Big winners at 27th annual Sedona International Film Festival

Voodoo Macbeth, the story of the groundbreaking 1936 production of Shakespeare’s classic tale with an all-Black cast directed by then-untested 21-year-old director Orson Welles, was named Best of Fest at the 27th Annual Sedona International Film Festival.

Voodoo Macbeth takes place in a Harlem neighborhood battered by economic strife and hardship where director Rose McClendon convinces co-director John Houseman to help her bring Shakespeare’s Macbeth to the Harlem community at the Lafayette Theater using funding from FDR’s New Deal.

Two other Sedona International Film Festival entries, The Forgotten Place and On Our Own Island, earned multiple awards.  

The Forgotten Place won multiple awards

On Our Own Island, a feature documentary directed by mother-daughter journalists Ellie Dylan and Sky Dylan-Robbins, earned the Director’s Choice Best Indie Spirit (documentary) Award and Audience Choice Award for Best Documentary in a tie with In A Different Key.

In A Different Key, a narrative feature by journalists and authors John Donvan and Caren Zucker picks up where their book, In A Different Key: The Story of Autism, left off. The film captures the story of a mother who tracks down the first person ever diagnosed with autism, now an elderly man in rural Mississippi, to learn if his life story holds promise for her own autistic son.

The annual 10-day film festival was rescheduled from its usual end-of-February timeline because of the coronavirus pandemic, and this year featured more than 180 films.

The Children Will Lead the Way

The Children Will Lead the Way, a Parkland-shooting inspired documentary short produced by Peter Yarrow of Peter Paul & Mary and directed by Beth and George Gage, received the Marion Herrman Excellence in Filmmaking Award.

Also announced were the winners of the Festival’s first screenwriting competition.  Winners are Erin Brown Thomas for her short film The Body of Chris; Russel Knight for his feature film Horizon Calling and Addie Talbott for the TV pilot, Grace in the Clutch.

The Festival also presented Lifetime Achievement Awards to Oscar-winning costume designer Bob Mackie for his body of work; director and actor Luis Valdez; and iconic actor Tom Skerritt.  Chuck Marr, who served as chair of the Sedona International Film Festival board of directors, received the Heart of the Festival Award.

The complete list of winners includes:

Directors’ Choice Awards 2021

Best Feature Drama: Gun and a Hotel Bible

Best Feature Comedy: Granny Nanny

Best International Feature: Asia

Best Humanitarian Feature: The Cave

Best Family Film: Sisters: The Summer We Found Our Superpowers

Best Documentary: In Memoriam

Best International Documentary: Sakawa

Best Humanitarian Documentary: Medicine Man: The Stan Brock Story

Best Documentary Short: Unspoken

Best Short Drama: The Mirror

Best Short Comedy: Rock A Bye Baby

Best Short Dramedy: The Forgotten Place

Best Student Short: Etana

Best Humanitarian Short: Under the Lights

Best International Short: Samaritan

Best Animated Short: Beyond the Line

Most Innovative Short: Transfer

Indie Spirit (Short): Red Watch

Indie Spirit (Documentary): On Our Own Island

Indie Spirit (Narrative Feature): Voodoo Macbeth

Year of Covid Award: The Pee Pee Monster

Marion Herrman Excellence in Filmmaking Award: The Children Will Lead the Way

Most Impactful Film: One Moment

Special Awards

Lifetime Achievement: Bob Mackie

Lifetime Achievement: Tom Skerritt

Lifetime Achievement: Luis Valdez

Heart of the Festival: Chuck Marr


BEST OF FEST: Voodoo Macbeth

Best Feature Drama: The Subject

Best Feature Comedy: Queen Bees

Best International Film: So, What’s Freedom?

Best Documentary: TIE: In a Different Key and On Our Own Island

Best Short Documentary: TIE: The Roads Most Traveled: Photojournalist Don Bartletti 
and Death: Through a Nurse’s Eyes

Best Short Drama: The Forgotten Place

Best Short Comedy: Exit Package

Best Student Short: Thoughts and Prayers

Best Animated Short: Bench

Most Impactful Film (Narrative): They Who Surround Us

Most Impactful Film (Documentary): The Healthcare Cure


Short Film: “The Body of Chris” by Erin Brown Thomas

Feature Film: “Horizon Calling” by Russel Knight

TV Pilot: “Grace in the Clutch” by Addie Talbott

For more information about the Sedona International Film Festival, visit

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