“Familiar Ground” & “Wish Me Away” Win Los Angeles Film Festival

"Familiar Ground" & "Wish Me Away" Win Los Angeles Film Festival

Stéphane Lafleur’s “Familiar Ground” won the Narrative Film Competition during an awards ceremony at the Los Angeles Film Festival, while Beverly Kopf and Bobbie Birleffi’s “Wish Me Away” took Best Documentary at the awards brunch, which took place at CHAYA Downtown and co-hosted by Allison Janney and John C. Reilly. Both awards include a $15,000 cash prize.

Also taking home prizes were actors Amber Sealey, Kent Osborne, Amanda Street, and Gabriel Diamond for their performances in Amber Sealey’s “How to Cheat,” collectively receiving Best Performance. The award for Best Narrative Short Film went to Saba Riazi’s “The Wind Is Blowing on My Street,” while short Best Documentary went to Susan Koenen’s “I Am a Girl!” Mikey Please’s “The Eagleman Stag” won the award for Best Animated short film.

In Audience Awards, Best Narrative Feature went to Joe Cornish’s “Attack the Block,” while Best Documentary went to Michael Rapaport’s “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest.” Asif Kapadia’s Senna won the Audience Award for Best International Feature.

The Audience Award for Best Short Film went to “Blind Date,” directed by Joe Rosen. “Can’t Shake This Feeling,” directed by The General Assembly’s Adam Littke, Ryan McNeill, Adam Willis won the Audience Award for Best Music Video for Grum.

“It was such a rich year in competition films, so our juries had really tough choices to make,” commented Artistic Director David Ansen in a statement. “The winning films are the cream of a particularly delicious crop, and we’re delighted that they reflect the festival’s dedication to movies from all over the world.”

“David, Doug and the team continue to raise the bar with the quality of our programming slate,” said Festival Director Rebecca Yeldham in a statement. “We’re enormously proud to host such an exceptional and diverse group of films and filmmakers at this year’s festival, and to have introduced audiences to their wonderful work.”

The Los Angeles Film Festival opened June 16 with the world premiere of Richard Linklater’s “Bernie” and closes Sunday with the world premiere of FilmDistrict’s “Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark,” directed by Troy Nixey. Gala Screenings included the North American premiere of “Drive,” directed by Nicolas Winding Refn and the world premiere of Chris Weitz’s “A Better Life.” Guillermo del Toro was this year’s “Guest Director.”

The list of 2011 Los Angeles Film festival winners with credits and descriptions provided by the festival:

Narrative Award (for Best Narrative Feature): “Familiar Ground,” written & directed by Stéphane Lafleur
Producers: Luc Déry, Kim McCraw
Cast: Francis La Haye, Fanny Mallette, Sylvain Marcel, Michel Daigle, Suzanne Lemoine
This droll, deadpan comedy from snowbound Quebec features an unhappy brother and sister whose fates seem to be known by a mysterious Man From the Future. Not too far in the future though. Just next September.

Documentary Award (for Best Documentary Feature): “Wish Me Away,” directed by Beverly Kopf & Bobbie Birleffi
Producer: Bobbie Birleffi and Beverly Kopf
This intensely personal documentary chronicles the heart-wrenching decision Nashville singing star Chely Wright to come out of the closet despite the potentially crushing response from the industry and her fans.

Best Performance in the Narrative Competition: Amber Sealey, Kent Osborne, Amanda Street and Gabriel Diamond in Amber Sealey’s “How to Cheat”
An L.A. couple’s struggle to get pregnant sets off the husband’s wandering eye in this comedy that reveals marriage to be as funny as it is heartbreaking.

Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature: “Attack the Block,” directed by Joe Cornish
Producers: Nira Park, James Wilson
Cast: Jodie Whittaker, John Boyega, Alex Email, Franz Drameh, Leeon Jones, Simon Howard, Luke Treadaway, Jumayn Hunter, Nick Frost
From the producers of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, Attack the Block follows a gang of tough inner-city kids who defend their turf against an invasion of savage alien creatures, turning a South London apartment complex into an extraterrestrial warzone.

Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature: “Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest,” directed by Michael Rapaport
Producers: Edward Parks, Bob Teitel, Frank Mele, Robert Benavides, Eric Matthies, Michael Rapaport, Debra Koffler
The rancorous break-up of a Tribe Called Quest frames Michael Rapaport’s exuberant exploration of the turmoil and joy that drove these pioneers of bohemian hip hop.

Audience Award for Best International Feature: “Senna,” directed by Asif Kapadia
Producers: James Gay-Rees, Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner
A high-octane look at the most exciting driver to ever race Formula One — Brazil’s Aryton Senna — this edge of your seat documentary explores the politics, rivalries and glamour of a sport that leaves no room for error.

Best Narrative Short Film: “The Wind Is Blowing on My Street” by Saba Riazi
Producer: Mohammad Hoseseni
Cast: Rahman Houshyar, Sajjad Salehivand, Forough Bonakder, Ashraf Abolfazlian
A young girl in Tehran is accidentally locked out of her home with no scarf on her head.

Best Documentary Short Film: “I Am a Girl!” by Susan Koenen
Joppe dreams of love, marriage and children. Being born a boy only complicates things slightly.

Best Animated Short Film: “The Eagleman Stag” by Mike Please
Producer: Royal College of Art
Cast: David Cann, Tony Guilfoyle
This unique stop-motion animated film depicts a man’s haunting obsession with the passage of time and his unorthodox relationship with a beetle.

Audience Award for Best Short Film: “Blind Date” by Joe Rosen
Producer: Joe Rosen, Abigail Blackmore
Cast: Abigail Blackmore, Cavan Clerkin, Zeben Jameson, Matthew Blackmore
Waiting for her date, Rachel has an unexpected encounter.

Audience Award for Best Music Video: “Can’t Shake This Feeling” by The General Assembly’s Adam Littke, Ryan McNeill, Adam Willis
Music: Grum

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