Strange Fruit wins USA Film Festival award
Joel Katz's Strange Fruit, a documentary on the haunting and controversial song written about lynchings and popularized by Billie Holiday, was named Grand Prize Winner and First Place, Non-Fiction at the 24th annual National Short Film and Video Competition at the 32nd annual USA Film Festival in Dallas. Strange Fruit examines how the song and its issues reflected and impacted the lives of African-Americans, immigrant Jews, anti-Communist government officials, radical Leftist organizers, music publishers, and jazz musicians, while touching on the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard and the "Without Sanctuary" exhibition curated by gay historian James Allen.
Katz received an honorarium of $1,000 as well as an invitation to serve on the jury of next year's competition. Other winners included: Leo Geter's Andy Across the Water (First Place, Fiction; $1,000), Kathy Smith's Indefinable Moods (First Place, Animation; $1,000), Eric Patrick's Ablution (First Place, Experimental; $1,000), Alice Elliott's The Collector of Bedford Street (The Family Award, $500), Kurt Kuenne's Drive-In Movie Memories (The Texas Award, $500), and Jeff Wadlow's tHe tOWeR oF BaBBLe (The Student Award, $500). Special Jury Awards ($250 each) were presented to Brian Williams's Traces of Ghana, Trent Cooper's The Comeback, Ernst Gossner's Bar Time, and Vinz Feller's Eventually There.