The polarizing, quirky millennial comedy “Fort Tilden,” from directors Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers, won the narrative feature grand jury prize at this year’s SXSW Film Festival, while Margaret Brown’s BP oil spill expose “The Great Invisible” nabbed the honors for best documentary feature.
Narrative competion juror Oliver Platt presented the kudo to “Fort Tilden,” noting that the decision had been unanimous. The film stars Clare McNulty and Bridey Elliott as a pair of twentysomething roommates who find themselves in a trek across “deep Brooklyn.” Last year’s winner was the widely embraced drama “Short Term 12.”
“Sitting in that chair for the last half-hour was the best workout I could have had,” Bliss said as she accepted the prize with Rogers. “My heart is pounding so fast.”
Brown accepted the award for “The Great Invisible” onstage with her crew.
“This was a three-and-a-half year effort,” said the director, who thanked the film community “for watching a lot of really bad rough cuts.”
Fest kudos were handed out Tuesday night at Austin’s Paramount Theatre, hosted for the second straight year by Jerrod Carmichael, who appeared in Universal’s SXSW-premiered comedy “Neighbors.”
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Jury members spread the kudos wealth as “Animals” actor-screenwriter David Dastmalchian won the special jury recognition for courage in storytelling prize, awarding him for his physically demanding portrayal of a homeless addict.
“I hope that anyone who sees this movie remembers, you never give up on people,” Dastmalchian said.
Natalia Tena and David Verdaguer received the acting duo award for their performances as a couple separated by 10,000 kilometers in Carlos Marques-Marcet’s relationship drama “Long Distance.” Tena accepted the award in Verdaguer’s absence, noting that she was going to “drink lots of shots for him.”
In the documentary competition, a special jury recognition for political courage went to “Vessel,” Diana Whitten’s film about pro-choice activist Rebecca Gomperts and her organization Women on Waves. The doc jury also gave a special jury award for editing and storytelling to “Print the Legend,” Luis Lopez and Clay Tweel’s pic about the burgeoning 3D printing industry.
A pair of Sundance premieres traveling to the Austin film fest nabbed awards, including local hero Richard Linklater’s “Boyhood,” which won the Louis Black Lone Star Award for a Texas film, and Kat Candler’s “Hellion” receiving a special mention in the SXSW Gamechanger category.
Director Jen McGowan received the SXSW Gamechanger Award for “Kelly & Cal,” her debut starring Juliette Lewis and Jonny Weston.
Carmichael kicked off the show with a standup routine in which he mocked everything from Woody Allen, whom he thanked for reminding everyone that “talent is more important than morals,” to festival entry “The Raid 2,” which he described as the story of “one guy’s struggle to give a fuck about plot.”
The SXSW Film Fest screened a total of 246 films, including 133 features and 113 short entries, over nine days. Audience awards will be handed out Saturday.
The 2014 SXSW Film Festival Award Winners:
Feature Film Jury Awards
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Grand Jury Winner: Fort Tilden
Director: Sarah-Violet Bliss & Charles Rogers
Special Jury Recognition for Courage in Storytelling: Animals
Actor & Screenwriter: David Dastmalchian
Special Jury Recognition for Best Acting Duo: 10,000KM (Long Distance)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Grand Jury Winner: The Great Invisible
Director: Margaret Brown
Special Jury Recognition for Political Courage: Vessel
Director: Diana Whitten
Special Jury Recognition for Editing & Storytelling: Print the Legend
Directors: Luis Lopez & Clay Tweel
Short Film Jury Awards
Winner: Quelqu’un d’extraordinaire
Director: Monia Chokri
Special Jury Recognition: Person to Person
Director: Dustin Guy Defa
Special Jury Recognition for Cinematography: Krisha
Director: Trey Edward Shults
Winner: Kehinde Wiley: An Economy of Grace
Director: Jeff Dupre
Winner: Wawd Ahp
Directors: Steve Girard & Josh Chertoff
Director: Alan Holly
Special Jury Recognition: Eager
Director: Allison Schulnik
Winner: Joel Compass, “Back to Me”
Director: Ian and Cooper
Winner: Some vacation.
Director: Anne S. Lewis
TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SHORTS
Director: Caila Pickett & Max Montoya
SXSW Film Design Awards
EXCELLENCE IN POSTER DESIGN
Winner: Starry Eyes
Designer: Jay Shaw
EXCELLENCE IN TITLE DESIGN
Winner: True Detective
Designer: Patrick Clair for Elastic
Special Jury Recognition: The Lego Movie
Designer: Brian Mah for Alma Mater
SXSW Special Awards
SXSW GAMECHANGER EMERGENT WOMAN DIRECTOR AWARD
Winner: Jen McGowan, Kelly & Cal
Special Mention: Kat Candler. Hellion
LOUIS BLACK “LONE STAR” AWARD
Director: Richard Linklater
KAREN SCHMEER FILM EDITING FELLOWSHIP
Presented to: Colin Nusbaum