SXSW Film Festival Coordinator Lya Guerra has just returned from her shorts jury duty at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival. This is what she has to report:
Back in Austin after an amazing trip to Seattle for my first Seattle International Film Festival. I had the honor of meeting some of their top-notch shorts programmers, and was happy to let Stan Shields know I was knocked out by his Five Senses program. Speaking of which, the two films that tied for the Special Jury Award, “Look Sharp” (Australia) by Amy Gebhardt and “Pick Up” (France) directed by Manuel Schapira were both from that particular program. Amy Gebhardt was at the awards brunch on Sunday and I was very happy to present her with due recognition. The winner of the Grand Jury Prize for narrative shorts was “Wigald” (Germany) by Timon Modersohn, a wicked black comedy that succeeded in capturing everything that is funny in suicide and divorce. If you’ve already read that in the press release, yes, I wrote that.
As for the Grand Jury Prize for Animated Short, it was “Everything Will Be Okay” (USA) by Don Hertzfeldt. If you haven’t seen this short film or anything by Hertzfeldt, do so immediately. Yes, now. The Documentary Short Grand Prize went to “Chocolate Country” (Dominican Republic/USA) by Robin Blotnick. It’s beautifully realized, a real work of art and conscience.
Watching close to 120 short films is one thing, but deciding which get awarded is something else entirely. So many films were brilliant for so many different reasons, it’s always difficult narrowing them down and choosing just a few.
Thanks to programmer/coordinator Dan Doody for keeping myself and my fellow jurors, Virginia Bogert and Misha Neininger, in line. And programming assistant Colin McArthur couldn’t be any sweeter or more efficient. Hell, why stop there, the guest suite coordinator/emerging master Davie-Blue Bacich is an inimitable force of nature and travel coordinator Mik Kuhlman is perhaps the kindest soul on the planet.
The Awards Brunch at the Space Needle was delicious and lively and delicious, and I’ll advise Matt Dentler to consider adding mimosas to our awards ceremony. Just a thought.
I was lucky to catch some features. A friend advised me to see “The Bothersome Man” by Den Brysomme Mannen and I couldn’t be happier that I did, though I don’t know how to feel about sledgehammers anymore. The winner of the New Director Award, Eric Richter Strand (Norway) made a undeniably remarkable debut with “Sons.” It’s tough and intelligent and subtle and he’s one obviously to watch. Another one of my very favorites was “Nu.” Another debut, this time by the Dutch airplane designer-turned-filmmaker Jan-Willem van Ewijk. I’d keep an eye on him as well. Oh and don’t let me forget one of my new favorite actors, Matthijs (Matt) Bourdrez, who co-stars with van Ewijk in Nu.
I’m permanently marked by Seattle and SIFF 07. What a great time it was.