LA Film Festival has just about wrapped up its 2013 edition with the festival closing screening of The Way, Way Back coming tonight. The awards were announced today and it was Janis Nords's Latvian drama Mother, I Love You that took home the festival's top narrative honor, winning the Jury Prize for Best Narrative Feature.
LA County ER doc Code Black, directed by Ryan McGarry took top jury prize in the documentary competition and the jury also gave a Best Performance in a Narrative Feature award to Geetanjali Thapa for her role in Kamar K.M's Mumbai-set drama I.D. You can see Alex Koehne's review of I.D. here.
The audience prizes were also awarded today with the Best Narrative Feature award going to consummate crowd pleaser Short Term 12 by Destin Daniel Cretton. Grace Lee's American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs won the audience award for Best Documentary and the Best International Feature audience award went to Haifaa Al Mansour's Wadjda, the first ever narrative feature shot completely in Saudi Arabia (and by a female director, no less).
The full press release follows including all the Shorts Prizes. We'll have more LA Film Fest coverage coming over the next few days as well as a comprehensive wrap-up midweek.
Janis Nords' Mother, I Love You and Ryan McGarry's Code Black Win Jury Awards
Destin Daniel Cretton's Short Term 12, Grace Lee's
American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs and
Haifaa Al Mansour's Wadjda Win Audience Awards
Best Performance, Short Film and Music Video Award Winners Also Revealed
Sloan Fast Track Grant and Millennium Entertainment Fellowship
Given out in Part of Film Independent's Fast Track Program
LOS ANGELES (June 23, 2013) - Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that produces the Los Angeles Film Festival and the Spirit Awards, announced the jury and audience award winners for the 2013 Festival at the Awards Brunch, hosted by CHAYA Downtown for the fourth year. Actor Mary Elizabeth Winstead was on hand to present the awards. The LA Film Fest, presented by Film Independent, in conjunction with Presenting Media Sponsor Los Angeles Times, Host Partner L.A. LIVE and Premier Sponsors DIRECTV and American Airlines, ran from Thursday, June 13 to Sunday, June 23 in downtown Los Angeles.
"Every single film in the Festival rocks and I love that an international film and a local film received kudos today. They represent the breadth of our programming and our commitment to supporting unique voices around the world," said Festival Director Stephanie Allain.
The two top juried awards of the Los Angeles Film Festival are the DIRECTV Narrative Award and DIRECTV Documentary Award, each carrying an unrestricted $10,000 cash prize, funded by DIRECTV, for the winning film's director. The awards were established by the Festival to encourage independent filmmakers to pursue their artistic ambitions.
"Our jurors had hard choices to make this year and their discussions were at an incredibly high level. I thank them for their thoughtful work and salute the winners. I think we had a banner crop of competition films at the festival. All our filmmakers are winners in my book," said Artistic Director David Ansen.
The DIRECTV Narrative Award recognizes the finest narrative film in competition at the Festival and went to Janis Nords for Mother, I Love You, which made its United States premiere at the Festival. The DIRECTV Documentary Award recognizes the finest documentary film in competition at the Festival and went to Ryan McGarry for Code Black, which made its world premiere at the Festival.
The award for Best Performance in the Narrative Competition went to Geetanjali Thapa for her performance in Kamal K.M's I.D., which made its North American premiere at the Festival. Given to an actor or actors from an official selection in the Narrative Competition, this is the tenth year the award has been given at the Festival.
The LA Film Fest also awarded an unrestricted $1,500 cash prize to each short film category. The recipient for the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Narrative Short Film went to Walker, directed by Tsai Ming-Liang. The recipient for the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Documentary Short Film went to Kevin Jerome Everson for Stone. Emma De Sweaf and Marc James Roels' Oh Willy...won the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Animated or Experimental Short Film.
The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to Short Term 12 directed by Destin Daniel Cretton and the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, directed by Grace Lee. Wadjda, a Sony Pictures Classics release directed by Haifaa Al Mansour won the Audience Award for Best International Feature.
The Audience Award for Best Short Film went to Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven, directed by Åsa Blanck and Johan Palmgren. Katachi, directed by Kijek/Adamski with music by Shugo Tokumaru won the Audience Award for Best Music Video.
The DIRECTV Narrative Feature Competition jury was comprised of Film Independent Spirit Award-winning producer Gina Kwon (Me and You and Everyone We Know, Chuck & Buck), Spirit Award-nominated director Sean Baker (Starlet, Take Out, Prince of Broadway) and actor-producer Harry Lennix (Man of Steel, Titus, the upcoming NBC series The Blacklist). The DIRECTV Documentary Feature Competition jury was comprised of the 2010 LA Film Fest Grand Jury award-winning director Clay Tweel (Make Believe), award-winning producer Lesley Chilcott (Waiting For Superman, An Inconvenient Truth), and New York Times contributing culture writer and former film and television critic Carina Chocano. The Honolulu Film Office Award Shorts Competition Jury was comprised of Los Angeles Film Critics Association Vice President Tim Grierson, author Sandi Tan (The Black Isle) and Film Independent Spirit Award-nominated writer and director David Fenster (Trona, Pincus).
Also announced at the festival were the Fast Track grants winners which Film Independent selects and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Millennium Entertainment sponsor. The Fast Track program is an intensive, three-day film-financing market that connects participants with established financiers, production companies, agents, managers and other film industry professionals who can move their current projects forward. Writer/director/producer Christopher Munch's film Frank's World: And Tales of the Fearless Brothers O won the Sloan Fast Track Grant, a $15,000 production grant. The $10,000 Millennium Entertainment Fellowship grant was awarded to Vincent Harris and Amy Hobby for their film Third Girl from the Left.
Now in its nineteenth year, the Los Angeles Film Festival, supported by L.A. LIVE and the Los Angeles Times, showcases the best in new American and international cinema and provides the movie-loving public with access to some of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world. The 2013 Festival screened nearly 200 feature films, shorts and music videos, representing more than 30 countries.
The LA Film Fest kicked off on Thursday, June 13 with the North American premiere of Pedro Almodovar's I'm So Excited, sponsored by American Airlines, and will close tonight with the world premiere of Oscar® winners Nat Faxon and Jim Faxon's The Way, Way Back, sponsored by DIRECTV. Gala Screenings included the world premiere of Doug Pray's Levitated Mass: The Story of Michael Heizer's Monolithic Sculpture, the North American premiere of Nicolas Winding Refn's Only God Forgives and the Los Angeles premiere of Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station. 2013 Guest Director and recipient of this year's Spirit of Independence Award was David O. Russell and Artists in Residences were actress Maya Rudolph and composer Gustavo Santaolalla.
DIRECTV is proud to be a first-year partner with the LA Film Festival as sponsor of the Festival's Closing Night, Narrative and Documentary Competitions and Jury Prizes, reflecting its commitment to supporting established and emerging filmmakers. DIRECTV Cinema's premium pay-per-view movie service for DIRECTV customers offers access to exclusive new releases before they premiere in theaters, a library with thousands of movies to watch instantly with DIRECTV On Demand, and the most movies available in 1080p HD. DIRECTV the world's leading providers of digital television entertainment services delivering an unparalleled video experience through state-of-the-art technology and unmatched programming to more than 35 million customers in the U.S. and Latin America.
Stunning locations, great crews and generous tax credits are why Honolulu and Oahu are known as 'Production Center of the Tropics.' Host to countless feature films, television series and new media projects including Jurassic Park, The Descendants, LOST and Hawaii Five-0, 2013 marks 100 years of film production in Hawaii. To celebrate, the Honolulu Film Office has enhanced their tax credits. (www.filmhonolulu.com)
CHAYA restaurants have remained one of the city's most beloved and iconic dining destinations for 30 years. Lead by Corporate Executive Chef Shigefumi Tachibe--the creator of the original tuna tartare, CHAYA restaurants are renowned for their modern Euro-Asian cuisine and influence on the Los Angeles dining scene. Chef Tachibe creates an inspired menu by infusing exotic ingredients and honored culinary traditions from his native Japanese roots. All CHAYA restaurants, including three locations in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco, highlight their menu with local and sustainable ingredients fresh from the farmers' market with seasonal menus." (www.thechaya.com)
Awards were given out in the following categories:
DIRECTV Narrative Award (for Best Narrative Feature)
Winner: Mother, I Love You directed by Janis Nords
Producer: Alise Gelze
Cast: Kristofers Konovalovs, Matiss Livcans, Vita Varpina, Indra Brike, Haralds Barzdins
Film Description: Like a lot of children, 12-year-old Raimonds has his quiet side, his talented side (he plays saxophone at a music school), a mischievous streak and a resourcefulness born of desperation. Often on his own while his single mom works, and routinely at odds with her when they do spend time together, Raimonds finds thrilling companionship in Peteris, a boy who steals money from one of the apartments his mother cleans. Raimond's increasingly dangerous decisions will have thorny repercussions for him and those close to him. Latvia
The Narrative Award carries an unrestricted cash prize of $10,000 funded by DIRECTV, offering the financial means to help filmmakers transfer their vision to the screen. The award recognizes the finest narrative film in competition and is given to the director. A special jury selects the winner, and all narrative feature-length films screening in the Narrative Competition section were eligible.
In bestowing Janis Nords with the DIRECTV Narrative Award, the Jury stated:
"As filmmakers ourselves we are finely attuned to the processes of making a film and sometimes find it difficult not to analyze a film on a purely technical or esoteric level. In the case of our selected film, we found ourselves absorbed so completely in its world that we removed our critical eye. Its story is simple, deftly executed, and features a prodigious central performance. The careful escalation of dramatic tension, the truthful portrayal of a strained mother-son relationship, the stunning night time photography of an urban landscape and the confidant direction - never sacrificing substance for style - thoroughly won us over. It is with a deep appreciation for its delicacy, emotional resonance and assured control of craft that we award the Grand Prize toMother, I Love You."
DIRECTV Documentary Award (for Best Documentary Feature)
Winner: Code Black directed by Ryan McGarry
Producer: Linda Goldstein Knowlton
Film Description: Continually understaffed, under-budgeted and overrun with patients, public hospital ER waiting rooms are by definition seas of misery. The ER of the old L.A. County Hospital+USC Medical Center, which was the first academic Department of Emergency Medicine in the US was, by all accounts, a war zone.
Code Black follows a team of young, idealistic and energetic ER doctors during the transition from the old to the new L.A. County as they try to avoid burnout and improve patient care. Why do they persist, despite being under siege by rules, regulations and paperwork? As one doctor simply states, "More people have died on that square footage than any other location in the United States. On a brighter note, more people have been saved than in any other square footage in the United States."
The Documentary Award carries an unrestricted cash prize of $10,000 funded by DIRECTV, offering the financial means to help filmmakers transfer their vision to the screen. The award recognizes the finest documentary film in competition, and is given to the director. A special jury selects the winner, and all documentary feature-length films screening in the Documentary Competition section were eligible.
In bestowing Ryan McGarry with the DIRECTV Documentary Award, the Jury stated:
"It's unusual for a first-time filmmaker to integrate complex, multifaceted ideas so seamlessly into a visceral, action-packed and character-driven story that they end up creeping up on you, as if you'd thought of them all by yourself. With a strong point-of-view rooted in personal experience, and without judgment, this year's winning film deftly disarms a hot-button political issue by reframing it as a human issue and shows us, instead of telling us, why we should care. Instead of rehashing familiar arguments, it drills down to find the universal in the specific. It's heart warming, and also heart stopping. The winner of the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival Documentary Competition Grand Jury Prize is Code Black directed by Ryan McGarry."
Best Performance in the Narrative Competition
Winner: Geetanjali Thapa in Kamar K.M's I.D.
Film Description: The feature directorial debut from Indian filmmaker Kamal K.M. may be calledI.D., but this drama has less to do with individual identity than it does our shared personal connection. A carefree young woman living in Mumbai named Charu is visited by a painter who's been hired to do a touch-up to one of her apartment walls. But when the man falls unconscious, Charu discovers that she alone must attend to this stranger, first getting him to the hospital and then trying to discover who he is. India
In bestowing Geetanjali Thapa with the Best Performance Award, the Jury stated:
"The Narrative Competition Jury gives an award for Best Actor to the very talented Geetanjali Thapa for her portrayal of Chara in Kamal K.M.'s I.D. Thapa's performance is recognized in part for her ability to win over the audience's empathy for a character that initially lacks, indeed even resists, empathy. Rarely conversational, her ability to speak volumes with gesture and silence is a revelation to the audience. With an onscreen presence that commands attention, we see her rising star as something that excites us as filmmakers, and we are privileged to bear witness to the start of Thapa's very promising career."
Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
Winner: Short Term 12, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton
Producers: Maren Olson, Asher Goldstein, Joshua Astrachan, Ron Najor
Cast: Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Keith Stanfield, Rami Malek
Film Description: Working with at-risk youth in a foster care facility, Grace never knows when things might suddenly go sideways. Likewise, Destin Daniel Cretton's film keeps viewers off-balance starting with its brilliantly staged opening scene, rarely allowing a moment's peace before another crisis erupts. Having reached a critical juncture in her relationship with her boyfriend Grace is pushed to her breaking point by the arrival of Jayden, a girl whose troubled home life parallels the one she endured.
This award is given to the narrative feature audiences liked most as voted by a tabulated rating system. Select narrative feature-length films screening in the following sections were eligible for the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature: Narrative Competition, International Showcase, Summer Showcase, Community Screenings and The Beyond.
Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature
Winner: American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, directed by Grace Lee
Producers: Grace Lee, Caroline Libresco, Austin Wilkin
Featuring: Grace Lee Boggs
Film Description: Intimate and inspiring, Grace Lee Boggs' story is one of a lifelong work for social justice and equality. Born into a middle class Chinese immigrant family and educated at Barnard in the 1930s, the young Grace soon noticed the inequities in American society and spent the next eight decades working to change the status quo, becoming an icon of the African American movement. Using her advanced education and intelligence not to accrue vast wealth but to work towards the betterment of all people, Boggs became a true American hero.
At 97 she continues to work tirelessly to educate and activate Americans, young and old, to work for the changes in which they believe. Director Lee (no relation) gives us a writer, activist and philosopher as she works her way through decades of social and political upheaval, inspiring all the way.
This award is given to the documentary feature audiences liked most as voted by a tabulated rating system. Select documentary feature-length films screening in the following sections were eligible for the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature: Documentary Competition, International Showcase, Summer Showcase and Community Screenings.
Audience Award for Best International Feature
Winner: Wadjda, directed by Haifaa Al Mansour
Producers: Gerhard Meixner, Roman Paul
Featuring: Reem Abdullah, Waad Mohammed, Abdullrahman Al Gohani, Ahd, Sultan Al Assaf
Film Description: This rousing, pioneering gem-not only the first Saudi Arabian feature shot within the Kingdom, but the first ever directed by a woman-focuses on a remarkable 10-year-old girl named Wadjda, who sets her sights on buying a beautiful green bicycle so she can race her friend Abdullah through the suburban streets of Riyadh. But in this conservative society, virtuous girls don't ride bikes, and her mother forbids it. The rebellious Wadjda decides to raise the money herself - by entering a Koran recitation competition at her school. The troublemaker must pose as a pious, model student to achieve her goal. Germany/Saudi Arabia/United Arab Emirates
This award is given to the international feature audiences liked most as voted by a tabulated rating system. Select international feature-length films, both narrative and documentary, screening in the following sections were eligible for the Audience Award for Best International Feature: Narrative Competition, Documentary Competition, International Showcase, Summer Showcase and The Beyond.
HONOLULU FILM OFFICE AWARD for Best Narrative Short Film
Winner: Walker directed by Tsai Ming-Liang
Producer: Chen Kuan-Ying
Cast: Lee Kang-Sheng
Description: In this stunning meditative piece, the walking pace of a monk measures up against the bustling streets of Hong Kong. China
In bestowing Tsai Ming-Liang with the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Narrative Short Film Award, the Jury stated:
"Great storytelling comes in many different forms, and like an ancient koan, our winner is deceptively simple and surprisingly playful. It features the epic odyssey of one man, seemingly poised against the forces of modernity as he advances - silently, deliberately -from day to night, from tiny alleys to towering skyscraper avenues, across the frenetic city of Hong Kong. At journey's end, we, too, are transformed by the sweet moment when denial morphs into glee:Walker from Tsai Ming-Liang."
HONOLULU FILM OFFICE AWARD for Best Documentary Short Film
Winner: Stone directed by Kevin Jerome Everson
Producers: Madeleine Molyneaux, Kevin Jerome Everson
Description: A real-time documentary of a street hustler running a betting game of finding the ball under one of the three caps.
In bestowing Kevin Jerome Everson with the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Documentary Short Film Award, the Jury stated:
"Documentaries can expose us to the world's harsh realities, but they can also reveal the beauty and mystery of the everyday. The latter is very true in the case of our winner for Best Documentary Short, which is only seven minutes long but is filled with character detail and suspense. Consisting of only one shot, this short introduces us to an unnamed street hustler as he bets onlookers that they can't find the ball hidden underneath one of three caps, our winner is filmmaker Kevin Jerome Everson's Stone."
HONOLULU FILM OFFICE AWARD for Best Animated/Experimental Short Film
Winner: Oh Willy... directed by Emma De Sweaf, Marc James Roels
Producers: Ben Tesseur, Nidia Santiago
Description: Fleeing a nudist colony where he witnessed his mother's passing, Willy has an unexpected encounter. Belgium/The Netherlands/ France
In bestowing Emma De Sweaf and Marc James Roels with the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Animated or Experimental Short Film Award, the Jury stated:
"Several of the animated shorts at this year's festival were inventive and startling, but our winner was a truly exceptional piece of work. This humorous, moving and ultimately sublime short tells a story of life, death and rebirth with wobbly thighs, vomit, breastfeeding, space travel and bunny rabbits - all against the backdrop of a nudist colony. The winner of Best Animated or Experimental Short is Oh Willy..."
Audience Award for Best Short Film
Winner: Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven directed by Åsa Blanck and Johan Palmgren
Producers: Åsa Blanck
Description: An unsentimental young boy goes on a final excursion with his grandfather to collect chanterelle mushrooms. Sweden
Awarded to the short film audiences liked most as voted on by a tabulated rating system. Short films screening in the Shorts Programs or before Narrative Competition, Documentary Competition, or International Showcase feature-length screenings were eligible for the Audience Award for Best Short Film.
Audience Award for Best Music Video
Winner: Katachi directed by Kijek/Adamski
Music: Shugo Tokumaru
This award is given to the music video audiences liked most as voted on by a tabulated rating system.