WINNERS AND GRANT RECIPIENTS ANNOUNCED FOR 2015 LOS ANGELES FILM FESTIVAL
LOS ANGELES (June 17, 2015) – Today the Los Angeles Film Festival, produced by Film Independent with Presenting Media Sponsor the Los Angeles Times and Host Partner L.A. LIVE, announced the winners of the 2015 Festival at the Awards Cocktail Reception. Associate Director of Programming, Roya Rastegar and Senior Programmer, Jennifer Cochis hosted the awards ceremony. The Awards Cocktail was sponsored by Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television.
“Our mission includes connecting filmmakers with the industry so we are grateful to our jurists for lending their time and expertise,” said Stephanie Allain, Festival Director. “Congratulations to all the winners!”
The Festival hosts juried awards for U.S. Fiction, World Fiction, Documentary, Zeitgeist, LA Muse, and Nightfall, as well as Best Short Fiction and Best Short Documentary. Audience awards are presented to Best Fiction Feature Film, Best Documentary Feature Film, Best Short Film and Best Web Series.
The U.S. Fiction Award went to Takeshi Fukunaga for Out of My Hand,which made its North American Premiere at the Festival.
The World Fiction Award went to Beata Gårdeler for Flocken, which made its North American Premiere at the Festival.
The Documentary Award went to Mo-Young Jin for My Love, Don’t Cross That River,which made its North American Premiere at the Festival.
The LA Muse Award was given to Delila Vallot for Can You Dig This, which had its World Premiere at the Festival.
The inaugural Nightfall Award went to Viet Nguyen for Crush the Skull, which had its World Premiere at the Festival.
Also newly established this year, the Zeitgeist Award was given to Bradley Kaplan for Stealing Cars,which also had its World Premiere at the Festival.
The Audience Award for Best Fiction Feature Film went to POCHA (Manifest Destiny), directed by Michael Dwyer and co-directed by Kaitlin McLaughlin. The Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature Film was a tie, and was given to two films: I Am Thalente, directed by Natalie Johns and Be Here Now, directed by Lilibet Foster.
The Award for Best Short Fiction went to Drama, directed by Tian Guan.The Award for Best Short Documentary went to Dolphin Lover, directed by Kareem Tabsch. The Audience Award for Best Short Film went to In Her Place, directed by Kevin Hamedani. The Audience Award for Best Web Series went to The Genderton Project, directed by Anna Martemucci and Victor Quinaz.
A number of Special Awards were also given across categories. The Documentary jury awarded a special mention to The Babushkas of Chernobyl, directed by Holly Morris and Anne Bogart. The World Fiction jury awarded special mentions to White Moss, directed by Vladimir Tumaev, and Ayanda and the Mechanic, directed by Sara Blecher. The Nightfall jury awarded a special mention to Crumbs, directed by Miguel Llansó, and a special jury “high five” to Dude Bro Party Massacre III, directed by Michael Rousselet, Tomm Jacobsen, Jon Salmon and Joey Scoma. The LA Muse jury awarded a special mention to Elsa Biedermann for her role as a supporting actress in French Dirty, directed by Wade Allain-Marcus and Jesse Allain-Marcus. The Zeitgest jury awarded a special mention to POCHA (Manifest Destiny), directed by Michael Dwyer and co-directed by Kaitlin McLaughlin.
The U.S. Fiction jury consisted of writer and director Nicholas Jasenovec (Paper Heart, Delocated, Broad City); Gretchen McCourt, Executive Vice President of Programming at ArcLight Cinemas and Sean Berney, Manager of Acquisitions at Fox Searchlight Pictures.
The World Fiction jury was comprised of Alesia Weston, International Film Consultant, actor, producer and DJ, Tony Okungbowa (Echo Park, Ellen DeGeneres, Mother of George), producer and Music Supervisor Maureen Crowe (The Young Victoria, Chicago, True Romance).
The Documentary jury consisted of filmmaker Marta Cunningham (Valentine Road), writer and producer Grace Lee (American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs, Makers: Women in Politics, American Zombie), writer and director Tamar Halpern (Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, Llyn Foulkes One Man Band, Shelf Life). The Documentary Competition is sponsored by Loyola Marymount University School of Film and Television and Netflix.
The LA Muse jury included producer Mary Rohlich (The Goldbergs, Horrible Bosses, Four Christmases), actress and writer Jane Adams (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Happiness, Hung) and Anderson Le, Director of Programming at the Hawaii International Film Festival.
The Nightfall jury consisted of writer and director Daniel Stamm (The Last Exorcism, 13 Sins, A Necessary Death), producer Terry Leonard (Mojave, Cold Comes the Night, Before I Disappear) and journalist Jen Yamato.
The Zeitgeist jury included cinematographer Amy Vincent, A.S.C. (Footloose, Black Snake Moan, Hustle & Flow), writer and director Justin Simien (Dear White People), writer and producer Drew Dowdle (No Escape, Devil, Quarantine).
The Shorts jury consisted of actor Bobby Naderi (Argo, The Taqwacores, Fear the Walking Dead), writer and producer Cody Heller (Deadbeat, The Inbetweeners, Wilfred) and editor Suzanne Spangler (Benny & Joon, Wyatt Earp, The Anniversary Party).
Also announced during the Festival at the Film Independent Fast Track finance market were two Alfred P. Sloan Grants given to films that engage with science and technology themes and characters. The Alfred P. Sloan Fast Track Grant was awarded to writer/director Elena Greenlee and producer Márcia Nunesfor their project Dark Forest. The grant includes a $20,000 production grant and year-round support from Film Independent. Film Independent’s inaugural Alfred P. Sloan Distribution Grant was awarded to Michael Almereyda’s Experimenter,produced by Uri Singer, Fabio Golombek, Isen Robbins, and Aimee Schoof. The filmmakers will receive $50,000 in funds to support the release of the film, which will be released by Magnolia Pictures in October.
This year marked the second year of a special collaboration with Funny Or Die for the Make ’em LAFF internet talent competition to discover content creators of color and underrepresented voices who specialize in comedy. The winner was selected by a jury comprised of comedians Jason Mantzoukas (Kroll Show, Parks and Recreation), Beth Stelling (@midnight, Jimmy Kimmel Live!) and Ron Funches (Kroll Show, Undateable) as well as Film Independent curator Elvis Mitchell. The winner is Marisha Mukerjee‘s Open House. Marisha will have her next video produced by Funny Or Die.
Grants were also awarded to Imani Peterkin and Maya Suchak, winners of the Ed Elias Future Filmmaker Grant for Best Narrative Film for Falling, Grace Hoffman and Michelle Miles, winners of the Ed Elias Future Filmmaker Grant for Best Documentary Film for Beatrix and Katie Speare winner of the Ed Elias Future Filmmaker Grant for Best Animated or Experimental Film for Mask. Special Mentions were also awarded to Sour Lemonade for Narrative Film, Curt Lowens: A Life of Changes for Documentary Film and How Do You Pronounce Pho? for Animated or Experimental Film.
The Los Angeles Film Festival kicked off on Wednesday, June 10 with the LA Premiere of Paul Weitz’s Grandma and will close tomorrow with a Live Read of Fast Times at Ridgemont High, directed by Eli Roth. Gala Screenings included the World Premiere of the new television series Scream, Todd Strauss-Schulson’s The Final Girls and Benson Lee’s Seoul Searching. The 2015 Los Angeles Film Festival Guest Director was Rodrigo García; the recipient of the Jaeger-LeCoultre Glory to the Filmmaker Award was Gale Anne Hurd, this year’s Spirit of Independence Award was bestowed upon Lily Tomlin. The Los Angeles Film Festival is a qualifying festival in all categories for the Film Independent Spirit Awards and for the Narrative and Animated Short Film categories at the Academy Awards.
Awards were given out in the following categories:
U.S. Fiction Award
Winner: Out of My Hand, directed by Takeshi Fukunaga
Screenwriter: Takeshi Fukunaga, Donari Braxton
Producer: Donari Braxton, Mike Fox
Cast: Bishop Blay, Zenobia Taylor, Duke Murphy Dennis, David Roberts, Shelley Molad
Film Description:A struggling Liberian rubber plantation worker risks everything to begin a new life as a New York City cabbie but is haunted by his wartime past. North American Premiere.
World Fiction Award
Winner: Flocken, directed by Beata Gårdeler
Screenwriter: Emma Broström
Producers: Agneta Fagerström Olsson, Annika Hellström
Cast: Fatime Azemi, John Risto, Eva Melander, Malin Levanon, Jacob Öhrman
Film description:Breathtaking cinematography captures the desolation of a tiny Swedish village when a tight-knit community turns against a 14-year-old girl and her family after she reports being sexually assaulted by a popular classmate. North American Premiere.
The World Fiction Jury awarded special mentions to:
Ayanda and the Mechanic, directed by Sara Blecher
Country: South Africa
Screenwriters: Trish Malone
Producers: Terry Pheto, Busi Sizani, Robbie Thorpe
Cast: Fulu Moguvhani, OC Ukeje, Nthati Moshesh, Kenneth Nkosi, Jafta Mamabolo, Thomas Gumede, Sihle Xaba, Venessa Cooke
Film description: Within a multi-African Johannesburg community, a young hipster-designer saves her deceased father’s prized garage by refurbishing classic cars – until family secrets and a corrupt legal system threaten her passionate resolve. World Premiere.
White Moss (Belyy Yagel), directed by Vladimir Tumaev
Country: Russian Federation
Producers: Svetlana Dalskaya
Cast: Evgeniy Sangadzhiev, Galina Tihonova, Irina Mihaylova, Efim Stepanov, Dolzhin Tangatova
Film description: Love and betrayal in the arctic Russian tundra. A young indigenous man struggles with the obligations of an arranged marriage, while yearning for the love of his life, who has left for the city. International Premiere.
Documentary Award, Sponsored by Netflix
Winner: My Love, Don’t Cross That River, directed by Mo-Young Jin
Country: South Korea
Producer: Kyungsoo Han
Featuring: Byong-man Jo, Gye-Yeul Kang
Film Description: A loving, elderly couple who have been married for 76 years face the final moments of their marriage and life. This story of “the 100-year-old lovebirds” broke Korean box office records as the biggest Korean indie film of all time. North American Premiere.
The Documentary Jury awarded a special mention for directing:
The Babushkas of Chernobyl, directed by Holly Morris, Anne Bogart
Producers: Holly Morris, Anne Bogart
Featuring: Valentyna Sochenok, Hanna Zavorotnya, Maria Shovkuta
Film Description: In the radioactive “dead zone” surrounding Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4, a defiant community of elderly women cultivates an existence on some of the most toxic land on Earth. World Premiere.
LA Muse Award
Winner: Can You Dig This, directed by Delila Vallot
Producers: Rafael Marmor, Christopher Leggett
Cast: Ron Finley, Mychael “Spicey” Evans, Kenya Johnson, Quimonie Lewis, Hosea Smith
Film Description: In South Central Los Angeles, one of the largest food deserts in the US, inspirational stories of new gardeners reveal the beginnings of an urban gardening revolution and the lasting impact of planting seeds for a better life. World Premiere.
The LA Muse Jury awarded a special mention to Elsa Biedermann for her role as a supporting actress in:
French Dirty,directed by Wade and Jesse Allain-Marcus
Screenwriters: Peter K. Hagen, Wade Allain-Marcus
Producers: Jason Wolf, Mel Jones
Cast: Wade Allain-Marcus, Melina Lizette, Arjun Gupta
Film Description: After committing the carnal sin of sleeping with his best friend’s girlfriend, Vincent must deal with the consequences of his betrayal and hope that his bond with his brother-from-another-mother can withstand the blow. World Premiere
Winner: Crush the Skull, directed by Viet Nguyen
Screenwriter: Viet Nguyen, Christopher Dinh
Producers: Jimmy Tsai, Aya Tanimura, Viet Nguyen, Christopher Dinh
Cast: Christopher Dinh, Katie Savoy, Chris Riedell, Tim Chiou, Lauren Reeder, Walter Michael Bost
Film Description: A couple of master thieves find themselves trapped within a house they intend to rob, only to discover they’ve wandered into the lair of a deranged serial killer. World Premiere.
The Nightfall Jury awarded special mentions to:
Crumbs, directed and written by Miguel Llansó
Producer: Sergio Uguet de Resayre
Cast: Daniel Tadesse, Selam Tesfaye, Tsegaye Abegaz
Film description: An unlikely hero embarks on an epic quest across a surreal, Ethiopian post apocalyptic landscape in search of a hovering spacecraft that has become a landmark in the skies. North American Premiere.
Dude Bro Party Massacre III, directed by Michael Rousselet, Tomm Jacobsen, Jon Salmon and Joey Scoma
Screenwriters: Michael E. Peter, Ben Gigli, Tomm Jacobsen Michael Rousselet, Jon Salmon, Alec Owen, Tim Ciancio, Brian Firenzi, Joey Scoma, Mike James
Cast: Alec Owen, Olivia Dudley, Kelsey Gunn, Brian Firenzi, Jimmy Wong, Jon Salmon, Michael Rousselet, Joey Scoma, Greg Sestero, Mike James, Ben Gigli, Maria del Carmen, Patton Oswalt, Nina Hartley, Andrew W.K., Nick Kocher, Brian McElhaney, Larry King
Film description: Deranged serial killer “Motherface” is back for one final, blood-spattered rampage in the most notorious ‘80s teen slasher flick that never existed! World Premiere.
Winner: Stealing Cars, directed by Bradley Kaplan
Screenwriter: Will Aldis, Steve Mackall
Producers: Rachel Winter, Dan Keston
Cast: Emory Cohen, John Leguizamo, William H. Macy, Paul Sparks, Mike Epps, Felicity Huffman, Heather Lind, Al Calderon
Film Description: An intelligent, but deeply troubled teenager is sentenced to a juvenile detention center, where attempts at reformation are thwarted by his own nihilistic agenda. World Premiere.
The Zeitgeist Jury awarded a special mention for directing to:
POCHA (Manifest Destiny), directed by Michael Dwyer, co-directed by Kaitlin McLaughlin
Producers: Alicia Dwyer, Kathleen Dwyer
Cast: Veronica Sixtos, Julio César Cedillo, Roberto Urbina, Jorge A. Jimenez, Sandra Santiago, Jessie Garcia, María del Carmen Farías
Film description: When a young woman is deported to Mexico, she must choose between reconciling with her estranged father or partnering with a local smuggler to return to the US. World Premiere
Award for Best Short Film
Winner: Drama, directed by Tian Guan
Film Description: A young couple who are having sex in a car but they realize that there are no more condoms left…
The Shorts Jury awarded a special mention to actress Kaori Momoi for her role in:
Oh Lucy!, directed by Atsuko Hirayanagi
Film Description: Setsuko, a 55 year-old single ‘office lady’ in Tokyo, is given a blonde wig and a new identity, “Lucy,” by her young and unconventional English instructor. “Lucy” awakens desires Setsuko never knew she had.
Award for Best Documentary Short
Winner: Dolphin Lover, directed by Kareem Tabsch
Film Description:A true story set in a 1970s Florida roadside amusement park explores Malcolm Brenner’s romantic and sexual love affair with Dolly, a captive dolphin.
Audience Award for Best Fiction Feature Film
Winner: POCHA (Manifest Destiny), directed by Michael Dwyer, co-directed by Kaitlin McLaughlin
Producers: Alicia Dwyer, Kathleen Dwyer
Cast: Veronica Sixtos, Julio César Cedillo, Roberto Urbina, Jorge A. Jimenez, Sandra Santiago, Jessie Garcia, María del Carmen Farías
Film Description: When a young woman is deported to Mexico, she must choose between reconciling with her estranged father or partnering with a local smuggler to return to the US. World Premiere.
This award is given to the fiction feature audiences liked most as voted by a tabulated rating system. Select fiction feature-length films screening in the following sections were eligible for the Audience Award for Best Fiction Feature: U.S. Fiction, World Fiction, Zeitgeist, LA Muse, Nightfall, and Premieres.
Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature Film (tie)
Winner: I Am Thalente, directed by Natalie Johns
Producers: Colin Kennedy, Oualid Mouaness, Selema “Sal” Masekela, Jason Bergh, Julia Lebedev
Featuring: Thalente Biyela, Tony Hawk, Kenny Anderson, Guy Mariano, Lance Mountain
Film Description: One of the most promising young skaters in the world, Thalente Biyela, navigates growing up within the demands of professional skateboarding from the skate parks of Durban, South Africa to Venice, California. World Premiere.
Winner: Be Here Now, directed by Lilibet Foster
Producers: Lilibet Foster, Sam Maydew
Featuring: Andy Whitfield, Vashti Whitfield
Film Description: After landing the lead role in Spartacus: Blood and Sand, Andy Whitfield learns he has non-Hodgkin lymphoma. Armed with resilience, courage and the adoration of his family, he prepares for the battle of his life. World Premiere.
This award is given to the documentary feature audiences liked most as voted by a tabulated rating system. Select documentary feature-length films screening in the following sections were eligible for the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature: Documentary, LA Muse, and Premieres.
Audience Award for Best Short Film
Winner: In Her Place, directed by Kevin Hamedani
Film Description: An Iranian-American man suffering from a mid-life crisis visits his homeland to meet and wed a young Iranian woman.
This award is given to the short film audiences liked most as voted by a tabulated rating system. Short films screening in the Shorts Programs or before feature films in the Festival were eligible for the Audience Award for Best Short Film.
Audience Award for Best Web-series
Winner: The Genderton Project, directed by Anna Martemucci, Victor Quinaz
Film Description: A modern group of young gay men head to Palm Springs for a gay wedding weekend, when their story is interrupted by the tale of a 1960’s Pasadena housewife whose life is anything but a piece of cake in this gender-swapped comedy.
This award is given to the web-series audiences liked most as voted by a tabulated rating system. Web-series selected for the Episodic program in the Launch section were eligible for the Audience Award for Best Web-series.