'Story' reads well at festival

Robert Cary’s “Ira & Abby,” starring and written by Jennifer Westfeldt, picked up the audience award for narrative feature as the Los Angeles Film Festival wrapped Sunday night at its new Westwood locale.

Westfeldt is a two-time L.A. fest favorite. In 2001, “Kissing Jessica Stein,” which she starred in and co-wrote, drew the same prize.

Jeff Werner and Susan Koch’s “Mario’s Story” picked up this year’s audience award for documentary feature, while Tomer Heymann’s “Paper Dolls” took the audience award for international feature. Aud award for short went to Diego Quemada-Diez’s “I Want to Be a Pilot.”

As announced last week, the Target filmmaker award went to Steve Collins’ “Gretchen,” while Amy Berg won the Target documentary nod for “Deliver Us From Evil.” Each award carries an unrestricted cash prize of $50,000.

The remaining jury prizes were announced Sunday night along with the audience winners.

Award for performance in the official narrative competition went to the ensemble of Mike Akel’s “Chalk,” including Troy Schremmer, Janelle Schremmer, Shannon Haragan and Chris Mass.

Jury award for narrative short went to Gustavo Taretto’s “Side Walls,” while the docu short nod went to Cedar Sherbert’s “Gesture Down (I Don’t Sing).” Adam Parrish King’s “The Wraith of Cobble Hill” drew kudos for animated/experimental short film.

Honorary fest chair Christina Applegate doled out the audience awards before the closing-night screening of Fox Searchlight’s “Little Miss Sunshine,” which played at Sundance earlier this year.

Film Independent, host of the festival, said more than 80,000 people attended the event.

In addition to moving to Westwood, fest scored a lucrative partnership this year, bringing in the Los Angeles Times as presenting sponsor.

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