DTLA Film Festival Announces 2023 Filmmaker Awards

Nicki Micheaux’s ‘Summer of Violence’ Takes Best Picture, ‘Hail Mary’s’ Rosemary Rodriquez Named Best Director and the two features share Audience Favorite Award

It’s Basic’ Honored as Best Documentary, and ‘The Fourth’ Best Short, and ‘This Is Your Song’ Best Screenplay, ‘The Countdown’ Best TV Pilot, ‘Girl at a Bar’ Best Web Series

LOS ANGELES | Nov. 5, 2023 – DTLA Film Festival – a leading showcase from independent films in Los Angeles – announced today its 2023 Filmmakers Awards. Director-writer Nicki Micheaux’s “Summer of Violence,” the festival’s Centerpiece Film, won Best Picture. Rosemary Rodriguez, the director of the festival’s Opening Night Film, “Hail Mary,” was named Best Director, and the two tied for Audience Favorite Award. “It’s Basic” by Marc Levin took the Best Documentary award.

The 15th annual DTLA Film Festival, Nov. 1-5 at Regal L.A. LIVE, concluded today with the screening of the Closing Night Film, “Women In Fire,” which was honored with the Best Cinematography – Documentaries award and received a $1,500 in-kind prize from festival sponsor Colorspace Finishing, presented by owner Peter Swartz.

Other winners included Hassan Said and Lourdes Figueroa of “This Is Your Song” for Best Screenplay, and non-gender-specific Best Actors honors went to Natalia de Riego (“Hail Mary”), Rachael Holoway (“Numb”), Zosia Mamet (“Molli and Max in the Future”), Johanna Putnam (“Shudderbugs”), Paul Reiser (“The Problem With People”) and Briana Walsh (“This Is Your Song”) with the Best Ensemble Cast prize going to “Darla In Space.”

In the short content categories, honors went to “The Fourth” for Best Short Film, “The Countdown” for Best TV Pilot and “Girl at a Bar’ for Best Web Series.

The complete list of filmmaker award follows. The winners of the festival’s screenplay contest were announced yesterday.

“The quality of this year’s entries was stellar, and we’re especially proud of the fact that all three of our showcase films – Opening Night, Centerpiece and Closing Night – were by women directors. On behalf of all of our staff and the entire nonprofit organization that produces the annual DTLA Film Festival, we congratulate all the winners,” says Carolyn Schroeder, Director of Programming.

The dates for the 2024 DTLA Film Festival will be announced later this year.

“Our mission in 2008 when our nonprofit was established remains the same today – to spotlight in the Film Capital of the World movies by filmmakers underrepresented by Hollywood, including women, people of color, the queer communities, persons with disabilities, the economically disenfranchised, and the recently incarcerated. We’ll continue to fight the good fight until the day when movies made in Hollywood reflect what America really looks like,” says Greg Ptacek, Festival Director and co-founder.



Best Picture
“Summer of Violence,” Nicki Micheaux, director

Audience Favorite Award (Tie)

  • “Hail Mary,” Rosemary Rodriguez, director
  • Summer of Violence,” Nicki Micheaux, director

Best Director
Rosemary Rodriguez, “Hail Mary”

Best Cinematographer
“The Assassin”

Best Actors

  • Natalia del Riego, “Hail Mary”
  • Rachel Halloway, “Numb”
  • Zosia Mamet, “Molli and Max in the Future”
  • Gin Mung, “Numb”
  • Johanna Putnam, “Shudderbugs”
  • Paul Reiser, “The Problem with People”
  • Briana Walsh, “This is Your Song

Best Supporting Actors

  • Jino Haulam, “Numb”
  • Kane Hodder, “The Activated Man
  • Jack Huston, “Hail Mary”
  • Colm Meany, “The Problem with People”
  • Angela Sarafyan, “Hail Mary”

Best Ensemble Cast
“Darla In Space,” Eric Laplante and Susie Moon, directors

Breakthrough Performance
Johanna Putnam, “Shudderbugs”

Best Screenplay
This is Your Song,” Hassan Said, screenwriter-director | co-writer: Lourdes Figueroa

Best Editing
Zaid Alkayat, “Numb”

Best Special Effects
“The Activated Man”

Best Film Score
Brad Fischer, “This Is Your Song”


Best Documentary
“It’s Basic”

Best Director / Documentary
“Birthing Justice”

Best Cinematographer
“Women In Fire”

Best Editing
“The Conspiracy”

Best Music Documentary
“Method Sampling: How To Build The Future Together”


Best Short Film: “The Fourth” by Johnny Kirk

Special Mention: “Can’t Help Myself” by Anna Ansone

Best Directors: Karni Arieli, Saul Freed “Wild Summon”

Best Screenplay: “Palestine 87” by Bilal Al Khatib

Best Editing: “Vision of Paradise” by Leonardo Pirondi

Best Cinematography: Marcell Lobenwein, “Padre”

Best Actors: Linnea Frye (“Lily’s Mirror”(, Barrington Darius (“Civic”)

Best Ensemble Cast: “The Buyers”, Marissa Pistone, Michele Karpel, Will Roberts, Rory Ernesto Manning, Christian Montes.

Best Supporting Actors: River L. Ramirez, Natalie Palamides “Cuxball”

Best Animation Short: “Headprickles” by Katarzyna Miechowicz

Best Stop-Motion Animation Short: “The Wolf’s Lament” by Scott Cardona

Best L.A. Short: “When We Fight” by Yael Bridge, Yoni Golijov

Best Queer Short: “That Dark Day” by Daniel Guarda

Best Documentary Short: “Dust to Light” by Erika Houle

Best Experimental Short: “3 Dialogues About the Future” by Alina Manolache

Best Comedy Short: “The Word” by Rob M Neilson

Best Student Short: “How to Deal With Fame” by Tiffany Ike

Best Foreign Language Short: “Bear” by Morgane Frund

Best “Short Short”: “Let it Out” by Scott Talbot


Best TV Pilot: “The Countdown” director Melanie Renfroe

Best Actor: Annie Pisapia, “Who’s Annie?”

Best Director: Elias Plagianos, “Hit Man”

Best Screenwriter: Heidi-Marie Ferren & Shannon McLemore, “The Countdown”

Best Ensemble Cast: “Hand Me Downs”: Luis Galilei, Jonathan Tyler Peck, Jose Alberto Alvarez, Matt Hardy, Makenna Ruth, Jes Davis, Kevin Bencosme, Talent Harris, Doran Dyer, Brandon Engman, Mayank Bhatter, Fray Forde, Kate Huffman


Best Web Series: “Girl at a Bar”

Best Actor: Tracy Mulholland, “Girl at a Bar”

Best Director: “Bento Banana 1-4”

Best Screenplay: “Overwatch: Genesis”

Best Ensemble Cast: “Girl at a Bar”: Tracy Mulholland, Osric Chau, Nikki DeLoach, Kausar Mohammed, Abby Wathen, Jake Choi, Alan Chow, Lynn Chen, Mike Manning, Shazi Raja, Jeremy Tardy, Jared Fareed Ward, Brandon Engman, Mayank Bhatter, Fray Forde, Kate Hufman

The 15th annual DTLA Film Festival thanks its sponsors, including DCP For All, 101 Keys, Mexican-American Cultural , Incandescent Entertainment, Los Angeles City Council District 14, Colorspace Finishing, BeScene and Underrated. Media sponsors included Google Ads, LAist, Downtown L.A. News and DTLA Weekly. Additional media coverage was provided by ABC 7 Los Angeles, CBS “The Talk,” KTLA-TV, The New Yorker and People magazine. Special thanks to Prodigy Public Relations.

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About DTLA Film Festival
Founded in 2008 as a nonprofit (501)(c)(3) arts organization, DTLA Film Festival is dedicated to showcasing films by and about groups underrepresented by Hollywood in the historic center of the Creative Capital of the World. The festival also strives to reflect in its programming the unique cultural and ethnic diversity of the neighborhoods of downtown Los Angeles and its surrounding communities. The 15th annual DTLA Film Festival, Nov. 1-5, 2023 is screening nearly a hundred films of all genres from around the world. More: https://dtlaff.com

Press Contact:
Greg Ptacek
DTLA Film Festival
323-841-8002 mobile