The 33rd New Orleans Film Festival Filmmaker Awards

Congratulations to all the filmmakers who joined the festival this year, and a big THANK YOU to our jurors. Read about them below.

See the Audience Award Winners.

Narrative Features Competition

The winning film receives a $15,000 Panavision camera rental package and $13,500 of Light Iron Post Production services.

Jury Award Winner: Our Father The Devil – dir. Ellie Foumbi

Special Jury Recognition: Stay Awake – dir. Jamie Sisley

Best Documentary Features Competition

Jury Award Winner: The Time of The Fireflies (El Tiempo de las luciérnagas) – dirs. Matteo Robert Morales, Mattis Appelqvist Dalton

Special Jury Recognition: Outta the Muck – dirs. Bhawin Suchak, Ira Mckinley

Special Jury Recognition: This is National Wake – dir. Mirissa Neff

Best Louisiana Feature Award

The winning film receives a $15,000 Panavision camera rental package and one free screening at Light Iron’s New Orlean’s facility.

Jury Award Winner: Hollow Tree – dir. Kira Akerman

Special Jury Recognition: Silent Beauty – dir. Jasmín Mara López

Best Cinematography Feature Award

The winning Louisiana feature film receives a $10,000 Keslow Camera rental package.

Jury Award Winner – Louisiana Feature: Silent Beauty – dir. Jasmín Mara López

Best Narrative Short Award (Oscar®-qualifying category)

The winning film will receive $2,500 in Kodak film stock.

Jury Award Winner: If I Go Will They Miss Me – dir. Walter Thompson-Hernández

Special Jury Recognition: CIVIC– dir. Dwayne LaBlanc

Best Documentary Short Award (Oscar®-qualifying category)

Jury Award Winner: The Feeling of Being Close to You – dir. Ash Goh Hua

Special Jury Recognition: SALLAD – dir. Tramaine Townsend

Special Jury Recognition: I Never Had Dreams of My Son – dir. Jason Blevins

Best Louisiana Short Award

The winner of this award will receive a $5,000 Storyville Post package.

Jury Award Winner: little trumpet – dir. Megan Trufant Tillman

Special Jury Recognition: House of Tulip – dir. Cydney Tucker

Special Jury Recognition: In Search of… Pregame – dir. Jason R.A. Foster

Best Cinematography Louisiana Short Award

The winning Louisiana short film receives a $10,000 Keslow Camera rental package.

Jury Award Winner – Louisiana Short: A Different Perception – dir. Joshua J. Williams

Helen Hill Award for Animated Short (Oscar®-qualifying category)

Jury Award Winner: Hospes – dir. Stephanie J. Williams

Special Jury Recognition: My Parent, Neal – dir. Hannah Saidiner

Special Jury Recognition: When You Wish Upon A Star – dir. Domenico Modafferi

Best Experimental Short Award

Jury Award Winner: Proximity Study (Sight Lines) – dir. Elizabeth M. Webb

Special Jury Recognition: Blue Veil – dir. Shireen Alihaji

Special Jury Recognition: Signal and Noise – dirs. Kate Mathews, Jess Shane

Special Jury Recognition: Prayer – dir. Vashni Korin Balleste

Reel South Award

The winning film receives a $1000 cash prize.

Jury Award Winner: Becoming YAMAZUSHI – dir. G. Yamazawa

John-Carlo Monti Memorial Award

This year’s recipient receives $1,000 from the John-Carlo Monti Memorial Award Fund, honoring below-the-line, on-set crew members, not traditionally recognized.

Winner: Bao Ngo

South Pitch

The winning narrative pitch will receive an “invitation only” opportunity to apply for an artist grant from Warners Bros. Discovery’s content innovation hub, OneFifty. The winning documentary pitch will receive a $10,000 cash prize. 

South Pitch Documentary Winner: Andy Sarjahani, Iranian Hillbilly (Documentary Feature)

South Pitch Narrative Presented by Warner Bros. Discovery Winner: Maya Pen, Flammable Water (Narrative Feature)


Jurors: NOFF 2022

Narrative Features

Kishori Rajan

Kishori Rajan is a filmmaker based in New York. She joined actress and producer Tessa Thompson as her producing partner to build the production company Viva Maude, which is anchored by a first look deal at HBO and HBO Max for television and a producing deal with Lionsgate for film. Viva Maude currently has over twenty film and television projects in development. Rajan is also the Executive Producer of the HBO show Random Acts of Flyness, for which she won a Peabody Award for “breaking the mold of television.” The show’s second season will be premiering this year.

Previously, Rajan has worked as an independent film producer for over a decade, with feature films premiering at Sundance, SXSW, Cannes and Tribeca, and has taught film producing at NYU and Johns Hopkins. Rajan is the recipient of Cinereach’s Producer Award for her “remarkable commitment to making complex and authentic films”. Previous television work includes Hulu’s Eater’s Guide to the World and Topic Studios Best Walk. She is a member of the DGA and on the founding committee of the Producers Union.

Alece Oxendine

Alece has focused her career on helping emerging independent filmmakers through her work at Film at Lincoln Center, Rooftop Films, Fandor, and Good Deed Entertainment, just to name a few. Currently, she is the Director of Industry and Festival Outreach at Columbia University’s Film Program where she helps graduate film students launch their careers. Alece is originally from Durham, NC.

Brandon Harris

Brandon Harris is the President of I’d Watch That. Originally from Cincinnati, Ohio, Harris has worked in the world of American Cinema as a studio executive and producer, critic and programmer, screenwriter and director. Formerly a Development Executive for Amazon Studios, where he oversaw productions such as The Burial (2023), Master (2022) and The Voyeurs (2021), Harris’s lauded writings about cinema, politics, culture, and the intersections between them have appeared in The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Guardian, VICE, The Daily Beast, Variety, N+1, The New Inquiry, Brooklyn Rail, In These Times, Hammer to Nail, and Filmmaker Magazine, where he remains a contributing editor. Harris, formerly the festival director at the Indie Memphis Film Festival, is the co-writer and director of Redlegs (2012), a New York Times Critics Pick. His genre bending mix of memoir and history Making Rent in Bed-Stuy, released in 2017 by Amistad Books, is a New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice and was named a Vogue Magazine book of the year.

Narrative Shorts

Blair Barnes

Blair Barnes is a Curator at Vimeo and 1/4 of the team behind Staff Picks. Prior to Vimeo, Blair worked on the creative and production teams of Wieden+Kennedy and VIRTUE, the creative agency by VICE. Before and between all of this, he’s contributed to festival winning and selected films, alongside other shortlisted and featured work.

Aaron Hunt

Aaron Hunt is the Vice President of Dedza Films and a freelance cameraperson, programmer, and writer with words in Criterion, Film Comment, Filmmaker, American Cinematographer, GQ, Rappler, and others.

Rebecca Fons

Rebecca Fons is Director of Programming at the Gene Siskel Film Center, a public program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and serves as the Development and Programming Director for the historic Iowa Theater in her hometown of Winterset, IA. Rebecca previously served as Programming Director for FilmScene in Iowa City, IA; Director of Film at the John and Nancy Hughes Theater in Lake Forest, IL; and as Education Director for The Chicago International Film Festival for nearly a decade. Rebecca received her MA from Columbia College Chicago and BA from the University of Iowa.

Documentary Features

Dominic Davis

Dominic Davis returned to the Sundance Institute in 2022 as Manager of the Documentary Film Fund. In 2011, Dominic worked as a coordinator in the Film Office (now Artist Relations) of the Sundance Film Festival, where he discovered film programming as a profession. While programming for the American Museum of Natural History, Tribeca Film Festival and Rooftop Films, he also reviewed applications for Catapult Film Fund and Creative Capital and managed the Rooftop Films Filmmakers Fund. Dominic was born in West Germany and grew up on military bases but adopted Kentucky and Florida as his home states. He has a complicated relationship with the idea of geographic identity. He has a degree in mass media studies and political science from the University of Kentucky. When not watching movies, he goes for very long runs.

Bedatri Choudhury

Bedatri studied literature in New Delhi and then Cinema Studies at Tisch. She has managed a number of documentary programs and was, most recently, the managing editor of Documentary magazine. A culture journalist, she loves writing on film, art, and theatre from the intersections of race, gender, and class. She is Philadelphia Inquirer’s Arts and Entertainment Editor and a programmer for Doc NYC. You can often hear her on NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour.

Michael Kinomoto

Michael Kinomoto is Senior Manager, Production and a Supervising Producer for ITVS where he oversees documentary films in production. Some recent highlights include the Academy Award-nominated and Peabody Award-winning Minding the Gap, the Emmy-winning Best of Enemies, the Peabody Award-winning The Judge, and the Full Frame Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winner, Quest, as well as many other acclaimed titles. Earlier, he was the Senior Producer of Interactive for ITVS, producing the PBS series website for Independent Lens and the content portal for the web-exclusive FUTURESTATES series. Previously, he was a promo producer and editor for Link TV and also worked with filmmaker Steven Okazaki as an associate producer, assistant editor, and post-production supervisor on the Academy Award-nominated documentary short, The Mushroom Club, and the Emmy award-winning feature documentary, White Light/Black Rain, both for HBO. Kinomoto has an MFA in Film Production from San Francisco State University and has also taught film production and studies at several Bay Area universities, where he currently lives with his family.

Documentary Shorts

Katelyn Liu

Katelyn Liu is the Programming Manager at Full Frame Documentary Film Festival. Starting in 2018, Katelyn has been involved with festival in different ways — whether a volunteer, a part of the selection committee, the programming assistant, and now in her role as the programming manager. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with a degree in Public Policy. She was born in Queens, NY and grew up in Charlotte, NC.

Kristal Sotomayor

Kristal Sotomayor (they/she) is a bilingual Latinx programmer, film critic, and filmmaker based in Philadelphia. They serve as Festival Programmer for the True/False Film Festival, Awards Competition Manager for the IDA Documentary Awards and the Interim Editor-In-Chief of the cinéSPEAK Journal. In the past, Kristal was the Programming Director for the Philadelphia Latino Film Festival and has assisted with curation for SFFILM, “Spotlight on Documentaries” at IFP Week, Tri-Co Film Festival and the award-winning PBS documentary series POV | American Documentary. They are a 2021 Film Festival Leadership Lab Fellow. Currently, they are working on EXPANDING SANCTUARY, a documentary about the campaign led by the Latinx immigrant community in South Philadelphia to limit police surveillance. They are also developing a docu-animation film ALX THROUGH THE LABYRINTH that takes a dive into the nonbinary Latinx Alice In Wonderland-like reality of contracting COVID-19.

Jessica Brown

Jessica is the Director of Development at American Documentary, Inc., a nonprofit organization that produces independent documentaries broadcasted on PBS. Originally from Augusta, Georgia, her passion for storytelling and filmmaking stems from documenting her family’s rich history and a desire to create platforms for marginalized groups. Her educational experience includes a BA in Communication Studies and Anthropology from Augusta University and a MA in Journalism, specializing in Documentary Filmmaking from the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY. In addition to directing and producing her own projects, Jessica enjoys working on production teams with other indie filmmakers helping to bring their stories and ideas to life.

Louisiana Features

Chike Ozah

A native New Orleanean and One half of the Emmy nominated directing duo “Coodie & Chike”

Bo McGuire

Bo McGuire was born the queer son of a Waffle House cook and his third-shift waitress in Hokes Bluff, Alabama. The first movie he truly fell for was the music video for Reba McEntire’s “Fancy.” He was a Ryan Murphy + Half Initiative Mentee and one of FilmmakerMagazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film.” His feature debut, SOCKS ON FIRE, won the jury prize for best documentary feature at Tribeca Film Festival and premiered internationally in the Luminous section at IDFA. The film was nominated for an IDA award for best writing. He belongs to the First Church of Dolly Parton.

Karin Ahmad

Karim Ahmad is a writer, culture strategist, and organizer. He is the founder of Restoring the Future, a network of culture workers using worldbuilding and industry organizing to build a more just and beautiful media arts system, the Creator of the Muslim Futures Project, a cross-platform anthology of radically aspirational stories set in Muslim futures, and the writer of the upcoming speculative fiction comic book, DIVIDE. He was the Creator and Showrunner of the groundbreaking science fiction series, FUTURESTATES, and is a member of the Guild of Future Architects. He can be found on Twitter as @thatkarimahmad

Louisiana Shorts

Summer Shelton

Born and raised in North Carolina, Summer Shelton won the 2018 Independent Spirit Piaget Producer’s Award. She produced Maine (2018 Tribeca Film Festival Official Selection) and Keep the Change (2017 Tribeca Film Festival Best Narrative Feature). She was Executive Producer of People Places Things (2015 Sundance Film Festival) and produced Little Accidents (2014 Sundance Film Festival). She is currently in post production of her directorial debut You & I.

PJ Raval

Named one of Out Magazine’s “Out 100”, PJ Raval is a queer, first generation Filipino American filmmaker whose credits include TRINIDAD (Showtime), BEFORE YOU KNOW IT (WORLD Channel), and CALL HER GANDA which broadcast on POV (PBS) in 2019 and won the 2020 NLGJA Association of LGBTQ Journalists “Excellence in Documentary Award” and was nominated for a Philippines Academy Award for Best Documentary and a GLAAD Media Award.

PJ is a co-founder of the queer transmedia arts organization OUTsider, and is an Associate Professor at the University of Texas at Austin. He serves on the leadership team of the Asian American Documentary Network (A-Doc) and is a Soros Justice Fellow, a Guggenheim Fellow, a member of the Producers Guild of America and Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences.

Jordan Lord

Jordan Lord is a filmmaker, writer, and artist, born in Chalmette, LA and living in New York City. Their work addresses the relationships between historical and emotional debts, framing and support, access and documentary. Their films have been shown at festivals and venues including MoMA Doc Fortnight, Dokufest Kosovo, Camden International Film Festival, and the New Orleans Film Festival.

Experimental Shorts

Aliza Ma

Aliza Ma is a writer, film programmer, and currently works as a producer at the Criterion Collection.

Chris McKim

Chris McKim is an Emmy winning documentary filmmaker (Out of Iraq) & TV producer. He helped create RuPaul’s Drag Race as show runner and EP of the first 4 seasons.  He also directed & produced the documentary films Freedia Got a Gun and Wojnarowicz: F–k You F-ggot F—ker.

Madsen Minax

Angelo Madsen Minax is a multi-disciplinary artist, filmmaker, and educator.  His works have shown at Berlinale, Toronto International Film Festival, New York Film Festival, Tribeca Film Festival, BAM CinemaFest, AFI, and dozens of LGBT film festivals around the world. He is a recipient of awards and fellowships from the Sundance Film Institute, BAVC Media, New York State Council on the Arts, the Warhol Foundation, LEF Foundation, and has participated in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Core Program at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Yaddo, Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, and others. His film, “North By Current” (2021), aired on season 34 of POV (PBS), was nominated for an Independent Spirit award, and won the Cinema Eye Honors Spotlight award, Best Writing award from the IDA and numerous festival jury prizes. A New York Times Critics Pick, “North By Current” has been called “A beautiful, complex wonder of a film,” by Rolling Stone and “A titanic work” by Criterion. Madsen is currently an Associate Professor of Time-Based Media at the University of Vermont, a Queer|Art Mentor, and a current Guggenheim Fellow.

Animated Shorts

Danski Tang

Bronwyn Maloney

Bronwyn Maloney is an artist and animator based in New York.  She works in hand drawn digital animation and sound.  Her short film, Serpentine, played at festivals around the world and received the Helen Hill award at NOFF in 2018.  She has attended CalArts for experimental animation, and Bennington College for fine art and theatrical design.

Ian M.K. Cessna

Ian M.K. Cessna is an Art Director and Motion Designer. He has over 10 years of experience working in the video world. From documentaries and commercials to short and feature films, he has worked on it all. Ian’s specialties are in Art Direction, Design, Animation, VFX, and Editing. Currently, he works remotely for ROSEWOOD Creative in L.A. as a Senior Motion Designer. Ian lives in New Orleans with his two dogs, two cats, and one wonderful wife. In his spare time, he enjoys pursuing sketch/improv comedy, playing video games, and watching the worst movies he can find.