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DeSales Student Wins Top Prize at Inaugural Allentown Film Festival
Awards Presented in 28 Categories

ALLENTOWN, April 20, 2023 – DeSales University senior Casey Schaffer won the $1,000 Grand Prize in the Lehigh Valley Short Film Competition at the first-ever Allentown Film Festival for his 4-minute experimental short film LISTEN, which explores how technology has affected communication and caused polarization. Only by sitting in silence, and actively listening, the film argues, can we truly begin to hear.

“I am thrilled and honored to have won the Grand Prize at the first Allentown Film Festival,” says Schaffer. “There were 105 eligible films. That LISTEN won is truly humbling.”

The Festival has received positive reviews from many of the 84 filmmakers who attended screenings. Bradley Hawkins, a successful indie filmmaker whose films have been selected in approximately 40 film festivals, says: “the inaugural Allentown Film Festival already ranks among the very best I've been to,” describing the Civic Theatre as “one of the most beautiful theaters that I've ever had a film of mine screened at!”

Out and About writer/director Peter Callahan echoes Hawkins: “The folks who run this fest could not be sweeter, and their two main venues are terrific -- one intimate screening room with top notch sound and picture, and one absolutely gorgeous big old theatre. Very pleased with our experience there."

Festival organizers are already make plans for the second Allentown Film Festival, tentatively scheduled for April 11 - 15, 2024.

Below is a complete list of award recipients.

2023 Allentown Film Festival Award Winners

Best Music Video

Lost in Time

Lisa Thomas

Best Narrative Feature

Out and About

Peter Callahan

Best Narrative Short

Calf Rope

Bradley Hawkins

Best Documentary Feature

State of the Unity

Nathaniel Paul Hoff and Jillian Ann Speece

Best Documentary Short

Forged in Steel

Matthew Heffner

Best Comedy Short


Dawn Daignault and Carla Hadley

Best Art Film

Self-Portrait Artist

Curtis Whitear

Best Actor

It’s a Dog

David Rosenberg

Best Actress

Bitter Taste of Ginger

Sarah Cugini

Best Director:  Feature Film

Bitter Taste of Ginger

Brandon Lay

Best Director:  Short Film

A Rare Dinner

Josiah James

Best Director:  Art Film

I Am Danny Torres

Abigail Torres Melendez and Eric Melendez

2023 Lehigh Valley 1 to 5 Minute Short Film Competition

Best College Student Film and Grand Prize Winner of Short Film Competition


Casey Schaffer

Best K-12 Student Film

On Cloud Nine

Caleb Diaz

Best Lehigh Valley Filmmaker Film

Going Rogue

Kwesa the Artist

Best Horror Short

Beyond Your Nightmares

Evan Stitt

Best Nature Documentary

Get Bugged

Noah Schreiner

Best Editing

The Nerves Reminded Me

Frank Glass

Best Artistic Direction

Girls Smoking

John Peter Coronati

Best Dystopian Film

The Upgrade

Jake Dougherty

Best Sci-Fi Film

Project:  LEAF

Ethan Silver

Best Animated Film


John Terlesky

Best Surreal Film

The Interview

Carla Hadley

Best Inspirational Film

Keep Fighting

Michael Sean Brown

Best Autobiographical Documentary

Eye of the Storm

Matthew Donley

Best Poetic Documentary


Zachary Gutherman

Best Stop Motion Animated Film

Fish Delivery #95

Luke Wolsko

Best Animated Music Video

Still Dreaming

Kwesa the Artist

The Festival is a program of the nonprofit Allentown Film Festival. To date, 2023 Festival sponsors are: City Center, 88.1 WDIY, Adams Outdoor, WFMZ-TV, PBS39, 91.3 WLVR, and

Allentown Film Festival

The inaugural Allentown Film Festival received almost 600 film submissions from 50 countries by the entry deadline of March 15, 2023. Approximately 150 short and feature-length films were exhibited in 16 screening blocks. A third of the selected films were from filmmakers in the Lehigh Valley or nearby. Films were  screened in six Allentown venues:

April 1: Bradbury-Sullivan LGBT Community Center, 522 W. Maple St.

April 13: Downtown Allentown Market

April 14-16: Civic Theatre's 19th St. Theatre at 514 N. 19th St.

April 14-16: Civic Theatre's Theatre 514 at 514 N. 19th St.

April 15: Allentown Art Museum, 31 N. Fifth St.

April 16: Miller Symphony Hall, 23 N. Sixth St. @AllentownFilm

Facebook: Allentown Film Festival