South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival reveals its Jury and Special Awards winners for 2017. This year’s festival, which comes to a close on Saturday 18 March, has welcomed a wide array of international film. Over the course of nine days, the festival screens 130 features, consisting of 84 World Premieres, 14 North American Premieres, and five US Premieres, with 54 first-time filmmakers. 128 shorts also screen as part of 12 curated shorts programmes. Now in its 24th year, the event has selected a total of 256 films from 7,651 overall submissions. It runs simultaneously with SXSW Interactive and SXSW Music, providing film festival attendees with the opportunity to connect with tech and music industry experts.
Feature Film Grand Jury Awards
Winning the Narrative Feature Competition is Most Beautiful Island by director Ana Asensio. An undocumented young woman struggling to begin a new life in New York City is offered an opportunity she can’t pass up. But as day turns to night she discovers she’s been lured to the centre of a dangerous game. James Freedson-Jackson picks up Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Performance in The Strange Ones. The film follows the mysterious events that surround the travels of two brothers as they make their way across a remote American landscape. On the surface all seems normal, but what appears to be a simple vacation soon gives way to dark and complex truths.
Special Jury Recognition for Best Ensemble goes to A Bad Idea Gone Wrong’s cast members Matt Jones, Eleanore Pienta, Will Rogers, Jonny Mars, Sam Eidson, Jennymarie Jemison. Claiming the Documentary Feature Competition award is The Work by Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous, while the Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Observational Cinema is awarded to Maineland by Miao Wang. Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling goes to Nanfu Wang for I Am Another You.
Short Film Grand Jury Awards
In the Short Film Grand Jury Awards, Forever Now by Kristian Håskjold picks up the Narrative Short award. After several years together William and Cecilie break up. To treat the sorrow with love the same night they decide to do the drug, MDMA, together. This results in a emotional rollercoaster ride for better or worse over a whole weekend. Special Jury Recognition for Acting goes to Tarra Riggs for her role in DeKalb Elementary, a short film inspired by a 911 call placed during a school shooting incident in Atlanta, Georgia.
Little Potato by Wes Hurley & Nathan M. Miller wins in the Documentary Shorts category, and Todd Rohal’s The Suplex Duplex Complex is presented with the Midnight Shorts prize.Wednesday with Goddard by Nicolas Menard is the favourite in the Animated Shorts programme, while Leon Bridges, RIVER, by director Miles Jay picks up best Music Video.
The SXSW Louis Black “Lone Star” Award – a jury prize created in 2011 to honour SXSW co-founder/director Louis Black – is awarded annually to a Texas film in content, filmmaker residency or primary shooting location. This year, the prize was awarded to Mr. Roosevelt by Noël Wells. The SXSW Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship Presentation – a year-long experience that encourages and champions the talent of an emerging documentary editor – is presented to Leigh Johnson.
Founded in 1987 in Austin, Texas, SXSW is best known for its conference and festivals that celebrate the convergence of the interactive, film and music industries. The event features sessions, showcases, screenings, exhibitions, and a variety of networking opportunities. SXSW is an official qualifying festival for the Academy Awards Short Film Competition. The Best Narrative Short, Best Documentary Short and Best Animated Short winners become eligible for the Academy Awards.
SXSW Conference and Festivals will close with the World Premiere of Life directed by Daniel Espinosa on Saturday 18 March at the Zach Theatre. Sci-fi thriller Life follows a team of scientists aboard the International Space Station whose mission of discovery turns to one of primal fear when they find a rapidly evolving life form that caused extinction on Mars, and now threatens the crew and life on Earth. The film features ensemble cast of Jake Gyllenhaal, Rebecca Ferguson, Ryan Reynolds, Hiroyuki Sanada, Ariyon Bakare, and Olga Dihovichnaya.
SXSW Film Festival, until 18 March, Austin, Texas.
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1. SXSW Grand Jury Prize Winner Most Beautiful Island.