Winter 2020


Winter 2020 / Festival Laurels


Jury Prize  –  Winner: Here Today by Erica Arvold 

Jury Judge, Ryan Bennett, Says:

Here Today is a surprisingly sophisticated tale of teen suicide and the signs we often miss. Surprising sophisticated especially when one considers the youth of its 16-year-old scribe. The film artfully executes its turn, using film language and convention to trick its audience into missing what its characters were often missing too. Some of the relationships develop in a way that’s hard to track and retain empathetic connection with at first, but the ending reframes everything so effectively that this almost becomes part of the point. Its message is clear, considered and well told. We are proud to elevate what it has to say and award the skill with which it says it.

Jury Prize nominees: Rendezvous by Seth Kozak, Deadly Promises by Joseph Ramos, The Dental Plan by Wayne Diu.


Feature Films 

The Dental Plan by Wayne Diu – Nomination: Best Feature Film made for over $10,000, Nomination: Jury Prize: “A comical venture, featuring a pronounced locale for the film’s core central premise.”

Deadly Promises by Joseph Ramos – Winner: Best Feature Film made for over $10,000, Nomination: Jury Prize, Nomination: Best Ensemble Cast, Nomination: Best Cinematography – Ian Brander: “A very well rounded and consistent feature film, boasting an expressive use of lighting and a solid cast of characters (all brought to life by the wonderful cast).

Kurt Vonnegut’s A Man Without a Country by J.J. Hartling – Nomination: Best Feature Film made for over $10,000, Winner: Best Editing:”A well-orchestrated gathering of interviews, voice-over and archive footage. Documentaries are rarely this alive in the indie scene.”

I Do by G Lee Gordon – Nomination – Best Actor: Fabian Lopez: “Gordon’s direction really leans best with the more dramatic realist tone (some of the CGI and styling is excessive and distracting), and the script – at its heart, has a great moody thing to tell… which leads me to this – Fabian Lopez carries the film’s dramatic charisma very very very well.”

Rainfalls by Richard Poche – Nomination: Best Feature made for under $5,000, Nomination: Best Actress (Erika Smith): “Noir throwback feature with a toothpick gritty performance from Smith.”

The Doors Between Us by Maximillian Aguiar – Winner: Best Feature made for under $5,000: “Comical, colourful (despite the black and white photography) and at times very wonderfully zangy with its dialogue.”

Short Films 

Fiction About Country C by Xueqing Yin – Nomination: Best Genre Film: “A personal take on the ‘documentary’ genre, one which is full of personality and self-consciousness.” 

In The Garden by Xueqing Yin –  Winner: Special Mention – Most Unique Story, Nomination: Best Genre Film: “A fascinating moment to pick up the camera and reveal a part of the world far removed, and yet very relatable, for the Western audience.”

The Audition by Yidan Tang – WInner: Best Actress (Lydia Li), Best Short made for under $5,000: “It reminds me of the Kim Ki Duk films of the mid-naughties – which is to say: it is visceral, bold, memorable and biting. It also features a great performance by Li, who balances comical revenge with anger very well.”

Games Night by James Campayne – Winner: Best Ensemble Cast, Nomination: Best Screenplay: “With a sort of Polanski Carnage vibe, this ensemble of verbal battery is peaked by its final mic drop, and of course the cast that carry the characters to life. All in all very satisfying as shorts go.”

Outsiders by Grace Perry – Nomination -Best Cinematography (Jan Solberg), Nomination: Best Short made for under $5,000, Nomination: Best Director (Grace Perry): “A very classic short. A class act.”

Maya by Richard Fysh – Nomination -Best Director, Nomination: Best Short made for under $5,000, Nomination: Best Ensemble Cast: “This film has a certain quality which resonates. It’s like an oak in a garden, it is to be looked at and admired.”

Meek Lover Creek by Joshua Gaestel – Nomination: Best Short made for under $5,000, Nomination: Best Sound Design, Nomination: Best Orignal Music: “A fun, bold, wooded adventure!”

Ghetto Bird by Richard O’Hare –Winner: Best Cinematography (Marcos Shepherd), Nomination: Best Director, Winner: Best Screenplay (Jack Parr, Aron von Andrian), Nomination: Best Actor (Callum Kerr): “Bold, beautiful and engaging. This is now ghetto film!”

Rattle by Joe Pettit – Nomination: Best Director, Nomination: Best Ensemble Cast, Nomination: Best Editing: “There’s a feeling here that three key parts are at play in terms of making this a great short: a strong voice and consistent style by Pettit, the collective performances – which are all very realist, underplayed and consciously lead by a strong cast, and lastly – the assembly of this all in the edit.”

Paint by Luca Eiberger – Nomination: Best Cinematography (Matthias Pöltinger): “The film is lit with a great sense of beauty and genre.”

It’s a Wrap! by Brian Unwin – Nomination: Best Actor (Brian Unwin), Winner: Best Music (Paul Mottram): “Whimsy, fun, bright and a magical throwback to silent cinema.”

Art as Catharsis by Amber Bardell – Nomination: Best Genre Film: “The film’s comfortable narrative of documentary-style is greatly elevated by its pushing of the medium and embracing the art it can present to us.”

Johan by Craig Lief – Nomination: Best Screenplay: “An intimate and very personable tale is told here.”

Mwanzo Sana by Sychelle Yanda – Nomination: Best Director: “Told with a bold balance of style and minimalist craft.”

Moonboy by Christopher Logan – Winner: Best Genre Film: “A fun take on a simple enjoyable love-story.”

Wrong Answer by Lee Dae Han – Nomination: Best Genre Film, Winner: Best Director, Nomination: Best Short made for under $5,000: “Wrong Answer is a wild wonder of a film. I loved the journey, the characters and above all the freak-of-cinema it is.”

One in 50 Million by Luciana Ceccatto Farah – Special Mention: Best Documentary: “Intimate, passionate, personable… what more could you ask for when it comes to a documentary?”

#Anniversary by Ellis E. Fowler – Winner: Best Actor (Ellis E. Fowler), Nomination: Best Short made for under $5,000: “Fowler is great in this, his performance is actually a surprise when one discovers he’s the man behind and in front of the camera.”

Duck Egg Blue by Margaret Kane-Rowe Nomination: Best Actor (Colin Walsh), Nomination: Best Short made for under $5,000: “Walsh’s performance comes loaded with loads of energy… and the production quality is consistent and impressive throughout.”

In Astratto Non Si È by Andrea Di Salvatore – Nomination: Best Ensemble Cast, Nomination: Best Cinematography: “A grand cast of angry and energetic Italians burst onto a beautifully designed screen… This is Cinema! 

Remembrance by Tom White – Nomination:  Best Cinematography (Sergio M. Lorenzana), Best Actor (Michael A. LeMelle), Best Director, Nomination: Best Short made for under $5,000: “Just beautiful. Great performance by its lead, consistent with its tone and style… and shot with such a delicate eye for color, light source and technique.”

Prize Board by Chris Bowers – Nomination: Best Genre Film: “Comical through and through.”

The Painting by Dan Jonsson – Nomination: Best Actress (Kattis Melander), Nomination: Best Short made for under $5,000, Nomination: Best Ensemble Cast: “Charming, comedic and as bold as Melander’s performance – which is to say it is bubbly and engaging.”

The Red Fashion House by Liu Zhuo-Xuan – Nomination: Best Actor (Theo Podger): “A strong performance is hidden in this nicely made short film.”

Un autre jour à LA by Marie Tollec – Nomination: Best Actress (Luana Proffit): “Proffit shines in this seaside picture. She has a certain old-Hollywood charm about her performance… or perhaps it is the director’s eye at work here – that being Tollec capturing Proffit in a star-like fashion. Regardless, the combination works.”

The Sound of a Smile by Charlie Hancox – Nomination: Best Actor (Richard Sullivan), Nomination: Best Director: “Just a brilliant character study. Well designed, nicely performed, very polished.”

Love/Sick by John Pope – Nomination: Best Actor: “Pope steals the show here.”

Daddy’s Note by Gavin Irvine – Nomination: Best Genre Film: “Daddy’s Note is comedy genius.” 

Acid Rain by Oliver Finlinson – Nomination: Best Director, Nomination: Best Screenplay: “Like with Open Grave, Acid Rain relishes its end of days with great high staked results.”

Ike & Judy by Sarah Christine – Nomination: Best Actor (Larry Golden Sr.), Nomination: Best Actress (Arihya Finley), Nomination: Best Screenplay (Sarah Christine): “Beautiful and tender, some great acting and great characters.” 

DUSTLICKER by Gina Nemo – Nomination: Best Short made for under $5,000: “A whole load of fun.” 

Aftermath by Gergő Elekes and József Gallai – Nomination: Best Short made for under $5,000: “This could have been made by Blumhouse. Moody, dark and atmospheric indeed!”

About by Phill Dunn – Winner: Best Short made for under $5,000, Nomination: Best Screenplay (Phill Dunn), Nomination: Best Ensemble Cast: “A well-rounded concept brought home by a solid ensemble who play off of each other.”

Piss Off (20) by Henry Baker – Winner: Special Mention: Most NSFW Film: “Intriguing, unusual, fetish heavy and impressively international.”

Starling by Henry Baker – Nomination: Best Genre: “A fun ride of a film.” 

39. JIAN by Piotr Karter – Nomination: Best Cinematography, Best Actress (Jun Ichikawa): “The image is stunning. Ichikawa is a revelation.” 

Shame or Honour by Ceri Thomas-Davies – Nomination: Best Ensemble Cast: “An intimate and moving narrative is fleshed by an interesting cast of ‘real’ performances.”

Ada by Steven Kammerer – Nomination: Best Actress (Hanneke Talbot), Best Director, Nomination: Best Short made for between $5,000-$10,000: “Shot with style, care, and lots of love… you can see the passion in this film.”

Mother by Fiorella Pomarino – Winner: Special Mention: Best Experimental Film: “Stunningly shot, the lighting from above and the dance is intoxicating.” 

Vestige by Anthony Thornton-Hopwood – Nomination: Best Short made for between $5,000-$10,000: “Shot with a grand understanding of light and the architecture for a building, and how this might shape a film.”

The Smiler by Gregg Blake – Nomination: Best Cinematography: “This has a great look about it. Loving the blues.”

The Gentle Art Of Violence by Andrew Przybytkowski – Nomination: Best Cinematography: “Beautiful, very traditional in its style.” 

Here Today by Erica Arvold and Meredith Grace Dabney – Nomination: Best Short made for $10,000+: “We love the grandness of this film. The locales really shine.”

Lost Treasure of the Valley by Robert Husted – Nomination: Best Short made for $10,000+: “Comical and stylish with its use of film form.” 

Rendezvous by Seth Kozak – Nomination: Best Cinematography: “There’s a stylish texture and sense of the world through the eyes of this film. Really frosty and fun.”

Distance by Jesse Edwards – Winner: Best Short made for between $5,000-$10,000 – “A stunning hike into a world of lush color and darkness.”

Monster in the Hood by Brandon Ladson – Nomination: Best Short made for between $5,000-$10,000: “A fun whacky adventure.” 

Tumbling Towards Home by Imelda O’Reilly – Nomination: Best Short made for between $5,000-$10,000: “Sensitive, impressively enhanced by animation.” 

TINDERBOX by Rickey Larke – Nomination: Best Actress (Danielle Joelle Carter), Nomination: Best Short made for between $5,000-$10,000: “Love the retro ratio and its modern loving. Solid in its delivery.” 


A Throne of Shadows!: Hamlet Or What Though Wilt! by Simon Brandon – Nomination: Best Webseries, Winner: Best Makeup, Nomination: Best Ensemble Cast: “It’s like Star Trek mega mashup with the good old William Shakespeare. Wild, weird and quite inventive! Oh – and the cast do bring it their own, be it when talking about postal deliveries or chanting Shakespearian quips.”

Ghost Song by Seaton Kay-Smith – Nomination: Best Animation: “Inventive, fun and a little bit mad. Great use of simple animation.”

Winner: Demon Doctor by Joshua R. Pangborn: Nomination: Best Actor (Joshua R. Pangborn), Best Makeup: “Pangborn’s mushroom ride of a series is a fun thing to be had… very retro in its fantasy touches.”

Black On Both Sides by Alonge Hawes – Nomination: Best Webseries: “A well-thought-out endeavour full of charm, character and intimacy.”

A French Chinese Scam Guide by Cong Li – Nomination: Best Cinematography, Nomination: Best Screenplay, Nomination: Best Webseries – “Slick, sexy and broadcast ready.”

Interlocked by Marei Annis – Nomination: Best Webseries: “There are some pacing issues here, but overall it has a very interesting digital design – almost like a ‘formalist’ Jean Luc Godard film (ie Two or Three Things I Know About Her style).”



Quarantine Short – Selections & Winner

Winner: Best Quarantine Short: Safer At Home by Peter Mackie – “Reminded me of It Follows… A great understanding of genre is present here.”

Winner: Special Mention: Best Quarantine Animation – Shopping Trip by Barry Wilkinson – “Stunning animation with a dark heart.”

(a)holistic by Anna Nikolaeva – “A bold mechanical edit is inflicted on the viewer. It features a great use of visual media!”

Love/Sick by John Pope – “Pope’s performance is quite great… the film though is a domestic headache, but one presented with great love and care… so it just basically rocks!”

TOILETPAPERMAN by Gary Ye – “The images are just wild in this animation film.”

Winner: Special Mention: Best Quarantine Horror – The Dwelling by Harry Tomlin – “Eerie, very nicely lit… probably one of the best quarantine shorts we’ve seen.”

Trapped Cat by Jaime Fidalgo – “Bold with its cating, I mean acting. Comical.”

The Riemann Hypothesis by Dimitrios Karas – “A brainy throwback to the days of Pi and thoughts on screen.”

Socially Distant by Austin Beatty – “The grading is just delicious.”

21 or More by Naveen Narayanan – “Narayanan finds a character worthy of our time.”

Luca and Iso by Damian Overton – “There’s something very Godard about this short. Tres good!”

Second Phase by Fabiana Lupo – “We should really award this for best costume changes, rather than best quarantine short.”

Hotel Aloha by Paloma Zhu – “Charming, like an early Disney.”
Waiting by Irene Auch – “The intense performance presented here is very moving.”
“Isolation” by George McCluskey – “Creepy is the word. I’d hate to be isolated with these dolls.”
Dogs Dream by Oliver Stenson-Tynan – “Cutest doggie filled short. Perfect woof timing for the lockdown. Great performances all round, four-legged and human voices.”
Package by Davide Curto – “Editing doesn’t get better than this.”
The Doll by Margina Sisson – “Great use of genre.”
The Last Dance by Carlos Marroco and Adriano Schmidt – “Brilliantly acted.”


Grain by Benjamin P Keir – Nomination: Best Character Arc: “The beings of Grain go through a hell of a lot, and are well rounded in their presentation – very cinematic archetypes live in these pages.”

N.D.E by Jean Galliano – Winner: Best Genre Script: “N.D.E has a great variety of genre codes which could be unlocked and used by a skilled director/DP team with great relish. A script like this deserves the right creative team behind it!”

The Fairy Dust Boutique by Gary Bigelow – Nomination: Best Technique: “A well designed and well polished script, an easy breezy read thanks to its clear motivations and style.”

Loch and Load by Paul Mclellan-Young – Nomination: Best Genre Script: “A deep delve into the adventure subgenre. Quite grand in its design.”

Would-Be Hero by Matthew Ford – Nomination: Best Technique: “The script is crisp and sharp with how it explores its genre, character arcs and overall presentation on the page.”

Forests and Thieves by Reiner Beukes: Best Character Arc: “It’s a story we’ve heard before… I think. It’s a fun classic revived with a new voice. Quite great.”

Wounded by Brandon Trask: Best Technique: “Brash, bold and flashy with its confidence (which is well founded).”

No Lies, No More by Tim Northburg: Best Character Arc: “It’s all dialogue, and it lives and dies with these characters’ jabbering… but in the case of Northburg’s script, it’s also where the magic lies.”

Stoney Jack’s Secret London by Jim V Hart and David Long: Winner: Special Award: Most Original Script: “Epic, grand and so unique in its concept and design.”

Renaissance Man by Robert Tolz – Nomination: Best Technique: “Nicely designed, and well groomed, this script has a certain class about the way it navigates its plot and relishes its characters.”

Not a Creature was Stirring by Michael Hogan – Nomination: Best Genre Winner: Best Character Arc: “A hoot of a journey. Great use of locale. Quite a great bit of fun!”

Dandelion Wishes by Sammy Kistell – Nomination: Best Micro Budget: “Minimalist and grand at the same time… the ensemble of personas really get to shine as a collective too.”

Mirrors at Night by Dean Harakas – Nomination: Best Character Arc: “Dizzy with character atmosphere.”

The Guest House by Luke Anthony Walker – Nomination: Best Technique: “A nicely designed used of script writing, boasts a real understanding of screenplay syntax.”

The Making Of by Helena Rana – Nomination: Best Genre: “Oh what a joy of genre spoils!”

Manadou, The Golden Hands by Manasa S Mane – Nomination: Best Character Arc: “Bold and inviting. The world, the characters… it all comes together in a uniquely non-Western voice.”

Gorger by Paul G Andrews and Christopher Angel – Nomination: Best Genre: “A fun use of genre exists here, and it help elevate the project into a defined cinematic world.”

With Friends Like These by Neil Monaghan – Winner: Best Technique: “Hefty in its design, but very well written.”

The Blossoms by Matt Evans – Winner: Best Micro Budget: “In the context of what the script pulls off within its feature run time, there’s no denying that Evans does a great job in keeping his script quite ‘filmable’ in terms of budget and potential production value.”

Through A Child’s Eyes by Joshua Rahymes – Best Micro Budget: “A short film that should just get shot. Would make for a great casting opportunity in terms of the nurse and doctor team present in this intimate horroresque script.”

A Figure in Red by Jas Kaur – Best Genre: “Wild and weird. With the right director and/or style, this could be very fun…”

Music Videos 

  • The Way I Used To Know by Mia Zanotti | Directed by Don Swanson – Nomination: Best Music Video Cinematography – “Atmospheric with its visual design, and very consistent. Quite classy, despite the dark pool room setting.”
  • LOVELUST by Tale of Two | Directed by Tone Davies -Nomination: Best Music Video Editing – “The montage of words and flashing black and white faces reminds one of the 80’s music video scene, in particular the early stuff of like New Order. It’s an engaging watch thanks to its edit.”
  • De Moi + de toi by aplusetdims | Directed by Luka Perkins Petit – Winner: Best Music Video, Nomination: Best Music Video Cinematography, Nomination: Best Music Video Editing: “Stylish, tres cool and textured with a beautiful eye for detail.”
  • Strange Days by Millionaire | Directed by Nick Timmermans and Jaak De Digitale -Nomination: Best Music Video, Winner: Best Music Video Editing: “A bold Scifi animation that has some fantastic moments, all carefully arranged together.”
  • Liquor | Directed by Francesco Calzona – Nomination: Best Music Video, Winner: Best Music Video Cinematography: “A clear vision, one which is very engaging and luring, inhabits the world of Liquor.”
  • Material Life by Underhill West | Directed by Gabriel Athanasiou – Nomination: Best Music Video Cinematography: “Classy, polished, beautiful.”
  • Swimming Upstream by M West | Directed by Caren Messing – Nomination: Best Music Video Editing: “A freeform hippie vibe takes full form in this magic thing.”
  • La Vulgu Aux Oiseaux by Clideloup | Directed by La Meute and Christophe Mavroudis – Nomination: Best Music Video Cinematography, Nomination: Best Music Video – “A beautiful fog-filled locale of a wild trip no one wants to take in real life.”