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Heather Young’s ‘Murmur’ Wins Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize at Slamdance Film Festival

”Residue“ from director Merawi Gerima won an honorable mention and the audience award for narrative feature

“Murmur,” from director Heather Young, won the Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize from the 26th Slamdance Film Festival, the festival announced at its awards ceremony at the Treasure Mountain Inn in Park City, Utah on Thursday night.

The jury at the festival also recognized Merawi Gerima’s “Residue” with an honorable mention, and “Residue” also took home the audience award for narrative feature.

“We congratulate the winners of Slamdance 2020 and we celebrate all of our new filmmakers who have shown us that the art of filmmaking is brilliantly alive,” Slamdance co-founder Peter Baxter said in a statement. “This next generation collectively brings us art formed in risk taking, bravery and the unexpected. It’s not just their characters who are on an adventure. It’s the filmmakers as well and Slamdance will continue to be their companion.”

“The Grand Jury Award for Narrative Feature goes to ‘Murmur,’ the quietly devastating debut feature from Canadian filmmaker Heather Young. This richly detailed and deeply humane drama offers an insightful and sympathetic portrait of a lonely woman — affectingly portrayed by newcomer Shan McDonald — who goes to self-destructive extremes while attempting to fill the gaping void in her life,” the jury said in a statement. “An honorable mention goes to Merawi Gerima’s mesmerizing first feature, ‘Residue,’ which is at once inventive, poetic and angry about issues of identity, gentrification and the difficulty of returning home.”

Director Brian Morrison’s “Bastards’ Road” won the 2020 Audience Award for Documentary Feature. “Shoot to Marry,” directed by Steve Markle, walked away with this year’s Best of Breakouts Audience Award, given to films in the festival’s Breakouts Section, which showcases filmmakers who have made a feature before.

“Higher Love,” directed by Hasan Oswald, won the Documentary Jury Prize, and an honorable mention was given to “Maxima” directed by Claudia Sparrow. “To Calm the Pig Inside” won the Documentary Short Grand Jury Prize,” and “Umbilical” and “My Favorite Food is Indian Tacos, my Favorite Drink is Iced Tea and my Favorite Thing is Drumming” both won honorable mentions in the category.

This year, the festival also offered the AGBO Fellowship, presented by Slamdance alumni Joe and Anthony Russo of “Avengers: Endgame” fame. The prize was awarded to Carlota Pereda, director of “Piggy.” Pereda will receive a $25,000 prize designed to enable a deserving filmmaker the opportunity to continue their journey with mentorship from the Russos as well as development support from their studio.

“Carlota Pereda’s ‘Piggy’ is a punch to the face. An accomplished mix of biting social commentary and emotionally devastating filmmaking. We’re extremely proud to present her with this year’s AGBO Fellowship. And we look forward to supporting her work in the future,” the Russo said in a statement.

Slamdance’s 2020 feature competition lineup included 16 World, North American, and U.S. Premieres – including films from Belarus, Canada, Germany, Japan, Mexico, Peru, Poland, Russia, South Africa and the United States. In total, 11 narrative and 9 documentary features were showcased in competition. All competition films are feature length directorial debuts with budgets of less than $1 million USD, and without US distribution.

This year’s festival boasted the DGA as a major sponsor, Blackmagic Design as a major sponsor, and CreativeFuture, Pierce Law Group, LLP, Final Draft, and Entertainment Partners as awards sponsors.

Check out the full list of winners from the festival below:

Jury Awards | Narrative Features

Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize – “Murmur” (Dir.: Heather Young)

Honorable Mentions: “Residue” (Dir.: Merawi Gerima)

Jury Awards | Documentary Features, Documentary Shorts

Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize – “Higher Love” (Dir.: Hasan Oswald)

Honorable Mention – “Maxima” (Dir.: Claudia Sparrow)

Documentary Short Grand Jury Prize – “To Calm the Pig Inside” (Dir.: Joanna Vasquez Arong)

Honorable Mention: “Umbilical” (Dir.: Danski Tang) and “My Favorite Food is Indian Tacos, my Favorite Drink is Iced Tea and my Favorite Thing is Drumming” (Dir.: Derius Matchewan)

Jury Awards – Narrative Shorts

Narrative Shorts Grand Jury Prize:  “Moving” (Dir.: Adinah Dancyger)

Honorable Mention: “Proof” (Dir.: Nishtha Jain, Deepti Gupta)

Jury Awards – Experimental Shorts/ Animated Shorts

Experimental Shorts Grand Jury Prize: “Shooting Stars” (Dir.: Magda Jaroszewicz)

Honorable Mention: “Meteorite” (Dir.: Mauricio Saenz)

Animated Shorts Grand Jury Prize: “The Little Soul” (Dir.: Barbara Rupik)

Honorable Mention: “Symbiosis” (Dir.: Nadja Andrasev)

Slamdance Acting Award: Obinna Nwachukwu (“Residue”)

Slamdance Acting Award Honorable Mention: Maya Harman (“Chubby”)

George Starks Spirit of Slamdance Award Winner: Yani Gellman of “Greetings, from the Planet Krog!”

CreativeFuture Innovation Award: “The Little Soul” (Dir.: Barbara Rupik)

The AGBO Fellowship, presented by Joe and Anthony Russo, Award Winner: Carlota Pereda, (Dir., “Piggy”)

Audience Awards:

Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature: “Residue” (Dir.: Merawi Gerima)

Audience Award for Documentary Feature: “Bastards’ Road” (Dir.: Brian Morrison)

Best of Breakouts Audience Award: “Shoot to Marry” (Dir.: Steve Markle)