Weekend, Andrew Haigh's romantic drama about two men bracing for the end of their weekend affair, and If a Tree Falls, Marshall Curry's documentary profile of an accused eco-terrorist and the brutal clash over environmental protection, took home the top jury prizes at the 2011 Nashville Film Festival, announced earlier this morning as the festival announced its slate of awards.
It's doubtful many NaFFgoers would dispute either award. The two films got some of the festival's strongest buzz, alongside audience favorites such as the British comedy Submarine, the Fishbone doc Everyday Sunshine (an honorable mention in the Music Films competition), the Rwandan genocide drama Kinyarwanda (whose director, Alrick Brown, won the Black Filmmaker award), the Norwegian horror comedy The Troll Hunter (a likely winner of the Graveyard Shift award, barring tonight's hotly anticipated The Last Circus), and perhaps the fest's biggest surprise, Michelangelo Frammartino's near-wordless pastoral reverie Le Quattro Volte.
Another major prize went to a film that sold out both its scheduled showings, Clarksville native Clay Jeter's superb non-linear narrative feature Jess + Moss, which received the Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Feature. (A screening has been added for Thursday afternoon.) The New Directors prize went to Mike Magidson's Greenlandic coming-of-age drama Inuk.
From programming and attendance standpoints, this year's NaFF has been a game changer. Not only did it feature a lineup heavy on strong films from the international festival circuit — and light on visiting celebrities — audiences have turned out in droves. NaFF artistic director Brian Owens said last night that this year's festival has already smashed the old attendance record with two full days to go — and still to come are attractions such as Michael Tully's Septien and Laurel Nakadate's The Wolf Knife (both shot in Nashville), the afore-mentioned The Last Circus, and the closing-night double header of Azazel Jacobs' Terri and Mike Cahill's Another Earth.
Below: the NaFF's press release, along with a full list of winners to date.
NASHVILLE, Tennessee — April 20, 2011 — With ticket sales at the Festival already ahead of last year’s with two days left, "Weekend," Andrew Haigh’s unapologetic love story about two men in a weekend affair, and "If a Tree Falls," Marshall Curry’s profile of environmentalists driven to extremes, have captured the top jury prizes at the 2011 Nashville Film Festival (NaFF) presented by Nissan, it was announced this morning at a luncheon at the Festival at the Regal Green Hills Stadium 16. "Weekend" captures the Bridgestone Grand Jury Prize, the top narrative prize; "If a Tree Falls" takes home the Documentary Channel Grand Prize in the Documentary Competition. The Bridgestone Narrative Competition Grand Jury gave its best actor nod to Tom Cullen of "Weekend" and best actress decision to Guadalupe Alonso of director Julia Solomonoff's "Last Summer of La Boyita."
A jury comprised of renowned actor, writer, director and activist Dan Butler, best known as Bulldog on "Frasier;" film critic Joe Leydon (Variety, Moviemaker) and TheFilmExperience.net blogger Nathaniel Rogers judged the Bridgestone Narrative Competition. The Documentary Competition presented by Documentary Channel jury was comprised of Dorothy Henckel, currently the Director of Acquisitions for the Documentary Channel; Jane Julian, founding member and director of the Durango Film Society and current programming director of the Port Townsend Film Festival in Washington state; and Joe Pacheco, award-winning filmmaker of "After the Fall" (NaFF 2010) and an Emmy-nominated cinematographer.
"The challenge in the documentary competition is that all the films are so different," said the documentary competition jury in a joint statement. "Each film captured their subjects in such a compelling light, but the many hats that Curry wore made it all the more impressive and was what made it stand out for us. It was like the '25th Hour' meets 'The Weather Underground.' We appreciated his immersion in the project, his access to the subject and his even handedness in presenting both sides of the story."
In other major competition categories, Mike Magidson's Greenland-shot "Inuk" claimed the New Directors Competition Grand Jury Prize, while Jacob's Hatley's sober profile of the legendary Band drummer, "Ain't In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm" nabbed the Gibson Impact of Music Award, the top prize in the Music Films/Music City Competition presented by Gibson and Lightning 100. The New Directors jury named Parker Croft best actor for his role in "Falling Overnight" and Kristýna Nováková for her part in "Twosome." Clarksville native Clay Jeter's "Jess + Moss" won the Ground Zero Tennessee Independent Spirit Award for a feature film.
The New Directors Competition presented by CAA was guided by veteran producer and agent Darris Hatch, whose credits include "South of Heaven, West of Hell;" David Moscowitz, a professor of communication and cultural studies and director of film studies at the College of Charleston; and Jane Rulon, former Indiana Film Commissioner. The Music Films/Music City jury consisted of award-winning musician, actor, and film producer Shaun Cassidy, documentary producer and director Kimberly Reed ( "Prodigal Sons") and Matthew Socey, the host of two radio shows in Indianapolis: "The Blues House Party" and "Film Soceyology."
"The caliber of the New Directors field this year was impressive," said the New Directors jury in a joint statement. "With storytelling full of heart, sensitivity and extraordinary settings breathtakingly filmed in Greenland, 'Inuk' epitomizes the power of filmmaking to open us to new worlds. Director Mike Magidson's devotion to this story raises it to an exceptional level of first-time feature filmmaking."
Live-action narrative and animated short films that win in competition at NaFF are qualified for Academy Award consideration. The Best Narrative Short award went to director Sean Durkin's "Mary Last Seen." The Best Animated Short distinction was claimed by "Something Left, Something Taken" by Max Porter & Ru Kuwahata.
A complete list of competition and special awards, including honorable mentions and special jury prizes, follows. Audience Award winners will be announced tomorrow at the NaFF Closing Night party at Mercy Lounge. The 42nd Nashville Film Festival, which began on Thursday, April 14, closes tomorrow at Regal Green Hills Stadium 16 with encore screenings of competition award winners and popular films, and the Tennessee Premiere of director Azazel Jacobs' "Terri," with Jacobs and actor Jacob Wysocki expected to attend. The closing night party at Mercy Lounge, with performances by Will Gray and The Casualty Process, will follow. For more information, or to purchase tickets for films or the Closing Night party, please visit NashvilleFilmFestival.org.
2011 Nashville Film Festival Award Winners
Narrative Competition Sponsored by Bridgestone
Bridgestone Grand Jury Prize: "Weekend" (Andrew Haigh / UK)
Bridgestone Competition Honorable Mention: "Last Summer of Boyita" (Julia Solomonoff / Argentina)
Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Ensemble: "Kinyarwanda" (Alrick Brown / Rwanda, USA)
Special Jury Prize for Exception Courage: "Dog Sweat" (Hossein Keshavarz / Iran)
Best Actor: Tom Cullen, "Weekend"
Best Actress: Guadalupe Alonso, "Last Summer of La Boyita"
Naxos Award for Best Film Music: The Bootstraps, "Take Me Home"
Southwest Airlines Audience Award: TBA
Graveyard Shift Audience Award: TBA
Documentary Competition Sponsored by Documentary Channel
Documentary Channel Grand Jury Prize: "If A Tree Falls" (Marshall Curry / USA)
Documentary Channel Honorable Mention: "Fambul Tok" (Sara Terry / Sierra Leone, USA)
Special Jury Prize for Achievement Artistic Vision: "A Matter of Taste" (Sally Rowe / USA)
Documentary Channel Audience Award: TBA
Gibson Music Films/Music City Competition Sponsored by Gibson and Lightning 100
Gibson Impact of Music Award: "Ain’t In It For My Health: A Film About Levon Helm," (Jacob Hatley / USA)
Honorable Mention: "Everyday Sunshine: The Story of Fishbone" (Lev Anderson, Chris Metzler / USA)
Special Jury Prize for Most Original Vision: "Broke*" (Will Gray / USA)
New Directors Competition
Grand Jury Prize: "Inuk" (Mike Magidson, Greenland/France)
Best Actor: Packer Croft, "Falling Overnight"
Best Actress: Kristýna Nováková, "Twosome"
Honorable Mention: "Twosome (Dvojka)" (Jaroslav Fuit / Czech Republic)
Special Jury Prize for Breakout Performance by an Actor: Gaba Peterson, "Inuk"
Short Film Competition
Best Narrative Short (Academy Qualifier): "Mary Last Seen" (Sean Durkin / USA)
Honorable Mention: "Darryn Exists" (Jamie Lawrence / New Zealand)
Best Animated Short (Academy Qualifier): "Something Left, Something Taken" (Max Porter, Ru Kuwahata / USA)
Honorable Mention: "Mobile" (Verena Fels / Germany)
Special Jury Prize for Imaginative Storytelling: "The Fantastic Flying Books of Morris Lessmore" (Brandon Oldenburg, William Joyce / USA)
Best Documentary Short: "Bye Bye Now!" (Aideen O’Sullivan / Ireland)
Honorable Mention: "Mr. Happy Man" (Matt Morris / USA)
Special Jury Prize for Social Awareness: "Save the Farm" (Michael Kuehnert / USA)
Best Experimental Short: "All Flowers in Time" (Jonathan Caouette / Canada)
Honorable Mention: "Who By Fire" (Aleisa Moussa / USA)
Honorable Mention II: "just a meaning you attribute to it" (Bernadette Anzengruber / Austria)
Vanderbilt Golden Opportunity Award: "Deeper Than Yesterday" (Ariel Kleiman / Australia)
Runner-Up: "On Leave" (Asat Saban / Isreal)
Watkins Young Filmmaker Award: Finding My Way (Emma Strebel / USA)
Ground Zero Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Feature Film: "Jess+Moss" (Clay Jeter / USA)
Ground Zero Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Short Feature Film: "Swing" (Matt Schosser & Shane Bartlett / USA)
Ground Zero Tennessee Spirit Award for Best Short Documentary Film: "Nashville Rises" (Zac Adams / USA)
Black Filmmaker Award: "Kinyarwanda" (Alrick Brown / USA, Rwanda)
NAHCC Hispanic Filmmaker Award: “My Life with Carlos” (Germán Berger-Hertz / Chile)
NAHCC Hispanic Filmmaker Award Honorable Mention: “Musica Campesina” (Alberto Fuguet / Chile, USA)
NPT Human Spirit Award: "Fambul Tok" (Sara Terry / Sierra Leone, USA)
Women in Film & TV Prize for Best Film by A Woman Director: The Last Summer of La Boyita (Julia Solomonoff / Argentina)
Film Musicians Secondary Market Fund Prize for Best Director / Composer Collaboration: "Falling Overnight"
NaFF Career Achievement Award: Kris Kristofferson
Coleman Sinking Creek Award: Monte Hellman
Mike Curb Career Achievement for Film Music: Gustavo Santaolalla
Governor's Award: Clay Jeter
Louise LeQuire Award for Screenwriting: John Patrick Shanley