Best of the Fest
Closing Night - Best of the Fest was streamed virtually this year and featured a presentation of the Jury and Audience Awards, the announcement of the Script Competition winners, and a special screening of a selection of the winning short films.
Michael Killen is the co-creator, writer and director of the ABC series Downward Dog, based on a web series of the same name. Michael co-founded Animal Inc., a production company and VFX studio that integrates national and international work for advertising, television, web and feature films. Michael and Animal have executive produced award-winning documentaries including Blood Brother, a Sundance Grand Jury and Audience Award winner. Michael directs commercials and has a diverse portfolio of VFX that has appeared in television, feature films, including the X-Files, as well as the iconic Taco Bell “Talking Chihuahua” commercials. Michael will award the $1,000 prize for Best Animated Short.
Deesha Philyaw is shortlisted for a 2020 National Book Award for her debut short story collection, The Secret Lives of Church Ladies. The collection focuses on Black women, sex, and the Black church. Deesha’s work has been listed as Notable in the Best American Essays series, and her writing on race, parenting, gender, and culture has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney’s, The Rumpus, Brevity, dead housekeeping, Apogee Journal, Barrelhouse, Harvard Review, The Baltimore Review, Electric Literature and elsewhere. Deesha is also a Kimbilio Fiction Fellow. Deesha will award the $1,000 prize for Best Narrative Short.
Martha Rial is a talented and award-winning photographer. Her work has earned the Scripps Howard Foundation Award for Photojournalism, a National Headliner Award and the Distinguished Visual Award from the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors. She is also a Pulitzer Prize winner for her work documenting the lives of Burundian and Rwandan survivors of the 1994 genocide. Martha's photographs have been exhibited at the Carnegie Museum of Art, the Mattress Factory, Silver Eye Center for Photography and Pittsburgh Cultural Trust galleries. Her most recent project is Beyond the Ceiling, a series of temporary photography murals in Sharpsburg, Wilkinsburg, and Millvale, PA that feature ordinary women doing extraordinary work to lift their families and communities. Martha will award the $1,000 prize for Best Documentary Shorts.