Film Independent [FIND] announced the winners for the 2005 Los Angeles Film Festival, including the winner of the Target Filmmaker Award (for Best Narrative Feature), which went to Mark Banning for Jellysmoke. The winner of the Target Documentary Award (for Best Documentary Feature) went to Beth Bird for Everyone Their Grain of Sand.
The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to Miranda July's Me and You and Everyone We Know. David Zeiger's Sir! No Sir! won the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature. Luc Jacquet's March of the Penguins won the Audience Award for Best International Feature.
Catherine Kellner and Ebon Moss-Bachrach of Leslie McCleave's Road won for Outstanding Performance in the Narrative Competition. Given to an actor from an official selection in the Narrative Competition, this is the second year the award has been given out at the festival.
A total of 266 films including 77 features representing more than 30 countries screened at the festival. This year the festival received more than 3,700 submissions from filmmakers around the world, with the final selections representing several premieres.
We've got clips for our readers to watch from the film festival's official programming, FesTV. Select a clip below to watch!
"It's been so exciting to see audiences respond to the 2005 Los Angeles Film Festival," said Executive Director of Film Independent Dawn Hudson. "We've increased our diverse programming and presented a terrific slate of independent films from the U.S. and around the world, all of which has been a recipe for success. The festival is exceeding FIND's goals of expanding the audience for independent films and creating an exciting cultural event for the entire city of Los Angeles."
Festival organizers also announced at the Spirit of Independence event honoring George Clooney on Saturday night that Westwood will be the future home of the Los Angeles Film Festival. The transition to Westwood will begin in June 2006. Strategic partners involved in the transition to Westwood are the UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television, Mann Theatres, Landmark Theatres, the Crest Theater, and the Hammer Museum.
"With 60,000 attendees, the festival is expanding to a village with multiple screens and ample parking, all within walking distance," said Festival Director Richard Raddon. "Westwood is the perfect match for us and allows for the future growth of the festival."
The festival kicked off on Thursday, June 16 with the Opening Night Gala selection, the North American Premiere of Down in the Valley, written and directed by David Jacobson. Magnolia Pictures' Nine Lives, written and directed by Rodrigo Garcia, had its Los Angeles premiere as the Centerpiece Premiere. The Closing Night film selection was Lions Gate's Happy Endings, directed by Don Roos.
In announcing Jellysmoke directed by Mark Banning as the winner of the 2005 Target Filmmaker Award, the jury stated, "The jury enjoyed the diversity of the selections, which included many films outside the usual independent genres. The winning filmmaker succeeds in treating difficult material in an interesting and subtle way, giving us a haunting and ultimately moving study of a character struggling to connect with the people around him."
In his feature debut, Jellysmoke, Mark Banning paints the portrait of a young man searching for love and a way to maintain his sanity. Though sweet, handsome, and well-liked, Jacob suffers deeply from bipolar depression. After a stint in the psych ward, he resolves to find normalcy and sees the key to securing it in the love of a beautiful stranger and her young son. Quietly nuanced, Michael Ealy's performance is a beautiful and apt reminder of how heartbreakingly fragile, yet ultimately hopeful life can be.
The Narrative Feature jury consisted of director Patricia Cardoso (Real Women Have Curves), film consultant and producer Marie-Pierre Macia, and Film Comment editor Gavin Smith. The jury also awarded the Outstanding Performance in the Narrative Competition, stating "For creating a convincing and ambiguous dynamic as former lovers on an increasingly enigmatic road trip, the 2005 Outstanding Performance Award goes to Catherine Kellner and Ebon Moss-Bachrach for their work in Leslie McCleave's Road."
The winner of the Target Documentary Award is Beth Bird's Everyone Their Grain of Sand. Beth Bird shows a small town's struggle for survival in the face of corporate greed and how it powerfully demonstrates the downside of globalization and U.S.-Mexico border economics. Since 1988, Mexican community Maclovio Rojas has been fighting for education, electricity, and water owed them by their government, which would rather force thousands of residents off land that developers are drooling over. Community leaders are arrested, lingering in prison without due process, while their families and friends make every effort to obtain justice. Beth Bird's heartbreaking and intimate feature debut balances these hardships with glimpses of goodness—an elementary school graduation, holiday celebrations—to remind us what they're fighting for.
"This year's Target Documentary Award winner is a return to unvarnished, passionate documentary filmmaking," said the Documentary Competition jury. "It's a testimony to the importance of access and dedication, both of which culminate in an engrossing look at issues of corporate power and international politics as they bear down on the lives of ordinary citizens. With a deceptive simplicity, this film captures the courage and resilience of those who rise up to ‘fight the power.'"
The Documentary Competition jury consisted of director Joan Churchill (Asylum, Jimi Plays Berkeley), film critic Ernest Hardy, and Oscar-nominated documentary filmmaker Renee Tajima-Peña (The New Americans, My America).
In addition to the festival's Coffee Talks, Poolside Chats, and other special events, this year the festival celebrated Family Day at the Santa Monica Pier. The event was free to the public and was a fun-filled day of celebrity storytelling by Nancy Cartwright and Todd Parr, a kiddy red carpet, arts and crafts galore, dance and yoga classes, karaoke, pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting, magicians, Los Angeles's hottest bands, multi-cultural performances and demonstrations, and much more to celebrate the city's creative and cultural diversity. Family Day ended with a special outdoor screening of the Academy Award-nominated Babe in conjunction with the family classic's ten-year anniversary. Family Day was sponsored by Target, People, Playhouse Disney, and The Santa Monica Pier.
Sydney Pollack served as the Guest Director for the festival. In this role, Pollack hosted the Filmmaker Retreat, programmed a sidebar of films that inspired his work, and attended the Opening Night festivities.
THE RZA served as this year's Artist in Residence. As Artist in Residence, THE RZA selected three films which screened at the festival: Lau Kar-leung's The 36th Chamber of Shaolin (1977); Jim Jarmusch's Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999); and Sergio Leone's The Good, The Bad and The Ugly (1966). He also headlined the festival's ToonTime with THE RZA at the Ford Amphitheatre.
Honorary Chairs were Don Cheadle, Lisa Kudrow, and Elijah Wood. As Honorary Chairs, Wood hosted the Opening Night festivities, Kudrow hosted the Closing Night festivities, and Cheadle presented the Target Documentary Award at the Spirit of Independence event.
The festival center (including box office, free outdoor screenings, Porch Parties, and the Target Red Room/ Filmmaker Lounge) was located at 8000 Sunset Blvd. The festival utilized screening facilities including the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theatres, Directors Guild of America, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the John Anson Ford Amphitheatre, Mann's National Theatre, and the Arclight Hollywood Cinerama Dome. Other venues for events included the Four Seasons Hotel, the Hollywood Palladium, the Laugh Factory, the Orpheum Theatre, the Pacific Design Center, and the Zephyr Theatre.