Outfest unveils 2017 award winners

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Los Angeles-based nonprofit Outfest has announced the award winners of its 2017 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival, presented by HBO. 

The US grand jury prize was awarded to Jennifer Reeder for her Chicago-set mother-daughter drama Signature Move (pictured), and the US documentary grand jury prize went to Catherine Gund and Daresha Kyi’s Chavela profiling artist Chavela Vargas.

The 2017 Outfest Los Angeles LGBT Film Festival closed on July 16 with Trudie Styler’s comedic Freak Show, starring Bette Midler, Alex Lawther, and AnnaSophia Robb.


   SXSW 2017 Film Fest lineup announced!

   SXSW 2017 Film Fest lineup announced!

Signature move - world premiere

Director: Jennifer Reeder, Screenwriters: Fawzia Mirza, Lisa Donato

A secret new romance with Alma forces Zaynab to confront her complicated relationship with her recently widowed mother. In this coming-of-age Muslim melodrama, Zaynab copes by taking up Lucha-style wrestling.

Cast: Fawzia Mirza, Shabana Azmi, Sari Sanchez, Audrey Francis, Charin Alvarez, Mark Hood, Molly Brennan, Malic White, Jasmine McNealy, Molly Callinan


                  “Fire” star Shabana Azmi joins the cast of Fawzia Mirza’s “Signature Move”                Trish Bendix, www.afterellen.com

It’s been 20 years since Deepa Mehta's lesbian-themed film Fire was released, creating controversy for its portrayal of two Indian women in love. Starring award-winning actresses Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das, the moving story has become a queer classic celebrated by cinephiles, despite the threats of censorship it faced when it debuted in India in 1996.

Out Pakistani actress and creator Fawzia Mirza was a fan of Fire, specifically Shabana Azmi as Radha and her real life role as a social activist, fighting injustices against women, people with HIV/AIDS and slum dwellers. Now shooting her feature Signature Move in Chicago, Fawzia was thrilled to cast Shabana as one of the leads in the film, which is the story of Zaynab, a Pakistani-American Muslim lesbian (Fawzia), who hides two things from her homebound, conservative mother (Shabana): her budding relationship with a Mexican-American woman (Sari Sanchez) and her growing fascination with Lucha Libre wrestling.

Signature Move started as a short film idea, but grew into a feature with the help of Executive Producers Brian Hieggelke of New City, Eugene Sun Park of FullScreen Pictures, Nabeela Rasheed (Beela Productions) and actor Michael Shannon.

What's most interesting to both women is the story being told honestly and without apology; to create something that has meaning and impact beyond the time spent watching it on the screen. 


Reviews for IN THE TIME OF THE BUTTERFLIES with Teatro Vista at Victory Gardens

                            "One of the most riveting soliloquies is delivered by the eldest sister, Patria (Sari Sanchez).                                  Sanchez's powerful delivery brings sudden stillness of a calm before the storm. Her ability to transcend a mother's lost and                                                                    dying marriage in one movement is impressive"                                                                                                                                           - Naima DawsonPerform Ink                                                                      

                  "Sanchez carries the audience up mountains of emotional highs and down valleys of parental devastation"                                                                                     - Sarah Bowden, Theater By Numbers

        "Sari Sanchez as the cautious Patria, whose revolutionary fervor intersects with her piety, is always compelling to watch"                                                                  - Kerstin Broockmann, Chicago Stage Standard 

      "Sari Sanchez and Ayesette Munoz use the jarring premise to their advantage, layering their performances with emotional                                                                              subtlety and evolving motivations"                                                                                                                                                   - Gwen Purdom, Time Out Chicago                                                                                                                                                                RECOMMENDED


Reviews for END DAYS at Windy City Playhouse

            "Sari Sanchez, a beautiful, wonderfully animated, mood-shifter of an actress who channels a bit of Tuesday Addams"                                                                              Hedy Weiss, Chicago Sun-Times                                                                                                                                                           HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

                                                            "Rachel deftly handled by the adorable Sari Sanchez"                                                                                                                               - Alan Bresloff, Around Town Chicago                                                                                                                                                               RECOMMENDED

                                             "Sari Sanchez looks and acts like a teenage girl, no small accomplishment"                                                                                                               - Dan Zeff, Chicagoland Theater Reviews                                                                                                                                                        RECOMMENDED                                          

                                                           "The talented ensemble hit their own lampoons hard"                                                                                                                                      - Katy Walsh, The Fourth Walsh                                                                                                                                                              HIGHLY RECOMMENDED


Reviews for TAMER OF HORSES with Teatro Vista at Victory Gardens

                                                               "...go-for-broke performances...it's thrilling"                                                                                                                                                   - Kerry Reid, Chicago Tribune                                                                                                                                                                     RECOMMENDED

                "The cast assembled for this Teatro Vista production delivers intense performances steeped in conviction"                                                                                    - Mary Shen Barnidge, Windy City Times                                                                                                                                                              RECOMMENDED

                                                          "Wife Georgiane was deftly handled by Sari Sanchez"                                                                                                                               - Alan Bresloff, Around Town Chicago                                                                                                                                                         HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

                  "Strong performance propel Tamer of Horses... Georgiane, played by the likable, adorable Sari Sanchez"                                                                                     - Peter Thomas Ricci, Chicago Theater Review                                                                                                                                                   RECOMMENDED