Audience Awards, Feature & Short Films
Audience Award Best Narrative Feature – BLACKBERRY, Director Matt Johnson
Audience Award Best Documentary Feature – LITTLE RICHARD: I AM EVERYTHING, Director Lisa Cortés
Audience Award Best Canadian Short – THRIVING: A DISSOCIATED REVERIE, Director Nicole Bazuin
Audience Award Best International Short – A WEDDING DAY, Director Brendan Beachman
Jury Award Best Narrative Feature
WINNER – THE ANGRY BLACK GIRL AND HER MONSTER, Director Bomani J. Story
The filmmakers in CUFF’s Best Narrative Feature category created exceptional work that was both timely and fascinating. They not only elevated their respective genres through their unique storytelling, but also provided distinct perspectives into their worlds that engaged both our minds and hearts. They did not make this an easy process, and, for that, they should be proud. Our winner is Bomani J. Story’s THE ANGRY BLACK GIRL AND HER MONSTER. We thoroughly enjoyed its striking cinematography, dynamic relationships, and refreshing spin on a classic.
Jury Award Best Documentary Feature
WINNER – ONE ROAD TO QUARTZSITE, Director Ryan Maxey
Without judgment, ONE ROAD TO QUARTZSITE draws viewers into a lyrical meditation on the outer edges of the American Dream. The filmmakers’ approach is immersive, mesmerizing and deeply moving as it explores a disparate world of eclectic characters who embody the larger struggles inherent to the modern class divide. This is the documentary format at its most powerful, and, in an absolutely excellent line up of titles, represents the unflinching spirit of an Underground Film Festival.
Honourable Mention – CASH COW, Director Matt Barats
CASH COW was the jury’s second pick because of its unusual and comedic approach to showcasing the (mis)adventures of one man’s pandemic road trip through a particular American religious belt. Its droll but relatable plight of survival for the underemployed proves that one person, a camera and some creativity is all you need to find a unique voice – something of particular value in the world of underground filmmaking.
Jury Award Best Canadian Short Sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC) and William F. White
Sponsored by the Directors Guild of Canada (DGC), the Best Canadian Short Award winner receives a $2500 cash prize plus a DGC mentor partner for their next project along with a $2500 gift certificate donated by William F. White International Inc.
WINNER – THRIVING: A DISSOCIATED REVERIE, Director Nicole Bazuin
Thriving: A Dissociated Reverie stood out as one of the most unique documentaries the jury has ever seen. Our decision to recognize this film was immediate and unanimous. We were blown away by the story, performances and cinematography. We loved the way the film took us on a journey into a singular mind and was able to educate and entertain so beautifully.
Honourable Mention – DIASPORA, (Director Tyler Mckenzie Evans) for its strong concept and performances & IN THE DARK (Director Bronson Allen) for its originality and subverting of expectations at every turn
Best Narrative Feature
Curtis Woloschuk: Director of Programming at the Vancouver International Film Festival
In his role as Director of Programming, Curtis Woloschuck articulates the Vancouver International Film Festival's artistic vision through curation, program development, and community building. He is responsible for the leadership and oversight of the organization's programming department and the implementation of an annual programming plan that delivers VIFF's mandate and ensures curatorial excellence. In addition to directing the selection process and managing multiple competitions at the annual festival, he's responsible for several creator development and education initiatives, including the VIFF Catalyst mentorship program and VIFF Ignite high school screening series.
Sean Charles: Development and Production Manager at ALLBLK
Sean Charles is a Development & Production Manager at ALLBLK, an AMC Networks property. He is responsible for producing and developing all original content for the streaming service, in addition to assisting in acquisitions and scheduling. Sean most recently worked in Corporate Communications as a production coordinator, working on all cross-branding and marketing assets across internal and external communications from the Sundance Film Festival to offsite meetings. He also formed and led the inaugural Black employee resource group Vested Interest in Black Employees (V.I.B.E) from 2018 through 2021 as Co-Chair. He received his B.A in Media Communications from Queens College, CUNY, and holds an M.B.A from Mercy College.
Nicole McControversay: Director of Programming at the Boston Underground Film Festival
Nicole has been the Director of Programming at the Boston Underground Film Festival since 2012. She is also a programmer at Beyond Fest in Los Angeles. Nicole joined the Frontières International Co-Production Market team in 2020, and most recently joined the sales team at Yellow Veil Pictures. Once upon a time, she covered arts and entertainment for The Hollywood Reporter and Boston.com. She has a deep and abiding love for gremlins, psychedelic nightmares, and tacos.
Best Documentary Feature
Dave Bertrand: Business Affairs Manager - Production Funding at Blue Ant Media
David Bertrand is a film programmer, writer, musician, and Film/TV multitasker who inherited curating duties of The Saturday Morning All-You-Can-Eat-Cereal Cartoon Party from Kier-La Janisse in 2020. His Stompbox Music-On-Film series has presented nearly 100 film & live music events since 2016, currently at Toronto’s Revue Cinema and formerly at the Royal Cinema where David was also a head programmer. With Markham Street Films from 2016-2023, David helped produce many films including Danishka Esterhazy’s dystopian thriller LEVEL 16 and the Netflix/CBC hit CATWALK: TALES FROM THE CAT SHOW CIRCUIT and its sequel. He is currently Business Affairs Manager - Production Funding at Blue Ant Media. David has worked for numerous Canadian film festivals (Fantasia, TIFF, VIFF, Just For Laughs, Toronto After Dark), written about film & music for books and magazines, co-founded (with Kier-La Janisse) Montreal’s legendary micro-cinema Blue Sunshine, and creates heavy synth music as The Great Octopus.
Kate McEdwards: Publicist with AMC Networks
Kate McEdwards is a New York-based publicist from Hamilton, Ontario. She is currently with AMC Networks where she works on films across IFC Films, Shudder, and RLJE, and has previously worked at Oscilloscope Laboratories and Cinetic Marketing and PR. In the last decade, she has worked on 200+ films, including Craig Gillespie’s I TONYA, Julia Ducournau’s RAW, Joachim Trier’s THELMA, Jennifer Kent’s THE NIGHTINGALE, and, most recently, Kyle Edward Ball’s SKINAMARINK. Upcoming films include Matt Johnson’s BLACKBERRY and Jesse Short Bull and Laura Tomaselli’s LAKOTA NATION VS. UNITED STATES.
Dave Alexander: Writer, Producer & Director
Born and raised in Edmonton, where he earned a Film & Media Studies degree from the University of Alberta, Dave is currently based in Toronto. He's a writer/producer/director, whose projects include the documentary TROPHY TOWN (TSN, Amazon Prime) and several horror-focused projects currently in production. The former editor-in-chief of Rue Morgue magazine, he's released two non-fiction books, CREATURE FEATURES: A MONSTER MOVIE COMPANION (2017) and the Rondo-nominated UNTOLD HORROR (2021, Dark Horse Comics). He's also a published fiction writer and has guested on podcasts, television programs, and documentaries – including ZOMBIEMANIA, WHY HORROR? and 24X36: A MOVIE ABOUT MOVIE POSTERS.
Best Canadian Short
Anna Cooley - Filmmaker
An award-winning director, writer, cinematographer, and producer, Anna Cooley has been telling stories with compelling characters and strong messages for over 20 years. Her projects push the boundaries of conventional storytelling by identifying unique narratives, collaborating with artists from a diverse range of disciplines, and experimenting with cutting-edge technologies such as virtual reality. Her recently completed works include THE GOATS OF MONESIGLIO, LIVING WITHOUT MENACE, SEE ME, ABRACADAVERS - SEASON 2, GARDEN SHARK: THERE ARE SOME THINGS DEMENTIA CAN'T TOUCH, and sandboxxii.com. Upcoming projects include the feature film FAULTLINE and the series SCOUT AND GENDER? I HARDLY KNOW THEM.
Michele Wilson - International Sales Agent at Epic Pictures
Michele Wilson has been working in the genre film industry for nearly a decade, starting in Montreal at Fantasia International Film Festival, while studying Costume Design for Film & TV. After several amazing editions of the festival and a move to Vancouver, Michele joined Epic Pictures as an International Sales Agent and is always looking for genre films at all stages of production. Epic Pictures is an independent producer, financer, and distributor of genre films, including EXTRA ORDINARY, SEA FEVER, DARK NATURE, and LUCKY.
Chris Bavota - Filmmaker
Chris Bavota was raised on a steady diet of b-movie action and psychological horror. Beginning his career as a screenwriter, he collaborated with multiple directors on commercial and narrative projects. In 2019, he wrote and directed the feature film DEAD DICKS (CUFF Selection 2020) with his filmmaking partner (and wife) Lee Paula Springer.
48 HOUR JURY
Helen Young: Music & Performance Director of CJSW Radio
Helen Young works as the Music & Performance Director at CJSW Radio in Calgary. She is also a practicing visual artist and a big supporter of CUFF and independent film!
Rachel Ho: Film Editor of Exclaim! & Co-Founder of The Asian Cut
Rachel is the Film Editor for Exclaim!, Co-Founder of The Asian Cut, and a regular contributor for POV Magazine, Slash Film, and That Shelf, with additional bylines in The Globe and Mail, eliteGen Magazine, and others. She is a member of the Toronto Film Critics Association and received their 2021 Emerging Critic Award.
Hugues Barbier: Producer, Festival Strategist & Co-founder of Yellow Veil Pictures
Fed on Giallos, Italian western, and American exploitation films, Hugues has been involved for over 15 years in the organization as well as the programming of other film festivals (Strasbourg European Fantastic Film Festival, Ithaca Fantastic and North Bend Film Festival). From 2012 to 2018 he worked for Raven Banner on festival strategies and acquisitions. In 2018, he co-founded Yellow Veil Pictures, a boutique international sales and distribution company with Joe Yanick and Justin Timms. He has also been producing features and short films for over 7 years, including the Tribeca-award-winning film HUACHICOLERO.