By Ken Williams | Editor
A film noir murder mystery set in West Hollywood, a dark and brooding thriller from Australia, and a heart-wrenching documentary about a 1973 mass murder in New Orleans dominated FilmOut’s 18th annual San Diego LGBT Film Festival awards this year.
“Kiss Me, Kill Me,” the Opening Night movie directed by Casper Andreas, won a total of six awards. Although the plot was set in contemporary WeHo, the mood harkened back to the film noir era of Hollywood in the 1940s and 1950s. “Kiss Me, Kill Me” won four Audience Awards and two Festival Awards.
“Downriver,” directed by Australian Grant Scicluna, tells the story of a young convict who served his time in connection with the suspected drowning of a young boy and who goes searching for the grim truth. “Downriver” collected four awards, including three Festival Awards and a Programming Award.
“Upstairs Inferno,” a documentary directed by Robert L. Camina, examines the real story of what happened on the night of June 24, 1973, in the French Quarter in New Orleans when an arsonist torched the Upstairs Lounge and 32 people died when they were trapped on the second floor. Until 49 people were murdered in the hate crime and terrorist attack at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, on early Sunday morning June 12, 2016, the unsolved arson in New Orleans was notorious for being the largest gay mass murder in U.S. history. “Upstairs Inferno” won Festival and Audience awards for Best Documentary and the prestigious Freedom Award.
Michael McQuiggan, the longtime program director for FilmOut, explained the difference between Festival Awards and Audience Awards. “The Festival Awards are chosen by the programmers/screening committee and the Audience Awards are determined by the audience,” he said. “A lot of the Festival Awards will be noted by programmers from other film festivals that may or may not have been on the fence to select these films for their upcoming festivals. It was a highly competitive year for the Audience Awards, which were 6 inches thick.”
Audience Award ballots were available throughout the festival, which ran June 3 – 5 at the Observatory North Park theater. Attendance exceeded 5,000 this year, McQuiggan estimated.
Almost half of the movies shown at the festival won some sort of award, and McQuiggan had a theory for that.
“That the broad selection of films seemed to resonate with the audiences this year,” he said. “There were films from all genres represented. There were some clear frontrunners, but some of the more obscure films were really supported by our patrons — and the results were quite surprising and rewarding to the filmmakers/talent involved. The Festival Awards seemed to gear more toward the intense, dark, controversial films, while the Audience Awards went for the more mainstream-themed films.”
McQuiggan noted that FilmOut — which has previously been named one of the top 10 LGBT film festivals in the U.S. — now has official recognition in the movie industry.
“Since FilmOut San Diego is accredited with IMDb and our festival winners are listed in its awards section, it gives these films a small boost in recognition to the film industry,” he said.
IMDb calls itself the world’s most popular and authoritative source for movie, TV and celebrity content. The website offers a searchable database of more than 185 million data items including more than 3.5 million movies, TV and entertainment programs and 7 million cast and crew members.
The full list of award winners follows:
2016 FilmOut Festival Awards
- Best Narrative Feature: Grant Scicluna, “Downriver”
- Best First Narrative Feature: Stephen Dunn, “Closet Monster”
- Best Screenplay: Ray Yeung, “Front Cover”
- Best Actor in a Feature Film: TIE — Geoffrey Couët and François Nambot, “Paris 05:59 – Theo & Hugo”
- Best Actress in a Feature Film: Kerry Norton, “ToY”
- Best Actor in Supporting Role: Aaron Abrams, “Closet Monster”
- Best Actress in Supporting Role: Kerry Fox, “Downriver”
- Best International Feature: Olivier Ducastel and Jacques Martineau, “Paris 05:59, Theo & Hugo”
- Best Overall Short Film: Arkasha Stevenson, “Vessels”
- Best Short Film Male: Gabriel Dorado, “De Vuelta”
- Best Short Film Female: Kai Stanicke, “B.”
- Best International Short Film: Nils Åsén, “The Memory of You”
- Best Cinematography: Rainer Lipski, “Kiss Me, Kill Me”
- Best Documentary: Robert L. Camina, “Upstairs Inferno”
- Best Direction: Grant Scicluna, “Downriver”
- Best Soundtrack: Jonathan Dinerstein, “Kiss Me, Kill Me”
2016 Audience Awards
- Best Narrative Feature: Casper Andreas, “Kiss Me, Kill Me”
- Best Screenplay: David Michael Barrett, “Kiss Me Kill Me”
- Best Overall Short Film: Sam Greisman, “Dinner with Jeffrey”
- Best Actor in a Feature Film: Van Hansis, “Kiss Me, Kill Me”
- Best Actress in a Feature Film: Briana Evigan, “ToY”
- Best Supporting Actor: Robby Stahl, “Flatbush Luck”
- Best Supporting Actress: Briana Marin, “Flatbush Luck”
- Best International Feature: Marco Kreuzpaintner, “Coming In”
- Best Documentary: Robert L. Camina, “Upstairs Inferno”
- Best Comedy: Rob Williams, “Shared Rooms”
- Best Ensemble: Cast of “Kiss Me, Kill Me”
2016 Programming Awards
The Festival and Programming Directors are responsible for these awards:
- Freedom Award: Robert L. Camina, “Upstairs Inferno”
- Outstanding Emerging Talent: TIE — Connor Jessup, “Closet Monster” and Reef Ireland, “Downriver”
- Outstanding Artistic Achievement: Laurent Boileau, “Lady of the Night”
—Ken Williams is editor of Uptown News and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 619-961-1952. Follow him on Twitter at @KenSanDiego, Instagram at @KenSD or Facebook at KenWilliamsSanDiego. He is a volunteer board member of FilmOut San Diego, serving as Film & Media Relations Director.