Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Film Festivals

SIFF 2011 Dispatch 6: Awards

Seattle International Film Festival audiences bestowed top Golden Space Needle Awards on Paper Birds, To Be Heard and The Whistleblower (among others) while juried awards singled out Gandu and the documentary Hot Coffee at the awards brunch of the Seattle International Film Festival this morning.

Over 450 features, documentaries and short films from more than 70 countries were screened over the 25 days (and the last day is not over as of this writing, mind you) and 600 screening event. According to SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence, it was a record setting year in terms of attendance.

Emilia Aragon’s Paper Birds (Spain) took the audience award for Best Film, Larysa Kondracki won the Best Director award for The Whistleblower (Canada/Germany), Best Actor went to Bill Skarsgård for Simple Simon (Sweden) and Best Actress to Natasha Petrovic for As If I Am Not There (Ireland/Macedonia/Sweden). Best Documentary was awarded to To Be Heard, directed by Roland Legiardi-Laura, Amy Sultan, Deborah Shaffer and Edwin Martinez (USA) and The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore, directed by William Joyce (USA), took the Best Short Film award.

The competition awards, given out in partnership with FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics, were handed out to Best New Director “Q” Kaushik Mukherjee for Gandu (India), Best Documentary Hot Coffee (directed by Susan Saladoff, USA) and Best New American Film On The Ice, directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean. Special Jury Prizes in the Documentary competition went to To Be Heard (USA) and Sushi: The Global Catch, directed by Mark Hall (USA).

The complete press release, which includes runners-up and jury statements, is featured below.

See complete coverage at Parallax View’s SIFF 2011 Guide here


SEATTLE – The 37th Seattle International Film Festival, the largest and most highly-attended event of its kind in the United States concluded today with the announcement of the SIFF 2011 Competition Awards and Golden Space Needle Audience Awards. The 25-day Festival, which began May 19, featured over 450 films from more than 70 countries, including 96 premieres (29 World, 42 North American, 25 U.S.) and over 600 screenings. Additionally, SIFF brought more than 300 directors, actors and industry professionals, including Tribute Honoree Ewan McGregor to Seattle, as well as hosted numerous digital Q&As via Skype with international filmmakers who were unable to attend in person.

“I’m gratified that Seattle audiences continue to embrace the Festival’s wide-ranging selection of films from around the world proving that Seattle filmgoers see more films per capita than any other city in the nation,” said SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence.  “For the second year in a row, we have surpassed one million dollars in ticket sales making this another record-setting year.”

SIFF Managing Director Deborah Person said, “2011 has been a monumental year for SIFF, as we’ve expanded our year-round exhibition programming at SIFF Cinema with record attendance and introduced the work of filmmakers from around the world to more than 10,000 students.  With the exciting move into our new home at the SIFF Film Center, filmgoers will experience even more of the best in cinema which will carry on for future generations.”

Three Competition Awards including Best New Director, Best Documentary and the FIPRESCI Prize were announced today.  Winners in the juried New Director and Documentary competition will receive $2,500. All of the winners will receive a Space Needle inspired glass award by artist James Mongrain.

SIFF 2011 Best New Director
Grand Jury Prize
Gandu, directed by “Q” Kaushik Mukherjee (India, 2010)
Jury Statement: “We chose to give the prize to a movie that bowled us over with its kinetic, brash humor and style-hoping dexterity, a portrait of tortured youth that refreshingly pokes fun at adolescent self-centeredness while simultaneously exploring the anger, despondency and malaise of a generation.”

The New Directors Competition jury was comprised of: Robert Abele, Film and TV Critic/Journalist; Peter Goldwyn, Samuel Goldwyn Films; and Sara Rose, Acquisitions Executive

SIFF 2011 Best Documentary
Grand Jury Prize
Hot Coffee, directed by Susan Saladoff (USA, 2011)
Jury Statement: “Going beyond a well-known headline that was the butt of many jokes, Hot Coffee makes dry legal boilerplate spring to life in portraying human dramas with tragic consequences. It makes us all question our simple assumptions – it’s a film that needs to be seen.”

Special Jury Prizes
To Be Heard, directed by Roland Legiardi-Laura, Amy Sultan, Deborah Shaffer and Edwin Martinez (USA, 2010)
Jury Statement: “By filmically living with and sharing the dramas of a remarkably affecting group of young people over a period of years, To Be Heard wins the hearts of viewers with a roller coaster emotional ride…it’s immediacy and poignancy make it a film that truly lives beyond the frame.”

Sushi: The Global Catch, directed by Mark Hall (USA, 2011)
Jury Statement: “The film brings to the forefront the urgent and occasionally competing arguments of overfishing that don’t necessarily have easy answers – truly a film that is food for thought.”

The Documentary jury was comprised of: Krysanne Katsoolis, Cactus Three; Richard Lorber, Kino Lorber Inc.; and Katherine Tulich, Hollywood Foreign Press and International Federation of Film Critics.

SIFF 2011 FIPRESCI Prize for Best New American Film
SIFF is very pleased to announce its continued partnership with FIPRESCI, the International Federation of Film Critics. FIPRESCI, in existence for more than 65 years, with members in over 60 countries, supports cinema as an art and as an outstanding and autonomous means of expression. SIFF is one of three festivals in the United States to host a FIPRESCI jury, and this year, FIPRESCI presented an award to Best New American Film selected from the New American Cinema program.

On the Ice, directed by Andrew Okpeaha MacLean (USA, 2011)
Jury Statement:”For presenting a universal, near-Biblical tragedy set in a little known culture recreated with compelling detail. A story told with outstanding naturalistic performances with a confident, compelling narrative.”

The FIPRESCI jury was comprised of members of the International Federation of Film Critics: Peter Keough, USA; Gideon Kouts, France; and Lucy Virgen, Mexico

SIFF 2011 Golden Space Needle Audience Awards
The Golden Space Needle Audience Awards are given in the following categories: Best Film, Best Documentary, Best Director, Best Actor, Best Actress, and Best Short Film.  More than 80,000 ballots were cast by SIFF audiences to determine the winners.  Golden Space Needle Award winners receive a hand-made glass creation by artist James Mongrain. Additionally, the Golden Space Needle award winner for Best Short film will receive a brand new Mac computer, fully loaded with the latest filmmaking software from The Mac Store, and will receive $1,000 of film stock from Eastman Kodak.

Best Film Golden Space Needle Award
Paper Birds, directed byEmilio Aragón (Spain, 2010)
First runner up: Tilt, directed by Viktor Chouchkov Jr. (Bulgaria, 2010)
Second runner up: Simple Simon, directed by Andreas Öhman (Sweden, 2010)
Third runner up: The Whistleblower, directed by Larysa Kondracki (Canada/Germany, 2010)
Fourth runner up: King of Devil’s Island, directed by Marius Holst (Norway, 2010)

Rounding out the top ten: My Afternoons With Margueritte, directed by Jean Becker (France, 2010); Spud, directed by Donovan Marsh (South Africa, 2010); Service Entrance (The Women of the Sixth Floor), directed by Philippe Le Guay (France, 2011); Almanya, directed by Yasemin Samdereli (Germany, 2011); Old Goats, directed by Taylor Guterson (USA, 2010).

Best Documentary Golden Space Needle Award
To Be Heard, directed by Roland Legiardi-Laura, Amy Sultan, Deborah Shaffer, Edwin Martinez (USA, 2010)
First runner up: Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, directed by Constance Marks (USA, 2011)
Second runner up: Buck, directed by Cindy Meehl (USA, 2011)
Third runner up: How to Die in Oregon, directed by Peter D. Richardson (USA, 2011)
Fourth runner up: Hot Coffee, directed by Susan Saladoff (USA, 2011)
Rounding out the top ten: Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians, directed by Bryan Storkel (USA, 2011); The Interrupters, directed by Steve James (USA, 2011); Circus Dreams, directed by Signe Taylor (USA, 2011); 12 Angry Lebanese, directed by Zeina Daccache (Lebanon, 2010); A Lot Like You, directed by Eliaichi Kimaro (Tanzania/USA, 2011).

Best Director Golden Space Needle Award
Larysa Kondracki, The Whistleblower (Canada/Germany, 2010)
First runner up: Emilio Aragón, Paper Birds (Spain, 2010)
Second runner up: Mohammad Rasoulof, The White Meadows (Iran, 2009)
Third runner up: Yasemin Samderelli, Almanya (Germany, 2011)
Fourth runner up: Maryam Keshavarz, Circumstance (Iran, 2011)
Rounding out the top ten: Carlos Saura, Flamenco, Flamenco (Spain, 2010); Robbie Pickering, Natural Selection (USA, 2011); Megan Griffiths, The Off Hours (USA, 2011); Raul Ruiz, The Mysteries of Lisbon (Portugal, 2010); Mike Mills, Beginners (USA, 2010).

Best Actor Golden Space Needle Award
Bill Skarsgård, Simple Simon (Sweden, 2010)
First runner up: Matt Smith, Womb, (Germany/Hungary/France, 2010)
Second runner up: Imanol Arias, Paper Birds (Spain, 2010)
Third runner up: Matt O’Leary, Natural Selection (USA, 2011)
Fourth runner up: Ron Eldard, Roadie (USA, 2011)
Rounding out the top ten: Ewan McGregor, Beginners (USA, 2010); Peter Stormare, Small Town Murder Songs (Canada, 2010); Toni Servillo, A Quiet Life (Italy, 2010); Peter Mullan, Tyrannosaur (UK, 2011); Gerard Depardieu, My Afternoons with Margueritte (France, 2010).

Best Actress Golden Space Needle Award
Natasha Petrovic, As If I Am Not There (Ireland/Macedonia/Sweden, 2010)
First runner up: Bodil Jorgensen, Nothing’s All Bad (Denmark, 2010)
Second runner up: Rachel Weisz, The Whistleblower (Canada/Germany, 2010)
Third runner up: Rachael Harris, Natural Selection (USA, 2011)
Fourth runner up: Magaly Solier, Amador (Spain, 2011)
Rounding out the top ten: Eva Green, Perfect Sense (UK, 2011); Yahima Torres, Black Venus (France, 2010); Sara Forestier, The Names of Love (France, 2010); Katja Kukkola, Princess (Finland, 2010); Sandra Hüller, Above Us Only Sky (Germany, 2011).

Best Short Film Golden Space Needle Award
The Fantastic Flying Books Of Mr. Morris Lessmore, directed by William Joyce (USA, 2011)
First runner up: North Atlantic, directed by Bernardo Nascimento (Portugal, 2010)
Second runner up: Interview, director Sebastian Marka (Germany, 2010)
Third runner up: Amazonia, director Sam Chen (USA, 2010)
Fourth runner up: Cataplexy, director John Salcido (USA, 2010)

Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision, Presented by Women in Film/Seattle
This award is presented to the female director whose feature film receives the highest number of audience ballots.
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, directed by Constance Marks (USA, 2011)

SIFF 2011 FutureWave and Youth Jury Awards
The SIFF FutureWave jury was comprised of five high-school students that viewed nine FutureWave features to award the prize of Best FutureWave Feature. The Films4Families jury was comprised of five elementary and middle school students that viewed six Films4Families films to award the prize for Best Films4Families Feature. SIFF’s WaveMaker Award for Excellence in Youth Filmmaking was awarded at the FutureWave Shorts program on May 30 at SIFF Cinema as part of the ShortsFest Weekend.  More than 100 short films were submitted from young filmmakers aged 13-18, from Canada, USA, Sweden, Ireland, South Africa, and the United Kingdom. The WaveMaker Award was selected from the 19 presented finalists. TheFilmSchool faculty member Rick Stevenson also awarded several partial scholarships to TheFilmSchool’s Prodigy Camp for outstanding storytelling.

Youth Jury Award for Best FutureWave Feature
Detention, directed by Joseph Kahn (USA, 2011)
Jury Statement: “For its unpredictable and genuinely exciting story that is based on today’s teenager, but effectively immersed in a fantasy world. It is obvious that Detention was made with a passion for creative filmmaking and we are eager to share it with our generation.”

Youth Jury Award for Best Films4Families Feature
Circus Dreams, directed by Signe Taylor (USA, 2011)
Jury Statement: “For showing the ups and downs of training and performing in a children’s circus and the importance of pursuing your dreams.”

WaveMaker Award for Excellence in Youth Filmmaking (Grand Jury Prize)
The Million Dollar Watch, directed by Joseph Yao (USA, 2010)
Jury statement: “For its creativity, vision, and scope on an operatic scale.”

WaveMaker Special Jury Prize
Deaf Perspective, directed by Rogan Shannon (USA, 2011)
Jury statement: “For opening our eyes (and ears) to a new perspective on the world.”
Joseph Yao (The Million Dollar Watch, USA, 2010) and Blair Scott (Reflection, USA, 2010) also received a scholarship to TheFilmSchool’s Prodigy Camp, a weeklong, immersive, overnight film camp for youth aged 12-18 held in late June.

FutureWave Shorts Audience Award
Deaf Perspective, directed by Rogan Shannon (USA, 2011)
First runner up: The Million Dollar Watch, directed by Joseph Yao (USA, 2010)
Second runner up: Reflection, directed byBlair Scott (USA, 2010)
Third runner up: Henry, directed byAmelia Elizalde (USA, 2011)
Fourth runner up: Noticed, directed byReel Youth CampOut (Canada, 2010)

SIFF 2011 Short Film Jury Awards
As a qualifying festival of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, short films that receive the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative short film and Best Animation short film awards at SIFF may qualify to enter the Short Films category of the Academy Awards® for the concurrent season without the standard theatrical run, provided the film otherwise complies with the Academy rules.  Winners will also receive a $1,000 cash prize.

Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short
Time Freak, directed by Andrew Bowler (USA, 2010)
Jury statement: “A hilarious, original take on time travel that reminds us all to embrace the moment.”

Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Short
Library of Dust, directed by Ondi Timoner and Robert James (USA, 2010)
Jury statement: “This real-life ghost story is a startling reminder of the strength of spirit and compels us to recognize the tragedy of overlooking the spirits of those still with us.”

Grand Jury Prize for Best Animated Short
The Eagleman Stag, directed by Mikey Please (USA, 2010)
Jury statement: “With a monochromatic palette, it provides a colorful tale of life and rebirth.”
Special Jury Prizes
Narrative – Howard From Ohio, directed by SJ Chiro (USA, 2011)
Jury statement: “It’s a simple tale with a straightforward honesty seldom seen on screen.”
Our Ship, directed by Garon Campbell (South Africa, 2011)
Jury statement: “A heartwarming story that underscores the importance of family loyalty.”
Animation – New Digs, directed by Martin Sen (South Africa, 2010)
Jury statement: “A charmingly ironic tale about having faith in the people who love you.”

The Short Film jury was comprised of: Kellie Ann Benz, The Shorts Report; Bill Murray, Northwest Screenwriters Guild; Jason Plourde, Three Dollar Bill Cinema and Tom Skerritt, actor and founder, TheFilmSchool.

SIFF 2011 Festival Highlights
This year, the Festival expanded its footprint to Renton while continuing its presence in Everett, Kirkland, and West Seattle, hosting special Opening Night events and Festival screenings for week-long stays in each area. Renton Opening Night featured Mario Van Peebles’ Black, White and Blues while Everett Opening Night kicked off with Philipp Stölzl’s Young Goethe in Love andKirkland Opening Night opened with Bon Appetit, directed by David Pinillos. SIFF is extremely pleased to bring Festival programming to these communities and continue to broaden the Festival experience to those outside Seattle’s borders.

Award-winning actor Ewan McGregor received the 2011 Golden Space Needle Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting, and presented his latest film, Mike Mills’ Beginners, to a sold-out screening and Tribute Event at the Egyptian Theatre. As a part of the Tribute event, SIFF screened early McGregor films including The Pillow Book, Moulin Rouge! and the Seattle premiere of another of Mr. McGregor’s new films, David Mackenzie’s Perfect Sense.

2011 was a banner year for Northwest filmmakers with a Festival record 35 Northwest Connections films featured at this year’s Festival, including Catechism Cataclysm directed by Todd Rohal (USA, 2011), Do You See Colors When You Close Your Eyes? directed by Caleb Young (USA, 2011), Hit So Hard directed by P. David Ebersole (USA, 2011), Holy Rollers: The True Story of Card Counting Christians directed by Bryan Storkel (USA, 2011), How to Die in Oregon directed by Peter D. Richardson (USA, 2011), If A Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front directed by Marshall Curry (USA, 2011), John Carpenter’s The Ward directed by John Carpenter (USA, 2010), Late Autumn directed by Kim Tae-yong (South Korea, 2010), A Lot Like You directed by Eliaichi Kimaro (Tanzaniza, 2011), Marrow directed by Matt Wilkins (USA, 2011), Norman directed by Jonathan Segal (USA, 2010), The Off Hours directed by Megan Griffiths (USA, 2011), Old Goats directed by Taylor Guterson (USA, 2010), Surrogate Valentine directed by Dave Boyle (USA, 2011), Treatment directed by Steven Schardt (USA, 2011), Winds of Heaven directed by Michael Ostroff (Canada, 2010), and Without directed by Mark Jackson (USA, 2011).

SIFF Face the Music also presented three noteworthy live events. Broadcast legend Shadoe Stevens melded the indelible images of Douglas Fairbanks’ silent classic, The Thief of Bagdad, with the music of the Electric Light Orchestra at the Neptune Theatre on May 26 while the Triple Door welcomed musicians from the soundtrack of the Academy Award® nominated film, Winter’s Bone (SIFF 2010) on June 2 and Seattle native Damien Jurado’s original score, featuring indie-rock folk mixed with found sound recordings, to Dimitri Kirsanoff’s Russian Avant-Garde short films on June 8.

SIFF’s youth programs were astounding this Festival reaching over 6,000 students with youth juries; the FutureWave shorts program (featuring 19 films from young directors under the age of 18); FutureWave and Films4Families features, the SuperFly Filmmaking Workshop, and more than 35 filmmaker visits and screenings in schools. Additionally, SIFF is extremely proud of its continued partnership with Adobe Youth Voices in effort to showcase the talents of youth filmmakers, ages 13-18, from across the globe.