Lake County Film Festival announces 2023 Award-Winners

The 2023 Lake County Film Festival was held on the first two weekends of November, the 3rd โ€“ 5th & the 10th โ€“ 12th, with a special opening night screening on Halloween. We showed 26 features and 80 short films, and all films were shown in person at The College Of Lake County in Grayslake, IL. Three screenings were also shown at The Gorton Center in Lake Forest, IL. Dozens of filmmakers attended the festival to represent their films.

The following films were awarded by our juries & audience members. 

Jury Awards 

Feature Narrative Jury
John Klein, filmmaker
Morgan Gire, film journalist
Aaron Shanley, film journalist

Best Narrative Feature: ๐“๐ซ๐š๐ฉ๐ฉ๐ž๐ ๐๐š๐ฅ๐ฅ๐จ๐จ๐ง by Hiroyuki Miyagawa

Jury Statement: “Trapped Balloon is a beautifully constructed character study exploring grief and its aftermath, and finding purpose in your life when it feels as though itโ€™s been stolen from you, a focus brought largely through understated, truly moving performances from leads Masahiro Higashide (as Kenji, a man wracked with loss and survivors guilt over the death of his wife and child during the 2018 Japan floods) and Tลko Miura (as the compassionate Rinko, herself dealing with the death of her mother and her fatherโ€™s mounting illness). The film uses a sparse, effective visual design that mirrors the charactersโ€™ need for connection and their struggles with discerning their own happiness amidst their loss, and what could have been a cliched, melodramatic story with predictable romantic undertones turns into something much more felt and poignant. Trapped Balloon tugs at your heart strings through its focus on community, compassion, and what it means to press on and find meaning in an often unforgiving world.”

Feature Documentary Jury
Rory Jobst, film educator & playwright/theater director
Leslie McCleave, filmmaker

Best Documentary Feature: ๐–๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐๐ž๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐๐ซ๐š๐๐ฅ๐ž๐ฒ by Alex Rappoport

Feature Music Film Jury
Joan Hammel, musician
Phil Ajjarapu, musician

Best Music Documentary Feature: ๐‚๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ ๐˜๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐„๐š๐ซ๐ฌ by Sean Patrick Shaul

Short Narrative Jury
Justin Joseph Hall, filmmaker
Josh Folan, filmmaker
Josh Wolff, Director of Film at Gorton Center

“Such a beautiful array of genres in the mix this year. I was particularly astounded by the consistency in cinematography throughout the choices and complexity in animation. A visually pleasing set of films!” – Justin Joseph Hall.

Best Overall Narrative Short Film: ๐ƒ๐ž๐ฆ๐จ๐ง ๐๐จ๐ฑ by Sean Wainsteim

Jury Statement: “I was absolutely floored by this film. The total disregard for the fourth wall on a film dealing in that subject matter, and while being that personal of a story, was an absolutely amazing and ballsy creative choice. If I didn’t know the crushing economics of the short medium so well you’d never be able to convince me that this was made for any reasonable amount of money – the production value was off the charts and the tender loving care put into the art elements shines bright. A perfect short film, by my measure.” – Josh Folan

Best Directing In A Short Film: ๐Œ๐ฒ ๐„๐ฒ๐ž๐ฌ ๐€๐ซ๐ž ๐”๐ฉ ๐‡๐ž๐ซ๐ž by Nathan Morris
Best Animated Short Film: ๐€ ๐๐ž๐ซ๐Ÿ๐ž๐œ๐ญ ๐ƒ๐š๐ฒ ๐…๐จ๐ซ ๐€ ๐–๐š๐ฅ๐ค by Diane Catsburrow Linnet
Best Acting In A Short Film: Beck Bennett & Jessy Hodges in ๐๐ก๐จ๐ญ๐จ ๐Ž๐Ÿ ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐ƒ๐š๐ฒ by Mac Eldridge & Tom Dean
Best Cinematography In A Short Film: Freddie Whitman for ๐‚๐ซ๐š๐œ๐ค ๐’๐ก๐จ๐ญ by Alex Cohen
Best Writing In A Short Film: Kylie Alesso for ๐‰๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ ๐‹๐ข๐ž ๐“๐จ ๐Œ๐ž by Kelly Walker
Best Sound Editing In A Short Film: Dillan Schmitz for ๐Œ๐ข๐ฑ๐ž๐ ๐’๐ข๐ ๐ง๐š๐ฅ๐ฌ by Thomas van Kampen
Best Music In A Short Film: Evan Roth for ๐‹๐ž๐จ๐ง๐ž๐ญ๐ญ๐ฒ by Logan Jackson
Best Comedy Short Film: ๐๐จ๐จ๐Ÿ by Margaret Miller

Short Documentary Jury
Kyle Anne Grendys, filmmaker
Jon Gann, filmmaker
Raul Benitez, film programmer

Best Documentary Short Film: ๐€ ๐‚๐ก๐จ๐œ๐จ๐ฅ๐š๐ญ๐ž ๐‹๐ž๐ง๐ฌ by Gabriel Veras
Honorable Mention: ๐‡๐ž๐š๐ซ๐ญ ๐Ž๐Ÿ ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐‡๐ข๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ฅ๐š๐ง๐๐ฌ by Camila Martins

Short Student Film Jury
Dan Jeremy Brooks, film podcaster & film programmer
Cindy Mich, film programmer

Jury Award For Best Documentary Student Short Film: ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐’๐ž๐š๐ซ๐œ๐ก by Thomas Brouns
Jury Award For Best Narrative Student Short Film: ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐„๐ง๐ ๐Ž๐Ÿ ๐“๐ก๐ž ๐–๐จ๐ซ๐ฅ๐ by Aleksandra Podziewska

Audience Awards 

The Daniel Chapp Audience Award For Best Narrative Feature: Trapped Balloon by Hiroyuki Miyagawa
Audience Award For Best Documentary Feature: Join Or Die by Rebecca Davis & Pete Davis

The Edward Amet Audience Award for Best Short Film: The Food That Saves Us by Joe Vella
Best Animated Short Film: Island by Michael Faust
Best Documentary Short Film: Harvey by Janice Nadeau

The complete Top 10:
1. Food That Saves You by Joe Vella *Top Short Film*
2. Island by Michael Faust *Top Animated Short Film*
3. Crack Shot by Alex Cohen
4. Paper Planes by Michael Glover Smith & Alyssa Thordarson
5. Non-Negotiable by Mike Doxford
6. Shadow Brother Sunday by Alden Ehrenreich
7. Harvey by Janice Nadeau *Top Documentary Short Film*
8. Demon Box by Sean Wainsteim
9. The Anne Frank Gift Shop by Mickey Rapkin
10. Brother by Aleksei Borovikov

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