The People Have Spoken: Audience Awards Shine Light on Outfest Los Angeles Fan Favorites


As Outfest filmmakers take their work beyond the Outfest Los Angeles, the festival’s audience awards help standout films reach wider audiences.

By Ose Ehianeta Arheghan

August, 10, 2023

A white man floats in a lake facing the sky as another white person swims behind him. A still from Big Boys, courtesy of the filmmakers.

Festival audience awards provide filmmakers with confirmation that their work is resonating with its viewers at a state in the artistic process where that feedback may not be as easy to ascertain. 

This year, the Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Festival awarded audience awards in six categories: Best Platinum Short, Best Documentary Short, Best Narrative Short, Best Episodic Series, Best Documentary Feature and Best Narrative Feature. 

For the winners of the Best Episodic Series, their audience award served as external validation of the strength of their concept and has encouraged them to continue dedicating time and resources to their upcoming show. 

“Our TV pilot, Day Jobs, features a queer love story and to win the audience award at Outfest really shows us that we’re connecting with the audiences that this show aims to represent,” Stevie Wain, the show’s writer, star and co-director said. “To win the audience award at one of the most prestigious LGBT film festivals in the country really proved to us that there is a clear audience for this TV show and it makes us even more eager to make it.”

Two women, one with short blonde hair and other with long brown hair, share a passionate kiss. A still from Day Jobs, courtesy of the filmmakers.

Particularly for the Episodic Series category, the audience award comes at a critical time in the development process. 

“It often feels impossible for creators with limited budgets and connections to get their work off the ground but when a film festival honors us with an audience award it leads us to getting more meetings and more opportunities to pitch this show,” Wain said. 

Director of Programming for Outfest, Mike Dougherty, provided some additional context about how audience awards help creatives find and grow their audiences. 

Film festivals are crowded with great work, often by filmmakers still looking to gain greater traction in the industry, or find distribution for their films,” he said. “Since it’s impossible to catch every screening at a festival, Audience Awards are a great way to gauge some of the work that has really spoken to people, and can help the right people notice that your film is sure to please a crowd, hence be a great prospect to get behind.”

A white man with short blond hair wearing glasses looks upwards in a church. A lens flare can be seen in the foreground. A still from 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture, courtesy of the filmmakers.

The team behind 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture also deeply valued their Best Documentary Feature audience award. 

“Audience support serves as a powerful amplifier for our message, enabling us to touch more lives and broaden understanding and empathy in our culture,” director Sharon “Rocky” Roggio said regarding her directorial debut. “As we continue to traverse this path of change, I am inspired by the connection we’ve forged with audiences and the role our film plays in fostering vital dialogues and societal transformation.”

For the 1946 team, their award serves as confirmation that the audience resonated with the core of their independent social justice film.

“It has been a challenging journey to introduce themes of faith and sexuality to a wounded group and a divided nation, but the warmth and acceptance from audiences affirm the urgency and significance of these conversations,” Roggio said. 

As filmmakers take their work beyond Outfest Los Angeles, brandishing their audience award is a way to prove to prospective viewers that the work may resonate with them too.

“In a world where queer films tend to be pigeonholed by the industry as only for a ‘certain audience’, award winners at LGBTQ+ festivals like Outfest Los Angeles can prove their work has wide appeal,” Dougherty said.

A complete list of the 2023 Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival Audience Awards can be found below:

Audience Award for Best Platinum Short: OUT OF THE CORNER OF OUR EYE, dir. John Ira Palmer

Audience Award for Best Documentary Short: THEY CALL ME SUKI, dir. M.G. Evangelista

Audience Award for Best Narrative Short: THE BALLAD OF TITA AND THE MACHINES, dir. Miguel Angel Caballero

Audience Award for Best Episodic Series: DAY JOBS, dirs. Stevie Wain, Auri Jackson

Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature: 1946: THE MISTRANSLATION THAT SHIFTED CULTURE, dir. Sharon Marie Roggio

Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature: BIG BOYS, dir. Corey Sherman

Ose Ehianeta Arheghan (they/them) is a freelance journalist in Brooklyn, NY. As a journalist Ehianeta has written for The Advocate, Alternative Press Magazine and GLAAD’s blog, AMP. They were one of GLAAD’s 20 Under 20 Rising Star a recent intern at National Public Radio (NPR) on the It’s Been a Minute team. 

Ehianeta is also an Outfest Inclusive Press Fellow for the Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ+ Film Festival. Learn more about the program here.


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