By Indiewire | Indiewire June 23, 2003 at 2:00AM
LA Film Fest Closes with "Camp"; Awards Cash Prizes to "Crude" and "Be Good, Smile Pretty"
by Brian Brooks
The ninth annual IFP Los Angeles Film Festival came to a close Saturday with a glittering screening and party for Todd Graff's "Camp" at the Wadsworth Theater near Westwood. At an award ceremony earlier in the day, LA Film Fest awarded its top prize, the Target Filmmaker Award (for best narrative feature), to Paxton Winters' "Crude." The prize included an unrestricted cash prize of $50,000 funded by Target stores. "Crude" centers on two Americans backpacking through Europe who conjure up a plan to interview terrorists in Turkey in order to sell an exclusive to the U.S. media. The unrestricted fest prize is the largest in the United States. Peter Mullan's Toronto International Film Festival favorite, "The Magdelene Sisters," meanwhile, won the festival's audience award for best narrative feature.
Tracy Droz Tragos' "Be Good, Smile Pretty" took LA Film Fest's Target Documentary Award (for best documentary feature). The film follows Tragos' discovery, via the Internet, about her father's death while serving on a naval swift boat in the Mekong Delta. The award includes an unrestricted cash prize of $25,000. "Sunset Story" by Laura Gabbert, meanwhile, received the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. Best narrative short film went to "five deep breaths" by Seith Mann, and "Foo-Foo Dust" by Gina Levy & Eric Johnson won best documentary short film. "The Vest," about a young girl who fights conformity, by Paul Gutrecht won the audience award for best short film.
"It's been a terrific ten days of discovery -- of discovering new films and filmmakers, and of new ways of seeing old films," commented Dawn Hudson, executive director of IFP/Los Angeles in a festival release. "Attendance was at a record high -- and it's gratifying to see that Los Angelenos have a big appetite for quality independent films and new film experiences."
The festival screened 206 films from 32 countries including nine world premieres, two North American premieres and two U.S. premieres. LAFF opened June 11th with Wayne Kramer's "The Cooler." George Hickenlooper premiered his doc "Mayor of Sunset Strip" as the fest's centerpiece. IFP Los Angeles, which has produced LAFF since 2001, is Southern California's largest non-profit organization for independent filmmakers with more than 6,000 active members.
[Associate Editor Brian Brooks will report on the festival in an upcoming article for indieWIRE.]