Best of the Fest: “The Naked Leading the Blind” by Wim Vanacker

“The Naked Leading the Blind” by Wim Vanacker of Belgium took home our $1,000 Best of the Fest award and triggered endless discussions among our audience. Wim wrote a beautiful acceptance speech:

First of all, I would like to thank the Downtown Tyler Film Festival and all people involved making this great event happen. Keep up the good fight and keep on making audacious decisions as that's exactly what the film industry needs. People willing to make a change, people willing to look at things differently. It is a challenging endeavor, being part of the industry, especially when looking to reinvent the language of cinema and that's exactly what I tried with The Naked leading the Blind. Seeing cinema as a personal playground. As a means of expression with many different layers and alternatives. Classical is what I tried to stay away from as in my opinion this story deserved a more metaphorical approach. Judging on the way The Naked leading the Blind was perceived here, the right choice. You cannot imagine how much this Award means to me as exposing yourself through your work is always a very frightening endeavor, but this Award proves that there's something worth believing in and worth pursuing. Very proud. Very honored. A very humbling experience. Thank You so much! And of course, all of this wouldn't have been possible without the endless support of the Mailuki Family and more specifically, my King, Eduardo. The ultimate dreamer. Thank You.

Best East Texas Film: “3,000 Acres” by Lauren Cater

Lauren Cater’s gentle and intimate portrait of the rural rhythms of young East Texan Mason Slaton won the $750 Best East Texas Film award. Lauren impressed us with her perfect pacing and her tasteful sense of authorial invisibility, allowing us to simply exist as a silent presence alongside Mason. More of her work can be found at

Best Young Filmmaker: Gabrielle Giacomo and Mary Grace Henry for “In Time”

The judges and the audience were very impressed with Gabrielle Giacomo and Mary Grace Henry's clever story mechanics and rumination on the value of time in their film “In Time”. It took home our $250 Best Young Filmmaker award, sponsored by Texas Women for the Arts.

Audience Favorite: “The Death of Me” by Aaron and Devin Handley

As if their film wasn't already too adorable for words (literally), Aaron and Devin Handley were unable to attend the Best of the Fest presentation at which “The Death of Me” won the $150 Audience Favorite because they were getting married at the time. Congratulations to them for this charming East Texas film entirely produced, starring, and featuring music by the newly-married couple. We hope they don't kill each other.