Prize Fest concludes with some big numbers

Angel Albring | BIZ. Magazine

On Tuesday, Prize Fest, an online Film, Music, Food, Fashion and Startup Festival, announced its winners in a live broadcast that was watched throughout the country and all over the world.

The online festival, in its ninth year, streamed the work of independent filmmakers, fashion designers, musicians, chefs and startups to a global audience. This collaboration earned Prize Fest the title of being the largest online film, music, food, fashion and startup event in the world.

In its 10-day run, Prize Fest showed 20 films (which were viewed more than 45,000 times), hosted seven days of filmmaker panels and mentor roundtables, 26 live festival update shows, and featured a globally broadcasted live fashion show and competition, as well as an eight-hour live music festival.

“When we moved Prize Fest to online, we knew we were being ambitious with our programming but, to be honest, we weren’t sure the people would show up,” said Gregory Kallenberg, founder of Prize Fest. 

Prize Fest streamed to 37 states and nine countries. The festival/competition combination allowed attendees to view the various broadcasts and allowed them to vote on the Food Prize, Music Prize, Fashion Prize and Film Prize winners.

The Film Prize, Prize Fest’s short film competition, awards $25,000 to the winner, the world’s largest cash prize for a short film.

“For the Prize Foundation, despite being in the middle of a pandemic, we never quit,” said Kallenberg. “We were determined to take our special event online to support and celebrate the independent filmmaking industry and creative entrepreneurs in the state of Louisiana, and we’re proud that so many people from all over the world tuned in and made Prize Fest 2020 so incredibly special.”


“During the festival, our YouTube page had over 28,100 views. The festival site was viewed over 38,000 times by over 6,750 unique visitors,” said Melissa Brannan of the Prize Foundation.

Louisiana Film Prize

The 2020 Louisiana Film Prize winner and recipient of the $25,000 grand prize is “Untitled Post-Baby Project,” directed by Lorna Street Dopson.

Dopson is the first female director as well as the first New Orleans director to win the Louisiana Film Prize. Her film was about a young woman struggling to adjust to motherhood.


The other short films in the Top 5 this year were: Anne Nichols Brown’s “Away,” Paul Petersen’s “Double Date Night,” Topher Simon’s “Imminent” and Michael Landry’s “Nice to Meet You.” All but one of the top five filmmakers are Louisiana-based. Brown is from Monroe, Petersen is from Shreveport, and Simon is from Baton Rouge. 

The winning films were chosen from the Top 20 short film finalists, all of which were filmed in the state of Louisiana, and determined by a combination of votes from passholders and national industry judges.

Garrett Kruithof won this year’s Best Actor for his performance in “Three Mile Hell,” and Teri Wyble won Best Actress for her performance in “Nice to Meet You.” 

Louisiana Fashion Prize

In its second year, the Louisiana Fashion Prize hosted a live, online presentation of seven local designer’s collections. The innovative broadcast allowed viewers to meet the designers and get up close and personal with their collections.

Each collection was showcased and filmed in a different location, and the online presentation also included behind the scenes footage, interviews with the designers and commentary from the judges.

Hephzibah Thomas was named the winner of the judges’ grand prize award and $2,000 cash prize. Thomas was also voted the audience choice winner and received a gift basket with curated goods from local artisans and businesses.  

The judges’ decision was made by a panel of fashion industry professionals, including Golda Blaise (Co-Founder, Meow Wolf), Thaddeus (a voice of fashion from the West Coast), and Tracee Dundas (Founder/Producer, New Orleans Fashion Week).



Louisiana Music Prize

Lance Thompson is the 2020 Louisiana Music Prize winner and recipient of the $2,000 cash award.


Thompson competed against nine other music acts during a live streamed music showcase. This year, all bands were given the opportunity to play 25-minute sets. They were also allowed to promote themselves and garner tips from the Music Prize audience. Each band will be given a recording of their performance.

Online passholders were able to watch all bands, cast their vote for their favorite band and help choose the winner.

Louisiana Food Prize

The 2020 Battle for the Golden Fork: Power to the People competition was close, ending in a tie between Tootie Morrison, chef of Abby Singer’s Bistro (and Louisiana Food Prize’s inaugural Golden Fork champion) and Anthony Felan, chef/owner of Fat Calf Brasserie. Each chef will be the recipient of a $1,000 cash prize. 

The Battle for the Golden Fork was redesigned this year in an effort to energize and support the local restaurant community. Rather than a live cookoff, over 500 Golden Fork Passports were distributed across the competing chef’s restaurants, and diners had one month to visit and patronize at least three participating restaurants before casting their vote for their favorite chef. 

The Louisiana Food Prize also hosted three sold-out celebrity chef cook-alongs in which passholders received curated Home Chef Baskets and the opportunity to virtually cook along with nationally recognized award-winning chefs.

Louisiana Startup Prize

The Louisiana Startup Prize hosted Come & (Re)Build It, an online mini-conference focused on diversity, parity and inclusion within the startup and entrepreneurial ecosystem, and drew a national audience of incubators, accelerators, and entrepreneurs.

The conference kicked off with keynote speaker Victor Hwang, Founder and CEO of Right to Start, an advocacy group whose mission is to bring entrepreneurial opportunity to all, regardless of race, gender, background, place or circumstance.

Other panelists included Katie Hall (CEO, Claria), Chris Offensend (CEO, Qwally), Kate McCrery (Director of Programs, Digital Undivided), Sonal Shah (Executive Director, Beeck Center for Social Impact and Innovation at Georgetown University) and Howard W. Buffett (Associate Professor and Research Scholar, Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs) as well as moderators Mark Newberg (President and Founder of Stockbridge Advisors LLC) and Prize Foundation Executive Director, Gregory Kallenberg.