The Lebanese Burger Mafia | Photo by Amber Bracken

The Lebanese Burger Mafia Tops NorthwestFest Winners

Burger Baron doc named top audience favourite

2 mins read

Edmonton audiences took a liking to local beef at this year’s NorthwestFest International Documentary Festival. The Lebanese Burger Mafia, directed by Omar Mouallem, was named the overall favourite in NorthwestFest’s Audience Award rankings. The documentary tells the story of the eclectic burger dynasty of which Mouallem’s family is a part. It explores the greater history of Lebanese-Canadian families who pursued the Canadian dream by serving burgers drenched in the chain’s not-so-secret mushroom sauce. The Lebanese Burger Mafia also won the prize for Best Alberta Doc. The festival announced the winners today on social media.

Sean Patrick Shaul’s Cover Your Ears, meanwhile, was named Best Canadian Doc. The film explores the history of censorship in music. On the international front, Sharon “Rocky” Roggio’s 1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture topped the favourites at NorthwestFest’s parallel LGBTQ+ film festival Rainbow Visions. 1946 revisits the turning point in history in which a single word choice made homosexuality a sin in the church’s eyes. Imagining the Indian, meanwhile, won Best International Doc for its study of the movement to ban cultural appropriation among mascots. The film is directed by Aviva Kemper and Ben West. Danny Tedesco’s Immediate Family rounded out the feature winners with the prize for Best Music Doc. The film tells the story of musicians in the studio bands that backed some of the top musical acts of the 1960s and ’70s.


The full list of 2023 NorthwestFest winners is as follows:

Best Doc – Overall Audience Favorite: The Lebanese Burger Mafia – Omar Mouallem

Best Film, Rainbow Visions Film Festival: 1946: The Mistranslation that Shifted Culture – Sharon “Rocky” Roggio

Best Canadian Doc: Cover Your Ears – Sean Patrick Shaul

Best International Doc: Imagining the Indian – Aviva Kempner, Ben West

Best Alberta Doc: The Lebanese Burger Mafia – Omar Mouallem

Best Music Doc: Immediate Family – Denny Tedesco

Best Canadian Short: The Interceptors – Ben Cox

Best International Short: Holding Moses – Rivkah Beth Medow


Pat Mullen is the publisher of POV Magazine. He holds a Master’s in Film Studies from Carleton University where his research focused on adaptation and Canadian cinema. Pat has also contributed to outlets including The Canadian Encyclopedia, Paste, That Shelf, Sharp, Xtra, and Complex. He is the vice president of the Toronto Film Critics Association and an international voter for the Golden Globe Awards.

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