L.A. Film Fest fetes ‘Family,’ ‘Believe’

Event hands out prizes for best narrative, docu

The Los Angeles Film Fest wrapped an unusually eventful edition Sunday at its new Downtown L.A. home.

Festival organizers juggled everything from Laker fans vandalism and violence on opening night to a tent city of screaming Twihards in advance of “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse” premiere. While a few events, such as the “Pee-wee’s Big Adventure” screening at the Orpheum Theater, saw unwieldly lines, there were fewer parking and theater snafus than festgoers had anticipated.

Jury awards were given Saturday to Pernille Fischer Christensen’s “A Family” (“En Familie”) for narrative feature and J. Clay Tweel’s “Make Believe” for docu.

Audience awards were announced Sunday before the fest’s closing screening of “Despicable Me,” with narrative feature prize to “Four Lions,” directed by Christopher Morris, and docu feature audience award to “Thunder Soul,” directed by Mark Landsman. “Presumed Guilty,” from Roberto Hernandez and Geoffrey Smith, won the international feature audience award.

“I think a lot of the industry — myself included — are happily surprised to see the fantastic turnout at the new downtown location,” said Strand Releasing co-prexy Marcus Hu. “There were many good surprises for me.”Hu said he was happy to see the winner of Netflix’s Find Your Voice competition, Philip G. Flores’ “The Wheeler Boys,” get a fest screening as well as streaming free on Netflix.

Actress Gena Rowlands presented each filmmaker at the jury awards brunch with an unrestricted $50,000 check from fest organizer Film Independent. Christensen, who could not attend the ceremony, called her win “a beautiful surprise” via prewritten note.

Fest winners also included Pablo Larcuen’s “My Invisible Friend” for narrative short, Tomasz Wolski’s “The Lucky One” for docu short and Beomsik Shimbe Shim’s “Wonder Hospital” for animated short.

The cast of Adam Reid’s “Hello Lonesome” took home the prize for ensemble performance in the narrative competition.

Audience award for short went to “Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No,” while the video for OK Go’s “This Too Shall Pass” won for musicvideo.

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