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L.A. Film Fest: ‘Mother, ‘ ‘Code’ Nab Jury Awards; ‘Short Term,’ ‘Wadjda,’ ‘American’ Take Audience Awards

Janis Nord’s Latvian drama “Mother, I Love You” and Ryan McGarry’s medical documentary “Code Black” have taken the narrative and documentary jury awards at the Los Angeles Film Festival.

Daniel Crettin’s “Short Term 12” (pictured above) won the fest’s audience award, three months after the drama took the grand jury and audience awards at South by Southwest. Cinedigm plans to release the film, starring Brie Larson and set in a foster care facility, on Aug. 23.

Mother,” Nord’s second feature, played at Berlin and centers on a misunderstood boy who becomes involved in petty crime. Jay Weissberg said in his Variety review that the film was “an honest, involving pic about an adolescent boy unable to extricate himself from a web of lies.”

McGarry, an emergency physician in Los Angeles, spent four years in production on  “Code Black” in an attempt to portray the realities of life and death in the healthcare system. Linda Goldstein Knowlton produced “Code Black,” which had its world premiere at the festival.

Both “Mother” and “Code Black” received $10,000 cash prizes.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead announced the winners in ceremonies at Chaya in downtown Los Angeles on Sunday, the closing day of the 11-day festival.

The fest’s award for best performance in the narrative competition went to Geetanjali Thapa for  Kamal K.M’s “I.D,” which made its North American premiere. The drama, set in Mumbai, involves a young woman’s attempt to discover the identity of an unconscious laborer.

Audience award for best documentary feature went to “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs,” directed by Grace Lee.

Wadjda,” directed by Haifaa Al Mansour, won the audience award for best international feature. “Wadjda” was shot in Saudi Arabia and is the first feature-length movie made by a female Saudi director.

Audience award for best short film went to “Grandpa and Me and a Helicopter to Heaven,” directed by Asa Blanck and Johan Palmgren, and the audience trophy for music video went to “Katachi,” directed by Kijek/Adamski with music by Shugo Tokumaru.

The short film awards included best narrative to “Walker,” directed by Tsai Ming-Liang; best documentary short film for “Stone,” directed by Kevin Jerome Everson; and best animated or experimental short film for “Oh, Willy,” directed by Emma De Sweaf and Marc James Roels.

The festival is in its 19th year and has logged four years in downtown Los Angeles. Film Independent chiefs Josh Welsh and Sean McManus said that attendance was up “substantially” over last year.

The North American premiere of Pedro Almodovar’s “I’m So Excited,” launched the festival. The closing night film is Nat Faxon and Jim Rash’s “The Way, Way Back.”

Other notable titles screen at the fest included the North American premiere of James Wan’s “The Conjuring,” the world premiere of Doug Pray’s  “Levitated Mass: The Story of Michael Heizer’s Monolithic Sculpture,” the North American premiere of Nicolas Winding Refn’s “Only God Forgives” and the Los Angeles premiere of Ryan Coogler’s “Fruitvale Station.”

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