‘Familiar Ground,’ ‘Wish Me Away’ Win Top LAFF Awards

Deadpan comedy and Chely Wright doc win jury awards; “Attack the Block” takes top audience prize

The deadpan comedy "Familiar Ground" and the Chely Wright documentary "Wish Me Away" won the top jury prizes at the Los Angeles Film Festival on Sunday, while the cast of "How to Cheat" were honored for their performances.

Familiar GroundIn audience voting, the top narrative feature was Joe Cornish's aliens-vs.-street-kids thriller "Attack the Block," which will soon be released by Sony's Screen Gems, and the music documentary "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest."

Other winners include "Senna," Asif Kapadia's documentary about the Brazilian racing driver; and the shorts "The Wind is Blowing on My Street," "I Am a Girl!" and "The Eagleman Stag."

"Familiar Ground" (photo above), a comedy from Quebecois director Stephane Lafleur, follows a woman trapped in an unhappy marriage, and her slacker brother, meet a man who claims to be from the (very near) future. the In a strong narrative competition this year, this was the singular vision that stood out the most,” said the jury in citing the film.

Chely WrightIn "Wish Me Away" (right), directors Beverly Kopf and Bobbie Birleffi  follow Chely Wright in the days before the million-selling country singer came out of the closet on national television. The jury said it honored the film “for its honesty, humor and potential to change minds and even save lives.

Jury awards carry $15,000 unrestricted cash prizes in the feature categories and, for the first time, $5,000 awards in the shorts categories.

The prizes were announced at an awards brunch in downtown Los Angeles, where the festival has been running since June 16. The festival closes on Sunday night with a screening of "Don't Be Afraid of the Dark."

JURY AWARDS

Narrative Award: "Familiar Ground," Stephane Lafleur
Documentary Award: "Wish Me Away," Beverly Kopf and Bobbie Birleffi
Best Performance in the Narrative Competition: Amber Sealey, Kent Osborne, Amanda Street and Gabriel Diamond for "How to Cheat"

Best Narrative Short Film: "The Wind Is Blowing on My Street," Saba Riazi
Best Documentary Short Film: "I Am a Girl!," Susan Koenen
Best Animated Short Film: "The Eagleman Stag," Mikey Please

AUDIENCE AWARDS

Best Narrative Feature: "Attack the Block," Joe Cornish
Best Documentary Feature: "Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest," Michael Rapaport
Best International Feature: "Senna," Asif Kapadia

Best Short Film: "Blind Date," Joe Rosen
Best Music Video: "Can't Shake This Feeling," Grum, directed by Adam Littke, Ryan McNeill and Adam Willis of the General Assembly