Spring 2020

Festival Laurels (all categories)

– Jury Prize

Winner: The Reckoning by Neil Marshall – “With a definite sense of genre, style and balance – The Reckoning is a film with a keen eye for detail, intimacy and immediacy. Marshall knows what we want as an audience, and knows how to deliver it! Expect to be pushed off of your feet rather than gently spoken to – it’s a film for Gothic film lovers!”

Nominated: The Bull and the Bear by Ryan J. Smith

Nominated: Die at Home by Enrique Bencomo, Enrique Aranguren

Nominated: The Maroon Jumper by Philip Pugh

Nominated: Isolation – A Visual Poem by Matt Blakey

Nominated: Wicket by Harsh Khurana

Nominated: Pink Opaque by Derrick Perry

Nominated: The Haunted Hotel by Jean Campbell Hogg, Joshua Carver, Adam Collier, Deverill, Joshua Dickenson, Amy L Feeley, Jane Gull, Tony Roberts

Nominated: The Secret by Ben Wicks

Nominated: The Visitor by Yves Bernas

Nominated: The Hamlet of Suitcases by Max Albrecht


– Feature Films

Sh*t Saves the World by Troy Hale – Nominated: Best Genre Film, Nominated: Best Cinematography, Winner: Best Feature Produced between $5,000-$10,000 – “Hale’s film comes in with a bold style, a strong sense of production value and a very clear sense of perspective. The documentary is far-reaching with its objective: defining the sense of our human impact on the environment.”

The Soul of a Happy Day by Lee Dan – Nominated: Best Feature Produced between $5,000-$10,000 – “A quirky indie film that carries a great sense of romance.”

Married & Loving It by Ryan McDonald – Winner: Best Feature Produced for less than $5,000, Nominated: Best Director (Ryan McDonald), Winner: Best Ensemble Cast – “The drama is real here. McDoland’s film slices through the plain drama noise by offering a very intimate film which is largely carried by clam photography and noisy and uncalm performances delivered by a strong-headed cast of husbands and wives. There are moments where this project recalls the early film projects of Neil Labute – it is stark, in your face and uncompromisingly dramatic.”

The Reckoning by Neil Marshall – Winner: Best Feature Produced for more than $10,000Winner: Best Director, Winner: Best Actress (Charlotte Kirk), Nominated: Best Genre Film – “It is obviously quite humbling to have Marshall’s entry here. Might I add – we selected it and watched it prior to even registering it was his film… but the proof is really in the pudding – the film is a bold genre piece which is mostly enhanced by, and delivered with, a firm sense of strength through its consistent quality, bold sense of style and a clear sense of direction. A magical performance by Kirk, which leads the project, shows a variety of tones… she is greatly supported by her co-stars, some of whom really go deep into the dirt of the era. The film is strangely intimate, despite its large canvas – and that is perhaps its greatest strength. It finds the whispers amongst the loud shouts, something only a director of Marshall’s understanding could muster… he finds the human in the wild.”

Pink Opaque by Derrick Perry – Winner: Best Actor (Elijah Boothe), Nominated: Best Screenplay, Nominated: Best Feature Produced for more than $10,000, Nominated: Best Director – “There is a real sense of indie filmmaking arriving here… I say this as a positive – anyone doubting the value of these films is missing the point: they are smaller than major events, but they have a quality that is unique to them, a strong sense of identity and niche. Boothe helps hone the film’s cores together – he’s an anchor which is sensitive, never overdramatic and ‘attention-seeking’… above all, it is memorable. The photography is also quite enhancing in here, though the core foundation is what helps it to exist – a solid script and a clear sense of direction. All in all – it deserves your eyeballs.”

The Haunted Hotel by Jean Campbell Hogg, Joshua Carver, Adam Collier, Deverill, Joshua Dickenson, Amy L Feeley, Jane Gull, Tony Roberts – Nominated: Best Film produced for more than $10,000, Winner: Special Mention: Best Alliance of Filmmakers and Actors, Winner: Best CinematographyWinner: Best Music, Nominated: Best Actor (Joshua Dickinson), Nominated: Best Actor (Andrew Hollingworth) – “Loaded with loads of William Castle throwback style, The Haunted Hotel is a wonderful set piece… but, it really is more than that. The collective team of filmmakers and actors behind this era-shifting horror event is the real showstopper – it isn’t like your average anthology, in that – here, unlike in others, the style is consistent, the quality is consistent, and the performances, photography and direction are always on target. Dickinson and Hollingworth stand out a little as small scene stealers, but all in all – this is a very rewarding watch; one I personally suspect will be just as enjoyable in ten years as it is today – a rare compliment for indie films!”

The Meadows by Luke Allen – Nominated: Best Screenplay, Nominated: Best Actor (Juan Carceres) – “The greatest strength of this project is its concept – it isn’t exactly an original one… there’s also Carceres, who tries as often as he can to ground the material, often acting with a very ‘direct’ manner. The actual writing is quite great, but the real hiccup though is the delivery… some of the acting and filming style lets the core content down – it never really tries to be a flat out comedy or a flat out drama, and it isn’t convincing at times. Overall it is enjoyable though, and a great starting point… perhaps the next feature could be a little harder than say this soft presentation… more follow-through by the entire team would bring about a stronger reward.”


– Short Films

Looking for Love by Ajuan Isaac-George – Nominated: Best Screenplay – “The film’s core is quite hearty – there’s character, a sense of locale and time and space… in a sense, it is a very mature piece.” 

Untouchability by Haresh Narayanan – Nominated: Best Director – “The film comes with a fantastic sound… but its understanding of genre is the most acute here: it knows when to be comedic, dramatic and so on… it features a variety of solid tones… despite its small run time.”

The Secret by Ben Wicks – Winner: Best Short Film produced for more than $10,000, Nominated: Best Director, Nominated: Best Cinematography – “The short is too long to really be a short, and too short to be a feature… it drifts in that strange middle space, like a special TV event… but it is actually much more than that. It is a beautiful historical piece that isn’t of TV quality, but rather that of the big screen. Bravo to all involved. It is simply delicious!”

No Traveller Returns by Ben Lingham – Nominated: Best Short film produced for less than $5,000, Nominated: Best Actor (Jordan Tweddle) – “The short has a great look about it… but the real highlight is the ease which Tweddle commands the space. There’s a sense of breathlessness in this short, something tangible and real.”

The Audition by Joe Benedetto – Nominated: Best Short film produced for less than $5,000 – “The stage which this film contains is a stage like reality – everything is on stilts and vibrantly dramatic. It is a great use of budget, and quite impressive.”

The Visitor by Yves Bernas – Nominated: Best Short film produced between $5,000-$10,000 – “The film is a delicate period piece. It is epic, but also concise and well-timed. Quite brilliant.”

Homeless Sam & Sally – The Movie by Tyrone Evans Clark – Nominated: Best Genre – “The grade is a mess, which is a real shame… but overall this film is a fantastic example of what one can do with a genre and a heap of originality.”

Across the Room by Melinda Hensley – Nominated: Best Short film produced between $5,000-$10,000, Best Ensemble Cast – “This short film really shows off the impact of a solid foursome.”

Fast Food by Sascha Agenor – Nominated: Best Short film made for less than $5,000, Best Music: Weymouth- The Macrobats – “A really solid young entry. The cast, mood and visuals really bring a great sense of freedom to the project. The music is also a bit of a stage setter – it holds you in this space.”

The Lioness by Richard Poche – Nominated: Best Director – “The style is raw. The plot is retro, like an exploitation film… and the finish is glamorous. It’s a smart combination of flavours.”

Masc by Taylor Olson – Nominated: Best Actor (Taylor Olson) – “The short is a sort of political debate… but in truth, the debate isn’t as interesting as the actual lead’s delivery. The performance is key here, and Olson does a great job in bringing some depth to what is a statement film.” 

The Hamlet of Suitcases by Max Albrecht – Nominated: Best Music, Nominated: Best Short film made for less than $5,000, Nominated: Best Actor (Max Albrecht) – “The photography is a bit of a trip up… it doesn’t live up to the film’s cohesive style of retro beauty. But it is, through and through, a delight.”

Spanish Lessons by Katie Kamala Haley – Winner: Best Short film produced between $5,000-$10,000 – “Reminiscent of The Tango Lessons by Sally Potter, this project is a great example of how one can blend human tales of discovery with a locale, a local culture and so on.” 

Scrap On by Simon Jefferson – Nominated: Best Short film produced between $5,000-$10,000 – “The film comes with a solid sense of perspective, one which is rarely explored successfully in smaller films.”

All Over Again by Joseph McGovern – Nominated: Best Short Film produced for more than $10,000 – “A fantastically intimate film with a real drive behind it – some great performances here, and a keen eye for texture and personality.”

Beyond the Wall by Azer Agalarov – Nominated: Best Editing – “The film carries a sense of civilisation and time through its editorial design. Very precise, but also fluid and creative.”

Don’t Smoke In Bed by Dritan Kastrati – Winner: Special Mention: Best Art Direction – “The film’s design, which is artful and delicate, is quite beautifully done and precise. The film is unique thanks to its fabric.”

Michael by Max Conran – Winner: Best Editing – “The film’s overall handling of the idea of the personal is quite unique and memorable. How it is cut of course shapes this.”

Sam by Sam Draper – Nominated: Best Short film made for less than $5,000 – “A great starter short film.”

Last Looks by Renee J Vaca – Nominated: Best Actress (Laura Allen) – “Allen just steals the show… or perhaps, well – the show is hers to steal. Whatever… it is a great performance, and kudos to Vaca for capturing it and all of its sensitivity.”

Bulldog by Kieran Stringfellow – Nominated: Best Actor (Louis Brogan), Nominated: Best Director – “The film is a gut punch. Brilliant!”

Hero by Tim White – Winner: Best Short film produced for less than $5,000 – “Fantastic use of budget. It has a really great look, one which goes far beyond its budget limitations.”

Super 180s by Joshua Kellerman – Nominated: Best Director, Nominated: Best Actor (Galen Molk), Winner: Best Screenplay – “If this had been a different season, with fewer entries, Kellerman would have nabbed more. It is quite a great minimalist short.”


– Webseries

Winner: The Gliwensbourg Chronicles – “Beautifully made. It has a real craftsman element to it – the image is golden, and the style is consistent, almost ‘top-end’ TV quality, like AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire or Hulu’s The Great… there’s a real sense of period here, texture and tone.”


The Anthony Show – “Well produced, energetically delivered and quite a fun comedic outing – very self-aware, which is a great element for this project.”

The Jersey Connection – “The show’s style and tone would suit a film better… it is quite great though, the acting is top-notch and the characters are quite rich and deeply sown into the shows spirit.”

Tales of Bacon – “This medieval romp is just a pure delight. Recalls Pasolini’s Life Trilogy, only in a sort of less art house venture. Great design for a web series.”

Red Velvet Revolution – “The sense of genre and the underlying dangers of digital life brings a certain style and class to this project which makes it a fairly unique and bold webseries.”

– Quarantine Short

Nominated: Best Quarantine Film – The Second Time I Got To Know My Dog by Kyle Scoble – “Caring and loveable. All pets deserve this dedication!”

Nominated: Best Quarantine Film – Loopy by Max Cianci, Anthony Peduzzi – “A simple concept presented here in a fashion that doesn’t derail its artfulness. Satisfying and fresh.”

Nominated: Best Quarantine Film – The Self Tape by Alex Feldman – “It is hard to be a fan of ‘actor’ shorts, as there’s just so many of them… but this one really does find a new way to do its thing. Bravo!”

Nominated: Best Quarantine Film – A Final Goodbye by Freddie Hill – “The performances here a punchy, and the presentation is unusual in way. Having seen many lockdown shorts, this one is a dish that you don’t  (but actually really do) want to actually get served during isolation.”

Nominated: Best Quarantine Film – Die at Home by Enrique Bencomo, Enrique Aranguren – “The strange nature of this short is its actual design. What starts as a character vehicle becomes quite a complex horror vehicle in a philosophical nature. Few lockdown shorts pull off this sort of U-Turn successfully.” | Nominated: Best Actress (Maria Pia Sanz) – “A moving performance is given here. Maria delves deep into a mental state that we have all felt but does so in a subtle way. It is calculated and very well performed.”

Nominated: Best Quarantine Film – Vessels by Maria Cury – “The retro flavour, the texture – it is DELICIOUS!”

Winner: Best Quarantine Film – The Bull and the Bear by Ryan J. Smith – “This masterful vehicle of layered performances and sharp awareness for the nature of remediation is just solid. PS – more noms for this short to follow!”  | Nominated: Best Director – Ryan J. Smith – “Smith finds a way with which to elevate the self-tape presentation into a very threatening and impressive triple performance.” | Nominated: Best Actor (Mitchell Fisher) – “The performances here are so solid, we struggled to pinpoint if it was a single actor or multiple performers doing the different parts… This should really serve as the greatest compliment.”

Nominated: Best Quarantine Film – Hikikovid by Alessio Aiello -“This might be one of the best-framed lockdown shorts that focuses on the living process of lockdown life.”

Nominated: Best Quarantine Film – A Case During Confinenemnt by Laurent Ardoint, Stephane Duprat – “This noir effort cuts through a lot of the noise when it comes to lockdown entries thanks to its unique use of genre and character. It is rather charming.”

Nominated: Best Genre Film – Earthlings by Ricardo Ripa – “Bizzare and rather rewarding in its science-fiction form.”

Nominated: Best Genre Film – Stay Home, Stay Safe – “A whacky fun animation that really capitalises on the humour of lockdown.”

Nominated: Best Black and White Cinematography – “A great use of contrast and the non-colour variety of filmic imagery.”

Nominated: Best Screenplay – Black Lives Matter – “The script is actually more than a political statement. It is ultimately a reflection of ethics, both those haunting our era but also those of the digital means of communication and the impact of our role as a complicit or active ‘witness’.”

Nominated: Best Black and White Cinematography – Ijmagination – “Designing shots without colour is often a complex event, especially when trying to avoid making the image dull and drained. Imagination hits hard with its story thanks to its well-established image.”

Nominated: Best Actress (Jilian Vitko) – 14 Days – “The comedy and tragedy of this piece are all inhabited by a single performer… and it is well worth a watch!”

Nominated: Best Cinematography – Cage – “The photography featured in this lock-down short is not limited to its locale… despite being limited to a particular space. It has a strong understanding of cinematic images and allows these to appear despite the restrictions of being locked in. Quite marvellous.”

Nominated: Best Ensemble Cast – The Maroon Jumper – “The pack of cards presented here – a group of friends all videoing each other – is one of the most comedic runs we’ve seen during this lockdown storytelling moment. The energy of these performers doesn’t drop, and one has to actually wonder if they all taped it together or apart.”

Nominated: Best Editing (Tracy Jenkins) – Reminders – “The combination of found footage, the images, the dance… it is the edit here which shines the most.”

Nominated: Best Editing – Isolesque – “The style of this short, which is mostly a kind of Maya Deren exercise, is greatly enhanced by contemporary digital editing. There is great skill here, most evident in the slicing of sequences.”

Nominated: Best Genre Film – A Mysterious Ritual of the Sun – “The sci fi vibes here are a bit Jim Jarmusch by way of Coffee and Cigarettes. It is minimal, but also impactful…  as well as consistently entertaining.”

Nominated: Best Actor (Matt Blakey) – Isolation – A Visual Poem – “Blakey gets intimate in this short. Unlike most isolation projects, we get a real sense of this short film featuring a being that lives and breathes beyond the confines of lockdown life.”

Winner: Special Mention: Best Grading (Jesse Will Newman) – The Walker – “Strange tones illuminate in this heavily tinted project.”

Nominated: Best Actor (Archie Brown), Best Genre Film, Best Director (Gabriel Brown) – No Escape – “Though this is a very ‘practical’ horror, the Browns bring a certain class to the simple concept – Archie performs with a great level of confidence, and this is brilliantly matched by Gabriel’s understanding of genre and tone.”

Winner: Special Mention: Best Combination of VFX and Photography – Abyss by Max Roach – “Roach proves that combining Visual Effects with lockdown shooting is a smart way of elevating the creativity of the film.”

Winner: Special Mention: Best Child Actor (Sam Sellars) – “Sam’s performance might be short, but it is just spot on.”

Nominated: Best Ensemble Cast – The Reunion – “The cast here has a great sense of performance and team spirit. It is one of the rare video chat shorts from the lockdown time that’s been quite fun to watch.”

Nominated: Best Writing (Jonathan Beckett) – Claustrophobic Love – “Beckett keeps it simple, and on point… and it is great for those things.”

Nominated: Best Ensemble Cast: Closed Until Further Notice – “The cast, which feels quite intimate despite its robust nature, is always on point and committed. Quite great for that lockdown creative vibes!”

Nominated: Best Genre: Zoom and Gloom – “The film’s genre is present in every breath. It is quite refreshing, and almost like retro in a way… despite its very modern digital style.”

Nominated: Best Editing: Y&I Go Outside – “The synching of the two clips is quite impressive.”

Winner: Special Mention – Best Style: Stay – “Bold. Eye-popping. Beautiful.”

Nominated: Best Ensemble Cast: Vitamin D – “Great energy here. The cast gives it their all.”

Nominated: Best Genre: The Quarantine Rag – “Amusing, light and a solid entry from a young filmmaker.”

Nominated: Best Ensemble Cast: Wicket – “An impressive poetic sports film, unrestricted by the lockdown restrictions.”

Nominated: Best Screenplay: CATVID-19 – “Bonkers in the best of ways. Meow!”

Nominated: Best Screenplay: Agora – “Krister Presson’s subject matter is quite brilliantly chosen. This isn’t your average run of the mill short film, and the screenplay is at the forefront of that design.”

Winner: Special Mention: Best Faux Godard Film – Dear Quarantine – “This film’s essay design, with the Godard like the construction of place and people being voices and objects, is quite brilliant.” 

Nominated: Best Director: Paradox – “Cowks brings his own madness to the project – there is a central flare to the design of the film that makes it entirely his and unique.”

Winner: Best Black and White Photography: Schism – “The awareness of the image – the quality of black and white design in terms of lighting and texture, is quite fantastic.”

Nominated: Best Actor (Hollis Epstein): Baby Zoomers – “Epstein is comical – he brings what is best about the project to the forefront of our eyes thanks to his acting as the loose kid.”

Winner: Special Mention: Best Mixed Media – Day 27 – “Strange meshes always make for interesting cinematic ventures.”

Nominated: Best Genre: It’s Here – “A rare genre outing that is both self-aware and nuanced.”

Nominated: Best Cinematography: 5 Minutes – “The use of colour is quite punchy, and unique when compared to other lockdown projects.”

Winner: Special Mention: Best Props: Figurine It Out – “A wonderful new form of story is grown here… the miniatures take over, almost in a Joe Dante style!”

Nominated: Best Screenplay: The Anthony Show – “Written with a certain unique zing that really does make the project shine.”

Nominated: Best Screenplay: Parrot – “A very real short. This is a domestic calculation. Precise. Bold. Experimental.”

Nominated: Best Cinematography: Seedling – “A series of beautifully designed images are presented here. The sense of space, nature and our interaction with it really comes through thanks to the film’s use of image-based storytelling.”

Nominated: Best Music: The New Normal – “Music here is used in the best way – a new voice in the story, rather than say wallpaper on the wall.”

– Music Video
Best Music Video
Winner: Out of Nothing by Karolis Andriulis – “In an unusual turn with indie music videos – the attitude in the song actually matches the one in the visual. Reminiscent of The Knife’s Pass This On music video, Out of Nothing blasts the dust off of the gym setting in a classy neon strut. Quite perfect in every way a music video can be!”
I Don’t Want To Go Out – Deco by Bobby Eccles – “Bubbly, energetic, fun… and kinda retro in a 00’s style.”
Countryman by Xuefei Chi – “The montage of black and quite and infographics is quite punching and striking.”
Best Editing
Winner: Countryman by Xuefei Chi – “The splicing of collage is just great!”
Ballad of a Fish by Aijian Olivia Chen – “The tying together of animation here is quite fluid.”
Best Cinematography 
Winner: Stay Close To Me – Minx by William Sossai – “A neon delight.”
Undertow by J.B. Lawrence – “The locale is best captured here… it becomes part of the story.”
I Don’t Want To Go Out – Deco by Talia Foxworthy-Bowers – “The sense of ‘the show must go on’ really holds here. The music video has a dance routine that really capitalises on the presence of a floating camera and colour and smoothness.”
Special Mention – Best Comedy Music Number – Two Arms Apart by Renee Jonas – “Hilarious, and well-acted in its ‘self-aware comical’ style.”


– Script Competition


At the Mercy of Faith by Samuel Taylor – Nominated: Best Technique – “Clearly written with class and an eye for detail.”


The Gifthorse by Gary Bigelow – Nominated: Best Character Arc – “Although a little on the ‘long’ side of short films, and well – not long enough to be a feature… Bigelow’s characters have a wonderful charm and journey in the ways of (their) life.”


Beyond Deception by Gary Bigelow – Nominated: Best Micro-Budget Script – “Though it is set in one of those ‘isolated’ locations (for which, some producers this will be a hard sell), the overall production is quite well crafted in terms of being cost-effective and practically ready for filming.”


The Devil’s Driver by Steven Gurney – Nominated: Best Genre Script, Best Character Arc – “It has that brilliant blend of self-aware genre and post-modernism. I like it so much, there’s a slight temptation to reach out to Mr Gurney and see if he needs a director.”


The Cross Up by Meka Butler – Nominated: Best Technique – “Butler’s writing is sharp, well-tuned and perfectly on target.”


The Night We Met by Rhys Freeman – Winner: Best Genre Script – “This TV script just pops right off the page with a ‘ready to greenlight’ vibe.”


Recruited by Thomas Melhuish – Nominated: Best Character Arc – “Some of the dialogue by the supporting cast is at times a little cliche, but overall – the Daniel goes on, and the overall tone the character, provides a great space with which a lead actor could really delve in and have fun.”


Winter Bird by Stephen Delos Treacy – Winner: Best Technique – “With its complex narrative design of time hopes and solid dialogue, Treacy’s script shines as a well-crafted object that has clearly had years of work put into its development.” 


No Accounting for Taste by Eileen Wilson – Winner: Best Micro-Budget Script – “If the prison was to be ‘fake’, in terms of not an actual location… this is one of the most cost-effective little set-piece scripts we’ve ever seen.”


Clap! by Barbara Vonau – Nominated: Best Genre Script – “Getting that dramedy tone, which is very popular in the US TV scene at the moment (ie HBO’s Looking, Girls, Insecure etc.) is quite hard… and Vonau does quite a good job in hitting that mark with her set of characters.”


They Don’t Leave by Caz McGovern – Nominated: Best Genre Script – “Small, intimate, sharp… this horror is on point for some viral spread online.”


How ‘Bout a Cup of Tea by Jan Miller Corran – Winner: Special Mention – Best Lockdown Script – “Well, we live in strange times… don’t we? – Corran capitalises on this in the best way possible.”


The Family by Kyle Crosby, Max Giorgi – Nominated: Best Character Arc – “The ensemble really goes on the first step of what is a long journey ahead of them… this could make for a great webseries.”


ReView by Jonathan Zarantonello – Winner: Best Character Arc – “A baffling, unusual concept. Almost like a Faulkner novel, only set in a digital performance space that’s very post-modern and sexual.” 


Blue Spice Queen by Dean Harakas – Nominated: Best Technique – “The dialogue is wonderfully pulpy!”


The Prey by Shaan I Memon, Kharl Louis-Jean – Nominated: Best Genre Script – “Though I think it would make for a better feature than this TV Script… The Prey is quite great, and has a strong feeling for its tone.”


Buried Truths by Jan Miller Corran, Adam Huss – Nominated: Best Character Arc – “We really need a dialogue award now. This has a great touch for how people talk. Actors would love it. Bravo!”


Boogeyman by Delraj Takher – Nominated: Best Genre Script – “Boogeyman is an obvious genre piece. It has that ‘classical’ feeling about its style… the edits from one scene to the next, often with brash characters, is quite retro and fun.”


Love Like The 80’s by Jedediah Parker, Christan Van Slyke – Nominated: Best Character Arc – “There is a sense of real personas in the scenes here. They carry the project.”


I Don’t Know by Arthur Tiersky – Nominated: Best Technique – “A little dense in terms of dialogue pace at times, but overall the style of the craft is great. The script is a very ‘clean’ (and clear) read.”
 Please note: As we are working with mostly Covid-19 related entries, we have adapted some of our nomination categories, as well as expanded the qualifications for each. This is unique for this particular season.