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"Zenne Dancer," "Cloudburst" top list of FilmOut San Diego award winners

SAN DIEGO -- "Zenne Dancer," a remarkable film from Turkey based on the true story of Ahmet Yildiz who was murdered by his father in a homophobic "honor killing," and "Cloudburst," a romantic comedy from Canada that stars Oscar winners Olympia Dukakis and Brenda Fricker, took home the most prizes from the 2012 FilmOut San Diego LGBT Film Festival.

"Nate & Margaret," a quirky buddy movie that had its world premiere in San Diego, collected three major prizes.

"Zenne Dancer" was named Best International Feature, and Turkish star Erkan Avci (as Ahmet Yildiz) won Best Actor in a Supporting Role via the FilmOut Audience Awards. The film also won Best Cinematography (Norayr Kasper) and Best Soundtrack (Demir Demirkan and Paolo Poti). First-time filmmakers Caner Alper and Mehmet Binay were bestowed the Freedom Award.

Binay, speaking on behalf of the "Zenne Dancer" team that includes co-director Caner Alper, said he was practically speechless after learning about the awards.

"We are proud to hear about five FilmOut awards for our film 'Zenne Dancer.' They will help our dear friend Ahmet Yildiz' story to be told and known all over the world. We dream of a world where nobody is killed for his/her identity. We will continue to make films aimed at changing the world to a more peaceful place," Binay said.

"Cloudburst," which opened the 14th annual LGBT Film Festival, collected Best Narrative Feature (both for Festival Awards and Audience Awards) for Thom Fitzgerald and Doug Pettigrew, Best Actress to Olympia Dukakis and Best Direction to Thom Fitzgerald.

"Nate & Margaret" won for Best First Narrative Feature for Nathan Adloff, who also collected the award for Outstanding Emerging Talent. Natalie West (as Margaret) was chosen as Best Actress in a Feature Film by the Audience Awards.

Adloff was excited by the news. "I am so thrilled to have had the honor of FilmOut San Diego hosting our world premiere screening," he said. "Winning not one, but three awards is truly heartening to me and I hope to be able to return to FilmOut with future projects!"

Other top Festival Awards went to a pair of actors from "Romeos" from Germany: Rick Okon, playing the transgender lead character, for Best Actor in a Feature Film; and Maximilian Befort, playing the love interest, for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. Liv Mjones of "Kiss Me" won for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.

Other major Audience Awards were handed out to San Diego native Paul B. Baker for "Andie" as Best Short Film Male and two to Germany's "Men To Kiss" -- Frank Christian Marx for Best Actor in a Feature Film and director Robert Hasfogel for Best Comedy Feature. Charlie David won Best Documentary for “Positive Youth.”

Baker said he was happy that his short film about the bullying of a little boy who plays with a Barbie resonated with audiences. "Who knew a little doll would be so big at FilmOut?!" he said.

Marx got the news the day before his 35th birthday and was overjoyed, calling it a wonderful present. "I'm extremely grateful what has happend with our little movie so far," he said. "We all put our hearts in it and there were many times I went to bed crying; almost collapsing from all the pressure of self-financing the movie and not knowing if this will ever work out. To get this honor from FilmOut San Diego makes me even more realize that it was worth it. Thank you so much."

Rolla Selbak, director of "Three Veils," was named Outstanding Artistic Achievement. She also tied for Best Screenplay with Michael D. Akers and Sandon Berg of "Morgan" in the Audience Awards. Kellie Overbey won the Festival Awards version of Best Screenplay for "That's What She Said."

Selbak was blown away by the recognition. "Wow, this is just wonderful news!" she said. "I am extremely honored to receive the awards, and during the last festival of our circuit! The audience, venue and the FilmOut team were smashing, and I can't wait till I make another film for a chance to come back."

Director Ian Wolfley said he was grateful that his short film "Bug Chaser," starring San Diego native Brenden Shucart, won Best Short Film Male. "I'm honored," he said. "There was an amazing selection of films and I was so happy to get to screen with them."

Here is the full list of winners:

2012 FilmOut Festival Awards

The festival jury is responsible for these awards.

Best Narrative Feature – Thom Fitzgerald and Doug Pettigrew, “Cloudburst”

Best Screenplay – Kellie Overbey, “That’s What She Said”

Best Actor in a Feature Film – Rick Okon, “Romeos”

Best Actress in a Feature Film – Olympia Dukakis, “Cloudburst”

Best Actor in Supporting Role – Maximilian Befort, “Romeos”

Best Actress in Supporting Role – Liv Mjones, “Kiss Me”

Best International Feature –Caner Alper and Mehmet Binay, “Zenne Dancer”

Best Overall Short Film –James Valdez, “Fallen Comrade”

Best Short Film Male – Ian Wolfley, “Bug Chaser”

Best Short Film Female – Jason Sax, “Do You Have A Cat?”

Best Foreign Language Short Film – Francisco Lupini-Basagoiti, “The Empty Nest”

Best Cinematography – Norayr Kasper, “Zenne Dancer”

Best Direction – Thom Fitzgerald, “Cloudburst”

Best Soundtrack – Demir Demirkan and Paolo Poti, “Zenne Dancer”

2012 FilmOut Audience Awards

Audience feedback determines these awards.

Best Narrative Feature – Thom Fitzgerald and Doug Pettigrew, “Cloudburst”

Best First Narrative Feature – Nathan Adloff, “Nate & Margaret”

Best Screenplay – TIE: Rolla Selbak, “Three Veils,” and Michael D. Akers/Sandon Berg, “Morgan”

Best Overall Short Film –Reid Waterer, “Performance Anxiety”

Best Short Film Male – Paul B. Baker, “Andie”

Best Short Film Female – Adam Marcus, “Connected”

Best Actor in a Feature Film – Frank Christian Marx, “Men To Kiss”

Best Actress in a Feature Film – Natalie West, “Nate & Margaret”

Best Actor in a Supporting Role – Erkan Avci, “Zenne Dancer”

Best Actress in Supporting Role – Marcia DeBonis, “That’s What She Said”

Best Comedy Feature - Robert Hasfogel, “Men To Kiss”

Best Documentary - Charlie David, “Positive Youth”

2012 FilmOut Programming Awards

The festival and programming directors are responsible for these awards.

Freedom Award – Caner Alper and Mehmet Binay, “Zenne Dancer”

Outstanding Emerging Talent – Nathan Adloff, “Nate & Margaret”

Outstanding Artistic Achievement – Rolla Selbak, “Three Veils”

Ken Williams is Editor in Chief of SDGLN. He can be reached at ken@sdgln.com, @KenSanDiego on Twitter, or by calling toll-free to (877) 727-5446, ext. 713.