Thursday, June 25, 2020

2020 Award Winners

Top Awards

Best Picture: Gutman's Alternative (Aleksandrs Mirskis, Latvia)

Best Script: LimoCop (Kevin Lapsley, Michael Craig, Canz)
Nominees: Erased, Palmetto, Persona, Rainbows and Silver Buckles: The Adventures of Joe and Muz, The Vanishing Point, The Women of Harcourt Street, They Came from the Seaweed

Film Jury Awards

Best Alternative Film: Under the Lights (Miles Levin, USA)
Nominees: Bennifer, Daffodil, The Remaining Eight, Dark Alley, On My Own, Salting the Fly, Come! (Eat)

Best Student Film: June Heist (Angela Marie Houston, USA)
Nominees: High Card, Johnny Anarchy, Here to Collect

Best Short Film: The Lossen (Colin Skevington, UK)
Nominees: A Piece of Cake, Under the Lights, Together, The Remaining Eight, Wives of the Skies, Daffodil, Entwined, The Simple Path

Best Documentary: The Hoy Boys (Dave Simonds, USA)
Nominees: The Valley, Strange Tenants: Ska'd for Life, The Campaign of Miner Bo, Return to Nam, Mentally Al, Overdosed

Cultural Spirit: Overdosed (Mary Sue Connolly, USA)
Nominees: Tending Clouds, LifeSaver: The SLO Noor Foundation Story, Wish Come True, Once in a Hundred Years: The Life & Legacy of Marian Anderson

Animal Welfare: Catnip Nation (Tina Traster, USA)

Best Short Documentary: Once in a Hundred Years: The Life & Legacy of Marian Anderson (Bill Nicoletti, USA)
Nominee: The Magic Behind the Mojo, Tending Clouds

Best Biographical Film: Mentally Al (Joshua Edelman, USA)
Nominees: Once in a Hundred Years: The Life & Legacy of Marian Anderson, The Magic Behind the Mojo, The Hoy Boys

Female Eye Filmmaking: Wives of the Skies (Honey Lauren, USA)
Nominees: Becoming Bethany Rhodes, Borrowing, Come! (Eat), Daffodil, Feminist Theory and How It Relates to the Patriarchal Dividend, Joan on Her Own, June Heist, You Can Kiss Me

Best TV Pilot: Oddly Popular (Fred Gallo, USA)

Best Comedy: A Piece of Cake (The Bragg Brothers, USA)
Nominees: Bennifer, Wives of the Skies, Love Gov 2: A Crisis Not to Waste, Joan on Her Own

New Hope: Tending Clouds (Joel Sandvos, USA, Cambodia)
Nominees: LifeSaver: The SLO Noor Foundation Story, Overdosed, Return to Nam

LGBTQ Spirit: Garden DayZe (Evie Hammer, USA)
Nominees: You Can Kiss Me, Feminist Theory and How It Relates to the Patriarchal Dividend

Best Supernatural Film: Daffodil (Nicola Fan, Hong Kong)
Nominees: The Lossen

Best Webisode: Joan on Her Own (Sherise Dorf, USA)
Nominees: Love Gov 2: A Crisis Not to Waste

Best Music Video: Bullet Man (Vadim Lasca, Venezuela)
Nominees: Wish Come True

Music Video Cultural Spirit: Wish Come True (Sharon Doyle, USA)
Nominees: Bullet Man

Best Director: Colin Skevington (The Lossen, UK)
Nominees: The Bragg Brothers (A Piece of Cake, USA), Honey Lauren (Wives of the Skies, USA), Bill Nicoletti (Once in a Hundred Years: The Life & Legacy of Marian Anderson, USA), Nicola Fan (Daffodil, Hong Kong), Aleksandrs Mirskis (Gutman's Alternative, Latvia), Miles Levin (Under the Lights, USA), Joshua Edelman (Mentally Al, USA)

Script Jury Awards

Best Narrative Feature: Persona (Jeffrey Howe)
Nominees: Saving the West, The Vanishing Point, The Women of Harcourt Street, They Came from the Seaweed, Erased, Chupacabra, East Farm

Best Teleplay: Forever Home (Sarah Shook, Scott Goldstein)

Best Period Script: Rainbows and Silver Buckles: The Adventures of Joe and Muz (Stuart Schulz)
Nominees: Saving the West, The Wild Heart of Alaska

Best Short Screenplay: The Joymaker (Tara Grover Smith)
Nominees: Prepare the Way, Rescued, The Lesson

Audience Choice Awards (Screened in July 2021)

Best Music Video - Wish Come True (Sharon Doyle, USA)
Best Narrative Feature - Gutman's Alternative (Aleksandrs Mirskis, Latvia)
Best Documentary - Lifesaver: The SLO Noor Foundation Story (Robert Williams, USA)
Best Short Film - You Can Kiss Me (Jan Jalenak, USA)
Best Student Film - Salting the Fly (Craig Mooneyham, Jacob Reynolds, USA)

Friday, June 5, 2020

The Magic Behind the Mojo

Down in the Louisiana Bayou, they sure know how to live—and party.

If you are weary of stay-at-home culture and you're a wantin' t' join 'em, why not grab your hat and/or dancin' shoes and head on out to a live performance of Mojo and the Bayou Gypsies, the subject of this frolicking documentary? Or at least virtually via the link below. Bandleader Mojo and his Cajun accordion have been entertaining audiences around the world for over half a century, and he's showing no signs of slowin' down.

The Magic Behind the Mojo is a biographical film about a culturally authentic artist, but to its credit it's also a highly entertaining concert because there is plenty of music. About six years ago, filmmaker Joe Gallo discovered this Deep South musician while working on the soundtrack for a film involved in supporting the newly minted National Museum of the United States Army. Now, I'm no expert on Cajun culture, but Mojo has a one-word name so he must be a star.

You can watch the trailer here: The Magic Behind the Mojo Trailer

LifeSaver: The SLO Noor Foundation Story

A humanitarian foundation in San Luis Obispo, California runs medical, dental and vision clinics in their area with the praiseworthy mission of serving the uninsured. It's almost astonishing that even after health care reform millions of people remain uninsured in the United States of America, the wealthiest country in history.

Despite its technical sophistication, the nation's health care delivery system can be callous towards people who cannot afford to participate in it. Moreover, the costs of housing, automobiles and other basics of modern life have grown with the stock market and technological progress over time while multitudes who aren't well positioned to benefit fall between the cracks.

An immigrant physician who saw people struggling to make it in this country set out to effect positive change, and these clinics are the result. Although the foundation is small and its area of service is confined to the immediate area, its work is important and the model deserves wide recognition. Filmmaker Robert Williams is compounding the good done by SLO Noor Foundation by putting this documentary on the festival circuit; let's hope the publicity will spawn imitators.

You can watch the trailer here: The SLO Noor Foundation Trailer

Tuesday, June 2, 2020


The concept of togetherness is under great duress today, which makes a film entitled Together all the more timely. In this 17-minute short, Carver and Ella have enjoyed a successful marriage for 50 wonderful years and now they want to celebrate with the trip of a lifetime. They raised good kids who are now adults and the couple is free to go it alone, just as they were when they started their matrimonial journey together.

There is only one problem—it's medically related—and it pushes the meaning of the word together in an unexpected direction. The plotline should touch a chord amidst a worldwide pandemic. Helmer A.W. Scott is a former venture capitalist who made a challenging career change to the arts via completing a program at UCLA Graduate Film School, and his dedication to learning the crafts of writing and directing is clearly evident in this fine, humanistic film.

You can watch the trailer here: Together Trailer

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The Hoy Boys

In our age of polarized press and marketing-driven newsbytes, some people would call it naive to think that journalism professionals once roamed the Earth with a single-minded focus on presenting the unvarnished truth, even if it didn't sit well with them personally. After all, everyone has a bias they could say.

The Hoy Boys hearkens back to an era when news broadcasts were sparse and journalists worked behind firewalls—legal protections, editorial separation from news departments and analogue cameras that captured history, unedited, on film. It may not have been a Golden Age, but that may be the point. Photojournalists Tom and Frank Hoy, the subjects of this excellent biographical film, did not Photoshop our view of their time.

Filmmaker Dave Simonds seems equally interested in capturing his subjects, and this project is richer for it. You can watch the trailer here: The Hoy Boys Trailer

Saturday, May 23, 2020

Wives of the Skies

Set in 1965, a time of glamorous jet travel and less-than-ideal attitudes towards women at work, this short from California by seasoned actress and writer Honey Lauren pokes and prods in the right areas. A leering male photographer finds willing subjects in two bubbly young flight attendants, but just when you think someone should expropriate his camera and send him packing, the women demonstrate that he who plays a game can also be the one who is getting played.

Lauren hails from the gorgeous Los Angeles seaside community of Pacific Palisades, and it shows in her work's impressive aesthetic sensibility, from sharp-eyed cinematic choices down to minute details of the era.  This is eye candy, indeed, but it's also a reminder that he who self-indulges in sweets may end up with a toothache.

Or a lifelong row of false teeth. You can watch the trailer here (parental discretion advised): Wives of the Skies Trailer