The Kenyan lesbian film, Rafiki, took home both of the festivals top prizes.
The Kenyan lesbian film, Rafiki, took home both of the festival's top prizes. Courtesy of TWIST

The 23rd annual TWIST: Seattle Queer Film Festival concluded Sunday, Oct. 21 with Rafiki, a lesbian film that was originally banned in its home country of Kenya. Rafiki took home both of the festival's top awards for a narrative film, including the audience and jury awards. These are the first awards given to Rafiki by a queer film festival, according to Three Dollar Bill Cinema, the organization that produces TWIST.

"We are thrilled that Rafiki won both the audience and jury awards for narrative feature and that we can bring further attention to this important, beautiful film from a country whose LGBTQ community faces rampant discrimination and fear of imprisonment," said Ben McCarthy, executive director of Three Dollar Bill Cinema, in a press release. This year's TWIST featured 143 films from 25 different countries, including Kenya and Columbia. One of my favorite films from this year's lineup, When the Beat Drops, took home the audience award for favorite documentary feature.

The full list of winners below:

Audience Awards
Favorite Narrative Feature: RAFIKI, directed by Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya, 2018)

Runner up: TUCKED, directed by Jamie Patterson (UK, 2018)

Favorite Documentary Feature: WHEN THE BEAT DROPS, directed by Jamal Sims (USA, 2018)
Runner Up: THE MOST DANGEROUS YEAR, directed by Vlada Knowlton (USA, 2018)

Favorite Lesbian Short Film: MASKS, directed by Mahaliyah Ayla O (USA, 2018)

Favorite Gay Short Film: I LIVE HERE, directed by Shane Watson (USA, 2017)

Favorite Transgender Short Film: BURTON BEFORE AND AFTER, directed by Courtney Hermann (USA, 2017)


Jury Awards, Awards for Excellence
Best Narrative Film Award Winner: RAFIKI, directed by Wanuri Kahiu (Kenya, 2018)
Narrative Honorable mention: SORRY ANGEL, directed by Christophe Honoré (France, 2018) & TUCKED, directed by Jamie Patterson (UK, 2018)

Best Documentary Film Award Winner: LEITIS IN WAITING, directed by Dean Hamer, Joe Wilson & Hinaleimoana Wong-Kalu (USA/Tonga, 2018)
Documentary Honorable mention: PATERNAL RITES, directed by Jules Rosskam (USA, 2018)

Best Short Film Award Winner: MARGUERITE, directed by Marianne Farley (Canada, 2017)
Best Short Film Honorable Mention: THE THINGS YOU THINK I'M THINKING, directed by Sherren Lee (Canada, 2017)

Most Innovative Short Film Award Winner: MAKE OUT PARTY, directed by Emily Esperanza (USA, 2017)
Most Innovative Short Film Honorable Mention: DANCES, directed by Ramon Watkins (Australia, 2018)