Audiences at the South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival in Austin, Texas, are famously enthusiastic, cheering for movies with the same kind of bring-down-the-house applause they show bands at the event’s overlapping music fest — so it can be helpful to know which movies they really loved when the 10-day showcase winds to an end and SXSW announces its Audience Awards.
These popular prizes, tallied via ballots at screenings in each category, follow several days after the Grand Jury awards, announced midway through the festival. The SXSW juries selected Josephine Mackerras’ French-language “Alice” in the narrative feature competition and Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ Syria-set “For Sama” as the top documentary.
Passholders and the general public clearly also responded to “For Sama,” which won the Audience Award in the same category, while “Running With Beto” — about the Senatorial campaign of local favorite and presidential contender Beto O’Rourke — took the Documentary Spotlight prize.
On the narrative side, director Alex Thompson’s “Saint Frances” —which approaches hot-button subjects such as abortion and gay marriage with empathy and humor — impressed audiences in the competition category. The favorite of the Narrative Spotlight section was “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” which pairs Shia LaBeouf with newcomer Zack Gottsagen, an actor with Down syndrome.
Audience Awards for the Headliners (where studio comedies and horror films such as “Us” and closing-night pick “Pet Sematary” were featured) and the music-centric 24 Beats Per Second categories will be announced on Monday.
2019 SXSW Film Festival Audience Award Winners:
Narrative Feature Competition: “Saint Frances,” directed by Alex Thompson
Documentary Feature Competition: “For Sama,” directed by Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts
Narrative Spotlight: “The Peanut Butter Falcon,” directed by Tyler Nilson, Michael Schwartz
Documentary Spotlight: “Running With Beto,” directed by David Modigliani
Visions: “The Garden Left Behind,” directed by Flavio Alves
Midnighters: “Boyz in the Wood,” directed by Ninian Doff
Episodic: “Ramy,” created by Ramy Youssef, Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch
Global: “Cachada: The Opportunity,” directed by Marlén Viñayo
Festival Favorites: “Raise Hell: The Life & Times of Molly Ivins,” directed by Janice Engel
View the full list of winners on the SXSW Film Festival website.