SXSW 2017: Mark’s Film Festival Recap

By Mark Saldana

Source: SXSW

After nine days of movies, the 2017 SXSW film festival has come to an end.  For the most part, my festival went well.  I was able to see twenty-one films and participate in five interviews with some of the films’s available talent.  Since 1994, the SXSW film festival and conference has offered a rich variety of films and programming in the form of narrative and documentary features and shorts, music videos, and various pilots of television series.  The entire event has grown exponentially ever since.  2017 marks the twenty-third year for the event and was the eighth time I attended.  The line-up this year offered a wonderful assortment of headliners, narrative features and documentaries.

On Tuesday, March 14, the film Jury announced their selections for this year’s awards.  On Saturday, March 18, the last day of the film festival, SXSW announced the winners of the audience awards.  The audience awards get determined following all screenings, as audiences submit ballots rating the films they saw.  Of course, this film critic has his own opinion and will certainly offer his preferences.  Before I list the winners of awards in both categories and offer my own favorites, I have to applaud the programmers and people in charge of this awesome celebration of film and entertainment. Without the hard work of these fine people, as well as the other employees and volunteers, this event would be a horrendous mess. These wonderful folks will keep me returning every year as long as I can muster the energy to keep up with fast pace and massiveness of it all.

Here are the Jury and Audience Awards, followed by my top ten list of films from SXSW Film 2017.

The 2017 SXSW Film Festival Awards: 

Feature Film Grand Jury Awards 

NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION 

Winner: Most Beautiful Island

Director: Ana Asensio

Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Performance: The Strange Ones

Actor: James Freedson-Jackson

Special Jury Recognition for Best Ensemble: A Bad Idea Gone Wrong

Cast: Matt Jones, Eleanore Pienta, Will Rogers, Jonny Mars, Sam Eidson, Jennymarie Jemison

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION 

Winner: The Work
Directors: Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous

Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Observational Cinema: Maineland
Director: Miao Wang


Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling: I Am Another You
Director: Nanfu Wang

Short Film Grand Jury Awards

Presented by OneFifty, early investors in original content from Time Warner Inc., home to HBO, Turner and Warner Bros.

NARRATIVE SHORTS

Winner: Forever Now
Director: Kristian Håskjold

Special Jury Recognition for ActingDeKalb Elementary
Actor: Tarra Riggs

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS 

Winner: Little Potato
Director: Wes Hurley & Nathan M. Miller

MIDNIGHT SHORTS

Winner: The Suplex Duplex Complex

Director: Todd Rohal

ANIMATED SHORTS

Winner: Wednesday with Goddard
Directors: Nicolas Menard


Special Jury Recognition: Pussy

Director: Renata Gasiorowska

MUSIC VIDEOS 

Winner: Leon Bridges – ‘RIVER’

Director: Miles Jay

Special Jury Recognition: Tame Impala – ‘The Less I Know The Better’

Director: CANADA

TEXAS SHORTS 

Winner: The Rabbit Hunt
Director: Patrick Bresnan

TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SHORTS

Winner: Better Late Than Never

Director: Atheena Frizzell

Special Jury Recognition: Darcy’s Quinceañera

Director: Sam Cooper

SXSW Film Design Awards 

EXCELLENCE IN POSTER DESIGN 

Winner: Fry Day

Designer: Caspar Newbolt

Special Jury Recognition: Like Me

Designer: Jeremy Enecio

EXCELLENCE IN TITLE DESIGN 

Winner: Into The Current

Directors: Chris R. Moberg and Jared Young

 

SXSW Special Awards 

SXSW LUNA® Gamechanger Award – Narrative

SXSW LUNA® Chicken & Egg Award – Documentary

LUNA, creators of the first nutrition bar for women, has championed female filmmakers for more than 16 years. In collaboration with Gamechanger Films and Chicken & Egg Pictures, LUNA is honored to offer two $15,000 artist awards and mentoring to help support female filmmakers hone their craft in the fiction and documentary categories, seek new and exciting opportunities, and navigate the changing media landscape. (Opt-in Award)

SXSW LUNA® Gamechanger Award – Narrative

Winner: INFLAME

Director: Ceylan Ozgun Ozcelik

SXSW LUNA® Chicken & Egg Award – Documentary

Winner: I Am Another You

Director: Nanfu Wang

 

SXSW Louis Black “Lone Star” Award

To honor SXSW co-founder/director Louis Black, a jury prize was created in 2011 called the Louis Black “Lone Star” Award, to be awarded to a Texas film in content, filmmaker residency, or primary shooting location. (Opt-in Award)

Louis Black “Lone Star” Award 

Winner: Mr. Roosevelt

Director: Noël Wells

SXSW Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award

In honor of a filmmaker whose work strives to be wholly its own, without regard for norms or desire to conform. The Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award is presented to a filmmaker from our Visions screening category.

SXSW Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award

Presented to: Assholes directed by Peter Vack

SXSW Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship Presentation

The Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship is a year-long experience that encourages and champions the talent of an emerging documentary editor. Awarded annually, the fellowship was created to honor the memory of gifted editor Karen Schmeer.

Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship 

Presented to: Leigh Johnson 

2017 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award Winners:

NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION 
Audience Award Winner: 
The Light of the Moon
Director: Jessica M. Thompson

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION 
Audience Award Winner: 
Dealt
Director: Luke Korem

HEADLINERS 
Audience Award Winner:
 Baby Driver 
Director: Edgar Wright 

NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT 
Audience Award Winner:
 Mr. Roosevelt 
Director: Noël Wells

DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHT 
Audience Award Winner:
 The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin 
Director: Jennifer M. Kroot 

VISIONS 
Audience Award Winner: 
Becoming Bond 
Director: Josh Greenbaum

MIDNIGHTERS 
Audience Award Winner:
 68 Kill 
Direct
or: Trent Haaga

EPISODIC 
Audience Award Winner
: Dear White People 
Director: Justin Simien 

24 BEATS PER SECOND 
Audience Award Winner: May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers 
Directors: Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio 

GLOBAL 
Audience Award Winner:
 Divine Divas
Director: Leandra Leal 

FESTIVAL FAVORITES 
Audience Award Winner
The Big Sick
Director: Michael Showalter 

SXSW Film Design Awards

EXCELLENCE IN TITLE DESIGN 

Audience Award Winner: Into The Current 

Directors: Chris R. Moberg and Jared Young

Virtual Cinema Grand Jury Awards

VIRTUAL REALITY: ROOM-SCALE

Winner: After Solitary 

Directors: Cassandra Herrman, Lauren Mucciolo

Special Jury Recognition for Innovative Use of Virtual Reality Technology in the Field of Health: Reinvent 

Directors: Ian Forester, Sook-lei Liew, PhD

360° VIDEO

Winner: Behind the Fence

Directors: Lindsay Branham, Jonathan Olinger 

Special Jury Recognition for Technical Excellence: Dreams of “O”

Directors: Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël

Mark’s SXSW 2017 Top Ten

  1. Inheritance
  2. The Light of the Moon
  3. The Disaster Artist
  4. Colossal
  5. This is Your Death
  6. Small Town Crime
  7. Song to Song
  8. Signature Move
  9. The Most Hated Woman in America
  10. Person to Person

Honorable Mentions: Mr. Roosevelt, The Big Sick, 68 Kill

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