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SXSW Announces Film Award Winners

The South by Southwest Film Festival has awarded its top prizes to “Most Beautiful Island,” directed by Ana Asensio for narrative feature and to “The Work,” directed by Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous, for documentary feature.

“Most Beautiful Island,” a New York-set thriller, is the directing debut of Spanish TV actress Asensio. “The Work” takes place at a group therapy retreat with convicts at Folsom Prison.

SXSW founder Louis Black, who came out despite being very sick, kicked off the show with a political statement: “You may like Trump, and that’s fine. … But most of you are engaged in a humanist battle for the soul of our country, and what you are doing is subversive, it is important, it is about bringing us together and not tearing us apart, it is about inclusion and not exclusion. It’s not about making films that sell popcorn, it’s about making films that save souls.”

Challenging critics who claim that SXSW has “gotten too big” or that the festival has “sold out,” Black insisted on the integrity of the programming team and complimented the independence of the filmmakers invited.

The jury gave a special recognition to “The Strange Ones” for James Freedson-Jackson’s breakthrough performance. The ensemble cast of “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong” was also recognized, including Matt Jones, Eleanore Pienta, Will Rogers, Jonny Mars, Sam Eidson, and Jennymarie Jemison.

In the documentary category, the jury handed out a special recognition for observational cinema to “Maineland,” directed by Miao Wang, and for excellence in documentary story telling to “I Am Another You,” directed by Nanfu Wang.

The 2017 SXSW Film Festival screens 130 features including 84 world premieres, and continues to Saturday.

Full list of 2017 SXSW Film Festival Awards: 

Feature Film Grand Jury Awards 


Winner: “Most Beautiful Island”

Director: Ana Asensio

Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Performance: “The Strange Ones”

Actor: James Freedson-Jackson

Special Jury Recognition for Best Ensemble: “A Bad Idea Gone Wrong”

Cast: Matt Jones, Eleanore Pienta, Will Rogers, Jonny Mars, Sam Eidson, Jennymarie Jemison


Winner: “The Work”
Directors: Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous

Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Observational Cinema: “Maineland”
Director: Miao Wang

Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling: “I Am Another You”
Director: Nanfu Wang

Short Film Grand Jury Awards


Winner: Forever Now
Director: Kristian Håskjold

Special Jury Recognition for Acting: DeKalb Elementary
Actor: Tarra Riggs

Special Jury Recognition Award: “Laps” Director: Charlotte Wells


Winner: “Little Potato”
Director: Wes Hurley & Nathan M. Miller


Winner: “The Suplex Duplex Complex”

Director: Todd Rohal


Winner: “Wednesday with Goddard”
Directors: Nicolas Menard

Special Jury Recognition: “Pussy”

Director: Renata Gasiorowska


Winner: Leon Bridges – ‘RIVER’

Director: Miles Jay

Special Jury Recognition: Tame Impala – ‘The Less I Know The Better’

Director: CANADA


Winner: The Rabbit Hunt
Director: Patrick Bresnan


Winner: “Better Late Than Never”

Director: Atheena Frizzell

Special Jury Recognition: “Darcy’s Quinceañera”

Director: Sam Cooper

SXSW Film Design Awards 


Winner: “Fry Day”

Designer: Caspar Newbolt

Special Jury Recognition: “Like Me”

Designer: Jeremy Enecio


Winner: “Into The Current”

Directors: Chris R. Moberg and Jared Young

SXSW Special Awards 

SXSW LUNA Gamechanger Award – Narrative

Winner: “INFLAME”

Director: Ceylan Ozgun Ozcelik

SXSW LUNA Chicken & Egg Award – Documentary

Winner: “I Am Another You”

Director: Nanfu Wang

SXSW Louis Black “Lone Star” Award

Louis Black “Lone Star” Award

Winner: “Mr. Roosevelt”

Director: Noël Wells

SXSW Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award

Presented to: “Assholes” directed by Peter Vack

SXSW Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship Presentation

Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship

Presented to: Leigh Johnson


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