The Los Angeles Film Festival juries honored Pocas Pascoal’s “All is Well” and Everardo Gonzalez’s “Drought” with their top prizes on Sunday.
Pascoal’s drama about two women from Angola who fled to Lisbon to escape civil war won the Narrative Award, securing a $15,000 cash prize for the director. The narrative jury, comprised of actress Rachael Harris, Robert Townsend and film critic Sheri Linden, described it as “a work of striking visual eloquence and emotional honesty.”
The jury rewarded Dominga Sotomayor’s “Thursday Til Sunday,” a Chilean road movie, with the honorable mention award and described the director as an "exciting new talent."
"Drought," Gonzalez’ documentary about rancheros in northeast Mexico, took the top doc prize from a jury of producers Heather Rae and Karin Chien and director Mark Landsman.
They described it as a “film of extraordinary caliber – epic in scope, keen and intimate in its observational perspective, beautifully filmed and edited with a sparse and affecting soundscape.” Gonzalez too takes home $15,000 as part of the prize.
Sundance sensation "Beast of the Southern Wild" won the audience award for Best Narrative Feature. Benh Zeitlin's film about a six-year old girl from Louisiana searching for her mother opens in theaters June 27.
The top acting prize in the narrative category went to a quartet of actors from Joshua Sanchez's "Four." Wendell Pierce, Emory Cohen, E.J. Bonilla and Aja Naomi King exhibited "pitch-perfect collaborative energy," according to the jury.
On the documentary side, Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore's "Birth Story; Ina May Gaskin and the Farm Widwife" took home the audience award. That film chronicles Gaskin and the midwives of the Farm commune, telling their story as well as their impact on modern midwifery.
"Searching for Sugarman," Malik Bendjelloul's film about a pair of fans exploring the history of an American singer/songwriter named Rodriguez, took the International Feature Award.
In addition to all of the feature awards, a separate jury made up of author Ernest Hardy, cinematographer Nancy Schreiber and writer/director Javier Fuentes Leon awarded three awards for shorts. Grainger David's "The Chair" took top narrative honors, Josh Gibson's "Kudzu Vine" took the documentary prize and Joseph Pierce's "The Pub" won for Best Animated/Experimental Short film.
Finally, the audience selected Bryan Buckley's "Asad" as its favorite short and Lex Halaby's music video for Man Man's "Piranhas Club" as the best in that category.
Actors Jon Heder and Ari Graynor presented the awards for Film Independent, the non-profit organization that produces both the L.A. Film Festival and the Independent Spirit Awards.
Almost 200 feature films, shorts and music videos screened at this year's festival, which concludes its 18th year with the world premiere of Steven Soderbergh's "Magic Mike" Sunday night.
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