“Whale Rider” and “Milwaukee, Minnesota” Among Top Winners at 29th Seattle Festival
by Eugene Hernandez
The 29th edition of the Seattle International Film Festival concluded in Washington State on Sunday with the presentation of the Golden Space Needle Awards and jury prizes. The festival’s awards ceremony and brunch, held in the restaurant at the famous Seattle landmark, honored a number of new films. Niki Caro’s “Whale Rider,” Allan Mindel’s “Milwaukee, Minnesota,” Kim Bartley & Donnacha O’Briain’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised,” and Lee Chang-dong’s “Oasis” each won two awards at the festival, which ran for more than three weeks here in the Pacific Northwest (May 22 – June 15).
“Whale Rider” nabbed the Golden Space Needle audience awards for best film and best director for Caro. The film, now a hit in limited release from Newmarket, has won audience awards at festivals around the world including Toronto, Sundance, San Francisco, and Rotterdam. It has already earned more than $300,000 ahead of its wider expansion in the United States movie theaters on Friday. Among the other Golden Space Needle winners were Lee Chang-dong’s “Oasis” from South Korea which won the awards for best actress (Moon So-ri) and best actor (Seol Kyung-gu). The Needle for best documentary went to Kim Shelton’s “A Great Wonder” and Kim Bartley and Donnacha O’Briain’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.” Jonathan Le Monde won the award for best short for “Misdemeanor.” Aisling Walsh won the Women in Cinema Lena Sharpe Award for persistence of vision at the year’s festival.
Mindel’s “Milwaukee,” winner of the New American Cinema jury award and the $100,000 Modern Digital prize package award. is fresh from its screenings at the Cannes Film Festival last month where it won the youth jury award in the International Critics Week section of the festival. The film, starring Troy Garity, also closed the 2003 Slamdance Film Festival. Also in the New American Cinema section, Jamie Hook’s local production “Naked Proof” and Paxton Winters’ “Crude,” which was made in Turkey, were awarded honorable mentions.
In the New Director’s Showcase, Mikhail Brashinsky’s “Black Ice” from Russia won the top prize, while in the Asian Tradewinds section, Johnny To won the top award for his Hong Kong film, “PTU.” Kongdej Jaturanrasanee & Kiat Songsananta from Thailand was awarded an honorable mention. Finally, in the First Person Singular doc competition, the jury awarded a shared prize to “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” and Sam Green & Bill Siegel’s “The Weather Underground.”
[indieWIRE Editor-in-Chief Eugene Hernandez served on the New American Cinema jury at the 2003 Seattle Film Festival. Reporter Brandon Judell’s festival wrap-up for indieWIRE will be published soon.]