic bunch make for a whole lot of fun viewing.

Nominees: The cast of One, Two, Guess Who by System, the cast of Tiger

  • Special Mention

Burnt by Ma Yi, Quiet Zone by Paul-Anthony Navarro, Crow’s Peak by John McDonald




– Best Genre Piece

Winner: Stunt by Shantay Robinson

Loaded with jokes of yesteryear, this film feels like a rom-com from the 90’s reloaded with a rapper called APOCALYPSE.

Nominees: Love Lives in a Void by Johnny Zito, Santa Klawn by Jeffrey Lee DuPree, Ube Bubog, Vol. One, ‘School of Hard Knocks’ by Sway Stagall

– Best Technique

Winner: Slurry by Ryan Hayes

A well structured script, Slurry is an easy read thanks to its maintaining of strong screenwriting techniques.

Nominees: Santa Klawn by Jeffrey Lee DuPree

– Best Micro Budget Script

Winner: Straight Man by Kelly Karam

With its very localised plot, Kelly Karam writes a well executed super short loaded with a twist, and strong whimsy characters.

Nominees: Ruby by Simon Wilkinson

– Best Character Arc

Winner: Mad Dash by William J. Leonard

There is much heart in the story of Mad Dash, with its look at the treatment of bipolar in the 80’s. At its core though, it isn’t so much the plot which intrigues, but rather its characters, and their very personal interactions with each other.

Nominees: The Cut by Christopher Kerr, The End of the Feast by Attila Toth, Fat Vs Evil by Alex Sheldon




– Best Music Video

Winner: Dardem: El Reloj

There is a head of adventure, creativity and effects in this music video which must be admired for its bold and enjoyable usage!

Nominations: BYTE: The Prequel by James E. Moriarty, Licia Missori – Suite Della Coccinella by Marco Vallini

– Best Cinematography

Winner: Lunakid – Eternal (feat. Keidel) by  Tizia Florence and Jessy Moravec

Though minimalist, the music video utilizes its images to the max – delivering something organic, energetic, and original.

Nominations: BYTE: The Prequel by James E. Moriarty

– Best Editing

Winner: The Reapers by Hector Suñol

It feels like an old 16mm music video, despite the contemporary setting and modern technology. The edit, which is fluid and forwards thinking, is the retro element – a real ‘rock on’ vibe for the festival days.

Nominations: Licia Missori – Suite Della Coccinella by Marco Vallini

– Special Prize: Best Music Video Message

Winner: Goodnight, Goodbye by Nic Nassuet

Goodnight, Goodbye is a personal, up-and-close piece which has a strong and important message to deliver in its brief runtime.



 Please note: some categories vary in number of nominations based on the quality and quantity of submissions. There is a maximum of five nominations and one win per category.