By Peter Knegt | Indiewire June 15, 2009 at 1:17AM
Kyle Patrick Alvarez's "Easier With Practice" led the jury awards for the 11th Annual CineVegas Film Festival, which wraps today at the Palms Casino Resort and Brenden Theatres in Las Vegas. The film - which follows an author who falls for a mysterious phone sex caller while on a road trip to promote his unpublished novel - won the festival's Grand Jury Prize in the feature competition.
This year's feature jury, which included indieWIRE's own Eugene Hernandez, as well as writer/director Jody Hill, The Associated Press film critic Christy Lemire and film journalist Glenn Whipp, additionally bestowed honors upon the team behind "Godspeed." Writers Cory Knauf and Joseph McKelheer and director Robert Saitzyk won an Exceptional Artistic Achievement Award for the dramatic thriller, "set in the lingering light of the Alaskan midnight sun," as CineVegas describes. The jury also have the Filmmaker to Watch Award to Jeff Mizushima for his work on "Etienne!," about a man who takes his cancerous hamster on a bicycle road trip up the California coast.
The documentary jury, consisting of producer/director Heather Rae, Senior Editor of Features for Variety Sharon Swart, and Bob Tourtellotte, editor-in-charge for entertainment for Reuters news service, gave their top honors to Douglas Tirola's "All In: The Poker Movie." As described by the festival, "Poker" "tells the story of poker, focusing on why one of our nation's oldest games has had a renaissance in the past decade and why for so many people poker is a way to chase the American Dream."
Other doc awards went to "Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo," directed by Jessica Oreck, which won a Special Documentary Jury Prize for Artistic Vision. Working backwards through history, the film "solves the mystery of the development of Japan's cultural obsession with bugs."
The awards for short films went to Destin Daniel's "Short Term 12," which won the CineVegas Short Film Jury Prize while Justin Nowell's "Acting for the Camera" won a special Grand Jury Prize in Directing. The shorts jury - which consisted of Emily Doe, associate editor/producer for Wholphin, Denver Film Society Festival Director Britta Erickson and Movieline's Stu VanAirsdale - also acknowledged Markus Kirschner's "Communion" with the CineVegas Nevada Short Film Jury Prize.
Check back with indieWIRE later today for a full dispatch from CineVegas, or check out this article from the weekend, which tackles "moviegoing, margaritas and distribution roulette, in equal doses, at CineVegas."