Compton-based filmmaker Victor Gabriel is one of a select group of filmmakers who have earned their ticket to the Oscar race, after picking up wins at the HollyShorts Film Festival.
Gabriel’s 13 minute film Alleluia won the Grand Prize for Best Short Film at the festival’s awards ceremony on Saturday afternoon. HollyShorts is an Oscar-qualifying festival, so winning Alleluia makes him immediately eligible for the Oscar. Producer Duran Jones won the festival’s top producer award.
Two other winners qualified for the Oscar: Mulaqat/Sandstromdirected by Seemab Gul, won Best Live Action Short and Ladderdirected by Joseph Pierce, won Best Animation (scroll for the full list of winners).
Alleluia evokes the loss of someone due to gun violence, a tragedy that affects several members of a family.
“After an inexplicable event, two brothers must take guardianship of their nephew and niece,” Gabriel told Deadline of his film’s plot. “Their nephew is like a weird bookworm. It’s in Compton, California. And then they have to understand what it means to them to be men and adults and to take responsibility for something they don’t want to do.
The director shot his film near his home. Very close.
“I just did it in my backyard, like literally my backyard,” Gabriel explained. “Shout out to Miss Luis. She let us see her front yard, my neighbor. It was great just us. I just cornered everyone in our backyard and made a movie and tried to tell a good story. I tried to tell a compelling story.
Gabriel wears many hats besides filmmaker, additionally working as a marriage and family therapist and at a residential treatment center for teens, he told Deadline. “I [also] host a trauma group for black men once a month in the central south.
He said the road to winning the Grand Prix at HollyShorts was not easy. Besides other things, his car broke down last week.
“I went to work, I had a lot of losses this year,” Gabriel said. “So just to have a little celebration and people honoring my work, our work, it’s just amazing. I’m just grateful, man.
Among HollyShorts other major awards, the director (The queen of basketball) followed up his Oscar win in March with a win for his latest documentary short, MINK! The film tells the story of Patsy Takemoto Mink, a Democrat from Hawaii who became the first woman of color elected to the United States House of Representatives. While in Congress, Mink co-authored Title IX legislation that prohibited gender discrimination in schools that received federal funding. Title IX came into effect in 1972.
Proudfoot described the HollyShorts award as “very meaningful as this is the 50th year of Title IX. And when I was doing The queen of basketballthat’s how I heard about Patsy Mink, who was really the driving force behind the legislation that created the world for [The Queen of Basketball subject] Lucy Harris to play basketball and for so many millions of others to participate in athletics. Our film… tells the story of Patsy and where she comes from, what she faced, the obstacles she overcame and ultimately the legislation she drafted and championed, Title IX. It’s very meaningful, and I think it’s just another example of Patsy’s legacy that lives on.
Proudfoot will be taking his film overseas in the coming months, and likely back to DC
“We’re going to Japan for a screening at the American Embassy there in October, which is really exciting,” he said. “And we hope to do more screenings on the Hill in Washington and just bring people together to celebrate Patsy and what she stood for and also to celebrate the story of someone who showed us that change is possible.”
He added: “We live in a time where it just seems impossible, like we’re regressing, we’re going backwards. And Patsy’s life is a testament, and her story is a testament – and our film tells the story of a specific moment when she persisted and she persevered. And so much of the rights we celebrate today are due to people like Patsy, who really pushed hard for progress. And it’s our responsibility to continue in the tradition of Patsy.
Here is the full list of 18 winnerse HollyShorts Film Festival:
Grand Prize for Best Short Film: AlleluiaVictor Gabriel
Best Live Action: Mulaqat/sandstormSeemab Gul
Best Animation: LadderJoseph Pierce
Best Director: Carlos Segundo, Sidereal
Best action: Rekindle my heartKelsey Bollig
best thriller: wild female dogRebekka Johnson and Kate Nash
best horror: MoshariNuhash Humayun
Best Comedy: Everything I ever wantedErin Lau
Best Drama: Like the ones I knewAnnie Saint Pierre
Best Documentary: MINK! Ben Proudfoot
Best LGBTQIA+: North StarPJ Palmer
Best international: The voice actressAnna J. Takayama
Best Science Fiction: Waltz of the AngelsBraden Barton
Winner SAG Indie: My JeromeAdjani salmon
Hawk Films Screenplay Award: Mina finds her edge! Robin Rose Singer
Script Compass Screenplay Award: In the tulip gardenAva Lalezarzadeh
Best Female Screenplay (Presented by BeCine): Last ship isEris Qian
Best TV: A matter of serviceErin BrownThomas
Best Television Script: Forsyth CountyJames Sasser
LatinX Awards (presented by Viacom International Studios): HuelaGabriela Ortega
Women in Film Awards: apart, together, Olivia Hang Zhou
Best Midnight Madness: HomesickWill Seefried
Best music video: ConsensualJeff Hilliard and Joey Danger
Best Web Series: KuraVince McMillan
Best Producer: AlleluiaDuran Jones
Best Editing: The machineRowan McKay
Best Visual Effects: black Dragon, Rồng đen
Best Costume Design: sauerdogsCarmen Granelle
Social Impact Award: stranger at the doorJoshua Seftel
Best Student Film: VisitEbele Tate
Kodak shot on film: North PoleMarija Apcevska
Kodak Shot on Super 8MM Film: Deerwoods Death TrapJames P. Gannon
Kodak Shot on Film Honorable Mention: Not the 80sMarleen Valien
Zeiss Presents: HollyShorts Achievement in Filmmaking and Cinematography: Censor of DreamsKhalib Mohtaseb
Zeiss Presents: HollyShorts Career Achievement in Filmmaking and Cinematography:Nancy Schreiber