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 2012 Festival at the Awards Brunch, hosted by CHAYA Downtown for the third year. Actors Jon Heder and Ari Graynor were on hand to present the awards. The LA Film Fest, presented by Film Independent and Host Venue Regal Cinemas L.A. LIVE Stadium 14 and presenting media sponsor Los Angeles Times, ran from Thursday, June 14 to Sunday, June 24 in downtown Los Angeles.
“Every single filmmaker in this year’s Festival deserves kudos for their artistry and compelling stories. Our juries had such gems to choose from in each competition and the winners truly represent what we hold dear—diversity and uniqueness of vision,” said Festival Director Stephanie Allain.
The two top juried awards of the Los Angeles Film Festival are the Narrative Award and Documentary Award, each carrying an unrestricted $15,000 cash prize, funded by Film Independent, for the winning film’s director. The awards were established by the Festival to encourage independent filmmakers to pursue their artistic ambitions.
“In an extremely competitive year, our juries had hard choices to make. The winning films are wonderful examples of what the Festival celebrates: bold, fresh, personal visions that expand the horizons of independent cinema,” said Artistic Director David Ansen.
The Narrative Award recognizes the finest narrative film in competition at the Festival and went to Pocas Pascoal for the North American Premiere of All is Well, with an Honorable Mention going to Dominga Sotomayor’s Thursday Till Sunday. The Documentary Award recognizes the finest documentary film in competition at the Festival and went to Everardo Gonzalez for the US Premiere of Drought.
The award for Best Performance in the Narrative Competition went to Wendell Pierce, Emory Cohen, E.J. Bonilla and Aja Naomi King for their performances in the World Premiere of Joshua Sanchez’s Four. Given to an actor or actors from an official selection in the Narrative Competition, this is the ninth year the award has been given at the Festival.
The LA Film Fest also awarded an unrestricted $5,000 cash prize to each short film category. The award for Best Narrative Short Film went to The Chair, directed by Grainger David. The award for Best Documentary Short Film went to Josh Gibson for Kudzu Vine. Joseph Pierce’s The Pub won for Best Animated or Experimental Short Film.
The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by Benh Zeitlin and the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature went to Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives, directed by Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore. Searching for Sugar Man, directed by Malik Bendjelloul won the Audience Award for Best International Feature.
The Audience Award for Best Short Film went to Asad, directed by Bryan Buckley. Piranhas Club, directed by Lex Halaby won the Audience Award for Best Music Video.
The Narrative Feature Competition jury was comprised of actress Rachael Harris (Natural Selection, Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies), actor/writer/producer/director Robert Townsend (Hollywood Shuffle, The Five Heartbeats) and film critic Sheri Linden (LAFCA, The Hollywood Reporter, The Los Angeles Times). The Documentary Feature Competition jury was comprised of producer Heather Rae (Frozen River, The Dry Land), producer Karin Chien (Circumstance, The Exploding Girl) and director Mark Landsman (Thunder Soul). The Shorts Competition Jury was comprised of film critic and author Ernest Hardy (Blood Beats Vols. 1 and 2), cinematographer Nancy Schreiber (Your Friends and Neighbors, The Celluloid Closet) and writer/director/editor Javier Fuentes Leon (Contracorriente).
Now in its eighteenth year, the Los Angeles Film Festival is recognized as a world-class event, showcasing the best in new American and international cinema and providing the movie-loving public with access to critically acclaimed filmmakers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world. The 2012 Festival screened nearly 200 feature films, shorts and music videos, representing more than 30 countries.
The LA Film Fest kicked off on Thursday, June 14 with the North American Premiere of Woody Allen’s To Rome With Love, sponsored by Virgin America, and will close tonight with the World Premiere of Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike, sponsored by Volkswagen of America. Gala Screenings included the World Premieres of Alex Kurtzman’s People Like Us, Lorene Scafaria’s Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, LA premieres of Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild and Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere. The 2012 Guest Director was William Friedkin and Artists in Residence were composer Danny Elfman, sponsored by Regal Entertainment Group and IRIS from Cirque du Soleil®, musician Raphael Saadiq and chef Michael Voltaggio.
Located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, the newest CHAYA combines urban chic and European sensibility with Japanese hospitality. CHAYA Downtown features a lively bar, lounge and sushi bar that sit off the main dining room and look out into the large garden patio. CHAYA Downtown is proud to return as sponsor and host of the Los Angeles Film Festival Awards Brunch for a third year and offer its delectable cuisine to filmmakers and VIPs.
Awards were given out in the following categories:
Narrative Award (for Best Narrative Feature)
Winner: All is Well directed by Pocas Pascoal
Producer: Luis Correia
Cast: Ciomara Morais, Cheila Lima, William Brandao, Vera Cruz
Film Description: (Portugal) Strangers in a strange land, two beautiful Angolan sisters fleeing a civil war in their homeland struggle to survive in Lisbon. Pocas Pascoal’s deeply personal saga shows us the face of exile with quietly stunning power.
The Narrative Award carries an unrestricted cash prize of $15,000 funded by Film Independent, 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 Pocas Pascoal with the Narrative Award, the Jury stated:
“All is Well, a Lisbon-set exploration of the immigrant experience and, especially, of the bond between siblings, is a work of striking visual eloquence and emotional honesty. As sisters navigating a new country, together and separately, Cheila Lima and Ciomara Morais deliver performances of searing intimacy. Filmmaker Pocas Pascoal has transformed her personal story of exile from Angola into a deeply affecting drama, whose cinematic power if particularly impressive in the work of a first-time feature director.”
Honorable Mention (for Best Narrative Feature)
Film Title: Thursday till Sunday directed by Dominga Sotomayor
Producers: Gregorio Gonzalez, Benjamin Domenech
Cast: Santi Ahumada, Emiliano Freifeld, Francisco Perez-Bannen, Paola Giannini
Film Description: (Chile) With uncommon beauty and style, this Chilean road movie finds a family at a crossroads, as the daughter slowly realizes the divide between the adults in the front seat and the kids in back.
In bestowing Dominga Sotomayor with an Honorable Mention, the Jury stated:
“Thursday Till Sunday masterfully uses landscape to convey interpersonal dynamics with keen sensitivity and insight. Unease and awakening are indelibly entwined in the film’s deceptively simple family road trip, creating a nuanced and elegiac coming-of-age story. The debut feature of Chilean writer-director Dominga Sotomayor is evidence of an exciting new talent.”
Documentary Award (for Best Documentary Feature)
Winner: Drought directed by Everardo Gonzalez
Producer: Martha Orozco
Film Description: (Mexico) Contrasting the lives of a cattle-ranching community with the arid northeastern Mexican landscape that surrounds them, this cinema verite documentary paints a poetic portrait of a community on the verge of distinction.
The Documentary Award carries an unrestricted cash prize of $15,000 funded by Film Independent, 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 Everardo Gonzalez with the Documentary Award, the Jury stated:
“The jury found Drought to be a film of extraordinary caliber—epic in scope, keen and intimate in its observational perspective, beautifully filmed and edited with a sparse and affecting soundscape. Through this powerful film, the story of a remote Mexican community grappling with a growing drought becomes a universal parable and an alarming harbinger.”
Best Performance in the Narrative Competition
Winner: Wendell Pierce, Emory Cohen, E.J. Bonilla and Aja Naomi King in Joshua Sanchez’s Four.
Film Description: Over the course of a steamy 4th of July night, a father and daughter, each trapped in loneliness, reach out for sexual connection — he with a self-hating teenage boy, she with a smooth-talking wannabe homeboy — in this psychologically complex, beautifully acted drama.
In bestowing the actors with the Best Performance, the Jury stated:
“Commanding and utterly unforced, the ensemble cast of Joshua Sanchez’s Four inhabit their characters with compelling specificity. At the same time, their pitch-perfect collaborative energy honors and deepens the tone of the material. As lonely individuals in various states of crisis, Wendell Pierce, Emory Cohen, E.J. Bonilla and Aja Naomi King are fearless in the vulnerability they bring to their roles.”
Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature
Winner: Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by Benh Zeitlin
Producers: Michael Gottwald, Dan Janvey, Josh Penn
Cast: Quvenzhane Wallis, Dwight Henry
Film Description: This stunningly imaginative, boldly original film follows six-year-old Hushpuppy as she fights to protect her father and their unique way of life in a remote, dreamlike area of the Delta threatened by apocalyptic floods.
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: Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives, directed by Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore
Producers: Sara Lamm, Mary Wigmore, Kate Roughan, Zachary Mortensen
Featuring: Ina May Gaskin, Stephen Gaskin, Pamela Hunt, Farm Midwives past and present, Kristina Kennedy Davis
Film Description: Ina May Gaskin and the courageous midwives of the Farm commune inspired the modern midwifery movement. This beguiling documentary tells their empowering story with depth, intelligence and wit.
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: Searching for Sugar Man directed by Malik Bendjelloul
Producers: Simon Chinn, Malik Bendjelloul
Film Description: Years after facing into obscurity at home, the music of ’70s U.S. singer/songwriter Rodriguez became an underground sensation in South Africa. Decades after his disappearance, two fans uncover the startling truth behind the legend.
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.
Best Narrative Short Film
Winner: The Chair directed by Grainger David
Producers: Spencer Kiernan, Caroline Oliveira
Cast: Khari Lucas, King Hoey, Martha F. Brown
Description: A young boy questions the origins of a mysterious mold outbreak that threatens to destroy his town.
In bestowing Grainger David with the Best Narrative Short Film Award, the Jury stated:
“Grainger David’s narrative short, The Chair, is a lyrical, gorgeous meditation on death, grief and resilience as filtered through a young boy’s fluid memory. Set in the humid American south, and filmed on landscapes that are familiar, on one hand, and rendered as poetic dreamscapes, on the other, the short film is ultimately a moving coming-of-age film in which a family tragedy nudges its young protagonist to muse on matters that have concerned great minds throughout the ages — religion, family, morality, and the ways in which we are all connected.”
Best Documentary Short Film
Winner: Kudzu Vine directed & produced by Josh Gibson
Description: This ode to the kudzu vine poetically highlights its ties to the history and the people of the South.
In bestowing Josh Gibson with the Best Documentary Short Film Award, the Jury stated:
“Quite often, documentary filmmakers take a literal, visually straightforward approach to their subject matter, sidestepping experimentation with the language of cinema. Director Josh Gibson’s Kudzu Vine was not only filled with information on the sturdy kudzu vine —it’s history; the many and unexpected uses for it — but employed a visual style perched somewhere between gothic and otherworldly. Hugely educational and wonderfully stylistic, Kudzu Vine is this year’s winner for Best Documentary Short.”
Best Animated/Experimental Short Film
Winner: The Pub directed by Joseph Pierce
Producer: Mark Grimmer
Description: (England) Life isn’t easy behind the counter of a North London pub.
In bestowing Mark Grimmer with the Best Animated or Experimental Short Film Award, the Jury stated:
“The jury prize for best animated/experimental short goes to Joseph Pierce’s The Pub, a haunting portrayal of everyday life in a bar in North London, seen through the eyes of a lonely bartender. At times, striking beautiful and at times, terrifyingly grotesque, the imaginative and exquisite use of animation gives the film its depth and opens up a door into the humanity of the regular characters of this joint — loners, drunks, old-timers — letting us peak for an instant into their souls and the demons that hover around them.
Audience Award for Best Short Film
Winner: Asad directed by Bryan Buckley
Producers: Bryan Buckley, Mino Jarjoura, Rafiq Samsodien, Matt Lefebvre, Kevin Byrne, Hank Perlman
Cast: Harun Mohammed, Ibrahim Moalim Hussein, Ali Mohammed, Abdiwale Mohmed Mohamed, Mariya Abdulle, Najah Abdi Abdullahi, Mustafa Olad Dirie, Mohamed Abdullahi Abdikher, Abdi, Sidow Farah, Sahied Nuur Mahamed, Ahmed Dhadane Jimale, Hussein Abdi Mohamed, Isa, Mohamed Abdul, Ikram Hassan, Yasmin Abdi Mohamed, Maymum Abdi Mohamed, Sadia Hassan, Meade Nichol
Description: A young boy in a war-torn Somalian village faces a moral dilemma.
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: Piranhas Club directed by Lex Halaby
Music: Man Man
This award is given to the music video audiences liked most as voted on by a tabulated rating system.