'Gretchen,' 'Evil' take jury prizes at fest

Steve Collins’ narrative feature “Gretchen” and Amy Berg’s docu “Deliver Us From Evil” won the jury prizes at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

The Target Filmmaker Award and Target Documentary Award winners were announced Wednesday night during a ceremony at the W Hotel in Westwood, where Charlize Theron picked up the fest’s 2nd annual Spirit of Independence kudo.

Target Awards, presented by Virginia Madsen and Jimmy Smits, carry an unrestricted cash prize of $50,000. Eight pics competed in the narrative category, while 11 docus competed.

This year’s audience award winners and the winners of the short film competish will be announced by Christina Applegate at the fest’s closing night ceremonies Sunday.

A poignant comedy, “Gretchen” revolves around a painfully awkward teenager who is sent to a treatment center to recover from an obsessive crush on a bad-boy type. Collins both directed and wrote, while Courtney Davis stars. Producers are Jay Van Hoy, Lars Knudsen and Anish Savjani.

Berg’s harrowing docu tells the story of Father Oliver O’Grady, a Catholic priest in Northern California who was an active pedophile in the 1970s as he moved from congregation to congregation, protected by a corrupted system within the church. Berg produced with Hermas Lassalle and Frank Donner.

Film Independent exec director Dawn Hudson said the festival’s new home in Westwood has already boosted attendance, and that the relocation from various venues in Hollywood to one centralized location has been a hit among festgoers.

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