Other Worlds Austin Announces 2017 Award Winners

AUSTIN, TX -- Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival wrapped up its successful fourth season today by announcing the 2017 winners for its Best Feature Audience Award, Best Short Audience Award (sponsored by Film Colossus), the Mary Shelley Award, the Dan O’Bannon Filmmaker Award, the Cthulhies awards, and the finalists for the Screenplay Contest.

Nearly 300 films were submitted to the fourth-year festival. A passionate and engaged audience ultimately had to choose from 15 features and 28 shorts, all Austin premieres.

The Best Feature Audience Award winner for OtherWorlds2017 is the Texas premiere of GNAW, written by Jim Brennnan, Haylar Garcia, and Kathryn Gould, and directed by Haylar Garcia. This supernatural horror film follows Jennifer Conrad, a small-town girl starting over in the big city. Fleeing an abusive relationship, all she wants is a chance to begin again. But it is hard to start over when something is eating you while you sleep… one painful bite at a time.

The Best Short Audience Award winner for OtherWorlds2017 (sponsored by Film Colossus) is EINSTEIN-ROSEN, written and directed by Olga Osorio. In the summer of 1982, Teo claims he has found a wormhole. His brother Oscar does not believe him… at least not for now.


Bears Fonté, OWA Founder and Artistic Director, speaks for the entire Other Worlds Austin team in acknowledging these impressive films: “We’re excited that our jury, made up of our festival attendees, has for the first time, selected one of our Under Worlds films — GNAW — as Best Feature, especially one that handles such difficult issues as domestic abuse with unapologetic honesty.”

Under Worlds Austin, in its third year, is the Horror sidebar to the overall Other Words festival.  

“As for the audience’s selection of Best Short,” Fonté continues, “EINSTEIN-ROSEN captures the pure joy of a child’s wonderment with science as well as classic sibling rivalry.”

The Best Feature Audience Award 2017 winner receives a $500 cash prize. The Best Short Audience Award 2017 winner receives a $250 cash prize.


Mary Shelly Award

As part as its continuing effort to discover and celebrate female voices working in the genre field, Other Worlds Austin presents the third annual Mary Shelley Award for SciFi Filmmaking, awarded to the best film that furthers the involvement and representation of women in the SciFi genre. This award is sponsored by Canine Productions, producers of award winning indie shorts, music videos and documentaries.

The Mary Shelley Award winner for the most innovative and most original vision for 2017 is Rosita Lama Muvdi, writer/director of the Under Worlds Austin short film, LA SIRENA. In this psychosexual fishing village fairy tale, Mia, reeling from heartbreak, discovers a woman washed up on shore, naked and with a hook lodged into her ribcage.

“Rosita's evocative, folklore-laden film is truly 'other-worldly,' and we're so excited to see her recognized by our jury,” says Jordan Brown, OWA Associate Artistic Director. “Her future stories are sure to be welcome additions to the increasingly diverse universe of genre film!”

Statement from juror, Alison Willmore:

“Rosita Lama Muvdi's LA SIRENA beautifully blends myth and heartbreak into a story of a young woman contending with a poisonous relationship, creating a work of emotional truth and haunting imagery that leaves us eager to see what she does next.”

Nominees from this year’s programming were identified by the Other Worlds programming team and the winner was determined by a special jury of female film industry professionals:

Claire Carré, writer, director, and editor based in New York.

Denise Gossett, actress and founder of Shriekfest Film Festival

Alison Willmore, critic at BuzzFeed News

In addition to the Mary Shelley Award, all short films are eligible Film Colossus Prize, which includes $250 and coverage of a future script or rough cut.

The Mary Shelley Award is named for the author of “Frankenstein.” the original SciFi novel – a work that examines the human condition and the positive and dangerous possibilities of science. The award grants $500 to one filmmaker (of either a short or a feature) which played the Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival 2017.

To qualify, the films must either:

            * Be written and/or directed by a female, or

            * Feature complex female protagonists driving the narrative and leading the action.

This year’s nominees were:

GNAW: Kathryn Gould (co-writer)

EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL: Andrea Sisson (co-writer)

EINSTEIN-ROSEN: Olga Osorio (writer/director)

LA SIRENA: Rosita Lama Muvdi (writer/director)

TASTE: Lauren Kincheloe (co-writer)


Dan O’Bannon Filmmaker Award

Other Worlds Austin SciFi Film Festival is excited to announce that it will award a $1,500 grant to the winner of the 2017 Dan O’Bannon Filmmaker Award, JJ Pollack, for the production or post-production of his project REDSHIFT.

The Other Worlds Austin Dan O'Bannon Filmmaker Award is gifted to a filmmaker whose proposed short film follows our mission statement’s explanation of a phenomenal SciFi film: a great story that isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of the audience, thrilling them both visually and intellectually.

“OWA has consistently shown a commitment to thought-provoking SciFi,” says Pollack, “and my team and I are extremely excited to be involved with them. The Dan O’Bannon grant will be vital in allowing us to realize our film with the level of detail and care we felt was necessary for success.”

“Other Worlds Austin’s Dan O’Bannon Filmmaker Award was started with the intention of giving a helping nudge to promising independent SciFi voices,” says Michael Thielvoldt, OWA Film Programmer & Tour/Transport Director. “JJ Pollack and his project REDSHIFT embody that voice, and we are honored to do our small part to ensuring both are heard.”

Dan O’Bannon is best known as the creative force and screenwriter behind ALIEN, but his work on TOTAL RECALL, SCREAMERS, and HEAVY METAL further cemented his place in the SciFi pantheon. He even did special effects on the original STAR WARS.  His first film, the John Carpenter SciFi cult classic DARK STAR, found him taking on the roles of writer, special effects, editor, production design and actor. 

“In naming the grant after O’Bannon,” says Bears Fonté, OWA Founder and Artistic Director, “we can think of no better artist that better exemplifies the drive and singular determination it takes to make a SciFi film, and that’s what this award is for, to help someone with that drive.

This year’s jurors are:

Jim Brunzell, Festival Programmer

Jim Brunzell III is the Program Director for the Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival (aGLIFF) in Austin, Texas, as well as festival director for the music film festival Sound Unseen in the Twin Cities, MN, and lead programmer for the Flyway Film Festival in Stockholm & Pepin, WI. He is also a film journalist whose work has appeared in Twin Cities Daily Planet, Star Tribune, City Pages, 89.3 the Current, MinnPost and Hammer to Nail where he has covered Sundance, Toronto, SXSW, True/False, Fantastic Fest, Seattle, Tribeca, MSPIFF and Chicago international film festivals. He has served on festival juries in Newport Beach, Milwaukee, Nashville, Knoxville and Bend, OR. He is also a big sports nerd.


Meredith Johns, SFX Artist and Production House Executive

Meredith Johns was born and raised in Austin, TX. She grew up in a family of artists ranging from ceramics and oil painting to woodworking and lampwork bead making. Sculpting, painting, and constantly pursuing outlets for her creativity was a part of life for Meredith, so it’s not surprising that she sought out an artistic career. She met business partner Carolyn O’Hara on set and abandoned her budding graphic design career to start Hawgfly Productions, Inc. Her favorite part of her job as a makeup artist is the constant challenge that new projects present and the exciting results of hard work and great ingenuity. Meredith was nominated for a 2010 Primetime Emmy Award for her makeup work on Temple Grandin. Some of Meredith’s other credits include Stoker (SFX Makeup Artist), Machete Kills (Key SFX Prosthetics Makeup), Mission Park (Makeup Department Head), Machete (SFX Makeup Department Head), True Grit (Makeup), Friday the 13th – Part XII (Prop Fabricator), Exit Speed (Key SFX Makeup), and Teeth (Makeup).


Jean Ann Lauer, Fest Programmer/Director

Jean joined the staff at Cine Las Americas in preparation for the 2009 festival, bringing with her a dedication to the development and promotion of independent and international film. She enjoys working with a talented and diverse team at Cine, to curate and present selections of Latin@, American Indigenous, and Ibero-American film and media, during the annual festival and other events throughout the year.


Andrew Matthews, Filmmaker

Andrew Matthews is an Austin filmmaker whose recent film Zero Charisma, which he wrote and co-directed, won the Narrative Spotlight Audience Award at SXSW 2013 and will be released by Tribeca Film and the Nerdist Industries in mid-October. He is also the editor of the award- winning documentaries Best Worst Movie and The American Scream (winner, Best Documentary, Fantastic Fest 2012).


Mike Saulters, Journalist

Herding programmers by day and slinging words by night, Mike came to Austin twenty years ago hoping to make movies. After the requisite seven years to complete a CS degree at UT, he found he was perfectly happy watching and writing about them while working separately in a field that's much more suited to keeping bills paid. He has contributed scores of reviews for Ain't It Cool News writing under the nom-de-clavier Augustus Gloop, mostly festival coverage for AFF, SXSW and Fantastic Fest.


Tishuan Scott, Actor

An Oprah Winfrey Scholar, Tishuan attended Morehouse College, where he matriculated towards earning his Bachelor of Arts in Drama and Psychology in 2002. He then attended the University of California - Los Angeles School of Theater, Film & Television, as a Lloyd Bridges/MGM Outer Limits Fellow, where he received his Master of Fine Arts in Acting in 2006.

Tishuan was awarded the 2013 SXSW Breakthrough Performance - Special Jury Recognition for Acting in his star turning lead role as "Nate," a freedman gravedigger for the Federal Union Army in THE RETRIEVAL by Chris Eska. Scott also plays "Keneiloe," a Ghanaian Guru, in Andrew Bujalski's 2013 Sundance Alfred P. Sloan Award Winner, COMPUTER CHESS.


Christine Thompson, Journalist

Christine Thompson is the Publisher and Editor of AMFM Magazine, a film and music editorial that has had nearly 15 million views since its inception.  She is a music and film enthusiast, having produced award-winning indie shorts for AMFM Studios, LLC since 2003.  AMFM Magazine was started in order to give voice to the Indie Artist of all persuasions, music, film, literary, and others.  She is a third-culture kid (military brat) and spent most of her formative years in Europe until attending the University of Tennessee, where she received a degree in Communications.


Screenplay Contest Finalists

Other Worlds Austin’s ongoing mission to encourage work in Science Fiction resulted in its third annual SciFi Screenwriting Contest to reward creativity in its earliest stages and encourage writers to keep working in the genre. The contest is sponsored by Save the Cat!®. The 2017 Finalists are:


Screenplay Short:

DAKOTA CAVES by Robert J. Rogers



Screenplay Feature:


THE LAST PRISON by Richard Geiwitz

PARALLEL by Julia Grubbs



THE QUENCH by Michael Keller and Bryan Abrams

A SMALL FACET by Tony Park

EUGENNICA by Dan Horrigan


Each of the category finalists will receive all five books from Save the Cat!® and a copy of Save the Cat!® Story Structure Software 3.0: Structure your screenplay the Save the Cat!® Way. In addition, the winner in the feature category will receive free a 1-hour phone consultation from a Master Cat® about their script (up to 120 pages) and the winners of both the short and teleplay category will receive an hour free consultation to discuss any aspect of their project. The Grand Prize Winner, selected from the three winners, will receive $500 cash.

Also, every entrant will receive an online discount code for the latest Save the Cat!® books, including the soon be published book analyzing independent films scheduled for release in April.

Feedback will be available for all scripts entered at the writers’ request by emailing www.screenplay@otherworldsaustin.com.



In addition, Other Worlds Austin announced the winners of the Cthulhies, a series of awards given by the programming team in areas such as Script, Cinematography, Visual Effects and Acting. The winners for 2017 are:


Feature Script   

Brian DeLeeuw, CURVATURE


Feature Director   

Roope Olenius, TUFTLAND


Feature Actor

Joey Klein, PAINLESS


Feature Actress   

Lyndsy Fonseca, CURVATURE


Feature Cinematography   

Christian Sorensen Hansen & Pete Ohs, EVERYTHING BEAUTIFUL


Feature Editing   

Sean Albertson & Banner Gwin, BEYOND SKYLINE


Feature Score or Music    

Ryudai Abe, COCOLORS


Feature VFX  

Patrick Flannery, BEYOND SKYLINE


Feature Production Design

 Michi Suzuki, Koji Hashiguchi, Yuichi Suehiro & Mitsuji Kamata, COCOLORS


Short Script   



Short Director   

Nicholas Payne Santos, HOLIDAY FEAR


Short Actor   

Kirk Johnson, SCANNERS


Short Actress   

Anna Mazurik, THE TINWIFE


Short Cinematography   



Short Editor   

Michael Bartolomeo, SOLVED


Short Score or Music   



Short VFX   

Miguel Ortega, THE NINGYO


Short Production Design





About Other Worlds Austin

Other Worlds Austin is one of the premiere SciFi film festivals in the US, championing filmmakers and writers and bringing the best films to the ‘Geek Capital of the World.’

With a diverse and approachable team of programmers, we are building a network of SciFi fans and filmmakers, leading a loyal community, and launching SciFi films into the wider world.


About Film Colossus

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Co-founded by Chris Lambert and Travis Bean, Film Colossus represents a new wave of film criticism that goes beyond a synopsis and review. It is also a resource for filmmakers that shines a light on smaller, festival films that don’t get a lot of attention but have great qualities that can be learned from. With a slew of podcasts, interviews, and reviews, Film Colossus cracks open the inner world of film.  And by making connections with film festivals and people in the business, Film Colossus provides insights in to where filmmakers should send their films. For more information, go to http://filmcolossus.com/requests/


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About Canine Productions

Award winning indie shorts, music videos and documentaries. We're enthusiastic about making a difference in how women and girls are portrayed in media. We actively support women in front of and behind the camera and the men who collaborate with them. Canine Productions is located in Seattle – home to outstanding indie filmmakers.


ABOUT Save the Cat!® 


In his 20-year career as a screenwriter and producer, Blake Snyder sold dozens of scripts, including co-writing Blank Check, which became a hit for Disney, and Nuclear Family for Steven Spielberg — both million-dollar sales. His book, Save the Cat!®: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever Need became an instant sensation in screenwriting, and was quickly followed by standing room only workshops. 

The book, now in its 24th printing, and its very specific, assessable structural beat sheet, has become the “secret weapon” of many development executives, managers, and producers for its precise, easy, and honest appraisal of what it takes to write and develop stories that resonate. Although he passed away suddenly in 2009, he lives on in his films and his books and in the countless writers he mentored or who have achieved success by embracing Blake’s ‘Insider’s Guide’ to screenwriting.

Check out more about Blake's principles and examples of great films broken down into the Save the Cat!® beat sheet on www.savethecat.com.


About Dan O’Bannon

Dan O’Bannon (1946-2009) was a highly acclaimed science fiction/horror film screenwriter. Best known for writing the blockbuster hit ALIEN and the zombie fest THE RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD, which he also directed, O’Bannon went on to write TOTAL RECALL, INVADERS FROM MARS (1986), SCREAMERS, and many other SciFi films. O'Bannon helped create the animated feature HEAVY METAL writing two of its segments ("Soft Landing" and "B-17") and even did computer animation and graphic display work on STAR WARS.