The 18th annual L.A. Film Festival ended Sunday, June 24 with some notable recognitions and winners announced. Presented by Film Independent, the presenter of the Independent Spirit Awards, I look at this festival with hope that the films and filmmakers honored will be for their merit.
Best Narrative Film was bestowed upon All is Well, a personal story of exile in Portuguese directed by Pocas Pascoal, follows two Angolan sisters as they escape from the strife of their homeland to Lisbon and street survival. Best Documentary Feature went to Drought by director, Everardo Gonzalez, a Mexican film about a ranching community waiting for rain on the dry, desert plains.
The Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature went to Beasts of the Southern Wild, directed by first time filmmaker, Benh Zeitlin. The film, a “mystical” drama about a young girl’s survival depended on her father teaching her to be self sufficient in the Bayou has been a 2012 festival favorite, winning major awards at Sundance and Cannes.
Another high profile film recognized by the Audience Award for the Best International Feature was Searching for the Sugar Man directed by Malik Bendjelloul, a musical journey of a little-known Detroit singer-songwriter, Rodriguez, who faded into obscurity in the U.S. in the 1970s then became a pop music icon in South Africa.
Oscar nominated director, Lucy Walker attended a reception honoring her two short docs Brazil and Magnolia she directed for an International Sports Series funded by Liberty Mutual Insurance that screened at the Responsibility Project Screening. Her recent film The Tsunami and Cherry Blossom (2011) won the Short Film Jury Award for Non Fiction at Sundance and an Academy Award nomination in 2012.
Her extraordinary, Countdown to Zero, film about worldwide nuclear weapons, was shown in a Special Screening at Cannes this year. While downplaying the controversy over Cannes line up of films in competition with no women directors, Walker and producer, Trudie Styler spoke out about the gender imbalance within cinema to The Guardian, “This outcry about Cannes is very useful in terms of forcing us to discuss this. But it’s not just an issue for Cannes, it’s an issue for the world.
Interesting outcomes for an LA Film Festival with and without the usual celebrity trappings that often tarnish the shine upon films with true filmmaker spirit. It reflects on the presenter of this festival in a great light, Film Independent and I look forward to this year’s Independent Spirit Awards.