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Winners & Special Mentions: New York Lift-Off Film Festival 2023

Thank you to all the filmmakers who participated in the 2023 New York Lift-Off Film Festival. It has been a fantastic experience witnessing so many 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 New York Lift-Off Film Festival in their respective categories! Huge congratulations to all the winners!


Dir. Alex Ramsey
Synopsis:Edward, now 28, hasn't seen his family since he crossed the
US-Mexico border on foot 10 years ago. Trapped in the US by a
maddening waiting game for citizenship, he grapples with the
idea of leaving the life he built in New York behind forever in
exchange for a long overdue homecoming. Will Edward reunite
with his family or continue on in his self-imposed purgatory?

Short Listed for Best Doc Film

WHAT DOESN'T KILL (make's you ugly)

Dir. Noam O vardi
Synopsis: An art house film about Dana, an anxious young woman who suffered from severe sexual trauma, she's raging and desperate to settle her mind and begin to train martial arts to become an unconquerable warrior, when her plans meets reality as she's being grounded like an unruly girl by her fighting coach she decides to take things more seriously to seek redemption, she unleashes her full power and that’s when things really gets out of hand.

Short Listed for Best First-Time Filmmaker, Best Actor and Best Cinematography


Dir. Rikiya Mimuro
Synopsis: The movie "Sampaguita" is a love story based on a true story.
Emilia from Philippines.
Ever since she was young, she has admired Japanese culture and fashion. She got her visa went to Japan, become a model at the same time work part-timely in Philippine pub.
she spend her days auditioning and taking lessons. Her earnings from part time job we’re sending to her sick grandmother.

Short Listed for Best Feature

Short Listed Films

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.


Dir. Caroline Bevaart, Harald Swinkels
Synopsis:Simon is a lonely comic strip artist with an unattainable love: Rachel, a woman he sees regularly in the grand cafe where he works on his drawings. Whenever Rachel comes into the cafe, Simon feels an irrepressible urge to put his work aside and secretly sketch portraits of her.
One day, Simon is offered a pencil by a distinguished gentleman in the back of the cafe. Simon discovers that by drawing with this pencil he has the power to change the course of his life. He uses it to win Rachel over, but is genuine love makeable?

Short Listed for Best Cinematography


Dir. Sofia Kunz
Synopsis: Inspired by Hemingway's short story, "Hills Like white Elephants," UNDECIDED follows three people deciding whether or not to keep a pregnancy as they explore how the idea of "motherhood" elicits questions around identity, relationships, and their futures.

Short Listed for Best screenplay / Acting ensemble

Assisted Living

Dir. Ken Kimura
Synopsis: An elderly woman wrestles with her deteriorating memory and her disdain for her support worker until a recollection evokes a change of heart.

Short Listed for Best screenplay / Acting ensemble

90 Hours

Dir. Tim Shaughnessy Hansen

Short Listed for Best Acting ensemble

Diving Deep

Dir. Malene Begtrup
Synopsis: Kaia is 12 years old and has lost her father in a diving accident. While her mother tries to keep the family together, Kaia lies and sneaks away from the support group to go on diving adventures in the local swimming pool. Beneath the surface, Kaia searches for her father in a magical world under water, while trying to understand death without fear

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.


Dir. Nicholas Wolf
Synopsis: Young man, Charlie, has made a hobby of being a boom mic operator and strives to be the greatest. However, his hobby turns out to be a passionate obsession.


Dir. Malcolm Carter
Synopsis: Mala comes home after a five year absence to work with young homeless teenagers but she has other plans for them. Until she meets a young wild wanna-be-rapper, that challenges her plans on everything.

A Place For Ashes

Dir. Brianne Neira, Melissa Ingle
Synopsis: A Place for Ashes" is the story of two sisters; Phoebe, an anxiety-ridden college dropout with a guarded personality, and her younger sister Taylor, a bubbly micromanager with a sunny disposition. The two of them discover how they can rebuild their relationship and why it fell apart in the first place.

Midwest Ice Age!

Dir. Douglas J. Corcoran
Synopsis: A Midwest man faces challenges as he realizes his dream of creating an ice carving company that produces spectacular art while helping to bring communities closer together.