At a packed Paramount Theater this evening, the SXSW Film Festival, now at the halfway mark, handed out their big film awards. The fest’s two big competition jury prizes went to director Ana Asensio’s “Most Beautiful Island” (Best Narrative Feature) and directors Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous’s “The Work” (Best Narrative Feature).
Asensio, a Spanish actress and filmmaker living in New York, first adapted the best selling novel “Most Beautiful Island” into a one-woman show. Shot in super 16mm, it tells the story of undocumented female immigrants struggling to start a life in New York. It is a feature film debut for Asensio, who also stars and wrote the screenplay. “Island” is being billed as a dramatic thriller and was produced by the New York horror master Larry Fessenden’s Glass Eye Pix.
The Doc Prize winner, “The Work,” is an intense look at therapy sessions at the Folsom State Prison. IndieWire’s Eric Kohn described the film as a “Tony Robbins session with a bunch of testosterone-fueled convicts.” The real-life psychological thriller was one of a handful of SXSW documentaries that received a number of positive reviews throughout the festival.
The jury also singled out a handful films for special recognition prizes. On the narrative side, actor James Freedson-Jackson from “The Strange Ones” won Breakthrough Performance, while “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” was awarded for having the Best Ensemble Cast.
On the nonfiction side, the jury recognized director Miao Wang (“Maineland”) for Excellence in Observational Cinema and director Nanfu Wang for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling.
One of the many unique aspects of SXSW is the special recognition it pays to often ignored aspects of the filmmaking process, such as best Poster and Title Design, along with singling out films made in its home state of Texas.
The Awards were presented by FilmStruck and hosted by Sasheer Zamata. SXSW Audience Awards will be handed out this weekend.
Check out the complete winners list below.
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: James Freedson-Jackson, “The Strange Ones”
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
Winner: “Forever Now”
Director: Kristian Håskjold
Special Jury Recognition for Acting: Tarra Riggs, “DeKalb Elementary”
Winner: “Little Potato”
Director: Wes Hurley & Nathan M. Miller
Winner: “The Suplex Duplex Complex”
Director: Todd Rohal
Winner: “Wednesday with Goddard”
Directors: Nicolas Menard
Special Jury Recognition: “Pussy”
Director: Renata Gasiorowska
Winner: Leon Bridges, “RIVER”
Director: Miles Jay
Special Jury Recognition: Tame Impala, “The Less I Know The Better”
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 LUNA® Gamechanger Award: Narrative
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.
Winner: “Mr. Roosevelt”
Director: Noël Wells
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.
Presented to: Leigh Johnson