AUSTIN, Texas — “Krisha,” an emotionally charged and stylistically inventive family drama from writer-director-editor-actor Trey Edward Shults, won the grand jury prize for narrative features at the SXSW Film Festival on Tuesday. The film, set over the course of a volatile Thanksgiving holiday, stars Shults’s aunt Krisha Fairchild in the title role and features other members of the director’s family in the cast.
“The people who worked on this film became a family as we worked on it, and if you ever want to make a movie with this much power, turn your team into your family,” Fairchild said, accepting the prize with Shults onstage.
The documentary grand jury prize was presented to “Peace Officer,” Scott Christopherson and Brad Barber’s account of a former Utah sheriff who established his rural county’s first SWAT team, an act that rebounded with tragic personal consequences 30 years later. Accepting onstage, Barber paid tribute to the memory of documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles, who died on March 5.
“He said, ‘You should love your documentary subjects,’ and that’s something we try to keep in mind,” Barber said.
The docu jury, which included Tabitha Jackson, Jason Spingarn-Koff and Alison Wilmore, also presented a special recognition for directing to Alex Sichel and Elizabeth Giamatti for “A Woman Like Me,” a fiction-nonfiction hybrid inspired by Sichel’s 2011 diagnosis with metastatic breast cancer. A special recognition for editing was given to Samantha Futerman and Ryan Miyamoto for their nimble work on “Twinsters,” their documentary about Futerman’s discovery of the identical twin sister she never knew she had.
The narrative jury, which included Kyle Buchanan, Wesley Morris and Krista Smith, also awarded a special jury recognition for visual excellence to “Creative Control,” a black-and-white futuristic drama directed by Benjamin Dickinson.
The SXSW Gamechanger Award was presented to Hungarian director Yvonne Kerekgyarto for her coming-of-age tale “Free Entry,” which premiered in the festival’s SXGlobal section. Sibling directors Bill and Turner Ross received the Louis Black “Lone Star” Award for “Western,” their documentary about the impact of Mexico’s drug trade on two cities on opposite sides of the Texas-Mexico border.
The Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship was awarded to Anna Gustavi, who edited Ethan Hawke’s just-released documentary, “Seymour: An Introduction.”
Tuesday’s awards ceremony was hosted by actress-comedienne Vanessa Bayer, who was featured in Judd Apatow’s Amy Schumer starrer “Trainwreck,” which premiered as a work-in-progress at this year’s festival. Bayer noted at the end of her opening routine: “If hosting an awards show where you don’t know understand what most of the awards are is wrong, I don’t want to be right.”
The 22nd annual SXSW Film Festival unspooled 145 feature films, including 100 world premieres, 13 North American premieres and 11 U.S. premieres. Audience awards will be presented on Saturday.
2015 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS
Grand jury winner: “Krisha” (Trey Edward Shults)
Special jury recognition for visual excellence: “Creative Control” (Benjamin Dickinson)
Grand jury winner: “Peace Officer” (Scott Christopherson, Brad Barber)
Special jury recognition for directing: “A Woman Like Me” (Alex Sichel, Elizabeth Giamatti)
Special jury recognition for editing: “Twinsters” (Samantha Futerman, Ryan Miyamoto)
Winner: “Pink Grapefruit” (Michael Mohan)
Special jury recognition: “Share” (Pippa Bianco)
Winner: “Boxeadora” (Meg Smaker)
Winner: “Kiss Kiss Fingerbang” (Gillian Wallace Horvat)
Winner: “World of Tomorrow” (Don Hertzfeldt)
Special jury recognition: “Teeth” (Daniel Gray, Tom Brown)
Winner: Paolo Nutini, “Iron Sky” (Daniel Wolfe)
Special jury recognition: DJ Snake featuring Lil’ Jon, “Turn Down for What” (Daniels)
Winner: “The Samaritans” (John Bryant)
TEXAS HIGH-SCHOOL SHORTS
Winner: “It’s a Thing” (Meredith Morran, Sage McCommas)
EXCELLENCE IN POSTER DESIGN
Winner: “Manson Family Vacation” (Yen Tan)
Special jury recognition: “The Ecstasy of Wilko Johnson” (Jonny Halifax)
EXCELLENCE IN TITLE DESIGN
Winner: “Manhattan” (Dan Gregoras for Imaginary Forces)
Special jury recognition: “The Fitzroy” (Chris Tozer, Marko Anstice)
SXSW SPECIAL AWARDS
SXSW Gamechanger Award: Yvonne Kerekgyarto, “Free Entry”
Louis Black “Lone Star” Award: “Western” (Bill Ross, Turner Ross)
Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship: Anna Gustavi