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Big Winners At LA Film Festival


Tuesday, July 3------The LA Film Festival wrapped this past weekend with its gala awards ceremony at the Hammer Museum to announce winners of the Target Awards. The Spanish-language film AUGUST EVENING, which world premiered at the event, won the Target Award for Best Narrative Feature. The film, written and directed by Chris Eska, with a Hispanic cast that includes Pedro Castaneda, Veronica Loren, Abel Becerra, Walter Perez, Sandra Rios and Cesar Flores, is the story of an undocumented worker who travels with his widowed daughter-in-law across Texas. The film is a quietly compelling character study which captures the weight of loaded silences, the tenderness of an unseen glance and the glories of a quiet August evening. The Target Award includes a cash prize of $50,000, one of the highest on the film festival circuit. The film has been acquired by Moctesuma Esparza's newly formed distribution company Maya Entertainment, in a deal signed after the film's debut last week. 

The documentary BILLY THE KID, by Jennifer Venditti, won the Target Award as Best Documentary, which also includes a $50,000 cash prize. Billy P. is a remarkable 15-year-old who is quite the odd bird in the small Maine town where he is growing up. At first, he seems ike any other awkward teen into air guitar, professional wrestling and girls. Gradually, however, Billy and his mother reveal to Venditti’s empathetic camera a darker history of behavioral problems, institutionalization and medical treatments.

OWL AND THE SPARROWOWL AND THE SPARROWOWL AND THE SPARROW, written and directed by Stephane Gauger, won the Audience Award for Best Narrative Film. Set on the tough streets of urban Vietnam, the film follows the headstrong and irrepressible 10-year-old Thuy, who runs away to Saigon where she eventually befriends two lovelorn strangers. RESOLVED, a documentary film by Greg Whiteley, won the Audience Award for Best Documentary. The film explores the fascinating complexity of high school debate societies, which offer a portrait of the equally complex racial and class bias of American education.  Stephen Walker's YOUNG @ HEART, won the Audience Award for Best International Feature. The film is a rousing and inspirational story of a New England senior citizens chorus that has delighted audiences worldwide with their covers of songs by everyone from Led Zeppelin to Coldplay.

The Los Angeles Film Festival closed with a special screening of SUNSHINE, the latest film by Danny Boyle. In this futuristic thriller, also written by Alex Garland (28 DAYS LATER), the year is 2057. Earth is enwrapped in a darkening solar winter: the sun is dying. Fifty-five million miles from earth, physicist Robert Capa and an international crew of astronauts and scientists are aboard the Icarus II spaceship, speeding toward the fading star with a thermo-nuclear device they hope will reignite it. The fate of mankind is in their hands. The film is being released by Fox Searchlight Films on July 20th.

Sandy Mandelberger, Awards Watch Editor


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