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Lunamancer directed by Noah Mucci - 6th MidWest WeirdFest Award Winners
Lunamancer directed by Noah Mucci

The 6th annual MidWest WeirdFest wrapped at the Micon Downtown Cinema in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and announced the winning films of the 2022 event.

“Thank you to programming director Dean Bertram and everyone who made MidWest WeirdFest the truly special festival that it is”, says Pierce M. Berolzheimer, writer and director of the bloody and hilarious monster movie Cabs! (which won the festival’s “Best Horror Film” award). “I had an incredible time in Eau Claire, the lineup was a blast and it was the perfect audience for a weird film like CRABS!. Being selected at the fest was amazing enough, but winning Best Horror Film was unexpected and a true honor. I hope to be back at Midwest Weird Fest many times in my career.”

An overview of the festival’s other award-winning films follows:

Lunamancer, the stunning sci-fi noir from producer Matt Patterson and director Noah Mucci, captured MidWest WeirdFest’s coveted “Best Film” award. “Best Director” was taken by David James Schultz for his skilled realization of the reality-bending thriller The Girl in the Straw Hat. While documentarian John Yost’s captivating Alien Abduction: Answers – which explores John’s own alien encounters along with those of luminary author Whitley Strieber and several other experiencers – won “Best Documentary”.

“Best Sci-Fi Film” was awarded to the mind-altering Lightships from UK director John Harrigan, which is based on the writings of UFO contactee Maryann Rada. While “Best International Film” was taken by It Hatched; the suspense-ratcheting and atmospheric feature debut from Iceland’s Elvar Gunnarsson.

And the Boys Struck Gold a moving yet hilarious mumblecore comedy come mystery from cousin filmmaking team Jim Murtagh (director) and Colin Van Hoek (producer), both of whom also star in the film, captured the fest’s “Independent Spirit Award”.

“Best Original Score” was awarded to Alex Spiegel for his potent and integral musical accompaniment to writer/director Steven Dayton’s emotionally hard-hitting and haunting sci-fi/mystery feature gIVE.

“Best Male Performance” was awarded to Jorge Luna for his unforgettable portrayal of a father struggling with a long-distance separation from his son in the lo-fi sci-fi gem planet b234, which is the directorial debut of Keelie Sheridan, from a screenplay she co-wrote with Luna. Emily Carlson captured the “Best Female Performance” award for her captivating portrayal of the only woman in a Reservoir Dogs style heist team in Hair-Trigger, writer/director Steven G. Warkel’s masterful crime / rural horror mash-up.

“Best Supporting Male Performance” went to the scene-stealing character actor Robert Miano for his role in Chad Ferrin’s slasher masterpiece Night Caller. And Wisconsin’s own 18-year-old Madison Ekstrand was awarded “Best Supporting Female Performance” for her brave portrayal of a kidnapped and traumatized teen in the fright and twist filled Reed’s Poin t, from director Dale Fabrigar and producer Suzanne DeLaurentiis.

“Best Short Film” was awarded to the dark but uplifting romantic comedy Monkey-Love, Please Hold (directed by Toronto-based Greg Fox). Telos Or Bust, a fascinating inside look at the New Age community of California’s Mount Shasta (from director Brad Abrahams) captured the fest’s “Best Documentary Short” award. And Maverick Moore was awarded “Best Director – Short Film” for his hilarious and pitch-perfect imagining of a dinner-come-death-match between Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski in My Dinner with Werner.

Director Alex Fofonoff’s incredible short cosmic horror film While Mortals Sleep took “Best Horror Short”. While the award for “Best Sci-Fi Short” went to the poignant and hilarious post-apocalyptic Broadcast, from writer/director Jeff Pascha and writer/star Laura Petro. Jason Pell’s Pinpricks, a mesmerizing depiction of a haunted and legend filled middle America, from director Adam Stover, won “Best Animated Short”.

“Best International Short” was captured by the atmosphere-drenched, edge-of-your-seat French werewolf film Causa Sui, from writer/director Quentin Richard. While “Best Comedy Short” was awarded to writer/director Karsten Runquist’s offbeat, yet poignant and hilarious, Dirtbag.

“Best Web Series” was awarded to Bare Naked Truths; the comedic and insightful look into the mind of nude models from writer/director Amy Powell and writer/star Ellen DeSitter. And for the second year in a row “Best Documentary Web Series” went to the often chilling and 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 the moving ballad and equally sweet visuals of 1000 from singer/songwriter/director Lucas Alexander Kurmis.

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

“This year’s screenplay entries offered a great mix of my three favorite genres: Sci-Fi, Horror and Comedy.” says Lisa DeVita; the competition’s head reader, known for her work as an armorer as well as writing the cult horror hit Peelers. “Therefore, it was an exciting and eye-opening experience reading some inspiring and original scripts which helped reassure me that there is still a lot of untapped talent out there and indie filmmaking is still alive and well.”

The winning feature screenplay was Intergalactic Io, written by Seth Nesenholtz. John Kestner’s Plague of the Zombies took the 1st Runner-up spot. And the competition’s 2nd Runner-up was Splashdown by Don Stroud.

The short screenplay competition was won by writer Aaron Jay Glendenning for Crimson Stain. The 1st Runner-up was The Man in The Sky Won’t Let Me Sleep by Rebin Zangana. And Levi Caleb Smith’s Personal Effects was awarded 2nd Runner-up.

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