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2019 Award Winners

Best Feature Film:



Director: Marshall Burnette

A rare accident threatens to tear apart family and friends in a small American farm town.

Best Documentary Film:

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Decoding the Driftless

Director: Jonas Stenstrom

A wild ride of adventure through the air, across rugged landscapes, on and under the water, through a secret underworld, and across time itself to explore and decipher ancient clues of archaeology, paleontology, geology, and biology of the Driftless Region, with its captivating scenic beauty.

Best Short Film:

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The Tattooed Heart

Director: Sheldon Wong Schwartz

A creative writing instructor (Jennifer Morrison, "Once Upon a Time") at a juvenile detention center finds common ground with a troubled student (Madison Wolfe, "I Kill Giants") yet quickly finds herself in great danger when she decides to help her.

Best Women Filmmaker Film:

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Found in Korea

Director: Allison Lane, Kevyn Settle & Nam Holtz

A Korean adoptee travels back to Korea for the first time in 35 years in search of her birth parents and the world she lost as a baby. While retracing the steps of her own adoption, she discovers her culture, identity and questions why Korean's are not adopting their own.

Best Foreign Film:

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The Update

Director: Mor Hanay

Country of Origin: Israel

Adam has the perfect girlfriend, Alex, which was custom-made for him. Alex is separated from him for 24 hours during the annual 'Update Day' and he finds himself spending the time with Yuli, a human being like him, she makes him question everything he thought was perfect.

Pride of Iowa Film:



Director: Marshall Burnette

A rare accident threatens to tear apart family and friends in a small American farm town.

Best Student Film:

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Self Defense

Director: Zach Bradley

Two sisters stuck in the woods with a flat tire must find a way to defend themselves from two men who approach them with nefarious intentions.

Best Local Film:

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A February Canoe Float

Director: Bruce McKee

Dale has solo-paddled the Winnebago River in every month of every year for decades. This is one of his Winter canoe floats, narrated with his prose and observations of his passion of paddling and nature around him.

Critic's Choice:

Gallery Experience

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Directed by: 
Jinghan Tian

The girl had a magical experience by visiting the gallery with her dad for the first time.

Danny & May

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Directed by: 
Andrew Moodie

When Danny is given an uncertain diagnosis, May is forced to consider life without him.

Black Flowers

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Directed by: 
Martin Gooch

In a post apocalyptic world one family fights for survival.

Fairy Tail

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Directed by: Justin & Kristin Schaack

A hopeless romantic discovers an unlikely intruder and finds love at first fight. 

The Land

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Directed by: Stephen Wallace Pruitt

Sixty-something farming couple John and Mary Lou Martin come face-to-face with mistakes from their pasts and an uncertain future as they strive to hold onto the only life they've ever known. 



Cultivation: Writing
and Wrestling in Iowa City



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Directed by: 

Sibyl works as a radio host during the night. Though she knows how to appease her listeners' sufferings, her own personal life is in turmoil and she's decided to leave Luke. But the desperate call from Michel, a very sad listener, make her change her mind...

Directed by: Seth D. Myers & Sarah Stolar

A young dancer is troubled by her own shadow self as she journeys through physical and psychological landscapes.

Directed by: 
Nathan McNurlen

In April 2018, Iowa City hosted two every different international events in the same week. Cultivation explores what makes Iowa City the center of the writing and wrestling universes and how the two arts are similar.


Directed by: Leticia Akel Escarate

Javier arrives in a small town looking for a job. In this place he faces a farming community led by Chivo, a stubborn man who doesn’t trust him and won’t allow him to work with them. Guided by strange dreams that haunt him by night, Javier will fight against Chivo’s prejudices to win his place in the community.


Directed by: 
Jinghan Tian

Gridshock is a investigative documentary exposing the hidden and disturbing reality behind the sex trafficking demand in Iowa.

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