"Jellysmoke" and "Everyone Their Grain of Sand" Win Cash at Los Angeles Film Festival; LAFF Announces Move
by Brian Brooks
Organizers of the Los Angeles Film Festival announced winners over the weekend, bestowing kudos to Mark Banning's feature "Jellysmoke," and Beth Bird's doc, "Everyone Their Grain of Sand." The two films took the coveted Target Filmmaker Award and Target Documentary Award respectively, which includes an unrestricted cash prize of $50,000 each, one of the largest monetary awards in North America.
Banning's debut feature, according to the LAFF catalog, revolves around "a young man searching for love and a way to maintain his sanity. Though sweet, handsome, and well-liked, Jacob suffers deeply from bipolar depression [and] after a stint in the psyche ward, resolves to find normalcy and sees the key securing it in the love of a beautiful stranger and her young son." Beth Bird's "Everyone on Their Grain of Sand," meanwhile, focuses on the struggle of a small Mexican border town in the face of "corporate greed," illuminating the downside of globalization.
In other prizes, Miranda July's "Me and You and Everyone We Know" won the audience award for best narrative feature, while David Zeiger's doc on dissension amongst soldiers during the Vietnam War, "Sir! No Sir!", won the audience award for best documentary feature. French director Luc Jacquet's doc "March of the Penguins" won the audience award for best international feature. Catherine Kellner and Ebon Moss-Bachrach of Leslie McCleave's "Road" won for "outstanding performance in the narrative competition." Given to an actor from an official selection in the narrative competition, this is the second year the award has been given at the festival.
On Saturday evening, the festival honored actor George Clooney at its Spirit of Independence event in the Westwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, and announced that the festival will make the area its new home base beginning next year. Strategic partners involved in the transition to Westwood are the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Mann Theatres, Landmark Theatres, the Crest Theater, and the Hammer Museum.
"It's been so exciting to see audiences respond to the 2005 Los Angeles Film Festival," said Executive Director of Film Independent Dawn Hudson. "We've increased our diverse programming and presented a terrific slate of independent films from the U.S. and around the world, all of which has been a recipe for success. The festival is exceeding FIND's goals of expanding the audience for independent films and creating an exciting cultural event for the entire city of Los Angeles."
The festival kicked off on Thursday, June 16 with the Opening Night Gala selection, the North American Premiere of "Down in the Valley," written and directed by David Jacobson. Magnolia Pictures' "Nine Lives," written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, had its Los Angeles premiere as the Centerpiece premiere, and the closing night film was Lions Gate's "Happy Endings," directed by Don Roos. A total of 266 films including 77 features representing 30 countries screened at the festival. This year the festival received more than 3,700 submissions from filmmakers around the world, with the final selections representing several premieres. Film Independent (FIND) organizes the annual Los Angeles Film Festival.
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