Posted in: by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, Film Festivals

SIFF 2012 Award Winners

The 2012 Golden Space Needle Award, voted on by audiences of the Seattle International Film Festival, goes to Travis Fine’s Any Day Now for Best Picture, with Seattle filmmaker Megan Griffith’s superb Eden taking the first runner up spot.

Audiences gave the Best Documentary award to Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War, Best Actor to Any Day Now‘s Alan Cumming, Best Actress to Jamie Chung for Eden, Best Director to Benh Zeitlin for Beasts of the Southern Wild, and Best Short Film to Catcam by Seth Keal.

Among the juried awards, Eden took the Lena Sharpe Award for Persistence of Vision (presented by Women in Film/Seattle) and the Reel NW Award.

Eden was, to my mind, the finest film in the strongest collection of Seattle and Washington-born and -based filmmaking ever screened at SIFF, in a line-up that was framed by opening night film Your Sister’s Sister (from hometown hero Lynn Shelton, whose recent work put independent Seattle filmmaking on the map) and closing night film Grassroots, shot in Seattle and based on the book by former Stranger political reporter Phil Campbell.

Ira Finklestein’s Christmas, from Seattle filmmaker Sue Corcoran, and shot-in-Seattle productions Safety Not Guaranteed and Fat Kid Rules the World also placed high in audience voting for the Space Needle awards.

For those who missed some of these Seattle films, Eden is coming back in the “Best of SIFF” program on Wednesday, June 20 at The Uptown. Also returning is Fat Kid Rules the World (Friday, June 15) and Ira Finkelstein’s Christmas (Sunday, June 17), among others.

Garret Dillahunt and Alan Cumming in 'Any Day Now'

But I would also like to congratulate Travis Fine and his very fine picture Any Day Now. I saw the film on a whim because it was convenient (I had screenings before and after in the same theater) and I liked the cast. I did not have high expectations and yet I was moved by the depth of Fine’s portrait of a love between two people. It’s a period film, set in a pre-gay rights era of 1979 San Francisco, with two men who are very different (Alan Cumming  plays a flamboyant drag performer and Garret Dillahunt is a buttoned-down professional just beginning to accept his identity but keeping it a secret from the rest of the world) and yet so committed to one another, and to the all-but-abandoned boy they take in, that those differences become their strength. And it’s awfully timely as well, as it turns on the effort two gay men to adopt a child in a culture that would prefer to see an otherwise unwanted boy with Down’s Syndrome dropped into the indifferent system of social services than raised by two gay men. It could easily have tipped into a preachy tearjerker but for the commitment of the film to be about people, not about issues, and not about scoring points. I had the good fortune to run into the director at the water pitcher stand at the Harvard Exit after the film and inarticulately gush over the film.

There was a time when gay cinema focused on sexual relationships but missed the everyday intimacy of a loving couple, the nonchalant physicality of people comfortable with each other, the easy intimacy of people who live together and make a life together. Any Day Now is a powerful drama of people in love that puts the love and commitment before the sexual orientation to show two men who live their love in every moment, not in displays for the camera. And that strength even tempers a tragedy with a sense of endurance and hope. It’s the most powerful, convincing, commited portrait of two people in love I have seen on screen all year.

The complete press release is below.

Parallax View’s guide to SIFF 2012 coverage is here.


‘Any Day Now’ receives two Golden Space Needle audience awards for Best Film, Actor

‘Eden’ receives three awards, including Best Actress Golden Space Needle Award

‘The Invader’, ‘Five Star Existence’, ‘Welcome to Pine Hill’ win jury awards

SEATTLE – The 38th 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 2012 Competition Awards and Golden Space Needle Audience Awards. The 25-day Festival, which began May 17, featured over 460 films from more than 70 countries, including 65 feature premieres (24 World, 25 North American, 16 U.S.) and over 700 screenings. Additionally, SIFF brought in more than 300 directors, actors and industry professionals.

“A festival’s success is dependent on two basic principles: providing a platform for filmmakers to be celebrated and connecting them to audience members that would not otherwise be aware of their remarkable stories,” said SIFF Artistic Director Carl Spence. “This year a record number of filmmakers participated in person and online with virtual Q&A’s successfully expanding the conversation around the best in cinema with passionate audiences, illuminating guests and distinguished industry in attendance.”

SIFF Managing Director Deborah Person said, “It’s so exciting for us to finally be settled into our permanent home at the SIFF Film Center and premiering films at the SIFF Cinema Uptown. These venues brought a new energy to the Festival that is sure to continue with an exciting program of year-round cinema at both locations.”

Festival highlights included appearances by Academy Award®-winning actress Sissy Spacek and director William Friedkin during SIFF’s annual Tribute Awards. Both received recognition for their outstanding career accomplishments, which were celebrated with intimate Q&A screenings of their most critically acclaimed works, including Spacek’s BADLANDS and Friedkin’s horror classic THE EXORCIST. The Festival also screened the West Coast premiere of his latest film, KILLER JOE, starring Emile Hirsch, who also attended.

Additional celebrities at SIFF this year included Chris Pine for the U.S. Premiere of his latest film, PEOPLE LIKE US, Dennis Haysbert (THE DETAILS), Eric Mabius (PRICE CHECK), Elliot Gould (IRA FINKELSTEIN’S CHRISTMAS), Melanie Lynskey (HELLO I MUST BE GOING), and Jason Biggs for the World Premiere of his Seattle-based film, GRASSROOTS, directed by Stephen Gyllenhaal, which closed out the festival.

SIFF 2012 Competition Awards

SIFF announced three Competition Awards as part of the awards ceremony, including Best New Director, Best Documentary, and the FIPRESCI Award for Best New American Film. Winners in the juried New Director and Documentary competition receiving $2,500 and all winners received $2,500 and all winners received a Space Needle-inspired glass award by artist James Mongrain, Movie Magic Screenwriter software, and a certificate from Quick Film Budget.

SIFF 2012 Best New Director

Grand Jury Prize
Nicolas Provost, THE INVADER (Belgium, 2011)
Jury Statement: First we would like to thank the Seattle International Film Festival for hosting us here and presenting a selection of exciting new work from around the world. And our congratulations to all the filmmakers in the competition. In considering this as the New Directors prize we asked ourselves a simple question, from whom are we now most eagerly anticipating the next film, which director has us most excited about what she or he does in the future? And for us that was unanimously Nicolas Provost, director of THE INVADER.

Creating a sleek, dangerous underworld out of a cold, Belgian cityscape, Provost goes against the grain of a typical immigrant’s story with this bracing, enigmatic tale full of dark mysteries. Also showing an eye for casting, Provost’s discovery of actor Issaka Sawadogo displayed an ability to get the performer and performance his vision needed. From the film’s opening titles to its dreamy ending, Provost’s use of cinematography, editing, sound and emotionally resonant locations announce him as a total filmmaker and someone to follow. We indeed look forward to whatever he does next.

The New Directors Competition jury is comprised of Winnie Lau, Fortissimo Films; Mark Olsen, Los Angeles Times; and Michael Tuckman, mTuckman media.

SIFF 2012 Best Documentary

Grand Jury Prize
FIVE STAR EXISTENCE, directed by Sonja Lindén (Finland, 2011)
Jury Statement: The Grand Jury prize for Best Documentary is awarded to FIVE STAR EXISTENCE. In our modern age of pervasive technology, almost anyone can understand the all consuming relationship of man to machine.  Director Sonja Linden examines this ambitious theme, creating a thought provoking documentary that resonated with the jury for its challenging ideas achieved through stunning visuals, evocative sound design and calculated storytelling. This is a film that should be seen by any modern audience as it helps to explain our increasing and perhaps pathological dependence on devices. The film is overflowing with big ideas and poses questions worthy of examination, but never provides easy answers. Prepare to be challenged.

The Documentary jury is comprised of Kathy McDonald, Variety; Rob Williams, Indomina Media; and Dan Berger, Oscilloscope Films.

SIFF 2012 FIPRESCI Prize for Best New American Film

SIFF is one of three festivals in the United States to host a FIPRESCI jury, the international federation of film critics, which selected the award for Best New American Film from the New American Cinema program.


WELCOME TO PINE HILL, directed by Keith Miller (USA, 2012)
Jury Statement: The FIPRESCI Critics Jury at the 2012 Seattle International Film Festival has awarded its prize to Keith Miller’s independent American film WELCOME TO PINE HILL. Despite being Miller’s first feature, the movie shows a stylistic maturity and attention to detail that would be noteworthy in the work of the most seasoned directors. WELCOME TO PINE HILL is a film of heartbreak and restraint, social observation and individualized investigation. The remarkable Shannon Harper plays an insurance adjuster who has put a criminal past behind him, only to discover that he has no future ahead of him. Miller follows Harper as he settles accounts and gives one last, long look at the world he has known and will never see again. It is that rare work of art the really does discover the universal in the particular.

The FIPRESCI jury is comprised of members of the International Federation of Film Critics: Emma Gray Munthe, Sweden; Pascal Grenier, Canada; and Henry Sheehan, U.S.

SIFF 2012 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 88,000 ballots were cast by SIFF audiences to determine the winners. Golden Space Needle Award winners received a hand-made glass creation by artist James Mongrain. The winner for Best Short film received a brand new Mac computer, fully loaded with the latest filmmaking software from The Mac Store, and $1,000 of film stock from Eastman Kodak.

Best Film Golden Space Needle Award

ANY DAY NOW, directed by Travis Fine (USA, 2012)
First runner-up: EDEN, directed by Megan Griffiths (USA, 2012)
Second runner-up: STARBUCK, directed by Ken Scott (Canada (Québec), 2011)
Third runner-up: SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, directed by Colin Trevorrow (USA, 2012)
Fourth runner-up: THE CHEF, directed by Daniel Cohen (France, 2012)
Rounding out the top ten: THE INTOUCHABLES (directed by Eric Toledano and Olivier Nakache, France, 2011); FAT KID RULES THE WORLD (directed by Matthew Lillard, USA, 2012); MOONRISE KINGDOM (directed by Wes Anderson, USA, 2012); IRA FINKELSTEIN’S CHRISTMAS (directed by Sue Corcoran, USA, 2012); RECALLED (directed by Michael Connors, USA 2012)

Best Documentary Golden Space Needle Award

THE INVISIBLE WAR, directed by Kirby Dick (USA, 2012)
First runner-up: THE OTHER DREAM TEAM, directed by Marius Markevicius (Lithuania, 2012)
Second runner-up: CHASING ICE, directed by Jeff Orlowski (USA, 2012)
Third runner-up: ETHEL, directed by Rory Kennedy (USA, 2012)
Fourth runner-up: THE LONG RIDE HOME, directed by Thomas Wright (USA, 2012)
Rounding out the top ten: UNDER AFRICAN SKIES (directed by Joe Berlinger, USA, 2012); MARINA ABRAMOVIC THE ARTIST IS PRESENT (directed by Matthew Akers and Jeff Dupre, USA, 2012); CHARLES BRADLEY: SOUL OF AMERICA (directed by Poull Brien, USA, 2012); THE SAVOY KING: CHICK WEBB AND THE MUSIC THAT CHANGED AMERICA (directed by Jeff Kaufman, USA, 2012); AI WEIWEI: NEVER SORRY (directed by Allison Klayman, USA, 2012)

Best Director Golden Space Needle Award

First runner-up: Wes Anderson, MOONRISE KINGDOM (USA, 2012)
Second runner-up: Megan Griffiths, EDEN (USA, 2012)
Third runner-up: Rasit Çelikezer, ÇAN (Turkey, 2011)
Fourth runner-up: Mohammad Rasoulof, GOODBYE (Iran, 2011)
Rounding out the top ten: Colin Trevorrow, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (USA, 2012); Travis Fine, ANY DAY NOW (USA, 2012); Nacho Vigalondo, EXTRATERRESTRIAL (Spain, 2011); Lisa Ohlin, SIMON AND THE OAKS (Sweden, 2011); Michael Conners, RECALLED (USA, 2012)

Best Actor Golden Space Needle Award

Alan Cumming, ANY DAY NOW (USA, 2012)
First runner-up: Matt O’Leary, EDEN (USA, 2012)
Second runner-up: Omar Sy, THE INTOUCHABLES (France, 2011)
Third runner-up: Berkan Demirbag, ÇAN (Turkey, 2011)
Fourth runner-up: Mark Duplass, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (USA, 2012)
Rounding out the top ten: German de Silva, LAS ACACIAS (Argentina, 2011); Anders Danielson Lie, OSLO, AUGUST 31st ((Norway, 2011); Chris Pine, PEOPLE LIKE US (USA, 2012); Thomas Schubert, BREATHING (Austria, 2011); Bill Skarsgård, SIMON AND THE OAKS (Sweden, 2011)

Best Actress Golden Space Needle Award

Jamie Chung, EDEN (USA, 2012)
First runner-up: Olympia Dukakis, CLOUDBURST (Canada, 2011)
Second runner-up: Quvenzhané Wallis, BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD (USA, 2012)
Third runner-up: Gaite Jansen, 170HZ (Netherlands, 2011)
Fourth runner-up: Selen Uçer, CAN (Turkey, 2011)
Rounding out the top ten: Michelle Williams, TAKE THIS WALTZ (Canada, 2011); Leila Zare GOODBYE (Iran, 2011); Aubrey Plaza, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED (USA, 2012); Charlotte Rampling, THE EYE OF THE STORM (Australia, 2011); Laura Linney, THE DETAILS (USA, 2011)

Best Short Film Golden Space Needle Award

CATCAM, directed by Seth Keal (USA, 2012)
First runner-up: ASAD, directed by Bryan Buckley (South Africa/ USA, 2011)
Second runner-up: FRESH GUACAMOLE, directed by Pes (USA, 2012)
Third runner-up: HELLO CALLER, directed by Andrew Putschoegl (USA, 2011)
Fourth runner-up: COFFEE and PIE, directed by Douglas Horn (USA, 2011)

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.
EDEN, directed by Megan Griffiths (USA, 2012)

Reel NW Award presented by KCTS 9

New to SIFF this year, the Reel NW Award is presented to a feature-length film in the SIFF Northwest Connections lineup that projects: excellence in storytelling, writing, character development and story structure; production values that enhance the story being told; and a creative spirit emblematic of independent filmmaking. The winning film received a $2,500 cash from KCTS 9 and an offer to broadcast on KCTS 9’s Reel NW series, contingent on meeting broadcast requirements.

Reel NW Award

EDEN, directed by Megan Griffiths (USA, 2012)
Jury Statement: From the assured vision of its director to the committed performances by its cast, this film displays strong cinematic craftsmanship. Unpredictable and therefore truly  suspenseful, Eden explores a largely unknown issue with sensitivity and without preaching.  In short, this is a powerful story that delivers on all levels. We’re very proud to recognize Eden with this Award.

The Reel NW jury is comprised of Scilla Andreen, IndieFlix; Randy Brinson, KCTS 9; and Robert Horton, Everett Herald.

SIFF 2012 FutureWave and Youth Jury Awards

This year’s SIFF FutureWave jury was comprised of seven high-school students that viewed eight FutureWave features to award the Youth Jury Award for Best FutureWave Feature. The Films4Families jury was comprised of five elementary and middle school students that viewed seven Films4Families films to award the Youth Jury Award for Best Films4Families Feature. SIFF’s WaveMaker Award for Excellence in Youth Filmmaking was awarded at the FutureWave Shorts program on May 28 at SIFF Cinema Uptown as part of the ShortsFest Weekend. More than 100 short films were submitted from young filmmakers aged 11-18, from around the world. The WaveMaker Award was selected from the 15 presented finalists. TheFilmSchool faculty member Rick Stevenson also awarded a full scholarship to TheFilmSchool’s Prodigy Camp to a FutureWave filmmaker in recognition of their outstanding storytelling.

Youth Jury Award for Best FutureWave Feature

SIN BIN, directed by Billy Federighi (USA, 2012)
Jury Statement: For being a unique re-imagining of a classic coming-of-age comedy with quirky style and a witty, quotable script.

Youth Jury Award for Best Films4Families Feature

THE GREAT BEAR, directed by Esben Toft Jacobsen (Denmark, 2011)
Jury Statement: For its thought-provoking story, the humanity of its characters, and animation that captures the feeling of being in an enchanted forest.

WaveMaker Award for Excellence in Youth Filmmaking (Grand Jury Prize)
BEFORE THE MUSIC ENDS, directed by Ashley Armitage and Gina Mattassa (USA, 2012)

WaveMaker Special Jury Prize
THIS IS MY LIFE, BROTHER, directed by Jawara Drigo (USA, 2011)

FutureWave Shorts Audience Award
143, directed by Mariana Emmanuelli (Puerto Rico, 2011)
Mariana Emmanuelli also received a full scholarship to TheFilmSchool’s Prodigy Camp, a weeklong, immersive, overnight film camp for youth aged 12-18 held in late June.

SIFF 2012 Short Film Jury Awards

As a qualifying festival of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, short films that received the Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative short film and Best Animation Short Film 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 complies with the Academy rules. Winners received a $1,000 cash prize.

Grand Jury Prize for Best Narrative Short

THE EXTRAORDINARY LIFE OF ROCKY, directed by Kevin Meul (Belgium, 2011)
Jury statement: A darkly funny exploration of a young man with a curse. This unlikely romance marries perfect period detail with a wonderfully morbid Scandinavian sensibility.

Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary Short

PARADISE, directed by Nadav Kurtz (USA, 2012)
Jury statement: For approaching literally lofty subject matter from a down-to-earth perspective, and for allowing the subjects to tell their own stories.

Grand Jury Prize for Best Animated Short

ZERGUT, directed by Natasha Subramaniam and Alisa Lapidus (USA, 2011)
Jury statement: Combining perishable elements with the meticulous nature of stop motion animation is just the beginning of the delicious wonders.

The Short Film jury is comprised of Anna Sampers, Programmer, Milwaukee Film Festival; Eliaichi Kimaro, filmmaker, A Lot Like You; and Alonso Duralde, Senior Programmer, Outfest.

SIFF 2012 Festival Highlights

The festival continued its presence in Renton, Everett, and Kirkland, hosting special Opening Night events and Festival screenings for week-long stays in each area. Renton Opening Night featured Matthew Lillard’s Fat Kid Rules the World while Everett Opening Night kicked off with Daryl Wein’s Lola Versus and Kirkland Opening Night opened with Starbuck, directed by Ken Scott. SIFF is extremely pleased to bring Festival programming to these communities and continue to broaden the Festival experience to those outside Seattle’s borders.

This year’s festival launched SIFF Catalyst, the festival’s new sub-section of New American Cinema showcasing the best of grassroots filmmaking. The category champions the next wave of independent filmmakers whose films find success by the collaborative support of their peers and the financial support of hundreds of fans through DIY methods such as Kickstarter. Six feature film debuts were chosen in this inaugural year, including three world premieres and three emerging festival favorites. All films were eligible for the FIPRESCI award as well as Audience Awards.

Academy Award®-winning actress Sissy Spacek received the Festival’s 2012 Award for Outstanding Achievement in Acting, and participated in a live Q&A moderated by TIME Magazine film critic Richard Corliss at SIFF Cinema Uptown. As part of the Tribute event, SIFF screened early Spacek films including BADLANDS, COAL MINER’S DAUGHTER and CARRIE.


Academy Award®-winning director William Friedkin was presented with the Festival’s 2012 Lifetime Achievement Award. As a part of the Tribute event, moderated David Poland from MOVIE CITY NEWS, SIFF screened two of Mr. Friedkin’s most critically acclaimed films, THE FRENCH CONNECTION and THE EXORCIST as well as the Seattle premiere of his new film, KILLER JOE, featuring Emile Hirsch and Matthew McConaughey.

SIFF’s Face the Music Program merged the worlds of music and movies for EMERALD CITY VISIONS, a hip-hop reimagining of the classic musical THE WIZ, which featured two live performances and video mixing by some of the hottest names in Northwest hip-hop at the Triple Door on June 1. In addition, SIFF hosted the World Premiere of WELCOME TO DOE BAY, a local film documenting the three-day Doe Bay music “microfest” on Orcas Island.

SIFF’s youth programs reached over 6,000 students with youth juries, including the FutureWave shorts program (featuring 15 films from young directors under the age of 18), FutureWave and Films4Families features, the SuperFly Filmmaking Workshop, and more than 25 filmmaker visits and screenings in schools. SIFF is extremely proud of its continued partnership with Adobe Youth Voices, an effort to showcase the talents of youth filmmakers, ages 13-18, from across the globe.

SIFF also hosted 17 digital Q&As via Skype connecting audiences with international filmmakers representing 14 countries.

For more information regarding 2012 Festival Award winners, including photographs, please contact the SIFF Publicity Department (206.315.0694,

# # #

About the Seattle International Film Festival

Founded in 1976, SIFF creates experiences that bring people together to discover extraordinary films from around the world with the Seattle International Film Festival, SIFF Cinema and FutureWave Education.

Recognized as one of the top film festivals in North America, the Seattle International Film Festival is the largest, most highly-attended film festival in the United States reaching more than 150,000 annually. The 25-day festival is renowned for its wide-ranging and eclectic programming presenting over 250 features and 150 short films from over 70 countries each year.

SIFF Cinema exhibits premiere theatrical engagements, repertory, classic and revival film showings 365 days a year on four screens at the SIFF Film Center and SIFF Cinema Uptown, reaching more than 90,000 attendees annually.

SIFF FutureWave Education offers educational programs for all audiences serving more than 11,000 students and youth in the community with free programs each year.

The 38th Seattle International Film Festival is made possible in part by support from Xfinity, The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation, Brotherton Cadillac Buick GMC, Alaska Airlines, The Wallace Foundation, Delta Air Lines, Modern Digital, POP, and City Arts Magazine, City of Seattle Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs, Adobe Youth Voices, 4Culture, and Wong, Doody, Crandall, Wiener.