Meet Prize Fest 2020’s film, food, fashion, and music competitors



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Film Prize 2018 Top 20 Announcement Party Friday evening at the Robinson Film Center.

Shreveport Times

Prize Fest 2020 returns with its first all-virtual event series running Oct. 2-11.

Prize Fest encompasses the flagship event Louisiana Film Prize and its counterparts Music Prize, Food Prize, and Fashion Prize. The series is presented by the Prize Foundation, whose mission is “to educate, energize, and incentivize the local creative community and stimulate the northwest Louisiana economy.”

The event showcases the talents of the finalists who have much to gain from gaining new fans and followers to the grand prize cash awards at stake.

Prize Fest 2020 will be presented as an all-virtual festival Oct. 2-11, 2020. (Photo: Courtesy Photo/Prize Fest)

The audience gets to go along on their journey as viewers, and the virtual experience offers interactive and engaging elements to put them right in the action.

The COVID-19 pandemic caused the Prize Foundation staff to quickly come up with a strategy to keep the annual tradition thriving with the health of the competitors and festival-goers taking priority.

“We have been learning since March and we have been perfecting ourselves and honing ourselves in creating something that is truly unique in a world where there are lots of virtual events,” said executive director and founder, Gregory Kallenberg. “There are not going to be a lot of virtual events like Prize Fest. We are hell-bent on it being one of the best, incredible and unique experiences in the country.”

Prize Fest 2020 requires passes for its main events. A limited amount of free content is viewable via the Prize Fest Facebook pages, the YouTube channel, and the event website, www.prizefest.com.

Passes are recommended to get the full experience, which includes access to vote for your favorite films, chefs, designers, and musicians. Festival-goers will have access to viewing the 20 short film finalists, live band performances, cooking demonstrations, an avant-garde fashion show that defies the limitations of a traditional runway, and much more.

There were many challenges for all during the unprecedented health crisis, but it hasn’t stopped the creativity from flowing and Prize Fest from re-emerging as the ultimate source of entertainment.

The new format has pushed all parties to rise to the challenge, learn, and persevere, which has resulted in great growth and what’s to be an unforgettable year of Prize Fest.

Louisiana Film Prize

Twenty independent directors are in the running for the $25,000 cash prize that comes with winning the 9th annual Louisiana Film Prize.

The Top 20 finalists will be available for on-demand viewing and voting Oct. 2-11. Votes are tallied as 50-50 audience-judges votes. Passholders may also vote for the best actor and actress.

However, the directors didn’t do it alone—their cast and crew are to credit for getting the production to the screen. Film production comes with its challenges and unforeseen circumstances in a normal setting, but the coronavirus pandemic made it a particularly difficult—but not impossible—task to overcome.

Some films were completed before the pandemic struck while some directors took on the challenge of producing their short while social distancing and following COVID-19 sanitation protocols.

“The filmmakers were able to find the means to bring their crews in. Some of them made their film entirely with their family,” said Chris Lyon, associate director of Prize Foundation. “Every film is going to be a little bit different, but they were all able to find that mechanism that worked best to keep their cast and crew safe during filming.”

The filmmakers represent a plethora of states and countries and present unique perspectives and stories. The directors hail from places including London, Los Angeles, Dallas, South Carolina, and Virginia. Also, represented cities in Louisiana include Shreveport, Minden, Ruston, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans.

The short films’ genres include comedy, romance, drama, and beyond creating an ideal escape from reality.

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prizefest.com/film/.

The Top 20 Film Prize shorts finalists and directors are (in random order):

  1. “Baked Potato” -Suzanne Racz
  2. “Nice to Meet You” -Michael Landry
  3. “Double Date Night” -Paul Petersen
  4. “Stuck in the Middle” -Eva Contis
  5. “Strangers in a Stall” -Hattie Haggard Gobble
  6. “Untitled Post-Baby Project” -Lorna Street Dopson
  7. “Away” -Anne Nichols Brown
  8. “The Gazebo” -Barry Larsen
  9. “A Cry for Help” -Steven Esteb
  10. “Thin Slicing” -Catherine Ann Taylor 
  11. “Vouee” -Christine Chen
  12. “Ronnie” -Justin Lacalamita
  13. “Find Her” -Dexter Duran
  14. “Three Mile Hell” -Jeremy Enis
  15. “Green’s Alley” -Abigail Kruger
  16. “In(App)licable” -Cam Owen
  17. “Value Inn” -Ken Burton
  18. “Becky’s Big Catch” -Hannah Dorsett
  19. “Imminent” -Topher Simon
  20. “Ms. Blue” -Mary McDade Casteel

Louisiana Food Prize

The Louisiana Food Prize experiences include a Prizeport food tour, chef demonstrations, and cook-alongs that virtually bring the chefs and their food right to the audience’s kitchen and dining table.

The “Power of the People” food tour has sent diners to the six competing chefs’ restaurants to eat their special creations, then gives the diner the power to vote on their favorite dish by Oct. 11. Ultimately deciding who will be crowned the Golden Fork winner and recipient of $1,000.

The competing chefs are Jessica Comegys (Glow Alchemy Kitchen), Anthony Felan (Fat Calf Brasserie), Eleazar Mondragon (Ki Mexico), Tootie Morrison (Abby Singer’s Bistro), Jon Ortiz (The Noble Savage), and Sean Sullivan (Frank’s Louisiana Kitchen).

Louisiana Food Prize’s Prizeport takes diners on a food tour of local restaurants. (Photo: Courtesy Photo/Prize Fest)

The virtual experience is different from prior years in which Prize Fest hosts the live cook-off, preliminary dinners for The Society of the Golden Fork and the final competition, The Battle for the Golden Fork live-cook off. However, the online format offers fresh perspectives and access one may not experience at the physical festival.

“We’ve always strived to create these events like in Food Prize where you have access to chefs. They’re a little bit more intimate,” said Melissa Brannan, chef and Food Prize director. “But it really is about creating these smaller experiences where you get to know these chefs and get that intimacy.”

Also, by sending the diners to the chefs, Prize Foundation hopes to increase business for their restaurants.

“The pandemic hasn’t been kind to anyone in the restaurant industry so what we want to do is whatever we can to energize this local community to engage with our local chef culture,” Kallenberg said.

For more information about Louisiana Food Prize competing and special guest chefs and events, visit prizefest.com/food/.

Louisiana Music Prize

The pandemic put a halt on live concerts, thereby putting many musicians out of work.

Louisiana Music Prize not only brought entertainment to audiences at Prize Fest but served as a way to showcase the competing bands while putting money in their pockets via tips and potentially the grand prize check.

This year, the battle of the bands-style event is perhaps more valuable for performers who have yet to regain steady performance bookings.

Louisiana Music Prize logo (Photo: Courtesy photo/Jeremy Hernandez)

“The age and evolution of live music in Shreveport has stopped,” Kallenberg said. “We’re about to start a new epic soon, but the issue is getting these people on stage, getting them seen by others, and getting them compensated.”

On Oct. 10, beginning at 3 p.m., the bands will play a live 25-minute set from Fairfield Studios for the virtual Prize Fest audience.

Viewers may vote for their favorite act, as well as tip the bands directly through the mobile banking app, Venmo. The grand prize winner will receive $1,000. All band finalists will receive a multi-camera recording of their performance, which may be used as marketing media to book future shows with other venues.

“The Music Prize gets to elevate and evolve the music scene and it helps create a place where they can practice their craft, then we as an audience get to enjoy it,” Kallenberg said.

Tickets for Music Prize cost $5 to stream the performance and vote. For more about Music Prize, visit prizefest.com/music/.

The Music Prize finalists in order of performance are:

  1. Good Spirits
  2. 18th State
  3. Lance Thompson
  4. Cold Canyons
  5. Frank Jones
  6. The Joanitones
  7. Waking Up to Love
  8. Grass Widows
  9. Exile the Icon
  10. Monica Mccoy
  11. T.D. McMurry

Louisiana Fashion Prize

In the wake of the pandemic, Fashion Prize’s organizers and competing designers have pivoted to produce a fashion show that rebels against the traditional fashion show format.

“This is letting us curate a whole different experience, which is really cool,” said Katy Larsen, Fashion Prize director.

The Fashion Prize competing designers are Crystal Green, Kirsi Hardy, Brittani Shabazz, Victoria Smith, Hephzibah Thomas, Emily Zering, and the 2019 defending champion Donna Strebeck. The finalists will be competing for the $2,000 grand prize, decided by nationally-recognized judges, as well as for the Audience Choice Award. 

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The virtual experience gave them the freedom to take audiences to different settings around the city and using accents to present their original collections in a new light.

“Something cool about us going digital is we’re reaching this huge audience,” Larsen said. “When do you get an opportunity to go to different locations and be put into a setting that matches the designers’ collection? That’s what we got to do this year.”

The designers have exhibited a level of talent, skill, and ingenuity worthy of the spotlight. The virtual experience provides the audience with an up-close view and full access to the runway and behind-the-scenes footage in a way one wouldn’t have at a physical show.

“Each designer has their own journey that they’ve taken in fashion and you see it in their collections,” Larsen said.

Fashion Prize will broadcast at 8 p.m. Oct. 9. Passes are $10. 

For designer bios and to view samples of their styles, visit prizefest.com/fashion/.

All Prize Fest winners will be announced during a live virtual awards ceremony on Oct. 13 at prizefest.com. 

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