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City of Angels Women’s Film Festival Wraps Up 2023 with a Spectacular Showcase of Female Talent

Updated: Dec 15, 2023

By Jessica Ross


Photo Credit: Nunzio Fazio 2023


 

City of Angels Women’s Film Festival just wrapped its 2023 season this month and is poised for an even bigger year in 2024. COAWFF’s commitment to promote gender equality in the film industry and promote diverse women’s stories from around the world was on proud display as women from Ireland, Canada, England, Georgia and multiple female filmmakers from Turkey and elsewhere gathered to attend their screenings, engage in panel discussions and connect via the festival’s networking events at the LA based festival this November. The Red-Carpet Awards Gala was filled with a buzz and excitement as nominees posed for photos and enjoyed complimentary champagne and tasty hors d’oeuvres while enjoying upbeat music from the Gala’s dj.


There was genuine camaraderie and support in the room as so many filmmakers had participated in so much of the festival events together this year.Some of the successful and highly interactive panels included an exclusive with Wendy Reeds, Lionsgate’s executive vice president of licensing for international territories who is based in their London office. She delivered the straight goods to an eager audience of both writers and filmmakers about what their company looks for with creative material and how best to promote a viable script to be considered for development or an acquisition. 





Veteran filmmaker and horror Director/Writer Tom Holland (Child’s Play, Fright Night, Psycho ll) was so popular that the panel went well past it’s allotted time as guests were enthralled with Holland’s no-nonsense advice about predatory distributors and other invaluable insights about the “business” of the film business. He was very generous with his time chatting one on one with filmmakers after the panel at the end of his talk.


Actress and filmmakers Juliet Landau (Ed Wood, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Deverill Weekes (Producer/Cinematographer) were also part of this lively panel discussion as Landau further elaborated on the pitfalls of predatory distributors and dangerous contracts.



Penelope Ann Miller and Lisa K. Crosato


City of Angels Women’s Film Festival’s OFFICIAL 2023 ANGEL AWARD RECIPIENTS included multi award winning and Golden Globe nominated Penelope Ann Miller (CARLITO’S WAY, THE ARTIST). She is also known for her recent portrayal of ‘Joyce Dahmer’ in Ryan Murphy’s hugely successful miniseries, DAHMER-Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story for Netflix. 


UK based multi award winning and Golden Globe nominated actress, Cathy Tyson also received an Angel Award for her extraordinary work. Tyson’s breakout role as Simone in MONA LISA earned her multiple nominations including (Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Supporting Actress; Golden Globe nomination for Best Supporting Actress and a Bafta nomination for Best Actress). Tyson won a BAFTA last year for her performance as Polly in HELP (Channel 4) in the UK. 

Last year’s Angel Award recipient included Oscar recipient Charles Burnett and a tribute award was given to Kelly Preston with a speech written by and read aloud by daughter Ella Travolta that brought tears to everyone’s eyes. The film OFF THE RAILS directed by UK filmmaker Jules Williamson was an Official entry and winner of Best Feature Film that year and sadly was Kelly Preston’s last film.





City of Angels Women’s Film Festival gave the Annual Female Empowerment Award to iconic photographer Joyce Tenneson this season. The festival screened the documentary UNVEILED: JOYCE TENNESON by directing team Rebecca Dreyfus, Randy Gebhardt, and David Wright. UNVEILED documents one of America’s most iconic photographers as she pursues her artistic vision over 40 years. 


Festival Founder and Creative Director, Lisa K. Crosato felt it was important to acknowledge the legendary photographer who focused almost her entire career on capturing the inspirational essence of women from all ages and backgrounds including feminist icons like Gloria Steinem in ethereal portraits that illuminated their wit, strength and beauty. 





Some of the notable films that won awards this year included: JFK: THE THREE MILES directed by Pam Finn for Best Short Documentary recounts the story of when John F Kennedy visited Ireland in 1963 while he was President of the United States. Kennedy referred to this visit as “the best ‘four days of his life’ “, one of which he spent in Galway City. President Kennedy swept aside protocol and security and shook hands with hundreds of local people and signed autographs. He travelled to Salthill – his entire journey – a total of three miles resonated with a generation.


Pam said, “It is a fitting commemoration that a film festival celebrating women is screening a documentary celebrating a President that pioneered reform for women in the workforce. In December 1961, President Kennedy acted decisively in the interest of women, establishing a national Commission on the Status of Women and appointing Eleanor Roosevelt as its chair. The next year, at the urging of the commission, he ordered federal agencies to end sex discrimination in hiring. And in 1963, he signed into law the historic Equal Pay Act, which prohibited “discrimination on account of sex in the payment of wages by employers.” 



Actress Cathy Tyson with Angel Award and Director Selin Uzal


Other award winners at this year’s City of Angels Women’s Film Festival included HOLLY RAMSAY: THE TALK for Best Social Change. Holly Ramsay: The Talk underscores the complexities of being a young woman, offering an unflinchingly honest approach to the uncomfortable conversations regarding sex and consent commonly known as ""the talk"" many of us had when young. This deeply compelling short film is intimately familiar for women everywhere and approaches the sexual harassment epidemic with active conversation and ideas for change, primarily through the male perspective. 





Openly talking with her own parents in this 23-minute short documentary, 22-year-old podcaster, mental health advocate and daughter of world-renowned chef Gordon Ramsay, presenter Holly Ramsay explores whether there is a connection between this issue and how we first learn about sex as children. It serves as an open letter to parents, teachers and all members of society to consider the pivotal impact "the talk" might have on a young person’s life and what influence this could have on the future generations to come.

 

“8 in 10 school girls have experienced sexual assault by the time they have left school, and exploring how we go about approaching this topic with children from a young age through chatting with parents, speaking with schools, and with charities focused on educating in this space was really interesting to me, especially hearing the male perspective” says director, Alana Tiernan, “naturally, the crew was made up of young women, which Holly and I were passionate about, and with this we shared a collective understanding of the realities of being female – we came together from different backgrounds and cultures and all had stories to tell. It was emotional and resonated deeply with all the women involved, but this is an important subject matter whatever your gender.”





PROMISES, a riveting short film won Best Director for Faye Brenner. Brenner who grew up in the film and entertainment industry as the daughter of 5-time Oscar nominated Production designer Albert Brenner, reveals a gut-wrenching depiction based on a true story; this is one moment in the life of a young Latina mother of two as she struggles to gain custody of her girls while fighting off addiction and the threat of homelessness. 


Best Feminist Film went to filmmaker Jacqueline Elyse Rosenthal for BACKLOG.BACKLOG is based on the true story of a young woman’s rape and silencing by the police that led her to become the key witness in the 2010 hearings to end the rape kit backlogs. 





City of Angels Women’s Film Festival is home to female filmmakers and writers from across the United States and holds a special place during its awards ceremony for the Community Filmmaker Award which is given to a local Los Angeles woman making films in the LA community. The Community Filmmaker Award is a prize of a studio rental package valued at $2,500.00 from an Official Sponsor, Dream Magic Studios in Canoga Park. This year it was given to Jacqueline Ayala for the film LA SIGUANABA. 


The origin story of the Guatemalan legend, LA SIGUANABA is based on a young woman in love who after her death vows to take revenge against any womanizer. Similar to the legend, La Llorona, “La Siguanaba” is cursed to roam the earth forever, always searching for her next victim.



BIENVENIDOS A LOS ANGELES written and directed by Lisa Cole, which won Best Diversity and Inclusion Award at COAWFF has just been announced as For Your Consideration in the category of Live Action Short at the 96th Academy Awards. This is the caliber of film that City of Angels Women’s Film Festival has been focused on curating since its launch in 2019. Director Jon Matthews who reviewed the festival Film Freeway writes: “The festival’s programming is incredible! My shorts block was as good as any I’d seen at Sundance or SXSW. I would highly recommend this festival.”





Shout! Studios has been one of our dedicated sponsors of the festival since the beginning of its launch and hugely supportive of the festival’s mission. The acquisitions team at Shout meets with select winning filmmakers and writers, virtually for a potential distribution deal or development deal. 


Deadline Hollywood recently partnered with COAWFF and Ms. Crosato expressed her enthusiasm, “We are thrilled with this new partnership opportunity and feel that Deadline is aligned with our core values and we’re very excited to collaborate and move forward into next season with them.”


Other Official Sponsors include: Adobe, Coverfly, Final Draft, Apropos Productions UK, Dream Magic Studios, B in the Now, Selling Your Screenplay.com, Featuring Fabulous Media, Who Has It? Coffe Roaster LA and others. 


Photo Credits: Nunzio Fazio 2023


For the full list of winners, visit, https://www.cityofangelswomensfilmfest.com .




 

Heart Of Hollywood Magazine Contributor Jessica Ross


Since August 2022, Jessica Ross has been a contributor at Heart of Hollywood Magazine. Recent work includes Hollywood Unexpected airing on the XOTV Network digitally and broadcast beginning April 21st and a starring role in the upcoming suspense thriller, Mr. Smith. Recently, she was a lead and co-producer in "Chasing Stars", a comedic-drama reality tv show pilot with an all female cast and crew.


Center Stage, Vegas Unlimited, Indie Activity, Action Magazine, Voyage LA, Cinderella of New York, Juwai, Bizbooast, Heart of Hollywood, JAMO Magazine, Entertainment Network Live, It Can By You, Livein Style Magazine, BuzzFeed and CBS are just a few of the media outlets she has been featured on.




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Dec 21, 2023
Rated 5 out of 5 stars.

Awesome! Great article!

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