BIG WINNERS AT OUTFEST 2022 — Amanda Kramer’s “PLEASE BABY PLEASE” won Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding North American Narrative Feature and a double win for Juan Felipe Zuleta’s “UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS” awarded Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature and Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance in a North American Narrative Feature for actor Matthew August Jeffers
By Oliver Carnay
Outfest — the Los Angeles-based nonprofit organization promoting equality by creating, sharing, and protecting LGBTQIA+ stories on the screen — has announced the award winners of its 40th Anniversary Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival, presented by Warner Bros. Discovery and IMDb.
Top prizes went to Amanda Kramer’s Please Baby Please, starring Andrea Riseborough, Henry Melling, Karl Glusman, and Demi Moore, for Outstanding North American Narrative Feature; Gabriel Martins’ Brazilian family drama Mars One took the Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding International Narrative Feature, and the newly-named Paul D. Lerner and Stephen Reis Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Documentary Feature went to Rita Baghdadi’s Sirens, about the Lebanese female thrash metal band Slave to Sirens. The Academy Award-qualifying festival’s two Grand Jury prizes for Narrative shorts went to April Maxey’s Work (Outstanding U.S. Narrative Short) and Dania Bedir’s Warsha, both of which are now Oscar eligible. Outstanding Documentary Short went to Brydie O’Connor’s Love, Barbara.
Audience awards went to Juan Felipe Zuleta’s crowd-pleasing Unidentified Objects, and documentary feature Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story, which chronicles the life of trans pro skateboarder Leo Baker and was recently acquired by Netflix. Complete list of winners is below.
Select 2022 jury and audience-favorite award-winning films, including popular features Unidentified Objects, My Emptiness and I, and Jeannette, had a special 72 hours of encore viewing a day after, as well as the vast majority of the festival’s short film program.
The nation’s leading LGBTQIA+ festival which just ran from July 14th to July 24th in its 40th year, was bookended by two world premiere screenings. The fest opened with Billy Porter’s directorial debut Anything’s Possible at the Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles, where Porter was on hand to receive Outfest’s Achievement Award and gave a fiery acceptance speech addressing the political moment. The festival closed at the Theater at the Ace Hotel with the world premiere of Peacock and Blumhouse Productions’ They/Them, with the star-studded cast including Kevin Bacon, Carrie Preston, Theo Germaine, Austin Crute, and Quei Tann in attendance, and a surprise musical performance by Perfume Genius wowing the crowd.
Just over 30,000 attendees experienced Outfest LA programming this year. This included dozens of red-carpet premieres, parties and receptions at the DGA, REDCAT and Ford Amphitheater; a private event celebrating the 2022 Architects of Outfest; as well as educational and industry programming, including; a week-long breakfast filmmaker breakfast series held at Second Home, Hollywood, the Festival’s inaugural Industry Summit: State of Queer Media, held at NeueHouse Hollywood, and a heralded Industry Networking Event, held at The West Hollywood EDITION hotel.
The world-renowned festival has continued to be a lucrative deal-making hub for filmmakers and artists, with Narrative Feature selection Chrissy Judy and Documentary Feature selection A Run for More, both being picked up by The Film Collaborative for worldwide festival distribution during the Festival.
Outfest also awarded filmmakers over $100,000 in grant and prize money at its awards ceremony on Sunday, July 24th at the Edition Hotel, West Hollywood. The Colin Higgins Youth Filmmaker Grant, presented in partnership with the Colin Higgins Foundation, awarded three young LGBTQIA+ filmmakers from this year’s festival lineup with $15,000 grants to continue their work. This year’s winners were Alexis G. Zall (the beginning & the middle), Eliana Pipes (¡Nails!) and Jacob Roberts (Half).
The #Outfest40 Concord Pitch Competition, a partnership between Outfest and Concord Originals, awarded three film teams a collective $50,000 to produce new short films based on select songs from Concord’s music library. This year’s winners are Chanelle Tyson, Zoë Hodge and Miles Lopez & Jonathan De La Torre.
The winners of the Grand Jury Prizes for Outstanding U.S. Narrative Short, Outstanding Documentary Short, Outstanding International Narrative Short, Outstanding International Feature, and Outstanding North American Feature all received a $1000 cash prize awarded in partnership with Entertainment Partners, and the U.S. and International Narrative Short Grand Jury prize winners are now Academy Award eligible.
New this year, due to the support of Outfest Empathy Fund Benefactors’ Paul D. Lerner and Stephen Reis, the Grand Jury Prize for Documentary Feature section will now proudly carry their names, and the awarded filmmaker receives a $5,000 cash prize. For the next ten years, the Paul D. Lerner and Stephen Reis Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Documentary Feature will not only mark true queer excellence in the field of documentary filmmaking but also, through their generosity, directly support the growth and development of a filmmaker’s career.
The jurors for Outfest Los Angeles represented a diverse cross-section of filmmakers, artists, programmers, journalists, and industry executives:
North American Narrative Features Jury
Editor-in-Chief of The Advocate Tracy Gilchrist
Filmmaker Javier Fuentes-León
Roadside Attractions’ Senior Director of Acquisitions Angel An
International Narrative Features Jury
Director of Programming for the Tampa Bay International Gay & Lesbian Film Festival Brighid Wheeler
Actor-Producer Dalila Ali Rajah
Filmmaker Patricia Vidal Delgado
Documentary Jury (Features and Shorts)
Manager, Nonfiction Programs and Fiscal Sponsorship at Film Independent Daniel Cardone
Filmmaker Whitney Skauge
Director of L.A. Times Short Docs Nani Walker
International Narrative Shorts Jury
Co-Director of Programming for the Indian Film Festival of Los Angeles Ritesh Mehta
Filmmaker Jett Garrison
Shorts Programmer for the Sundance Film Festival Irene Suico Soriano
U.S. Narrative Shorts Jury
Film Programmer Robert John Torres
Film Critic at Autostraddle Drew Gregory
Film Education & Narrative Inclusion Consultant Martine McDonald
“This incredible response to this year’s festival, our 40th-anniversary milestone, has been nothing short of stunning. As we reflect on the decades before us and the decades that lie ahead for Outfest, we are proud to have brought together this heart-felt and inclusive festival for our members, fans, and filmmakers, and are in awe of the sense of community and solidarity that has been palpable at each and every event. We celebrate our 2022 winners, and as an organization we leave this festival more energized than ever to continue to listen to our queer family and stand beside them in our fight to move forward as a community,” commented Outfest Executive Director Damien S. Navarro.
Outfest Los Angeles 2022 Award Winners
Audience Award for Best Documentary Short
CANS Can’t Stand, directed by Matt Nadel & Megan Plotka
Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature
Stay on Board: The Leo Baker Story, directed by Nicola Marsh & Giovanni Reda
Audience Award for Best Narrative Short
Troy, directed by Mike Donahue
Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
Unidentified Objects, directed by Juan Felipe Zuleta
Audience Award for Best Platinum Short
Remnants, directed by Primo Justice Schiappa
Audience Award for Best Episodic
Sleep With Me, directed by Samantha Lee
GRAND JURY AWARDS
Paul D. Lerner and Stephen Reis Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Documentary Feature
SIRENS, Directed by Rita Baghdadi
For its nuanced and universal perspective of an all-female queer metal band in Lebanon against the backdrop of conflict, the Paul D. Lerner and Stephen Reis Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Documentary Feature goes to SIRENS, directed by Rita Baghdadi.
Honorable Mention for Documentary Feature
JEANNETTE, Directed by Maris Curran
For its evocative observation of one woman’s journey through grief — as a mother, an athlete, and a survivor of gun violence
Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding North American Narrative Feature
PLEASE BABY PLEASE, Directed by Amanda Kramer
For its dazzling and inspired vision, its confident and inventive direction, it’s daring and committed performances, its luscious visual style, its thematic relevance and its delightful queer sensibility, one that pays homage to legendary queer filmmakers like Kenneth Anger and Fassbinder, and yet manages to stand on its own.
Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance in a North American Narrative Feature
Matthew Jeffers in UNIDENTIFIED OBJECTS
For his funny, heartrending, and hopeful performance as a man discovering himself while on a road-tripping odyssey.
Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Screenplay in a North American Narrative Feature
Juan Pablo González, Ana Isabel Fernández, and Ilana Coleman for DOS ESTACIONES.
This film speaks volumes using minimal dialogue, displaying the power of its conceptualization. For presenting an unique perspective of a queer woman taking on the traditionally macho role of a tequila factory owner.
Honorable Mention for North American Narrative Feature
YOUTOPIA directed by Scout Durwood
For her innovative, hilarious, and politically erudite storytelling and exceptional musical numbers.
Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding International Narrative Feature
MARS ONE, Directed by Gabriel Martins
For its nuanced, layered and touching portrayal of family life that will linger in our hearts.
Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Screenplay in a International Narrative Feature
SUBLIME, screenplay by Mariano Biasin
For its subtle and heartfelt representation of young love and connection.
Honorable Mention for Screenplay in a International Narrative Feature
ATTACHMENT, screenplay by Gabriel Bier Gislason.
For its perfect balance between camp, suspense and heart and its original and unique take on the horror genre.
Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance in a International Narrative Feature
Aamu Milonoff for GIRL PICTURE
For the understated genius of her performance that was so dynamically conveyed in the quiet moments.
Honorable Mention for Performance in a International Narrative Feature
Raphaëlle Perez in MY EMPTINESS AND I
For the emotional journey that she took us on with her depiction of her authentic and vulnerable self.
Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding International Narrative Short
WARSHA, Directed by Dania Bedir
Poised between prayer and ecstasy, WARSHA suspends audiences in an eternal waltz between the self and the sublime, as we witness the transformation of its protagonist from an everyday laborer and refugee to an everyday super person.
Honorable Mention for International Narrative Short
TANK FAIRY, Directed by Erich Rettstadt
A film whose lead character turns heads in Taipei City, rocking a blue pleather jumpsuit while riding a hot pink and purple motorbike as she performs her daily job of delivering tanks of gas with a dash of sass. After she befriends young JoJo, who is in desperate need of a queer fairy god-mother, you’ll never think of Bonnie Tyler’s “Holding Out for A Hero” the same. With minimal dialogue and a delicious dance routine, this film plays out like a silent movie with heightened, truthful emotions.
Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding Documentary Short
LOVE, BARBARA Directed by Brydie O’Connor
For its sincere and intimate remembering of the trailblazing queer filmmaker Barbara Hammer.
Grand Jury Prize for Outstanding U.S. Narrative Short
WORK, Directed by April Maxey
For its tenderly observed portrait of queer heartbreak in a specifically queer community.
Honorable Mentions for U.S. Narrative Short
ELE OF THE DARK, Directed by Yace Sula
For its formal ingenuity and layered explorations of self.
LOLLYGAG, directed by Tij D’oyen
For its visual confidence and playfully twisted nostalgia.
Special Programming Awards
This artist entranced and devastated us simultaneously in his directorial debut, masterfully juxtaposing the vivid glimmering promise of downtown glam with the harsh LA reality of a struggling Black performer. For his unflinching clarity of vision, punctuated by an exquisitely choreographed noir dance number set to a sizzling jazz score that encompasses all the raw energy and frustration of navigating microaggressions, toxic positivity, survival, rejection, class disparity, isolation, obscurity, and the Hollywood dream. The SPECIAL PROGRAMMING AWARD FOR EMERGING TALENT goes to Yusuf Shadeed Nasir for his short film REGRET TO INFORM YOU.
Fusing performance art and ecological activism into an urgent and eye-catching odyssey through the Amazon rainforest, the marvelous subject of this one-of-a-kind documentary showcases the beauty of their Indigenous and non-binary identities by connecting them directly to the land in an effort to combat the ravages of climate change, transphobia, and structural racism. In these fights for justice, where the personal is absolutely political, it takes a village to create change towards a better future – and a leader to inspire it. The Special Programming Award for Freedom is awarded to UÝRA: THE RISING FOREST.
This joyful and defiant love letter to love, lust, and liberation bravely answers the question, with orgiastic aplomb: why haven’t we seen a queer musical from the nation of Egypt yet? For its sensual adventurousness, overflowing formal ingenuity, and sumptuous visuals that tie the theatrical to the cinematic, the classic with the contemporary, and the familiar to the thrillingly unknown… The Special Programming Award for Artistic Achievement goes to Mohammad Shawky Hassan’s SHALL I COMPARE YOU TO A SUMMER’S DAY?
2022 Architects of Outfest List
The inaugural 2022 Architects of Outfest list was announced and presented on stage at the Outfest Opening Night Gala on July 14th, 2024. The list is the beginning of a movement to celebrate and acknowledge the growing number of people who have contributed significantly to the origins and growth of Outfest and its programs, since 1982. Every year we will add to the list and come back together to celebrate. This years honorees included:
Dennis D. Williams
Gus Van Sant
May Hong HaDuong
More at www.outfestla.org