The 2016 Phoenix Comicon has come and gone daddy gone, leaving only memories and a few nice prizes in the hands of some hardworking filmmakers. The categories for awarding prizes remain the same from previous years but the criteria for the winning selections continues to bemuse and befuddle. Last year found a bevy of gore laden shorts and disturbingly violent psychological thrillers raking in the accolades, while this year appetites were satiated more with polished, plot heavy narratives. Its something new every year at the Phoenix Comicon Film Festival, which means filmmakers need to get busy cooking up the next new trend to wow the next Comicon Film Fest. Here are the 2016 Phoenix Comicon film submissions that took home awards and cash prizes.

Best Web Series – Phoenix Run – Directed by TJ Walker & Rick Walters.
A street-smart smuggler takes a job to hijack a vaccine shipment and finds himself in possession of an experimental serum that could cure the world’s Superhuman pandemic. Set in a near post pandemic future, superheroes and zombies exist side by side in this ambitious web series.

Best International Film – ReStart – Directed by Olga Osorio.
Trapped in a temporal loop, Andrea struggles to break free. But can she? ReStart is all about every action demanding a reaction, and how every cause has a drastic effect no matter how many do-overs a person is allowed. A beautifully photographed film that is all about the breathtaking vistas it captures to create an easy feeling of life external.

Best Drama – Bed Bugs – Directed by Donald Tilghman
Daniel White is an awkwardly introverted clean freak. Barely able to step outside due to his social anxieties, he realizes that his safe place is no longer a sanctuary and is rapidly being overrun by tiny invaders. Creepy black and white film from the Glendale Community College film program.

Best Comedy – A Haunting on Butterscotch Lane – Directed by Ryan Nelson
A possessed cookie jar leads two dimwitted brothers on a mad search for exorcists, ghost busters and even hidden treasure in this hilarious Arizona-made comedy. One of my picks for the 5 must see movies at Comicon, ‘Haunting’ continues to entertain audiences with it’s fast paced, stylishly irreverent humor. Keep the creative team at Clydesdale Manhattan, high on your friends list as they are sure to bring more of their fantastic filmmaking your way.

Best Horror – Brentwood Strangler – Directed by John Fitzpatrick
(From the film’s page). ‘It’s the holiday season in Los Angeles and women are being strangled to death in the Westwood area: Maggie (Jordan Ladd – Death Proof, Cabin Fever, Grace), a lonely woman goes on a blind date unbeknownst to her that her date is an active and notorious serial killer, The Brentwood Strangler (Adam J. Yeend – Skypemare, Liz & Dick)! Is love in the air? Or is Maggie in for the worst (and last) date of her life? Brentwood Strangler is an exciting new satirical short thriller from the writer/director of Skypemare, featuring a cast of distinguished actors and is an homage to classic Hollywood films of the past such as ‘Strangers on a Train’ and ‘Psycho.’

Best Sci-Fi/Fan Film – Millennium: Eternal Sunrise – Directed by Vlad Aksenov
An 11-year-old gypsy girl named Charani journeys to an enigmatic mountain summit to meet with a magical Romani (Gypsy) man with a Millennium box. According to the legend, this immortal man appears there once in a millennium, and from early dawn until the last rays of the sun, he meets those who reach the summit to make a wish and open the magic box. Charani is assured that the ancient legend can resurrect her beloved mom whom she has recently lost. But the Romani requires the most precious thing Charani has in return, forcing her to decide if she is ready to exchange her future life for the ability to return to the past.

Best Fan Film – Jedi Club – Directed by Trey Albright and Casey Webb
Ok, you like ‘Star Wars’ and you like ‘Fight Club.’ See what happens when both worlds collide as Star Wars characters battle it out in a no light sabers barred battle for underground street fighting superiority. Funny and goofy fan film that will continue to dominate the cons for years to come.

Best Animated Film- The Magician – Directed by Thom Lu
‘The Magician’ is an eight-minute animated music video combining the talents of animator Thom Lu and composer Andrew Rubin. The sepia toned 2.5D digital cut out animation is based on Rubin’s original classical composition. You can watch ‘The Magician’ in it’s entirety online.

Best Music Video – Notes From Wonderland – Directed by Brandon McGill and Chelsey Louise
Phoenix’s favorite band Fairy Bones takes us on a loud and psychedelic journey through the looking glass as Alice in Wonderland characters come to life in a trippy, aggressive, sadomasochistic rock and roll wonderland. Very well shot in Glendale at the Painted Tiger Studios.

Best Documentary – Black Rat – Directed by Perry Lam
A documentary about inner Western Sydney’s (Australia’s) real life super hero and public safety activist ‘The Black Rat.’ The inner workings of this doc are as mysterious as the subject itself.

3rd Place Film- Eggventure – Directed by Danielle Johnson
Short film created in classic animated style presents a Penguin and a Polar Bear and their love for the same egg.

2nd Place Film – Occupants – Directed by Russ Emanuel
(From the films page) ‘Occupants is about a young couple who plan and produce a ‘Clean Living’ documentary. Setting up cameras all over their house to document their newly created lifestyle, their cameras capture a parallel version of themselves from another dimension. Their doubles soon begin threatening the unsuspecting couple, who must find a way to close the dimensional portal they inadvertently created.’

1st Place Film – Einstein’s God Model – Directed by Philip T Johnson
(From the films page) ‘For thousands of years, only religion has offered an answer to what happens after death. Science is about to change that. With the help of a physicist, a blind medium, and Thomas Edison’s final experiment, Brayden Taylor embarks on a quest to contact the afterlife. For his love to transcend dimensions, he must defy the laws of quantum physics. He must defy the balance nature demands. He must defy … the God Model!