Backstage at the 2024 Utah Arts Festival: Awards announced for Fear No Film, Artist Marketplace, Wasatch IronPen, Poetry Slam Invitational, Mayor’s Artist Awards

Awards in visual arts, film and literary programs have been announced for the 48th Utah Arts Festival


Twelve awards were announced today in the 21st annual Fear No Film portion of the Utah Arts Festival, including a Grand Jury Prize, Fearless Filmmaker Award, three honorable mentions and seven audience awards.

This year’s Grand Jury Prize: Best of Show was given to The Masterpiece, which won this year’s Sundance Film Festival’s grand jury prize for best short film, is a master class in impactful narrative structure and epiphany compacted in a 20-minute timeframe. Directed by Àlex Lora, who has won more than 100 award at international festivals, along with seven Emmys and two Gaudí Awards, the film is less about the painting that becomes the key element of dramatic tension than it is about systemic racism, economic privilege and the problems of reductive binary thinking. The film opens when a well-do-to do couple drop off a broken television screen at a recycling station. They decide to take up the offer of a father and son, who are scrap and salvage dealers, to come to their home and see if they would like to pick up other discarded objects. At first, the husband worries that allowing these scrap dealers into their home might not have been such a good idea but the dynamics are transformed when the father and son realize that one of the objects set aside for scrap is actually a painting of great value.

The Masterpiece, directed by Àlex Lora.

Taking the Grand Jury Fearless Filmmaker Award is Recall, about an unsuccessful actor who needs money and is accepted as a surrogate mother in a lucrative beta program where she will foster the care of a seven-year-old replicant girl. The compact narrative is gripping and sharp. The film was directed by Jennifer Massaux, a Belgian national who now lives and works in Los Angeles. Massaux, who also directed two other award-winning short films Into You and Time Bomb, co-wrote Recall with Ryan Vallan.

Three short films also earned Grand Jury Honorable Mentions. For Best Storytelling: From Spy Hop’s nationally acclaimed PitchNic student film program in Salt Lake City, My Name is _____, directed and written by Aria Gunter with Riley Nickel as producer, is representative of the smart student films that consistently come from the programs. The film’s acting and screenwriting reflect sensitively on the experiences of a trans teen, her identity and the steps to be accepted and affirmed for who they are. “Creating this film was an extremely introspective process as a trans woman who transitioned throughout high school, Gunter explained in her director’s statement. “A lot of people don’t know what it’s like to be trans so I wanted to get an accurate representation of what a trans person can experience in their daily life. To provide representation that isn’t demonizing or harmful and dispel the hateful rhetoric surrounding trans issues.”

Recall, by Jennifer Massaux.

For Best Cinematography: John Barrett for Recall, directed by Jennifer Massaux. For Best Production Design: Chase Harward, production designer, for Whales of the High Desert, directed by Joseph Adam LeBaron. A finely contextualized documentary focusing on whether a Utah story is historically accurate or is merely an apocryphal legend, the film recounts the story of James Wickham, an Englishman who was reported to have brought whales to Great Salt Lake in the 1870s. But even it is deemed as folklore, the film brings to bear the stakes of contemporary threats to keeping and improving the viability of the Great Salt Lake. In his director’s statement, LeBaron explained, “I knew the story needed to pivot—and what once was a story only about Whales living in the high desert of Utah, turned into a story about Whales living in the high desert of Utah—and a call for conservation.” He added, “Using Wickham’s story as the backbone of our film we want people to remember the Lake for all that it once was and can be again. It doesn’t have to be a ‘threat’—it can be a destination—it can serve once again as something alive enough to inspire grand stories and legends out of time.”

Fear No Film, held in the City Library auditorium, is the festival’s fourth largest program. A festival jury of filmmaking and media industry peers along with audience members selected the festival winners.

“This year’s Fear No Film Festival was a huge success. We shifted our focus on emerging artists and these first time and student filmmakers’ work stood toe to toe with some of our program’s best. I want to thank all of the filmmakers that submitted their incredible films,” Derek Mellus, Fear No FIlm Festival’s artistic coordinator, said. “I’d like to also thank the Utah Arts Festival staff, its volunteers and Fear No Film’s incredible jurors and programming team- without their help, this film festival would not be possible.  And an extra special thank you to the cinema loving audiences that came out to enjoy another year of distinctive programming; your collective applause, laughter and your ‘oohs and ahhs’ were very much appreciated and make it all worthwhile.”

Audience awards were made in the following categories:

Narrative: The Masterpiece (Spain), directed by Àlex Lora

Documentary: Whales of the High Desert (U.S.), directed by Joseph Adam LeBaron

Animated: Ninety-Five Senses (U.S.), directed by Jerusha and Jared Hess

KIDS!:  Everywhere (Hong Kong), directed by Tommy Ng and Step C.

Midnight: Wander to Wonder (Belgium), Nina Gantz

Emerging Artists Narrative: Recall (U.S.), directed by Jennifer Massaux

Emerging Artists Documentary: Before Pandemic and War, There Were Bedbugs and Love (Lithuania), directed by Nuruzzaman Khan

Garrett Loveless.


The 48th Utah Arts Festival has announced nine awards for the Artist Marketplace. All of the visual artist award winners are eligible for invitation to the Utah Arts Festival in 2025. Best of Show and People’s Choice Award winners also will have their booth fees waived.


Artist Marketplace Jury: Sabrina Frey, Glass, Minden, Nevada

Board of Directors Jury: Garrett Loveless, Sculpture, Draper, Utah

Community and Inclusion Jury: Michael Rohner, Drawing and Pastel, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Friends of the Festival Jury: Uli Kirchler, Wood, Cornelius, Oregon

Uli Kirchler.


Artist Marketplace Jury: Elizabeth Walsh, 2-D Mixed Media, West Jordan, Utah

Board of Directors Jury: Kris Kratz, Wood, Hickman, Nebraska

Community and Inclusion Jury: Trevor Gough, 3-D Mixed Media, Draper, Utah

Friends of the Festival Jury: Allison Sweeney, Wearable Art, Bozeman, Montana

PEOPLE’S CHOICE:  Josh Cooper, 2-D Mixed Media, Syracuse, Utah

Sabrina Frey.

Wasatch IronPen/UltraPen Contest, The Salt Lake Community College’s Community Writing Center


Youth Winner: Kellen Hunnicut for “The Dragon’s Heart” 

Adult Winner: Trish Hopkinson for “Unlikely Companions” 

Adult Honorable Mention: Rachel White for “Forsaken Lake Haibun, 2024”

Creative Nonfiction: 

Winner: Justice Morath for “A Local Thought” 


Youth Winner: Cairo Evans for “Inheritance”

Adult Winner: Matt Bateman for “The Lake Road”

Honorable Mention: Brooks Briggs for “The Chair” 

Ultra Pen: 

Winner: Laura Summerfield for “Agua not Fresca,” “Weren’t We the Salt in the Lake?”, and “Island Living Room”

Honorable Mention: Grey Bateman for “This Is Home

Michael Rohner.


Youth Individual Poetry Slam

1st: Evan Van Leuven, Bountiful, Utah (three-time champion)

Adult Individual Poetry Slam

1st: Johnny Swoopz, Las Vegas, Nevada

Team Invitational Poetry Slam

1st: Ghost Phantom, Phoenix, Arizona (two-time champion)

2024 Mayor’s Artist Awards

Angela H. Brown has published SLUG (SaltLakeUnderGround) Magazine for 23 years, launching, a podcast, SLUG Soundwaves, and community events, reaching over 65,000 readers monthly. She received The Josephine Zimmerman Pioneer in Journalism Award from Utah’s professional journalists’ society. In 2009, Brown founded Craft Lake City, a nonprofit hosting Utah’s largest local-centric DIY festival, featuring over 300 artisans, STEM activities, and 50 performers, attracting over 20,000 attendees annually. A Distinguished Alum from Salt Lake Community College, she was named one of 30 “Women to Watch” by Utah Business Magazine, received the Community and Culture Sego Award, and Utah’s 40 over 40 award in 2023.

Ballet West, led by Artistic Director Adam Sklute, has become one of America’s leading ballet companies since its founding in 1963 by American dance pioneer Willam Christensen. With an eclectic repertoire, the company produces seven different programs per year and tours nationally and internationally. Based in Salt Lake City, it is home to America’s first and longest-running version of The Nutcracker and the Frederick Q. Lawson Ballet West Academy, with more than 1,000 students. Ballet West operates one of the largest Community Engagement programs in the country, reaching over 130,000 children and adults throughout Utah and the Intermountain Region annually.   

Day Christensen was born in 1950 and grew up in Walla Walla, Washington. His schooling and training were in Art and Design and Landscape Architecture. Since 1980, Christensen has lived in Utah and has focused his work primarily on site specific Public Art. These projects range from fabricated metal and cast bronze sculpture, formed glass, murals, paving designs, light sculpture, earthworks, to suspended sculptures. They are located at libraries, light rail stations, airports, state capitol buildings, recreation centers, medical facilities, and public parks in Utah and other western states.

Mis Raíces Foundation, founded by Allan Moreno from Chihuahua, Mexico, is a nonprofit dedicated to nurturing musical talents in children and young individuals facing financial or geographical barriers. Moreno, who studied at the Conservatory of Music in Chihuahua, discovered his passion at 15 and now serves as the Artistic Director of Mis Raíces de Allan Moreno Academy in Utah, teaching music to many Mexican heritage students. Since its inception two years ago, the academy has impacted around 200 students aged 12 and above. In 2022, Moreno launched the foundation to offer Mexican music and Mariachi classes to more children.

Yolanda Stange is a Chicago by way of LA transplant to Salt Lake City who started her acting career right here in Utah, co-starring in films like “High School Musical 3” and the upcoming indie “Tracing.” Her passion lies in stage acting; she recently completed a sold-out run of “Bitter Lemon” by Melissa Leilani Larson with Plan B Theatre and earned praise for her role in Adrienne Dawes’s “Hairy & Sherri” at Salt Lake Acting Company. Outside acting, she enjoys spending time with her husband Chris, a local real estate broker, her lazy pit bull Rocks, and her friends from the water aerobics class at the sports complex.

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