top of page

Celebrating Excellence at PAIFF: The Award-Winning Films and Talents of 2024

The Prestigious Awards at Puerto Aventuras 

International Film Festival (PAIFF) showcased

the finest in global cinema, highlighting

extraordinary talent and groundbreaking

storytelling. This year's festival was a vibrant

celebration of creativity, with numerous films

and filmmakers being recognized for their

exceptional contributions.

In the feature film category, the standout film

directed by Richard Bakewell was celebrated

for its intriguing narrative and stellar performances, capturing five top awards including the coveted Best Feature Film. The cinematography by Carter Ross was particularly noteworthy, earning accolades for its visual mastery.

Documentary features also made a significant mark, with Francisca Siza’s evocative storytelling in "Daughters of Maguey" earning the Best Documentary Feature award. Karolína Alvarez’s insightful direction in "Take Your Space" was recognized with the Best Director award for a documentary feature, while Joachim Peter’s compelling visuals in "Mentawai" secured the Best Cinematography award in the documentary category.

Jeffery Lando emerged as a prominent figure, winning both Best Director and Best Editing for his work on his feature film "Lissa's Trip." His direction and editing were praised for their precision and creativity, making his film a festival favorite. Similarly, Mehdi Fard Ghaderi was honored as the Best Visionary Director for his innovative approach to storytelling, setting new standards for cinematic excellence.

The festival also celebrated outstanding achievements in short films. Farid Ismail’s directorial prowess shone brightly, winning the Best Short Film award. Meanwhile, Armin Keshvari’s visionary direction in a short film earned him the Best Director award, further showcasing the diverse talents at PAIFF. Likewise, the short film "Expenses" garnered North American filmmaker Gary Fieldman Best Visionary Director - Short Film.

Dan Hertzog had a remarkable presence at PAIFF 2024, securing two significant wins that showcased his multifaceted talent in filmmaking. His exceptional work in the short film category was highlighted with the Best Editing award for "Domino Springs," a testament to his precision and creative vision in crafting a compelling narrative through seamless cuts and transitions. Additionally, his cinematographic excellence was recognized in "Dating Audrey," where he earned the Best Cinematography award. Hertzog’s ability to capture striking visuals and elevate the storytelling experience through his lens has firmly established him as a standout talent in this year’s festival.

In the music video category, Kyle Garrett’s "Car Colors - Old Death" was a multiple award-winner, recognized for Best Music Video, Best Director, and Best Editing. The film’s unique blend of visual and auditory elements captivated audiences and judges alike. The visionary direction in music videos was exemplified by Brent Heise, whose work set new creative benchmarks.

The awards for acting highlighted remarkable performances across various films. Lando's film "Lisa's Trip" actress Sofia Vassilieva’s portrayal of "Lissa" was another highlight, garnering her the Best Actress award and underscoring the film’s impact. Farrokh Nematia’s role in an Iranian feature film earned him the Best Actor award, while Anthony Michael Hall and Dee Wallace were celebrated as Best Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively, for their roles in Bakewell’s film. In the short film category, Edmund C. Short and Dostana Nikolić were recognized for their exceptional acting, bringing depth and emotion to their characters.

Special accolades included the Audience Choice Award, which ended in a tie, reflecting the passionate responses from festival-goers. Alex Valdez’s film and Jim Merkel’s creation both resonated deeply with audiences, earning them this prestigious recognition. Additionally, the Special Jury Prize for Best Innovative Cultural Storytelling was awarded to Jeff Valdez for his compelling narrative that bridges cultures and stories.

The PAIFF also honored emerging talent and first-time filmmakers. Selvakumar M’s debut feature film and Joachim Peter’s first documentary feature were both celebrated for their fresh perspectives and innovative storytelling. The festival’s commitment to nurturing new voices was evident in the recognition of student filmmakers, with Ashley Bogley’s film standing out as the Best First Student Film.

Overall, PAIFF 2024 was a testament to the power of cinema to inspire, challenge, and entertain. The awarded films and talents represent the pinnacle of creative achievement, promising a bright future for the art of filmmaking.


Selected Films - Season 1

PAIFF Award Winners show off their trophies.

From day one, the PAIFF organizers provided an exceptional understanding of the event. Their communication was impeccable, ensuring that participants felt informed and engaged. we eagerly anticipate the next edition. Our film received the prestigious Best First Short Film award, Heartfelt gratitude goes to the dedicated organizing committee for their unwavering support throughout.

           -Udara Wijesinghe, Filmmaker


Thank you for awarding Daughters of Maguey with best feature documentary. Amazing festival in an idyllic location, everyone was really friendly and communication exceptional. It was a great way to showcase our documentary in a relax and cool environment and a lot of filmmakers and producers were there so it was perfect to network and meet other professionals and cinema lovers.

                        -Hijas del Maguey

Filmmakers on the red carpet at PAIFF.
Puerto Aventuras International Film Festival
PAIFF 2024 Trophies on display.
Roswell Delirium

"Roswell Delirium" Takes Home 5 Awards at PAIFF!

"Roswell Delirium," directed by the award-winning Richard Bakewell, is a mesmerizing journey through a post-apocalyptic 1980s America. In this gripping narrative, we follow young Mayday as she attempts to contact her father in space, only to find herself embroiled in an intergalactic distress call that leads her to the mysterious Spacerock.

Bakewell, known for his exceptional work in cinematography and direction, brings a unique blend of nostalgia and innovation to this film. His experience, spanning over 19 years, shines through in the meticulous production and heartfelt storytelling.

The PAIFF committee’s feedback highlights the film's original concept, impressive performances, and lovingly nurtured production value. The overall impact of the film is undeniable. The eighties-era Easter eggs, strong acting, and emotional depth make "Roswell Delirium" a standout piece that resonates with audiences long after the credits roll.

Adding to its acclaim, "Roswell Delirium" has garnered multiple prestigious awards at the festival:

  • Best Feature: "Roswell Delirium" 

  • Best Supporting Actor - Feature: Anthony Michael Hall as “Jerry” in "Roswell Delirium"

  • Best Supporting Actress - Feature: Dee Wallace as “Betty” in "Roswell Delirium"

  • Best Cinematography - Feature: Carter Ross - "Roswell Delirium"

  • Best Original Score - Feature: Troy Van Leeuwen - "Roswell Delirium"

  • These accolades underscore the film's exceptional direction, writing, cinematography, and acting performances, making "Roswell Delirium" a must-watch for fans of character-based fantasy and sci-fi.

    "Lissa's Trip" Triumphs with 4 Awards at PAIFF!

    "Lissa's Trip," directed by the talented Jeffery Lando, has taken home an impressive four awards at the PAIFF! This modern-day fairy tale, loosely inspired by Homer’s Odyssey, follows Lissa, an actress who accidentally takes a lot of acid before a crucial audition. Her journey through the streets of Los Angeles is filled with bizarre characters and situations that challenge her sense of reality and identity, leading her to discover her true self and creative potential.

    Jeffery Lando, known for his award-winning genre thrillers and TV movies, brings his unique vision to "Lissa's Trip," blending humor, adventure, and emotion into a dazzling cinematic experience. Lando’s expertise, honed over decades of filmmaking, shines through in this whimsical and imaginative film.

    The PAIFF committee praised "Lissa's Trip" for its perfect pace, structure, and compelling performances, especially highlighting Sofia Vassilieva’s portrayal of Lissa. The film’s accurate portrayal of a psychedelic vision, coupled with engaging dialogue and a beautiful wrap-up, makes it a standout piece.

    "Lissa's Trip" has earned the following prestigious awards at the festival:

  • Best Director - Feature: Jeffery Lando for "Lissa's Trip," USA

  • Best Editing - Feature: "Lissa's Trip," Directed by Jeffery Lando, USA

  • Best Actress - Feature: Sofia Vassilieva as “Lissa” in "Lissa's Trip," Directed by Jeffery Lando, USA

  • Best Sound Design - Feature: "Lissa's Trip," Directed by Jeffery Lando, USA

  • These awards highlight the film's exceptional direction, editing, acting, and sound design. Critics have hailed "Lissa's Trip" as “whimsical, provocative, imaginative, and uplifting.” Don’t miss this fun and enriching film experience—it's a must-watch for anyone seeking a complete and captivating cinematic journey.

    Divot film festival screening
    Lissa's Trip movie poster
    nauti burro film festival screening
    The Annoyed movie poster

    "The Annoyed" Wins Two Major Awards at PAIFF!

    "The Annoyed," directed by the visionary Mehdi Fard Ghaderi, has won two prestigious awards at PAIFF! This episodic film delves into the struggles of three Iranian directors, each tackling significant social issues such as women's abuse and executions.

    The first director plans to emigrate but decides to make a film about his lead actor's execution. The second director wants to highlight the plight of abused women but faces opposition from her husband. The third, diagnosed with cancer, aims to create the last film of his life. Each story, reflecting a different genre and generation, showcases the directors' unique visions and challenges.

    Mehdi Fard Ghaderi, an accomplished Iranian director and writer, has a distinguished career with his films screened at 65 international festivals and winning 20 awards. "The Annoyed," his third feature film, premiered at the Shanghai Film Festival in 2023 and has been showcased at numerous international festivals, including St. Louis and Kerala.

    The PAIFF committee praised "The Annoyed" for its atmospheric and unique portrayal of filmmakers' struggles in Iran, describing it as a "nice atmospheric river of vignettes" that felt refreshingly original. The film received a standing ovation, with one committee member exclaiming, "This. Is. Why. We. Do. This."

    "The Annoyed" earned the following awards at PAIFF:

    • Best Visionary Director - Feature: Mehdi Fard Ghaderi for "The Annoyed," Iran

    • Best Actor - Feature: Farrokh Nemati as Sepanta Shaygan in "The Annoyed," Directed by Mehdi Fard Ghaderi, Iran

    Don't miss this compelling film that offers a profound look into the Iranian film industry and the personal battles of its directors. "The Annoyed" is a must-watch for anyone seeking a unique and thought-provoking cinematic experience.

    "Bumper" Wins Best First Feature Film at PAIFF!

    "Bumper," directed by Selvakumar M, has won the prestigious Best First Feature Film award at PAIFF! This captivating film explores the contrasting journeys of two men—one driven by money and the other by humanity.

    Selvakumar M, who has honed his craft as an assistant director under renowned Tamil film directors for over a decade, brings his wealth of experience to this debut feature. "Bumper" is a deeply personal project, inspired by Selvakumar's life experiences and the humane, religious, and harmonious individuals he has encountered.

    The PAIFF committee praised "Bumper" for its engaging storytelling and unique characters, highlighting how it turned out to be highly entertaining. The film's heartfelt narrative and strong performances make it a standout debut that resonates with audiences.

    "Bumper" is a must-watch for those seeking a compelling and thought-provoking cinematic journey. Selvakumar M's directorial debut promises a bright future in the world of filmmaking.

    Bumper movie poster


    "Daughters of Maguey" Wins Best Documentary Feature at PAIFF!

    "Daughters of Maguey," directed by Francisca Siza, has been awarded Best Documentary Feature at PAIFF! This powerful documentary tells the inspiring story of a group of women challenging the male-dominated world of agave distillates production.

    Despite their historical involvement, women have long been sidelined due to archaic traditions and beliefs. The "Mujeres del Mezcal y Maguey de Mexico" Association is breaking this glass ceiling, empowering women to recognize their value and the benefits of collective action. Together, they strive to ensure that Mexico's producers and rural communities receive their fair share of the mezcal economic boom, all while preserving traditions and respecting the environment.

    The PAIFF committee praised "Daughters of Maguey" for its compelling story and cultural significance, noting that it's an impressive achievement for a first-time filmmaker. The documentary is not only a testament to the resilience and determination of these women but also a celebration of cultural heritage and environmental stewardship.

    "Daughters of Maguey" is a must-see for anyone interested in social change, cultural stories, and the power of community. Francisca Siza's debut documentary promises a bright future in filmmaking.

    Daughters of Maguey movie poster

    "Mentawai" Wins Three Awards at PAIFF!

    "Mentawai," directed by Joachim Peter, has triumphed at PAIFF, winning three prestigious awards: Best Cinematography - Documentary Feature, Best Original Score - Documentary, and Best First Documentary Feature Film. This poignant documentary showcases the last indigenous people of Mentawai, a small archipelago southwest of Sumatra, who are creatively resisting to preserve their ancient culture and rainforest amidst severe geopolitical and environmental challenges.

    Available in multiple languages—English, German, French, Spanish, and Bahasa Indonesia—"Mentawai" portrays the intimate and sensual life of the indigenous tribe. The film vividly captures their daily activities, spiritual practices, and the pressing threats from logging companies. Through a cinematic lens, Joachim Peter delivers a compelling narrative that blends rare historic footage with contemporary struggles, presenting a heartfelt connection to the tribe's beauty and vulnerability.

    The PAIFF committee lauded "Mentawai" as a beautiful and important film, praising its top-notch audio, visually appealing cinematography, and meaningful messages. The film not only highlights the indigenous culture's resilience but also the broader movement in Indonesia for environmental and cultural preservation.

    "Mentawai" earned the following awards at PAIFF:

    • Best Cinematography - Documentary Feature: Joachim Peter for "Mentawai," Germany

    • Best Original Score - Documentary: Joachim Peter for "Mentawai," Germany

    • Best First Documentary Feature Film: Joachim Peter for "Mentawai," Germany

    This award-winning documentary is a must-watch for those interested in cultural preservation, environmental issues, and the profound beauty of indigenous life. Joachim Peter's debut feature marks a significant contribution to documentary filmmaking and promises more insightful works in the future.

    PAIFF cinema on the beach Puerto Aventuras
    Mentawai movie poster
    Divot film festival screening
    Maya Train movie poster

    "The Train & The Peninsula" Wins Best Editing - Documentary Feature at PAIFF!

    "The Train & The Peninsula," directed by Sky Richards and Andreas Kruger Foncerrada, has been awarded Best Editing - Documentary Feature at PAIFF! This intimate portrait of Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula delves into the environmental and social consequences of the controversial "Mayan Train" railway megaproject.

    The documentary takes viewers on an immersive journey along the train's proposed route, highlighting the lives and reflections of the peninsula's inhabitants. It weaves together a collective narrative through incisive testimonies, revealing a human landscape rich with Mayan wisdom and vitality. The film captures the ideological and territorial battles fought in the ancestral land of the Maya, providing an urgent and profound look beyond the tourist paradise.

    Sky Richards, with a BFA in Cinematography from EICAR International Film School in Paris, and Andreas Kruger Foncerrada, a Mexican artist exploring human relationships with space and territory, make their directorial debut with this powerful film. Their unique perspectives and storytelling abilities shine through, making "The Train & The Peninsula" a significant and thought-provoking documentary.

    The PAIFF committee praised the film for its well-crafted look into the lives of those affected by this major development project, deeming it a very important film for the festival.

    "The Train & The Peninsula" earned the following award at PAIFF:

    • Best Editing - Documentary Feature: "The Train & The Peninsula," Directed by Sky Richards and Andreas Kruger Foncerrada, Mexico

    This documentary is a must-watch for anyone interested in environmentalism, social issues, and the complex realities behind large-scale development projects. "The Train & The Peninsula" offers a poignant and enlightening cinematic experience.

    Audience Choice Award Tie: "The Power of One" and "Saving Walden's World"

    At PAIFF, two remarkable films shared the Audience Choice Award: "Saving Walden's World," directed by Jim Merkel and Deborah Shaffer, and the trailer for "The Power of One," directed by Alex Valdez. Both projects also earned additional accolades, showcasing their impactful storytelling and visionary messages.

    "The Power of One"
    Also winner of PAIFF's Best Trailer, "The Power of One" follows a team of documentary filmmakers as they venture into the Colombian jungle to document a conservationist's extraordinary efforts. He has planted 10,000 trees in a deforested field, creating an ecological sanctuary for endangered animals. This compelling narrative highlights the conservationist's mission to protect and expand his reserve, emphasizing the power of individual action in environmental restoration. The committee praised the trailer for its local filmmaker's vision and powerful message, generating great anticipation for the full film.

    "Saving Walden's World"
    "Saving Walden's World" tells the story of a young arms dealer who experiences an ethical awakening, leading him on a decades-long quest for redemption. The film follows Jim Merkel as he raises his son, Walden, in an off-the-grid homestead, exploring sustainable living and the wisdom of communities previously harmed by his past work. Through their journey to places like Kerala, Cuba, and Slovenia, the film examines the benefits of women's empowerment, education, and social justice policies. The committee commended the film for its excellent messaging on sustainability, fantastic production, and style, seamlessly interweaving related topics.

    These two projects, "The Power of One" (trailer) and "Saving Walden's World," offer compelling narratives that inspire change and highlight the importance of environmental conservation and social justice. Their shared victory in the Audience Choice Award reflects their profound impact on viewers and their contributions to meaningful cinema.

    PAIFF ceremony audience
    power of one movie poster
    saving walden's world film poster


    take your space film poster
    la pipera film poster
    Filmmakers on the red carpet at PAIFF

    Celebrating Mexican Culture at PAIFF: "Take Your Space" and "La Pipera" Win Top Awards

    Two powerful documentaries that spotlight significant aspects of Mexican culture have garnered top awards at PAIFF. "Take Your Space," directed by Karolína Alvarez, and "La Pipera," directed by Miguel Perez, offer captivating narratives that celebrate the resilience, creativity, and pioneering spirit of their subjects.

    "Take Your Space"
    Awarded Best Director - Documentary Feature, "Take Your Space" is the first feature-length documentary on Mexican urban art and graffiti. Shot over four years without institutional financial support, the film immerses viewers in the vibrant community of Mexican urban artists, extending to the realms of hip-hop and skateboarding. The documentary traces the evolution of the movement from its rebellious beginnings to its current status, highlighting its essence of freedom and resistance against global capitalist influences. Karolína Alvarez, a freelance documentary filmmaker from the Czech Republic with a background in philosophy and conceptual art, delivers a flawless film that perfectly captures the spirit of Mexican counterculture. The committee praised the film as "perfecto," finding no flaws in its execution.

    "La Pipera"
    Winning Best Visionary First Film, "La Pipera" is a tribute to Miriam Ochoa, the first female tanker driver in the world to transport hazardous materials and waste. Directed by Miguel Perez, the documentary chronicles Miriam's journey from a medical professional to a legendary trucker on the Mexican highways. Through personal testimonies and archival footage, the film reveals her passion for tractor trailers, her internal struggles, and the transfer of her legacy to her successor, "La Diablita." Miguel Perez, a Mexican psychologist-turned-filmmaker, combines his passion for tractor trailers with his expertise in photography to deliver a heartfelt tribute. The committee described "La Pipera" as a "lovely tribute," honoring the presence of women in a male-dominated industry.

    These two award-winning documentaries, "Take Your Space" and "La Pipera," offer profound insights into Mexican culture, celebrating the spirit of resistance, creativity, and pioneering achievements. Their recognition at PAIFF highlights the importance of storytelling in preserving and honoring cultural heritage.

    Award-Winning Short Documentaries: "Armed with a Brush" and "Debs Studio" Shine at PAIFF

    Two exceptional short documentaries have won top honors at PAIFF, showcasing compelling narratives that blend art, culture, and social justice. "Armed with a Brush," directed by Nèma van Raalte, and "Debs Studio," directed by Miguel Octave, offer powerful insights into the transformative power of art and music.

    "Armed with a Brush"
    Winner of Best Editing - Documentary Short, "Armed with a Brush" explores the origins and evolution of the Brigada Ramona Parra (BRP), a group that emerged in 1968 as the propaganda arm of the Chilean Communist Youth League. The BRP supported President Salvador Allende and used vibrant murals to promote democracy and equality. Despite brutal repression during the Pinochet regime, the BRP's message of peaceful resistance persisted. Today, the BRP continues to paint for justice, passing their art form and beliefs to new generations. Through compelling interviews spanning three generations, this documentary highlights the enduring power of murals as tools for social change in Chile. The committee praised it as an "important cultural and inspirational film about mural art and social justice."

    "Debs Studio"
    Winner of Best Music Documentary, "Debs Studio" tells the story of Henri Debs, a pioneer who developed the music industry in the French islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique. Directed by Miguel Octave, the film delves into Debs' significant contributions to Caribbean music. Octave, a filmmaker from Martinique based in Paris, has directed numerous national and Caribbean productions since 2005. "Debs Studio" captures the essence of Debs' legacy and his impact on the music world. The committee described it as "a professional documentary of perfection," celebrating its flawless execution and fascinating subject matter.

    These two award-winning documentaries, "Armed with a Brush" and "Debs Studio," highlight the profound impact of art and music on society. Their recognition at PAIFF underscores the importance of storytelling in preserving cultural heritage and promoting social justice.

    Armed with a brush movie poster
    studio debs movie poster
    Saygin Yalcin and PAIFF staff at movie screening
    Filmmakers on the red carpet at PAIFF
    Filmmakers on the red carpet at PAIFF

    "Money Maker" Wins Best Documentary Short and Best Director Short Doc at PAIFF

    "Money Maker," directed by Johannes Thuermer and Martina Schuster, has taken home two prestigious awards at PAIFF: Best Documentary Short Film and Best Director - Documentary Short Film. This inspiring documentary delves into the life of Saygin Yalcin, a self-made millionaire who has used his success to help his seriously ill sister.

    Born in Bremen, Germany, with Turkish roots, Yalcin's entrepreneurial journey began with an online fashion shop for the Middle East, which he later sold to Amazon for around $700 million. He then founded, a thriving business trading high-quality used automobiles. Today, Yalcin runs his companies from Dubai and invests in numerous start-ups and medical research, aiming to support promising companies and universities, particularly in finding a cure for his sister's specific type of epilepsy.

    In "Money Maker," Yalcin shares his success story, emphasizing the importance of maintaining morals for long-term success. His journey is a testament to the power of determination, innovation, and compassion.

    The PAIFF committee lauded the film as an "inspiring, solid feel-good story," recognizing its uplifting narrative and the exceptional direction by Thuermer and Schuster.

    These accolades highlight the impact of "Money Maker," a documentary that not only showcases the triumphs of an entrepreneur but also underscores the profound influence of using success for the greater good. This film is a must-watch for those seeking motivation and a heartwarming story of perseverance and altruism.

    Exploring the Cinematic Brilliance of Dan Hertzog: A Double Triumph at PAIFF with "Dating Audrey" and "Domino Springs"

    The film industry is continually graced by emerging talents who bring fresh perspectives and narratives to the screen. One such visionary is Dan Hertzog, whose short films "Dating Audrey" and "Domino Springs" have captivated audiences and critics alike, earning him well-deserved accolades at recent film festivals. Hertzog's journey from a USC School of Cinematic Arts graduate to an award-winning filmmaker is a testament to his dedication and creative prowess.

    "Dating Audrey" – A Nostalgic Journey with a Twist

    "Dating Audrey," which won Best Cinematography and Best Actor for Edmund C. Short as "Pete," is a poignant and imaginative exploration of grief and nostalgia. The film tells the story of Pete Trumbull, a young man who drowns in his sorrow and clings to the past. After a night spent binge-watching his late mother's Audrey Hepburn films, Pete awakens to find Audrey herself guiding him towards a brighter future. This magical realism element adds a whimsical yet profound layer to the narrative.

    The judges were particularly impressed with the film’s opening scene, where Pete's emotional state is vividly captured as he drops his bags, drawing viewers into his world immediately. While some felt that the Audrey character could have been portrayed with a more ghostly, ethereal presence, the performance by the actress was lauded for its authenticity and charm. Her wardrobe and dialogue, seemingly lifted from Hepburn’s iconic roles, were meticulously crafted, adding to the film’s nostalgic allure. Hertzog's cinematography was a standout, seamlessly blending reality and fantasy to enhance the film's emotional impact.

    "Domino Springs" – A Thrilling Descent into Chaos

    "Domino Springs," awarded Best Editing, showcases Hertzog's versatility as a filmmaker. This gripping thriller follows Erich Murphy and his best friend Bryan Spencer as they navigate a nightmarish journey across the Mojave Desert to dispose of a body. The film's tightly woven plot and escalating tension keep viewers on the edge of their seats, while the unexpected twists in the town of Domino Springs add layers of complexity to the narrative.

    The judges praised the film for its compelling concept and strong structural foundation. The production value was highlighted as particularly impressive, reflecting Hertzog's expertise in both visual storytelling and meticulous attention to detail. The seamless editing played a crucial role in maintaining the film's brisk pace and heightening the suspense, earning it high marks from the committee.

    Dan Hertzog: A Master of Visual Storytelling

    Dan Hertzog's illustrious career is marked by a deep passion for narrative filmmaking. From his early days at Ogilvy & Mather to his acclaimed work on projects like "The Passage of Mrs. Calabash" and "Earthbound," Hertzog has consistently demonstrated his ability to craft compelling stories with visual flair. His recent successes with "Dating Audrey" and "Domino Springs" further cement his reputation as a filmmaker to watch.

    Hertzog's background in cinematography and his experience in the commercial industry have equipped him with a unique skill set that he brings to his narrative work. His ability to balance natural dialogue with subtle humor, as seen in "Dating Audrey," and his knack for creating high-stakes tension, as demonstrated in "Domino Springs," highlight his versatility and talent.

    As Hertzog continues to push the boundaries of visual storytelling, audiences can look forward to his upcoming projects, including the epic historical drama "The Fries Rebellion" and the coming-of-age thriller "Au Pair Girl." With each new venture, Hertzog reaffirms his commitment to delivering thought-provoking and visually stunning films that resonate with viewers.

    Dan Hertzog’s dual triumph with "Dating Audrey" and "Domino Springs" is a celebration of his exceptional talent and unwavering dedication to the art of filmmaking. These films not only showcase his mastery of cinematography and editing but also his ability to craft engaging, emotionally rich narratives. Hertzog’s work continues to inspire and entertain, promising a bright future for this remarkable filmmaker.

    Filmmakers on the red carpet at PAIFF
    Filmmakers on the red carpet at PAIFF
    Dating Audrey movie poster



    Domino Springs movie poster
    Dan Hertzog


    Jeff Valdez movie poster

    "A Latino Hollywood Nightmare" by Jeff Valdez: Breaking Stereotypes with Humor and Heart at PAIFF

    Jeff Valdez’s short film, "A Latino Hollywood Nightmare," has earned the Special Jury Prize for Best Innovative Cultural Storytelling, and it’s clear why. The film offers a sharp, humorous critique of Hollywood’s stereotypical portrayal of Latino characters, wrapped in an entertaining and enlightening narrative.

    The film follows George Garcia, an aspiring actor who is offered a role in a stereotypical Latino show. Through a surreal dream, George confronts Hollywood’s biases, blending comedy with poignant cultural commentary.

    Jeff Valdez, with over 25 years in producing, writing, and directing for major networks like Nickelodeon, Disney, Showtime, NBC, and HBO Max, has been a pioneer in creating content for the English Language Latino Market. His creation of Si TV, the first English-language Latino TV channel in America (now Fuse), highlights his dedication to authentic, diverse narratives.

    Praised for its "fun message, sitcom humor, but as pro (and local) as it gets," the film excels in entertaining while delivering a powerful critique on Latino representation. The sitcom-style humor and surreal dream sequence effectively convey its message in an accessible manner.

    Valdez’s work on "A Latino Hollywood Nightmare" underscores his expertise in addressing cultural representation. Named “One of the Top 50 People Who Matter” by CNN and one of the “Top 50 Marketers in America” by Ad Age, Valdez continues to reshape narratives around Latino characters in media.

    In conclusion, "A Latino Hollywood Nightmare" is a brilliant blend of humor and critical perspective, showcasing Jeff Valdez’s commitment to innovative cultural storytelling. It’s a must-watch for those interested in the future of diverse and authentic narratives in film.

    Celebrating Excellence in Short Films Top PAIFF Awards: "Between the Words" and "Death Anniversary"

    Two exceptional short films, "Between the Words" and "Death Anniversary," have recently garnered top prizes, showcasing the talents of directors Farid Ismail and Armin Keshvari.

    "Between the Words" – A Heartfelt Triumph

    Directed by Farid Ismail, "Between the Words" won Best Short Film. It tells the story of Frédéric, a young law student struggling with a stutter, who must pass an oral exam. Ismail, who shares this condition, brings a deeply personal touch to the film, making it a tribute to those who struggle with stuttering. The committee praised its clear and heartfelt storytelling, which seamlessly weaves between Frédéric's past and present, evoking strong emotional responses.

    "Death Anniversary" – A Visionary Masterpiece

    Armin Keshvari's "Death Anniversary" earned the Best Director - Short Film and Best Visionary Cinematography awards. This film explores the relativity of time and its impact on life, presented through a seamless one-shot technique. The committee was impressed by the film's execution and innovative approach, with Milad Hosseini's cinematography adding a visionary quality that enhances its artistic impact.

    Both "Between the Words" and "Death Anniversary" exemplify the power of short films to convey profound messages and evoke strong emotions. Farid Ismail and Armin Keshvari have created works that resonate deeply while pushing the boundaries of cinematic technique, showcasing the enduring power of the short film format.

    Between The Words movie poster
    Death Anniversary movie poster
    Filmmakers on the red carpet at PAIFF awards ceremony
    Sitting In the Fire movie poster
    From Zero To A Hundred movie poster
    Bicycle Hero movie poster
    Vortex movie poster

    Honorable Mentions in Documentary Film Nominees at PAIFF

    At PAIFF, we celebrate the power of documentary filmmaking to enlighten, inspire, and transform. This year, four nominated standout documentaries earned honorable mentions, each telling compelling stories of resilience, adventure, and the human spirit.

    "Sitting in the Fire"

    "Sitting in the Fire" examines the transformative impact of rehabilitation programs in prisons on gun violence prevention in communities. Directed by Alec Goldberg and Boson Wang, the documentary follows Vaughn Miles, who, after serving 24 years in San Quentin State Prison, returns to Richmond, CA, to work as an Agent of Change. The film beautifully captures Vaughn's journey from a life marred by violence to one dedicated to healing and community service. The committee praised the documentary for its seamless storytelling and its powerful message of redemption and transformation. This compelling narrative underscores the ripple effects of prison rehabilitation programs, showing how they can foster positive change in society.

    "From Zero to a Hundred"

    "From Zero to a Hundred" is an inspirational documentary that chronicles the life-changing journey of high school students involved in the Winners Circle Project. Over the course of a year, these students build a race car from scratch, demonstrating resilience and teamwork amidst the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. The film celebrates their personal growth and the transformative power of education and opportunity. The committee appreciated the film's heartfelt intention and the powerful feel-good story it presents, highlighting the students' unwavering spirit and dedication.

    "Bicycle Hero"

    Directed by Gopal Shivakoti, "Bicycle Hero" tells the incredible story of Pushkar Shah, who embarked on a world bicycle tour to spread a message of peace. Over 11 years, Pushkar cycled through 150 countries, faced numerous challenges, and eventually summited Mt. Everest with a collection of flags from around the world. The committee found Pushkar's journey both inspiring and charismatic, praising the documentary for its portrayal of an adventurous spirit committed to peace and motivation. Shivakoti's film captures the essence of perseverance and the transformative power of a single individual's quest for global unity.


    "Vortex," directed by Chris Tangey, showcases the relentless and mesmerizing power of desert tornadoes. With stunning cinematography, the film captures the awe-inspiring force of nature as dirt, sand, ash, and fire are hurled into the sky. Tangey, an acclaimed cinematographer with credits in major productions, brings an unparalleled visual experience to the screen. The committee lauded the documentary for its amazing footage and the breathtaking portrayal of these natural phenomena. Tangey's expertise in capturing the raw beauty and danger of the desert tornadoes makes "Vortex" a visual feast and a testament to the power of nature.

    These four documentaries, "Sitting in the Fire," "From Zero to a Hundred," "Bicycle Hero," and "Vortex," each bring unique and powerful stories to the screen. From personal transformation and community impact to global adventures and natural wonders, these films showcase the diverse and profound capabilities of documentary filmmaking. We honor the directors and their teams for their exceptional contributions to the genre and look forward to their future endeavors in storytelling.

    Filmmakers on the red carpet at PAIFF awards ceremony

    PAIFF Awards: Celebrating the Winners!

    The PAIFF Awards honor the finest in filmmaking, and this year's winners reflect a diverse range of talent and storytelling prowess. Here’s a roundup of the exceptional projects and individuals that stood out in their respective categories.

    Best Visionary Director - Short Film: "Expenses"

    Gary Fieldman, USA

    Gary Fieldman’s "Expenses" takes home the Best Visionary Director award for its innovative approach and captivating storytelling. Fieldman’s direction showcases a keen eye for detail and a creative vision that pushes the boundaries of conventional short filmmaking.

    Best Actress - Short: Dostana Nikolić as “Saska” in "5/3/0"

    Directed by Danilo Stanimirović, Serbia

    Dostana Nikolić delivers a powerful performance as Saska in "5/3/0," earning her the Best Actress award. Her portrayal is nuanced and deeply moving, capturing the complexities of her character with impressive authenticity.

    Best Screenplay: "The Architect of the Future"

    Written by Michael D. Eerdmans, USA

    Michael D. Eerdmans wins Best Screenplay for "The Architect of the Future." His script is a masterful blend of imagination and narrative craft, exploring biographical themes with depth and originality.

    Best Experimental Feature Film: "Gulag Eros of the Russian Mind: Sex in the Soviet Union"

    Directed by Chad Gracia, Ukraine

    Chad Gracia’s "Gulag Eros of the Russian Mind: Sex in the Soviet Union" takes the award for Best Experimental Feature Film. This bold and thought-provoking documentary delves into the complexities of sexual politics in the Soviet Union, offering a unique and daring perspective.

    Best Experimental Short Film: "52 Thursdays"

    Directed by R.D. Cane, Canada

    R.D. Cane’s "52 Thursdays" wins Best Experimental Short Film for its inventive approach and compelling execution. The film’s creative narrative structure and artistic vision set it apart as a standout experimental piece.

    Best First Short Film: "Cash on Delivery"

    Directed by Udara Buddika Wijesinghe, Sri Lanka

    Udara Buddika Wijesinghe’s "Cash on Delivery" earns the Best First Short Film award. This debut showcases Wijesinghe’s talent for storytelling and direction, marking him as a promising new voice in the film industry.

    Best First Student Film: "Berlin"

    Directed by Ashley Bogley, USA

    Ashley Bogley’s "Berlin" is awarded Best First Student Film, highlighting her impressive skill and creativity as a budding filmmaker. Her work demonstrates a strong grasp of cinematic techniques and storytelling, making her a talent to watch in the future.

    The PAIFF Awards celebrate the diverse and exceptional talents in the film industry. From groundbreaking experimental films to compelling performances and visionary direction, this year’s nominees and winners have set a high standard for cinematic excellence. Congratulations to all the winners for their outstanding contributions to the world of film.

    530 movie poster
    Expenses movie poster
    R.d Cane
    Gulag of the Russian Eros
    Car Colors Old Death
    Filmmakers on the red carpet at PAIFF awards ceremony
    Studio Debs
    Sin Regresso poster
    The Essence of the Guaguanco

    Celebrating the Musical Masterpieces of PAIFF: A Journey Through Award-Winning Music Videos and Sound Design

    The 2024 PAIFF (Puerto Aventuras International Film Festival) showcased an impressive array of talent in the realm of music videos and sound design, celebrating artists who have pushed the boundaries of creativity and innovation. From striking visuals to captivating scores, this year's winners have left an indelible mark on the world of music and film. Let's dive into the remarkable projects that garnered top honors at PAIFF.


    Directed by Kyle Garrett, USA

    Kyle Garrett's "Car Colors - Old Death" was a standout at this year's festival, sweeping multiple categories. Winning Best Music Video, Best Director, and Best Editing, this work of art showcases Garrett's exceptional talent and vision. The video captivates with its evocative narrative and masterful editing, creating an immersive experience that resonates deeply with viewers. Garrett's direction ensures that every frame serves the story, blending seamlessly with the haunting yet beautiful musical backdrop.


    Directed by Miguel Octave, France

    "Debs Studio," directed by Miguel Octave, earned accolades as the Best Music Documentary, also taking home the award for Best Sound Design in a documentary. Octave's exploration of the storied Debs Studio captures the essence of a place where musical history comes alive. The documentary's sound design is nothing short of spectacular, enveloping the audience in the studio's rich acoustic tapestry and allowing viewers to feel the creative magic that happens within its walls.


    Directed by Brent Heise, USA

    Brent Heise's "The Girl Who Faded Away" received the Best Visionary Director award for its innovative approach to storytelling through music video. Heise's direction presents a poignant narrative with a surreal twist, blending reality and fantasy in a way that leaves a lasting impression. His visionary techniques push the boundaries of the genre, making this music video a true piece of art.


    Directed by Jake Sauve, Canada

    Jake Sauve's work on "Unwind" by James Downham won Best Cinematography for its stunning visual execution. Sauve's keen eye for detail and his ability to capture the natural beauty of the Canadian landscape elevate the music video to new heights. The cinematography complements Downham's soulful music, creating a harmonious visual and auditory experience that is both relaxing and exhilarating.


    Troy Van Leeuwen - ROSWELL DELIRIUM
    Directed by Richard Bakewell, USA

    Troy Van Leeuwen's score for "Roswell Delirium" won the Best Original Score for a feature film, and it's easy to see why. Van Leeuwen's composition perfectly encapsulates the eerie and otherworldly atmosphere of the film, enhancing its narrative and drawing the audience deeper into its mysterious world. His music adds a layer of depth that enriches the overall cinematic experience.


    Directed by Joachim Peter, Germany

    The documentary "Mentawai," directed by Joachim Peter, features a mesmerizing score that won Best Original Score for a documentary. The music captures the spirit and culture of the Mentawai people, providing a profound and emotional backdrop to the documentary's visuals. It is a testament to the power of music in storytelling, enriching the viewer's understanding and connection to the subject matter.



    The music video "Shot!" by Krossover, from Mexico, took home the award for Best Original Score in a music video. The score's dynamic and energetic composition perfectly matches the video's intensity and visual flair, making it an unforgettable auditory experience.


    Directed by Jeffery Lando, USA

    Jeffery Lando's "Lissa's Trip" won Best Sound Design for a feature film, recognized for its innovative and immersive soundscapes. The sound design plays a crucial role in the film, enhancing its psychedelic narrative and providing an otherworldly experience for the audience.


    Directed by Constanza E. Godoy and Brett W. Vance, USA

    "What’s The Deal," directed by Constanza E. Godoy and Brett W. Vance, won Best Sound Design for a music video. The meticulous attention to audio detail in this video creates an engaging and dynamic auditory environment that elevates the overall impact of the music and visuals.


    4 Of You - LOAD
    Directed by Cam Bennett, Dave Zellis, & Carrie Forsythe, Canada

    "4 Of You" by LOAD, directed by Cam Bennett, Dave Zellis, and Carrie Forsythe, was honored as the Best Visionary Music Video. This collaborative effort is a testament to creative synergy, blending innovative visual techniques with a compelling narrative to produce a truly groundbreaking music video.


    Directed by Jairo Valeria Mosqueira, Belgium

    "The Essence of the Guaguanco," directed by Jairo Valeria Mosqueira, celebrates Cuban culture and music, winning Best Cultural Music Video. This vibrant and colorful video captures the heart and soul of Guaguanco music, bringing its rhythms and spirit to life in a way that honors its cultural roots.

    The winners at this year's PAIFF have demonstrated remarkable creativity and technical prowess, pushing the boundaries of what music videos and sound design can achieve. Each project is a testament to the power of music and film to move and inspire audiences worldwide. Congratulations to all the winners for their outstanding contributions to the arts!

    Exceptional Nominees Top Official Selections screened at PAIFF

    Among the standout nominees were a variety of short films that captivated audiences with their unique storytelling, thought-provoking themes, and exceptional direction. Here, we highlight some of the most notable films that graced the festival, showcasing the talent and creativity of filmmakers from different corners of the world.

    One of the festival's comedic highlights was "Fred The Super Computer," directed by Sam Kimbrell, USA. This short film hilariously explores the relationship between a man and his super-intelligent computer, Fred, who aims to take over his entire life. Through witty dialogue and clever scenarios, the film delves into existential questions about technology's role in our lives and what it truly means to be human.

    Kimbrell also brought "Vance and the Afterlife" to the festival, a thought-provoking short film that follows Vance, a corporate stiff who finds himself navigating the afterlife. Guided by Sarah, an afterlife mentor, Vance embarks on a journey of self-discovery, moving away from superficial career goals towards a life of creativity and appreciation. Both films showcased Kimbrell’s versatility and knack for blending humor with deeper philosophical questions.

    "Spooky Crew," directed by American filmmakerErin Broussard, is a thrilling exploration of urban legends, blending humor and suspense as the team investigates the eerie tale of Mary Jane. This suspenseful and fun engaging short film kept viewers on the edge of their seats, questioning the line between myth and reality.

    From Iran, Maryam Rahimi's "Soraya" provided a gripping narrative about a woman determined to escape familial prejudices by immigrating illegally with smugglers. The film's intense storyline and Rahimi’s poignant direction captured the audience's hearts, offering a raw look at the lengths one might go to seek personal rights.

    Abey Lin Hugh’s "Insight" was another standout, exploring the internal struggles of a young man battling anxiety and writer’s block. The film takes a mysterious turn with a late-night call from his long-distance girlfriend, unraveling layers of emotion and creativity. Hugh's sensitive portrayal of personal turmoil and artistic expression resonated deeply with viewers and delivers an end with a twist.

    "Planet of Rust," directed by George Merabishvili from Cyprus, took audiences on a thrilling sci-fi journey. The film follows cosmic courier Pon, who faces unexpected peril when his spaceship malfunctions on a routine mission. The film’s innovative plot and striking visuals left a lasting impression.

    Salaheeddin Noori’s "You Think Although You Are Not" blended romance and science fiction, telling the story of Navid and Forough, a couple who find a unique way to stay together despite being separated by circumstances. Adapted from an Iranian short story, the film's emotional depth and inventive storyline captivated festival-goers.

    In "Faith The Conqueror," directed by Onur Yagiz, the cultural clash and personal aspirations of a young Turkish man are poignantly depicted. Set against the backdrop of a wedding, the film’s nuanced exploration of identity and desire made it a notable entry.

    Guillaume Arnoulet’s "Under Cover" from New Zealand offered a dark comedy thriller that kept audiences on the edge of their seats. The story of two women unraveling the mystery behind their friend's shady boyfriend was filled with unexpected twists and dark humor.

    "The Transience," co-directed by Ipek Shahbazi and Ario Motevaghe, presented a mystical narrative where a young couple encounters a sorceress in an unknown village. Their attempt to save a lactating dog from being sacrificed unveils deeper themes of sacrifice and redemption.

    Feature-length comedy "Hercules 2.0 Recycled," a collaborative effort by Don Moriarty and Greg Alt, was a festival favorite. This film humorously combines elements from various "Sword and Sandal" movies into an absurd and entertaining adventure, complete with CGI effects, geeky teenagers, and a multi-eyed monster. Its playful, chaotic energy and creative storytelling made it a standout.

    Swiss filmmaker Danielle Jaegg's "The Volcano and the Baby" offered a surreal exploration of a woman's obsession with her inability to have a child. Through fantastical elements and historical reflections, the film provides a profound insight into personal and collective torments.

    Finally, "Ancient Lore," an experimental short from German director Patrick Müller, took viewers into the depths of Lovecraftian horror. The film’s eerie depiction of accursed thaumaturges and ancient lore hidden beneath troubled waters created a haunting and mesmerizing experience.

    These exceptional films not only showcased the diversity of storytelling at PAIFF but also highlighted the incredible talent and creativity of filmmakers worldwide. Each film brought something unique to the festival, making PAIFF 2024 a memorable celebration of cinematic artistry.

    nauti burro film festival screening
    nauti burro film festival screening
    munchies paiff screening
    munchies paiff screening


    ROSWELL DELIRIUM - Directed by Richard Bakewell, USA


    DAUGHTERS OF MAGUEY - Directed by Francisca Siza


    LISSA'S TRIP - Directed by Jeffery Lando, USA


    THE ANNOYED - Directed by Mehdi Fard Ghaderi, IRAN


    TAKE YOUR SPACE - Directed by Karolína Alvarez


    LISSA'S TRIP - Directed by Jeffery Lando, USA


    THE TRAIN & THE PENINSULA - Directed by Sky Richards, Andreas Kruger Foncerrada, MEXICO


    Carter Ross - ROSWELL DELIRIUM - Directed by Richard Bakewell, USA


    MENTAWAI - Directed by Joachim Peter, Germany


    THE POWER OF ONE - Directed by Alex Valdez, USA

    SAVING WALDEN'S WORLD - Directed by Jim Merkel, USA





    BETWEEN THE WORDS - Directed by Farid Ismail, Luxembourg


    MONEY MAKER - Johannes Thuermer, Martina Schuster, Germany


    DEATH ANNIVERSARY - Directed by Armin Keshvari, IRAN


    EXPENSES - Directed by Gary Fieldman, USA


    MONEY MAKER - Directed by Johannes Thuermer and Martina Schuster, Germany


    Dan Hertzog - DOMINO SPRINGS - Directed by Dan Hertzog, USA


    Nèma van Raalte - ARMED WITH A BRUSH - Directed by Nèma van Raalte, Chile, Netherlands


    Dan Hertzog - DATING AUDREY - Directed by Dan Hertzog, USA


    Milad Hosseini - DEATH ANNIVERSARY - Directed by Armin Keshvari, Iran




    Farrokh Nematia as Sepanta Shaygan in THE ANNOYED, Directed by Mehdi Fard Ghaderi, IRAN


    Sofia Vassilieva as “Lissa” in LISSA'S TRIP, Directed by Jeffery Lando, USA


    Anthony Michael Hall as “Jerry” in ROSWELL DELIRIUM, Directed by Richard Bakewell, USA


    Dee Wallace as “Betty” in ROSWELL DELIRIUM, Directed by Richard Bakewell, USA


    Edmund C. Short as “Pete” in DATING AUDREY, Directed by Dan Hertzog, USA


    Dostana Nikolić as “Saska” in 5/3/0, Directed by Danilo Stanimirović, SERBIA




    CAR COLORS - OLD DEATH - Directed by Kyle Garrett, USA


    DEBS STUDIO -  Directed by Miguel Octave, FRANCE


    CAR COLORS - OLD DEATH - Directed by Kyle Garrett, USA


    THE GIRL WHO FADED AWAY - Directed by Brent Heise, USA


    CAR COLORS - OLD DEATH - Directed and Edited by Kyle Garrett, USA


    UNWIND - JAMES DOWNHAM - Directed by Jake Sauve, CANADA


    Troy Van Leeuwen - ROSWELL DELIRIUM - Directed by Richard Bakewell, USA


    MENTAWAI - Directed by Joachim Peter, Germany




    LISSA'S TRIP - Directed by Jeffery Lando, USA


    DEBS STUDIO -  Directed by Miguel Octave, FRANCE


    WHAT’S THE DEAL -Directed by Constanza E. Godoy, Brett W. Vance, USA


    4 Of You - LOAD -Directed by Cam Bennett, Dave Zellis, & Carrie Forsythe, CANADA


    THE ESCENCE OF THE GUAGUANCO, SKALA B, MUSIC FROM CUBA - directed by Jairo Valeria Mosqueira of Belgium




    THE ARCHITECT OF THE FUTURE - Written by Michael D. Eerdmans, USA


    THE POWER OF ONE - Directed by Alex Valdez, USA


    Gulag Eros of the Russian Mind: Sex in the Soviet Union, Directed by Chad Gracia, Ukraine


    “52 Thursdays” Directed by R.D. Cane, CANADA


    BUMPER - Directed by Selvakumar M, INDIA


    MENTAWAI - Directed by Joachim Peter, Germany


    ARMED WITH A BRUSH, directed by Nèma van Raalte, Netherlands


    LA PIPERA - Directed by Miguel Perez, Mexico


    CASH ON DELIVERY -directed by Udara Buddika Wijesinghe, Sri Lanka


    BERLIN - directed by Ashley Bogley, USA

    Award Winners - Season 1

    bottom of page