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Award Winners Announced for the Indie Memphis Film Festival

Earlier today, the Indie Mempis Film Festival announced their 2023 award winners. Among the prize winners were Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project, which took Best Documentary Feature, while Best Narrative Feature went to Mountains. The rest of the results are below.

Here is the press release:

Indie Memphis Film Festival, presented by SouthState|DuncanWilliams and Duncan Williams Asset Management, is thrilled to announce this year’s award winners. The awards show, sponsored by Eventive, was held in-person in Memphis, as well as online, on the evening of October 28th. The awards were presented by festival staff and programming teams, as well as members of the awards juries, sponsored by AMC. The 2023 festival screened over 175 films from filmmakers from all over the world. 

Jury Award highlights include Best Narrative Feature to MOUNTAINS (Dir. Monica Sorelle $1K cash prize), Best Documentary Feature to GOING TO MARS: THE NIKKI GIOVANNI PROJECT (Dirs.  Joe Brewster & Michèle Stephenson, $1K cash prize), Best Hometowner Feature to THE SPIRIT OF MEMPHIS (Dir. Alicia Ester, $1K cash prize), Best Departures Feature to LA BONGA (Dirs. ​​Sebastián Pinzón Silva & Canela Reyes, $500 cash prize), and Best Sounds Feature to EVEN HELL HAS ITS HEROES (Dir. Clyde Petersen, $500 cash prize), among others. 

The festival also awarded two yet-to-be-produced short films with Indie Grant prizes: 55 SOUTH by Alicia Ester and FRIEND SHAPED by Lo Norman. These films, from Memphis-based filmmakers, were chosen by a jury and were each awarded with $39K in Short Film Production Grants. Grant support consisted of $15K cash provided by sponsor Mark Jones and the Tennessee Entertainment Commission and $24,000 of cash-equivalent rentals and donations provided by sponsors Firefly Grip & Electric, LensRentals, Archer Recording  Studio, and VIA. The winners will each receive grant packages worth $13K.

The Festival Awards, decided by Indie Memphis Festival staff, include the Ron Tibbett ‘Soul of Southern Film’ award for MISSISSIPPI RIVER STYX (Dirs. Andy McMillan, Tim Grant) and the Craig Brewer ‘Emerging Filmmaker’ award for DONNA AND ALLY (Dir. Connor Mahony), among others. Audience awards will be announced in the coming week. For more information, please visit

2023 Indie Memphis Film Festival Award-Winners

Winners by category

Jury Awards

Narrative Features

Awarded by jury members Zeba Blay, Kyle Brett, Robert Daniels

  • Best Narrative Feature, MOUNTAINS (Dir. Monica Sorelle) – $1K Cash Prize
  • Duncan Williams Best Screenplay Award, THE FEELING THAT THE TIME FOR DOING SOMETHING HAS PASSED (Dir. Joanna Arnow) – $1K Cash Prize, sponsored by Duncan Williams, Inc.

Documentary Feature

Awarded by jury members Zia Anger, Robyn Citizen, Nia Hampton; sponsored by Classic American Hardwoods

  • Best Documentary Feature, GOING TO MARS: THE NIKKI GIOVANNI PROJECT (Dirs. Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson) – $1K Cash Prize
  • Special Jury Mention, MISSISSIPPI RIVER STYX (Dirs. Andy McMillan, Tim Grant)


Awarded by Jury Members Alison Inman, Kristen Warner;sponsored by Memphis & Shelby County Film and Television Commission + Tennessee Entertainment Commission 

  • Best Hometowner Feature, SPIRIT OF MEMPHIS (Dir. Alicia Ester) – $1K Cash Prize
  • Best Hometowner Narrative Short, ETTO (Dir. Zaire Love) – $500 Cash Prize
  • Best Hometowner Documentary Short, SLICE (Dir. Zaire Love) – $500 Cash Prize


Awarded by jury members Aaron Hunt, Alex Huggins, Lydia Ogwang

  • Best Departures Feature, LA BONGA (Dirs. ​​Sebastián Pinzón Silva, Canela Reyes) – $500 Cash Prize
  • Best Departures Short, AMMA KI KATHA (Dir. Nehal Vyas)
  • Special Jury Mention, REJEITO (Dir. Pedro de Filippis)


Awarded by jury members Clyde Folley, Morgan Rhodes, Jamila Wignot

  • Best Sounds Feature, EVEN HELL HAS ITS HEROES (Dir. Clyde Petersen) – $500 Cash Prize
  • Best National Music Video, “SLUT” by POLLYANNA (Dir. Jasia Ka)
  • Best Hometowner Music Video, “IF YOU FEEL ALONE AT PARTIES” BY BLVCK HIPPIE (Dir. Lawrence Shaw)


Awarded by jury members Rachaela Acosta, Jeanelle Augustin, Xenia Matthews

  • Best Narrative Short, BENEDICTION (Dir. Zandashé Brown) – $500 Cash Prize
  • Best Documentary Short, THIS IS NOT A SPORTS FILM (Dir. Lily Ahree Siegel) – $500 Cash Prize


Awarded by jury members Blair Barnes, Alece Oxendine, Christopher Yogi; sponsored by Mark Jones, the Tennessee Entertainment Commission, Firefly Grip & Electric, LensRentals, Archer Recording  Studio, and VIA

  • 55 SOUTH by Alicia Ester- $15K Grant ($7.5K cash, $7.5K in-kind filmmaking services)
  • FRIEND SHAPED by Lo Norman – $15K Grant ($7.5K cash, $7.5K in-kind filmmaking services)

Poster Design

Awarded by jury members Richard Echols, Kathryn Hicks, Allie Mounce


Festival Awards

Ron Tibbett ‘Soul of Southern Film’ Award

  • MISSISSIPPI RIVER STYX (Dirs. Andy McMillan, Tim Grant)

Craig Brewer ‘Emerging Filmmaker’ Award

  • DONNA AND ALLY (Dir. Connor Mahony)

Vision Award

  • Molly Wexler

Indie Award

  • Laura Jean Hocking

Best After Dark Short

  • BE THYSELF (Dir. Daniel Rosendale)


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