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Monday, Oct. 19, 2020

Prize Fest Takes It Global


Largest cash prize for a short film awarded to New Orleans filmmaker

Prize Fest, an online Film, Music, Food, Fashion and Startup Festival, announced its winners on Oct. 13 in a live broadcasted awards show watched throughout the country and the world. In its ninth year, the online festival streamed the work of independent filmmakers, fashion designers, musicians, chefs and startups to a global audience. The culmination of the work of these creative entrepreneurs being shown online earned Prize Fest the title of being the largest online film, music, food, fashion and startup event in the world. In its 10-day run, Prize Fest showed 20 films, hosted seven days of filmmaker panels and mentor roundtables, 26 live festival update shows and featured a globally broadcasted live fashion show and competition and an eight-hour live music festival.

“When we moved Prize Fest online, we knew we were being ambitious with our programming but, to be honest, we weren’t sure the people would show up,” said Gregory Kallenberg, founder of Prize Fest. “We couldn’t believe it when we passed 10,000 views on Film Prize, and our minds were blown when we went over 45,000 views and started seeing our online audience flock to Fashion Prize and Music Prize.”

Prize Fest, headquartered in Shreveport, La., streamed to 37 states and nine different countries. The unique festival/competition combination allows attendees to view the various festival broadcasts, and allows them to vote on the winners. The Film Prize, Prize Fest’s short film competition, awards $25,000 to the winner, the world’s largest cash prize for a short film.

“For the Prize Foundation, despite being in the middle of a pandemic, we never quit,” said Kallenberg. “We were determined to take our special event online to support and celebrate the independent filmmaking industry and creative entrepreneurs in the state of Louisiana. We’re proud that so many people from all over the world tuned in and made Prize Fest 2020 so incredibly special.”

Louisiana Film Prize

The 2020 Louisiana Film Prize grand prize winner and recipient of the $25,000 grand prize are “Untitled Post-Baby Project,” directed by Lorna Street Dopson. Dopson is the first female director and the first New Orleans director to win the Louisiana Film Prize award.

The winning film was chosen from the Top 20 short film finalists, all filmed in Louisiana, and determined by a combination of votes from pass holders and national industry judges.

The other short films that joined “Untitled Post-Baby Project” in the Top 5 this year were: Anne Nichols Brown’s “Away,” Paul Petersen’s “Double Date Night,” Topher Simon’s “Imminent” and Michael Landry’s “Nice to Meet You.” All but one of the top five filmmakers are Louisiana-based. Along with Dopson (New Orleans), Brown is from Monroe, Petersen is from Shreveport, and Simon is from Baton Rouge.

Garret Kruithof won this year’s Best Actor for his performance in “Three Mile Hell,” and Teri Wyble won Best Actress for her performance in “Nice to Meet You.”

Louisiana Music Prize

The 2020 Louisiana Music Prize winner and recipient of the $2,000 cash award is Lance Thompson.

Thompson competed against nine other independent music acts during an online livestreamed music showcase.

This year’s Louisiana Music Prize was retooled to help the independent music scene in the region. All bands were given the opportunity to play 25 minute sets, promote themselves and garner tips from the Music Prize audience.

Louisiana Food Prize

The 2020 Battle for the Golden Fork: Power to the People competition was incredibly close, ending in a tie between Tootie Morrison, chef of Abby Singer’s Bistro (and Louisiana Food Prize’s inaugural Golden Fork champion) and Anthony Felan, chef/owner of Fat Calf Brasserie. Each chef will be the recipient of a $1,000 cash prize.

Other chefs competing for this year’s Golden Fork title were Jessica Tyler Comegys (Glow Alchemy Kitchen), Eleazar Mondragon (Ki Mexico), Jon Ortiz (The Noble Savage Tavern) and Sean Sullivan (Frank’s Louisiana Kitchen.)

The Battle for the Golden Fork was reformulated this year in an effort to energize and support the local restaurant community. Rather than a live cookoff, over 500 Golden Fork Passports were distributed across the competing chefs’ restaurants, and diners had one month to visit and patronize at least three participating restaurants before casting their vote for their favorite chef.

As part of this year’s Prize Fest, the Louisiana Food Prize also hosted three soldout celebrity chef cook-alongs in which passholders received curated Home Chef Baskets and the opportunity to cook along with nationally recognized award-winning chefs virtually.

Louisiana Fashion Prize

In its second year, the Louisiana Fashion Prize hosted an online live-streamed presentation of seven local designers’ collections. The innovative broadcast allowed viewers to meet the designers, get up close and personal with the designers’ collections and watch live judging from the celebrity panel.

Hephzibah Thomas was named the winner of the judges’ grand prize award and $2,000 cash prize. Thomas was also voted the audience choice winner.

The competing designers were Thomas, Crystal Green, Kirsi Hardy, Brittani Shabazz, Victoria Smith, Donna Strebeck and Emily Zering. Each designer’s collection was showcased and filmed in a different location, and the online presentation also included behind-the-scenes footage, interviews with the designers and commentary from the judges.

The judges’ decision was made by a panel of fashion industry professionals, including Golda Blaise (co-founder, Meow Wolf), Thaddeus (a voice of fashion from the West Coast), and Tracee Dundas (founder/ producer, New Orleans Fashion Week).

Louisiana Startup Prize

The Louisiana Startup Prize hosted Come & (Re)Build It, an online mini-conference focused on diversity, parity and inclusion within the startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem, and drew a national audience of incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurs.

The conference kicked off with keynote, Victor Hwang, founder and CEO of Right to Start, an advocacy group whose mission is to bring entrepreneurial opportunity to all, regardless of race, gender, background, place or circumstance. Other panelists included Katie Hall (CEO, Claira), Chris Offensend (CEO, Qwally), Kate McCrery (director of programs, Digital Undivided), Sonal Shah (executive director, Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University) and Howard W. Buffett (associate professor and research scholar, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs) as well as moderators, Mark Newberg (president and founder of Stockbridge Advisors LLC) and Prize Foundation Executive Director Gregory Kallenberg.


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