Sunday, June 9, 2013

Seattle International Film Festival Winners

The Seattle International Film Festival concluded.  Here are the winners.  The opening night gala was Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing (the director was the third runner-up for the Best Director prize) while the closing film was Sophia Coppola's The Bling Ring.

Harmony Lessons (Kazakhstan)- directed by Emir Baigazin
Emir Baigazin's astounding debut feature Harmony Lessons set the bar for all the films that the Narrative Jury watched before and after. On one level, it's the simple tale of a bullied Muslim boy in rural Kazakhstan. But as no single child's life is ever as simple as adults believe, from the moment we meet the dark-eyed, pimply hero chasing down a family sheep to slaughter with his aging babushka, to his ultimate act of vengeance in his struggle for survival, his confrontation with bullies at his local school spirals into a larger tale of societal dominance and submission. Power relations based on intimidation and violence flow from boy to sheep, alpha boy to beta, local police to accused criminals, and ultimately an entire society defined by a hierarchy of male bullying male. Visually exact, transparently acted by a mostly juvenile cast, and quietly terrifying, this Kazakhstan/Germany/France co-production is a hard-won lesson in how brutal life can be that is told with spellbinding assurance by a visionary young talent.

Grand Jury Prize
Our Nixon (US)- directed by Penny Lane
For Best Documentary the prize goes to Penny Lane for Our Nixon. For this original telling of the unraveling of the Nixon presidency, Lane poured over a mountain of archival Super 8 home movie footage and audio to take a story that we think we already know and give it a fresh and human perspective.

Special Jury Prize
The Crash Reel (US)- directed by Lucy Walker
The Crash Reel is a nuanced look at snowboarder and Olympic hopeful Kevin Pearce, his inspiring journey back from traumatic brain injury, and the healing power of family.  Walker was previously nominated for an Academy Award for the documentary Waste Land.

Grand Jury Prize
C.O.G. (US)- directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez
A cocky young man travels to Oregon to work on an apple farm. Out of his element, he finds his lifestyle and notions being picked apart by everyone who crosses his path.  Based on the short story by David Sedaris, the film stars Jonathon Groff, Dale Dickey and Corey Stall and had its world premiere at Sundance earlier this year.  It was acquired and will be released theatrically by Screen Media Films.

Feature Films
Fanie Fourie's Lobola (South Africa)- directed by Henk Pretorius
First runner-up: The Rocket (Australia)- directed by Kim Mordaunt
Second runner-up: Monsters University (US)- directed by Dan Scanlon
Third runner-up: Decoding Annie Parker (US)- directed by Steven Bernstein
Fourth runner-up: Still Mine (Canada)- directed by Michael McGowan

Twenty Feet From Stardom (US)- directed by Morgan Neville

Nabil Ayouch, Horses of God (Morocco)

James Cromwell, Still Mine (Canada)

Samantha Morton, Decoding Annie Parker (US)

Full list of all winners here. 

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