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Winners & Special Mentions: Manchester Lift-Off Film Festival 2023

We express our utmost gratitude to all the filmmakers who participated in the 2023 Manchester Lift-Off Film Festival. It has been an exhilarating experience to witness an overwhelming number of filmmakers taking part and the tremendous global support for authentic independent cinema.

After meticulous scrutiny, the judges' evaluations have been combined with the audience's feedback. We extend our warmest congratulations to the filmmakers who graced our screens! In particular, we commend the following films for their exceptional contribution...


Festival Winners

We are thrilled to announce the winners of the Manchester Lift-Off Film Festival in their respective categories! Huge congratulations to all the winners!

Once upon a time in the Canaries

Dir. Armando Ravelo
Synopsis:Nola, a girl of Senegalese origin, arrives in the Canary Islands in a canoe. Then begins an epic through the most defining corners of the Canary Islands in search of a Canarian father whom he never knew.

Short Listed for Best Feature Narrative

Ambitious 220

Dirs. Henry Terry, Marcus Brooks
Synopsis: The Ambitious 220 is a challenge set by Rapha in aid of the charity Ambitious About Autism. The event follows the 220 mile route between Manchester and London. In 2021, Rapha set the challenge worldwide, to ride a 220 mile route of your own choosing over a leisurely 48 hours, however, four friends from Manchester challenged themselves to complete the task in just 20.

Short Listed for Best Documentary

The Deportation of a Model Citizen

Dir. Jacob Thomas Pilgaard
Synopsis: Two police officers are to pick up Aida, a young well-integrated student, from her foster mom and escort her to the airport where she is to be deported back to Syria.
A touching and hard-hitting drama created with inspiration from a true story about a Syrian refugee.

Short Listed for Best Short Live Action Narrative

Unto Midnight

Dir. Callum Wilkins
Synopsis: An anti-war exploration of the filmmaker's experience with recurring nightmares about a potential nuclear apocalypse, through the lens of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Short Listed for Best Short Documentary

Season Award Nominations

The Lift-Off Season Awards is an annual event that celebrates the very best of indie film. Following each Lift-Off film festival, films that have excelled in their respective category are short listed for a Season Awards Nomination.  At the end of the year, once all the 12 city-based festival have taken place, the shortlisted nominated films are reviewed again by the jury and Official Nominations are designated.  Click here for more information about the Lift-Off Season Awards.

Short Stay, Long Stay

Dir. Danny Carter
Synopsis:"Two men work in rival car parks in a city that's quickly changing around them. They learn the news that their jobs no longer exist, and have one final week to say a proper goodbye."

Short Listed for Best Acting Ensemble

The Bus to Afterlife

Dir. Chloe Morris
Synopsis: An animated short film exploring life, death, and mental health.
This film takes the everyday setting of a bus stop and uses it as a space to discuss death; something that affects us all, but many people find difficult to talk about. The Bus to the Afterlife follows the emotional journey of someone facing a mental health crisis. The people they meet while waiting for the bus help them realise that even in our darkest moments, our existence can have meaning

Short Listed for Best Animation

A Mosaic of All Possible Greens

Dir. Rosie Robinson
Synopsis: Claire and Sylvie strengthen their friendship and grieve their friend through making a film.

Short Listed for Best Cinematography


Dir. Edie Moles
Synopsis: Emotional time-bomb Norman tells us a story about tenderness, empathy and human connection in Underbelly. In almost microscopic view, the film takes a look at how one young man’s life is deeply affected by his sister’s lack of access to abortion. The audience are ripped from their seats into one day in his life - feeding a newborn baby one minute, slicing a pork underbelly at the local butchers the next.

Short Listed for Best First-Time Film

Audience Choice

The Audience Choice award is given to the filmmakers whose film received the most votes during the festival. The filmmakers will be invited to join us on the Lift-Off YouTube channel for a directors commentary roundtable. Join in the conversation as we delve deeper into each film.

A Day In The Life

Dir.James Oates
Synopsis: When one of his best friends makes a life changing announcement, Pats normality is turned upside down.


Dir. Connor Kinsey
Synopsis: Radiated dust has consumed humanity, a lone survivor must confront death in order to find salvation.

Once upon a time in the Canaries

Dir.Armando Ravelo
Synopsis: Nola, a girl of Senegalese origin, arrives in the Canary Islands in a canoe. Then begins an epic through the most defining corners of the Canary Islands in search of a Canarian father whom he never knew.