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SXSW Awards: ‘Thunder Road,’ ‘People’s Republic of Desire’ Win Top Prizes

Thunder Road,” a drama about a police officer from Middle America trying to raise his young daughter as he copes with his disintegrating marriage and imploding career, won the top prize at the South by Southwest Awards on Tuesday night for best narrative feature.

Jim Cummings wrote, directed and starred in the movie, which is based on his 2016 award-winning Sundance short film.

In a rave review for “Thunder Road,” Variety chief film critic Owen Gleiberman wrote that Cummings “rips the band-aid off a certain kind of contemporary middle-class heartland despair, and the result is an altogether uncanny small drama. At ‘Thunder Road,’ you’ll giggle at moments, and you’ll be moved, but mostly you’ll know the precise crazy-sane reality of who this man is.”

Best documentary went to “People’s Republic of Desire,” director Hao Wu’s exploration of the surreal existences of “live-streaming” social media stars in China.

“I really want to thank my family for being patient with me, because this film was made over four years,” Wu said.

Stand-up comedian Jim Gaffigan hosted the Tuesday night awards show at the Paramount Theatre in Austin. “I would say South by Southwest is the best film festival,” he said in his opening monologue. ‘”Granted, I’ve never been to Cannes. Or Telluride.”

The SXSW jury awarded two special prizes in the features category: special recognition for first feature to “The New Romantic,” a romantic comedy about a college senior who decides to date an older man to cash in on presents; and special recognition for writing for “Jinn,” a story of a teenage girl in the Bay Area whose life changes after her mother converts to Islam.

The male stripper documentary, “This One’s for the Ladies,” received a special jury prize for best cast.

Janet Pierson received a special honor for her 10 years as the head of SXSW Film. “I love working with filmmakers,” she said.

See the complete list of winners below.

The 2018 SXSW Film Festival Awards:

NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Winner: “Thunder Road”
Special Jury Recognition For First Feature: “The New Romantic”
Special Jury Recognition for Writing: “Jinn”

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Winner: “People’s Republic of Desire”
Special Jury Recognition for Best Cast: “This One’s For The Ladies”
Special Jury Recognition for Best Feminist Reconsideration of a Male Artist: “Garry Winogrand: All Things are Photographable”

NARRATIVE SHORTS
Winner: “Emergency”
Special Jury Recognition for Acting:
Actor: Shirley Chen from “Krista”

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS
Winner: “My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes”

MIDNIGHT SHORTS
Winner: “Milk”

ANIMATED SHORTS
Winner: “Agua Viva”
Special Jury Recognition: “JEOM”

MUSIC VIDEOS

Winner: “Second Hand Lovers” – Oren Lavie
Special Jury Recognition for Acting: “Territory” – The Blaze

TEXAS SHORTS
Winner: “An Uncertain Future”

TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SHORTS
Winner: “The Night I Lost My Favorite Jacket”

Special Jury Recognition: “CCISD Strong”

INDEPENDENT EPISODICS
Winner: “Beast”
Special Jury Recognition: “She’s the Ticket”

EXCELLENCE IN POSTER DESIGN
Winner: “The Gospel of Eureka”

Special Jury Recognition: “A Little Wisdom”

EXCELLENCE IN TITLE DESIGN
Winner: “Counterpart”
Special Jury Recognition: “Godless”

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