SCAD Savannah Film Festival Audience Award Winners

SCAD Savannah Film Festival

SCAD Savannah Film Festival announces 2023 competition award winners

SAVANNAH, GEORGIA — The Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) today announced the award winners for the 26th annual SCAD Savannah Film Festival. A key stop on the festival circuit leading up to the Academy Awards, the 2023 SCAD Savannah Film Festival screened 167 films, including 51 narrative feature films, 16 documentary feature films, 100 short films, and eleven world premieres and four U.S. premieres. 

Out of over 2,100 submissions, nineteen awards were announced from the 99 films chosen to compete in competition categories, which included Narrative Features, Documentary Features, Professional Shorts, Animated Shorts, Documentary Shorts, Student Shorts, Shorts Spotlight, Global Shorts Forum and the SAVFF LGBTQIA+ Short Film Competition presented by Amazon MGM Studios.

Professional Competition 

Best Animated Short – Slow Light, directed by Katarzyna Kijek and Przemysław Adamski 

Best Director – Smoking Tigers, directed by So Young Shelly Yo 

Best Documentary Feature – Bad Press, directed by Rebecca Landsberry-Baker and Joe Peeler 

Best Documentary Short: Unique Courage – Mayan Softball Revolution, directed by Michael Zimbalist 

Best Documentary Short: Lessons of Hope – Seeds of Change, directed by Maximilian Armstrong 

Best Narrative Short – The Old Young Crow, directed by Liam LoPinto 

Best Narrative Feature – At The Gates, directed by Augustus Meleo Bernstein 

Documentary Shorts: Best of Show – Mayan Softball Revolution, directed by Michael Zimbalist 

Student Competition 

Best Narrative Student Short – The Fuse, directed by Kevin Haefelin 

Best Student Animation – Close Your Eyes, directed by Manon Bérardengo, Audrey Defonte, Léo Depoix, Denis Koessler, Clémentine Laurent, Pierre Guislain, and Chloé Boursier 

Best Student Documentary Short – Just Jacob., directed by Halle Losordo *SCAD Student Film 

Documentary Shorts Jury Award – The Local Hero Award: Lessons of Hope – God’s Love Split *SCAD Student Film 

Student Animated Shorts Jury Award – Excellence in 2D Animation: The Sun Is Bad, directed by Rachel Mow *SCAD Student Film 

Student Narrative Shorts Jury Award – Excellence in Directing and Acting: Blue Hour, directed by J.D. Shields 

Global Shorts Forum

Global Shorts Forum Best of Show – Our Males and Females, directed by Ahmad Alyaseer 

Best Global Short: Beyond Identity – Hafekasi, directed by Annelise Hickey 

Best Global Short: Rocking the Cradle of Civilization – In the Garden of Tulips, directed by Julia Elihu 

Shorts Spotlight 

Shorts Spotlight Best of Show – Mira, directed by Eva Louise Hall Best Shorts Spotlight: A Kaleidoscope of Connections – Tom & Cinda, directed by Eva Neuwirth 

Best Shorts Spotlight: Family Fun – Morning Joy, directed by John Henry Hinkel 

Best Shorts Spotlight: Horrors in Plain Sight – Mira, directed by Eva Louise Hall 

Shorts Spotlight Jury Award: Excellence in Craftsmanship – Lovebugs, directed by Teddy Alvarez-Nissen

The 2023 festival's professional jury members included Seth Fradkoff (publicity principal, Amazon MGM Studios), Migizi Pensoneau (writer and producer), Jeanie Pyun (deputy editorial director, The Hollywood Reporter), and Rishi Rajani (CEO, Hillman Grad). 

SAVFF LGBTQIA+ Short Film Competition Presented by Amazon MGM Studios 

Recognizing the need for more inclusive storytelling in the filmmaking industry, the 2023 SCAD Savannah Film Festival (SAVFF) and Amazon MGM Studios have created a dedicated SAVFF LGBTQIA+ Short Film Competition. Amazon MGM Studios will donate $10,000 for the jury-awarded Best Overall Film and $5,000 for an Audience Award. Films in the program are under 40 minutes in length and represent excellence in storytelling and execution in narrative or documentary formats, reflecting unique insight into LGBTQIA+ themes, issues, or ideas. 

This year’s winner for Best LGBTQIA+ Short is 100% USDA Certified Organic Homemade Tofu, directed by Gbenga Komolafe. This year’s Audience Award winner is Fanatic, directed by Taran Killam. 

The SAVFF LGBTQIA+ Short Film Competition Presented by Amazon MGM Studios jury members included Adam Keen (co-head of global film PR at Amazon MGM Studios), Anthony Allen Ramos (vice president of communications and talent at GLAAD), Daniel Reynolds (editor in chief at Out Magazine), Jazz Tangcay (senior artisans editor at Variety) and Abbey White (news reporter at The Hollywood Reporter). 

About the SCAD Savannah Film Festival 
Celebrating its 26th year, the SCAD Savannah Film Festival and competitions provide SCAD students with opportunities as unique as the selected films. This year, the festival received more than 2,100 submissions for the competition series. During the festival, students from every academic discipline connect with leaders from the entertainment industry through master classes, coffee talks, lectures, workshops, and panel discussions. Presented each year in Savannah, a premier film hub in the Southeast, the festival promotes quality movies produced by independent and studio filmmakers.

Follow the festival on Facebook and Instagram @savfilmfest and TikTok @scaddotedu and use #SCAD and #SAVFF.

About SCAD: The University for Creative Careers

SCAD is a private, nonprofit, accredited university, offering 100 graduate and undergraduate degree programs across locations in Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia; Lacoste, France; and online via SCADnow. SCAD enrolls more than 17,500 undergraduate and graduate students from more than 120 countries. The future-minded SCAD curriculum engages professional-level technology and myriad advanced learning resources, affording students opportunities for internships, professional certifications, and real-world assignments with corporate partners through SCADpro, the university's renowned research lab and prototype generator.

SCAD is No. 1 in the U.S., according to Art & Object's 2023 Best Art Schools ranking, with additional top rankings for degree programs in interior design, architecture, film, fashion, digital media, and more. Career success is woven into every fiber of the university, resulting in a superior alumni employment rate. A 2023 study found that 99% of SCAD graduates were employed, pursuing further education, or both within 10 months of graduation. SCAD provides students and alumni with ongoing career support through personal coaching, alumni programs, a professional presentation studio, and more. Visit

About the SCAD School of Film and Acting 
With resources that rival Hollywood studios, award-winning professors, stunning locations, two professionally run casting offices, and stellar film and television festivals, the SCAD School of Film and Acting is the ideal place for students to launch into the multibillion film and television industry. The SCAD acting, film and television, production design, and sound design programs prepare students to command roles on stage, screen, and behind the scenes through instruction that includes real-world experience on productions for short films, live performances, TV sitcoms, dramatic series, music videos, commercials, and more.

Additionally, SCAD is making a significant investment in the futures of the university's School of Film and Acting and School of Animation and Motion students with the completion of a Hollywood-style film backlot at Savannah Film Studios. The landmark 11-acre, three-phase expansion includes the backlot, a next-generation LED volume stage for virtual productions — one of two owned and operated by the university, along with a second at SCAD Atlanta's Digital Media Center — and new soundstages, among other features. The expanded Savannah Film Studios is the largest and most comprehensive university film studio complex in the nation.