2020 Arizona Underground Film Festival Award Winners

2020 was quite a year for the Arizona Underground Film Festival, with tons of great films screened. See you next year!

Best Narrative Feature

Woman of the Photographs

Woman of the Photographs

2020 / Japan / Drama

Directed By Takeshi Kushida
Cast: Hideki Nagai, Itsuki Otaki, Toshiaki Inomata

A misogynic photographer discovers for the first time in his life the joys of loving a woman, this one confused about her self-identity and self-esteem, by helping her in her perceptions of herself with his photographic retouching skills. One day, middle-aged photographer and retouching artist Kai encounters Kyoko, a beautiful woman and model with a huge and ugly scar on her body.

One day, middle-aged photographer and retouching artist Kai encounters Kyoko, a beautiful woman and model with a huge and ugly scar on her body. She asks Kai if he can erase the scar in her photographs of herself and create a perfect and flawless body by his retouching skills. Kyoko is fascinated by her new perfect looks in her photographs. At the same time, she is hesitant to show the world and her fans her ideal figures as in her photographs or to show her real self, scars and all. She is torn between the two selves and falls into confusion. Kai feels that only he can salvage Kyoko from her anguishes, and he is determined to love her at all costs, even if it means death to him.

“WOMAN OF THE PHOTOGRAPHS” is a film that depicts the fascination and the passion in this encounter between two people awakening for the first time, to love and empathy.

Best Horror Feature

The Deep Ones

The Deep Ones

2020 / USA / Horror, Thriller

Directed By Chad Ferrin
Cast: Gina La Piana, Johann Urb, Robert Miano, Kelly Maroney

A married couple rents a beach side Airbnb only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. They soon discover to be in the grips of a mysterious cult and their ancient sea god.

Best Documentary Feature

Sleeze Lake: Vanlife at its Lowest and Best

Sleeze Lake: Vanlife at its Lowest and Best

2020 / USA / 60 min / Documentary

Directed By Andrew J. Morgan and Nick Nummerdor
Cast: Terry Cook

Set among the foggy memories and ephemera of the world’s largest custom van club, “Sleeze Lake” tells the story of a wild van party thrown in the middle of a fictitious resort town and the people who dreamt it up.

Best Experimental Feature

Prayer Before Birth

Prayer Before Birth

2020 / USA / 74 min / Experimental, Avant-grade

Directed By Anastasia Erastova

Through the journey of a young woman, the story takes us across wonders and catastrophes of the world. In search of her place within it, she seeks to regain true freedom.

Best Animation

To Your Last Death

To Your Last Death

2020 / USA / Horror, Animation

Directed By Jason Axinn
Cast: Morena Baccarin, Ray Wise, Bill Moseley, William Shatner

After emerging as the sole survivor in a deadly revenge game set up by her father to punish his children, Miriam receives an offer from a supernatural entity to go back in time and try again. Now, Miriam must survive both her father’s bloodlust and the Gamemaster’s ever-changing rules to save her siblings as she relives the worst night of her life.

Best Narrative Short

A Grievance with Gravity

A Grievance with Gravity

2020 / USA / 12 min / Sci-Fi, Romance, Comedy

Directed By Kelli Horan
Cast: Kelsey Thomas, Carlos O’Leary, Ricky Starks

In order to stay tethered to the Earth, Zoe wears bricks and blocks to weigh her down. Why? Gravity doesn’t affect her. While she tries her best to live a normal life, she constantly feels like an outcast. Then, she decides to open herself up to the world and celebrate her different-ness! 

Best Horror Short

Into the Uncanny Valley

Into the Uncanny Valley

2020 / USA / 13 min / Horror, Dark Humor

Directed By Liz Fania Werner and Carlos Montaner

When a woman takes a new drug meant to enhance assertiveness by blocking empathy, she ends up locked in a deadly power struggle with her dismissive husband.

Best Documentary Short (TIE)

5 x 7

5 x 7

2020 / Italy / 37 min / Documentary

Directed By Michele Citoni

Thanks to the random discovery of the 1801 photographs taken in 1957 by the young Cancian in that rural village where he had arrived almost by chance, the story resumes there where it was interrupted sixty years earlier. And the thread of memories ties back to people and places, bringing with itself some essential reflections on how photography can become an ethnographic look at small communities.

Best Documentary Short (TIE)

Tickets, Please!

Tickets, Please!

2020 / France / 45 min / Documentary

Directed By Astrid Serafini
Cast: Daniel Jeanrenaud

A London trip to meet Daniel Jeanrenaud, a musician who dedicated his whole life to rock’n’roll, with the flamboyances and abrasions that it implies. 

Best Experimental Short

Wave Form

Wave Form

2020 / Canada / 8 min / Experimental

Directed By Tiz
Cast: Margaret Brock

WAVE FORM explores movie viewing, sharing, and making as a means of confronting the experience of mental illness. It illuminates the sustaining, transformative powers of film by transforming a variety of “waves” from cinematic history—ocean waves, waving hands, waves of soldiers—through the luma waveform scope, a technical feature of movie editing positioned to make it happen. 

Best Exploitation

Real Bad Idiot

Real Bad Idiot

2019 / Australia / 40 min / Comedy, Cult, Musical

Directed By Alanah McKellar
Cast: Colin Thompson, Clare Powell, Joesph Westwood

Dirk Harrellssonn, a freckled teenage virgin sporting a mullet, is determined to lose his virginity to his high school crush, Tiny Beth. When the spunky and relentless Chad Groper interrupts his feeble attempt at seduction, Dirk seeks revenge in the most perverted way possible.