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LAFF Winners: ‘Mother, I Love You,’ ‘Code Black’ Win Jury Awards; Audience Awards Go to ‘Short Term 12,’ ‘Wadjda,’ ‘American Revolutionary’

LAFF Winners: 'Mother, I Love You,' 'Code Black' Win Jury Awards; Audience Awards Go to 'Short Term 12,' 'Wadjda,' 'American Revolutionary'

As the last day of the Los Angeles Film Festival arrived Sunday with closing night gala  “The Way, Way Back,” the festival announced its winners at an awards brunch. 

The two top juried awards of the Los Angeles Film Festival are the DIRECTV Narrative Award and DIRECTV Documentary Award, each carrying an unrestricted $10,000 cash prize, funded by DIRECTV, for the winning film’s director. The DIRECTV Narrative Award for the finest narrative film in competition at the Festival went to Janis Nords’ “Mother, I Love You,” making its U.S. premiere, and The DIRECTVDocumentary Award for the finest documentary film in competition at the Festival went to Ryan McGarry for world premiere  “Code Black.”   

Destin Daniel Cretton’s drama “Short Term 12” (Cinedigm, August 23), Grace Lee’s documentary “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs” and Haifaa Al Mansour’s Saudi Arabian drama “Wadjda” (Sony Pictures Classics, September 13) won the audience awards. 

The award for Best Performance in the Narrative Competition went to Geetanjali Thapa for her performance in Kamal K.M’s “I.D,” which made its North American premiere at the Festival. Given to an actor or actors from an official selection in the Narrative Competition, this is the tenth year the award has been given at the Festival.

The full list of awards is below:

The LA Film Fest also awarded an unrestricted $1,500 cash prize to each short film category. The recipient for the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Narrative Short Film went to “Walker,” directed by Tsai Ming-Liang. The recipient for the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Documentary Short Film went to Kevin Jerome Everson for “Stone.” Emma De Sweaf and Marc James Roels’ “Oh Willy…” won the Honolulu Film Office Award for Best Animated or Experimental Short Film.

The Audience Award for Best Short Film went to Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven, directed by Åsa Blanck and Johan Palmgren. Katachi, directed by Kijek/Adamski with music by Shugo Tokumaru won the Audience Award for Best Music Video.

The DIRECTV Narrative Feature Competition jury was comprised of Film Independent Spirit Award-winning producer Gina Kwon (Me and You and Everyone We Know, Chuck & Buck), Spirit Award-nominated director Sean Baker (Starlet, Take Out, Prince of Broadway) and actor-producer Harry Lennix (Man of Steel, Titus, the upcoming NBC series The Blacklist.). The DIRECTV Documentary Feature Competition jury was comprised of the 2010LA Film Fest Grand Jury award-winning director Clay Tweel (Make Believe),award-winning producer Lesley Chilcott (Waiting For Superman, An Inconvenient Truth), and New York Times contributing culture writer and former film and television critic Carina Chocano.  The Honolulu Film Office Award Shorts Competition Jury was comprised of Los Angeles Film Critics Association Vice President Tim Grierson, author Sandi Tan (The Black Isle) and Independent Spirit-nominated writer and director David Fenster (Trona, Pincus).

Also announced at the festival were the Fast Track grants winners which Film Independent selects and Alfred P. Sloan Foundation and Millennium Entertainment sponsor.  The Fast Track program is an intensive, three-day film-financing market that connects participants with established financiers, production companies, agents, managers and other film industry professionals who can move their current projects forward.  Writer/director/producer Christopher Munch’s film Frank’s World: And Tales of the Fearless Brothers Owon the Sloan Fast Track Grant, a $15,000 production grant.  The $10,000 Millennium Entertainment Fellowship grant was awarded to Vincent Harris and Amy Hobby for their film Third Girl from the Left.  

Now in its nineteenth year, the Los Angeles Film Festival, supported by L.A. LIVE and the Los Angeles Times, showcases the best in new American and international cinema and provides the movie-loving public with access to some of the most critically acclaimed filmmakers, film industry professionals, and emerging talent from around the world. The 2013 Festival screened nearly 200 feature films, shorts and music videos, representing more than 30 countries.

The LA Film Fest kicked off on Thursday, June 13 with the North American premiere of Pedro Almodovar’s I’m So Excited, sponsored by American Airlines, and will close tonight with the world premiere of Oscar® winners Nat Faxon and Jim Faxon’s The Way, Way Back, sponsored by DIRECTV. Gala Screenings included the world premiere of Doug Pray’s Levitated Mass: The Story of Michael Heizer’s Monolithic Sculpture, the North American premiere of Nicolas Winding Refn’s Only God Forgives and the Los Angeles premiere of Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station.  2013 Guest Director and recipient of this year’s Spirit of Independence Award was David O. Russell and Artists in Residences were actress Maya Rudolph and composer Gustavo Santaolalla.

DIRECTV is proud to be a first-year partner with the LA Film Festival as sponsor of the Festival’s Closing Night, Narrative and Documentary Competitions and Jury Prizes, reflecting its commitment to supporting established and emerging filmmakers. DIRECTV Cinema’s premium pay-per-view movie service for DIRECTV customers offers access to exclusive new releases before they premiere in theaters, a library with thousands of movies to watch instantly with DIRECTV On Demand, and the most movies available in 1080p HD. DIRECTV the world’s leading providers of digital television entertainment services delivering an unparalleled video experience through state-of-the-art technology and unmatched programming to more than 35 million customers in the U.S. and Latin America.

Stunning locations, great crews and generous tax credits are why Honolulu and Oahu are known as ‘Production Center of the Tropics.’  Host to countless feature films, television series and new media projects including Jurassic Park, The Descendants, LOST and Hawaii Five-0, 2013 marks 100 years of film production in Hawaii.  To celebrate, the Honolulu Film Office has enhanced their tax credits. (www.filmhonolulu.com/)

CHAYA restaurants have remained one of the city’s most beloved and iconic dining destinations for 30 years.   Lead by Corporate Executive Chef Shigefumi Tachibe—the creator of the original tuna tartare, CHAYA restaurants are renowned for their modern Euro-Asian cuisine and influence on the Los Angeles dining scene.  Chef Tachibe creates an inspired menu by infusing exotic ingredients and honored culinary traditions from his native Japanese roots.   All CHAYA restaurants, including three locations in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco, highlight their menu with local and sustainable ingredients fresh from the farmers’ market with seasonal menus.” (www.thechaya.com)


Awards were given out in the following categories:

DIRECTV Narrative Award (for Best Narrative Feature)

Winner:                         Mother, I Love You directed by Janis Nords

Producer:                       Alise Gelze

Cast:                               Kristofers Konovalovs, Matiss Livcans, Vita Varpina, Indra   Brike, Haralds Barzdins

Film Description:            Like a lot of children, 12-year-old Raimonds has his quiet side, his talented side (he plays saxophone at a music school), a mischievous streak and a resourcefulness born of desperation. Often on his own while his single mom works, and routinely at odds with her when they do spend time together, Raimonds finds thrilling companionship in Peteris, a boy who steals money from one of the apartments his mother cleans.  Raimond’s increasingly dangerous decisions will have thorny repercussions for him and those close to him. Latvia

The Narrative Award carries an unrestricted cash prize of $10,000 funded by DIRECTV, offering the financial means to help filmmakers transfer their vision to the screen. The award recognizes the finest narrative film in competition and is given to the director. A special jury selects the winner, and all narrative feature-length films screening in the Narrative Competition section were eligible.

In bestowing Janis Nords with the DIRECTV Narrative Award, the Jury stated:

“As filmmakers ourselves we are finely attuned to the processes of making a film and sometimes find it difficult not to analyze a film on a purely technical or esoteric level.  In the case of our selected film, we found ourselves absorbed so completely in its world that we removed our critical eye. Its story is simple, deftly executed, and features a prodigious central performance. The careful escalation of dramatic tension, the truthful portrayal of a strained mother-son relationship, the stunning night time photography of an urban landscape and the confidant direction – never sacrificing substance for style – thoroughly won us over.  It is with a deep appreciation for its delicacy, emotional resonance and assured control of craft that we award the Grand Prize to Mother, I Love You.”


DIRECTV Documentary Award (for Best Documentary Feature)

Winner:                         Code Black directed by Ryan McGarry

Producer:                       Linda Goldstein Knowlton

Film Description:            Continually understaffed, under-budgeted and overrun with patients, public hospital ER waiting rooms are by definition seas of misery. The ER of the old L.A. County Hospital+USC Medical Center, which was the first academic Department of Emergency Medicine in the US was, by all accounts, a war zone.

Code Black follows a team of young, idealistic and energetic ER doctors during the transition from the old to the new L.A. County as they try to avoid burnout and improve patient care. Why do they persist, despite being under siege by rules, regulations and paperwork? As one doctor simply states, “More people have died on that square footage than any other location in the United States. On a brighter note, more people have been saved than in any other square footage in the United States.”

The Documentary Award carries an unrestricted cash prize of $10,000 funded by DIRECTV, offering the financial means to help filmmakers transfer their vision to the screen. The award recognizes the finest documentary film in competition, and is given to the director. A special jury selects the winner, and all documentary feature-length films screening in the Documentary Competition section were eligible.

In bestowing Ryan McGarry with the DIRECTV Documentary Award, the Jury stated:

“It’s unusual for a first-time filmmaker to integrate complex, multifaceted ideas so seamlessly into a visceral, action-packed and character-driven story that they end up creeping up on you, as if you’d thought of them all by yourself. With a strong point-of-view rooted in personal experience, and without judgment, this year’s winning film deftly disarms a hot-button political issue by reframing it as a human issue and shows us, instead of telling us, why we should care. Instead of rehashing familiar arguments, it drills down to find the universal in the specific. It’s heart warming, and also heart stopping. The winner of the 2013 Los Angeles Film Festival Documentary Competition Grand Jury Prize is Code Black directed by Ryan McGarry.”


Best Performance in the Narrative Competition

Winner:                         Geetanjali Thapa in Kamar K.M’s I.D.

Film Description:            The feature directorial debut from Indian filmmaker Kamal K.M. may be called I.D., but this drama has less to do with individual identity than it does our shared personal connection. A carefree young woman living in Mumbai named Charu is visited by a painter who’s been hired to do a touch-up to one of her apartment walls. But when the man falls unconscious, Charu discovers that she alone must attend to this stranger, first getting him to the hospital and then trying to discover who he is. India  

In bestowing Geetanjali Thapa with the Best Performance Award, the Jury stated:

“The Narrative Competition Jury gives an award for Best Actor to the very talented Geetanjali Thapa for her portrayal of Chara in Kamal K.M.’sI.D. Thapa’s performance is recognized in part for her ability to win over the audience’s empathy for a character that initially lacks, indeed even resists, empathy. Rarely conversational, her ability to speak volumes with gesture and silence is a revelation to the audience.  With an onscreen presence that commands attention, we see her rising star as something that excites us as filmmakers, and we are privileged to bear witness to the start of Thapa’s very promising career.”


Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature

Winner:                         Short Term 12, directed by Destin Daniel Cretton

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