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Externo film
EXTERNO directed by brothers Jonathon and Leandro Taub

The 5th annual MidWest WeirdFest wrapped last week and announced the winning films. The stunning socio-political allegory Externo, from brothers Jonathon and Leandro Taub, captured the fest’s “Best Film” award.

While documentarian Alexandre Brecher’s breathtaking The Explorer – which hunts for Africa’s legendary relict dinosaur, the Mokele-Mbembe – won “Best Documentary”.

The twisted and eros charged Edgar Allen Poe adaptation Lady Usher (directed by George Adams) won the festival’s “Best Horror Film” award. “Best Sci-Fi Film” was awarded to the touching low-fi, sci-fi/drama gem I Can’t Sleep from writer/director Gina Rose. While “Best Foreign Language Film” was taken by the chilling Marlene; the feature directorial debut from Germany’s Andreas Resch.

“I had a bad-ass time with all the ninja VIPs at Midwest Weirdfest!” says Ryan Harrison who won “Best Director” for his action comedy feature Ninja Badass. “It was an honor to be in such great company; the fellow filmmakers and the enthusiastic audience were awesome! Everything about the festival was amazing!”

He Who Lives In Hidden Lakes, a surrealist mockumentary, laden with humor and occult ideas – and the feature debut from fest alum Zach Lona – was awarded “Best Experimental Film”. And the trippy and often confrontational documentary Alien Abduction from director Jared Sagal and producers AV Super Sunshine and Philomena Victor snagged the “Independent Spirit Award”.

Both poignant and comedic, The Grandpa Diaries, from director Michael Afendakis and writer/star Jonathan Leveck won “Best Web Series”.

“Best TV Series” was awarded to the chilling Australian paranormal-themed documentary show The Space Between, co-directed and hosted by Bianca Biasi. And “Best Documentary Web Series” went to the always thought-provoking Canadian paranormal investigation show We Want to Believe; from director Jason Hewlett and featuring veteran paranormal investigator Peter Renn.

And “Best Music Video” was awarded to atmosphere ladened The Haunted Lake (directed by Australia’s Peter Miller.)

MidWest WeirdFest also hosts both a feature and short screenplay competition.

“What can usually be seen as a daunting task was a thoroughly enjoyable one for this year’s Midwest WeirdFest screenplay competition.” says Lisa DeVita; the competition’s head reader, best known for her work as an armorer as well as writing the cult horror hit Peelers. “The screenplays were immersive and pulled you in from page one. I honestly loved each script for its unique perspective on topics that ranged from the gleefully absurd to the mind-bendingly thought-provoking. It was tough this year, not because the scripts made your eyes bleed—but just the opposite—the pool of talent was plentiful and choosing the best of the best was hard.”

The winning feature screenplay was The Importance of Proper Lawn Maintenance, written by Scott Huebscher. Stirling J. McLaughlin and Wilder Konschak’s Too Many Wades took the 1st Runner-up spot. And the competition’s 2nd Runner-up was Pleasant Grove by Zack R. Smith & Andrew Miller.

The short screenplay competition was won by writer Ashley Fell for Daphne and the Fever. The 1st Runner-up was The Plague by Randy Zuniga. And Stuart Creque’s She Comes in Colors was awarded 2nd Runner-up.

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