The 7th MidWest WeirdFest wrapped last week and announced the winning films, with the chilling techno-thriller Murmur from director Mark Polish (Twin Falls Idaho, The Astronaut Farmer) awarded the festival’s prestigious “Best Film” award.
Director/writer/producer Melissa Tittl (Ufo Witness, Ancient Alens) was awarded the inaugural Palmer d’Or for her reality-questioning documentary Code 12, which world premiered at the festival. This year the fest introduced the brand new major award to recognize excellence in the sci-fi and paranormal fields today, while honoring the legacy of Wisconsin’s own late Raymond A. Palmer.
“It’s an honor to be recognized as an original sci-fi creator in a space where only certain themes are popular,” says Tittl. “Ray Palmer, whom the Palmer d’Or award is named for, was a pioneer in the sci-fi space. I feel humbled to be recognized in that area and truly blessed to have people watch my thoughts unfold onto the screen. May humanity prevail through the discovery of the unknown.”
An overview of the festival’s other award-winning films follows:
“Best Director” was taken by Gary Huggins for his frenetic, disturbing, and hilarious indie action opus Kick Me.
“Best Documentary” was awarded to Accidental Truth from director Ron James. Set to be the most important UFO documentary of the year, the revelation packed exposé world premiered at MidWest WeirdFest 2023.
““”Best Horror Film” was awarded to the twisting masterpiece Follow Her from Emmy Award winning director Sylvia Caminer and writer/star Dani Barker.
The riotous slapstick fantasy Hundreds of Beavers from fest alum Mike Cheslick and Ryland Brickson Cole Tews (Lake Michigan Monster) captured “Best Comedy Film”.
While “Best International Film” was taken by Belgium director Steffen Geypens’ Logger, a nightmarish adaptation and modernization of the fable ‘Death and the Logger’ by Jean de la Fontaine.
Bigfoot and Marty the unique and heart-felt documentary from director Ronnie Ferguson, featuring Michigan’s Upper Peninsula poet laureate Marty Achatz, and his fascination with Bigfoot, world premiered at Midwest WeirdFest and captured its “Independent Spirit Award”.
“Best Experimental Film” was awarded to The Diabetic, the mesmerizing and hard-hitting lo-fi drama from Canadian auteur Mitchell Stafiej.
“Best Male Performance” was awarded to Kevin Interdonato (City On A Hill, Bad Frank) for his masterful and confronting portrayal of home invader Jesse, in director John Fallon’s Braek. Interdonato also co-wrote the screenplay with Fallon. Interdonato’s co-star, the captivating Alix Lane (Big Sky, Play The Flute) took “Best Supporting Female Performance” for her role as damaged step-daughter Erin.
Senie Priti (Love and Monsters, Hungry Ghosts) took the “Best Female Performance” award for her captivating portrayal of doomed lover Violet in the dark romance/horror Your Love Is Mine; the unforgettable feature debut from Australian directors Luke Wijayasinha-Gray and Luke J. S.
“Best Supporting Male Performance” went to the scene-stealing and comic genius Robert Bryn Mann (Hell in a Handbasket) for his role in Douglas James Luciuk’s post-apocalyptic dark buddy comedy Welcome To Kittytown. Mann also co-wrote the Canadian film’s screenplay with his co-star, the talented Darren Zimmer.
“Best Short Film” was awarded to the spectacular Western / War of the Worlds mashup Night Of The Cooters, from the story by Howard Waldrop, director/star Vincent D’Onofrio, producer/star Elias Gallegos and executive producer George R. R. Martin.
The Conspiratologist, a fascinating look at the life of UFO and conspiracy researcher Norio Hayakawa (from directors Stephen Bradford and Justin Jay Jones) captured the fest’s “Best Short Documentary” award.
Jon Truei was awarded “Best Director – Short Film” for his hilarious kung-fu flick come Jackass styled mash-up The 44th Chamber of Shaolin, starring real-life MMA trainer Santino “Mario” Marin.
Director Will Lee’s Ringworms, a visceral horror short that gets under your skin, took “Best Horror Short”. While the award for “Best Sci-Fi Short” went to Awake, the harrowing alien abduction chiller, from brother/sister filmmaking team Francesco Paolo Cordaro and Andrea Cordaro.
Director Bryan Charles Shickley’s Fred Crisman: Cave of the Space Nazis, the stunning and laugh out loud re-telling of one of the stranger, and allegedly true, tales from the heyday of the sci-fi pulps, won “Best Animated Short”. (The film also features an animated depiction or Ray Palmer, inspiration for the fest’s new Palmer d’Or award.)
“Best Comedy Short” was awarded to writer/director/actor Thomas Slipsager’s offbeat and hilarious Voyeurism. While “Best International Short” was captured by the devilishly good La Nueva (The Newcomer) from Spain’s Ivan Villamel.
The Farmhouse an edge-of-your-seat horror short from festival alumni Joshua Land and Victor Fink (Bad Witch) won “Best Proof of Concept”. The award-winning filmmaking duo are currently shopping the short to generate buzz and attract potential collaborators and investors for their next feature project, which is based on the same material.
“Best New Media” was awarded to Hubbards; the bizarre comedic gem and fest circuit hit from Kevin Ralston. And “Best Music Video” was captured by the potent vocals and stunning visuals of Eaten from singer/songwriter/filmmaker Andrew Paul Davis.
Adam Elliott was awarded “Best Male Performance – Short” for his bravura portrayal of a Machiavellian “best friend” in A Best Man directed by Dylan Tuccillo. Elliot also wrote the twisting screenplay.
While creative powerhouse Allison Torem won “Best Female Performance – Short” for her hilarious portrayal of a frustrated road tripper and lover in Road Head, a short film which she also wrote, directed, and produced.
MidWest WeirdFest also hosts both a feature and short screenplay competition.
The winning feature screenplay Apache was written by Adam Seidel. John Munn’s Bitter Harvest took the 1st Runner-up spot. And the competition’s 2nd Runner-up was also taken by John Munn for his screenplay A Nice Place To Visit.
The short screenplay competition was won by writers Joe Bookman & Judson Merrill for The Harrowing Void. The 1st Runner-up was Flatman Ascended by Callie J. Waligora. And Rebecca Moret’s Inside These Walls was awarded 2nd Runner-up.
The 8th annual MidWest WeirdFest will take place at Micon Downtown Cinema in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, March 1-3, 2024.