Diego Luna’s MR. PIG and Jessica Dimmock and Christopher LaMarca’s THE PEARL took home the top prizes at the 2016 Dallas International Film Festival awards ceremony.
MR. PIG starring Danny Glover and Maya Rudolph took home the Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize and Jessica Dimmock and Christopher LaMarca’s THE PEARL was awarded the Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize at the festival.
The Arthur E. Benjamin Foundation Audience Awards were presented to: Greg Kwedar’s TRANSPECOS for Best Narrative Feature, Jenna Jackson and Anthony Jackson’s UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT for Best Documentary Feature, and Duke Merriman’s SO GOOD TO SEE YOU for Best Short Film.
In addition to the presentation of the filmmaking awards, the evening also featured the presentation of the Dallas Star Award to two-time Academy Award nominated cinematographer Ed Lachman, and the inaugural presentation of the L.M. Kit Carson Maverick Filmmaker Award to filmmaking legend Monte Hellman.
Keith Maitland‘s TOWER won the Texas Competition Grand Jury Prize and Berndt Mader’s BOOGER RED received a Texas Competition Special Jury Prize. Nanfu Wang’s HOOLIGAN SPARROW won the Silver Heart Award and the $10,000 cash prize bestowed on an individual or film for their dedication to fighting injustices and/or creating social change for the improvement of humanity.
2016 Dallas International Film Festival Awards – Jury Awards
NARRATIVE FEATURE GRAND JURY PRIZE: MR. PIG
DIR: Diego Luna
Eubanks (Danny Glover), an old-school pig farmer from Georgia on the brink of losing his family farm, sets off on a road trip with Howard, his beloved and very large pig.
As they make their way across the border to Mexico to find “Howie” a new home, Eubanks’s drinking and deteriorating health begin to take a toll, derailing their plans. His estranged daughter, Eunice (Maya Rudolph), is forced to join them on their adventure. Driven by strong convictions and stubbornness in his old ways, Eubanks attempts to make peace through his devotion to Howie and desire to mend his broken relationships.
NARRATIVE FEATURE SPECIAL JURY PRIZE (PERFORMANCE): ARIANNA
DIR: Carlo Lavagna
CAST: Ondina Quadri
Carlo Lavagna’s debut feature, ARIANNA, unfolds like a classic film mystery set in the the gorgeous Italian countryside.
Arianna is nineteen years old and still hasn’t had her first period. She’s starting to notice that she hasn’t physically matured like other girls. Her parents are feeding her hormones prescribed by a gynecologist. Now her breasts have become slightly enlarged and this is causing her some discomfort. The hormones aren’t helping with her maturation.
Her parents decide to take her back to the lake house in Bolsena where they used to vacation. While staying in the house, old memories start to come back to Arianna like pieces of a puzzle slowly begin to fall into place. When her parents tell her it’s time to return to the city for a few days, Arianna wants to stay behind to study for her exams. Her father accepts despite her mother’s objections, as Arianna becomes more suspicious of her condition and her parents.
Arianna’s investigation into her past includes seeing a new gynecologist without her parents’ knowledge, and a new exploration of her body and her sexuality. All of this leads up to surprise conclusion that will shock audiences as much as it shocks Arianna herself.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE GRAND JURY PRIZE: THE PEARL
DIR: Jessica Dimmock and Christopher LaMarca’s
Far from the celebrity and magazine covers of Laverne Cox and Caitlin Jenner, THE PEARL witnesses the loss and extraordinary risk of four middle-aged and senior war vets, steel foremen, and fathers and grandfathers coming out for the first time as transgender women in the hyper-masculine culture of the Pacific Northwest.
Each year, their lives intersect at the annual Esprit Conference for T-girls, a weeklong event enlivening a community broken by closeted isolation and loss due to suicide. Filmmakers Jessica Dimmock and Christopher LaMarca create a language for the film that is built on their subject’s honesty; an honesty that therapeutically hides nothing from the camera.
Over the course of the film, these four transgender women emerge with beauty, conviction, strength, and a newfound personal integrity.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE SPECIAL JURY PRIZE: IN PURSUIT OF SILENCE
DIR: Patrick Shen
In this beautiful, meditative documentary, filmmaker Patrick Shen crafts exquisite footage with a delicate soundtrack, creating a comprehensive and thought-provoking discussion of how noise impacts our daily life. From the early religious aspects of solitude to John Cage’s seminal silent composition 4’33”, silence has always fascinated society and played an important role in our humanity. As our lives become modernized with technology, noise has taken a larger toll on our wellness and behavior.
TEXAS COMPETITION GRAND JURY PRIZE (PRESENTED BY PANAVSION): TOWER
DIR: Keith Maitland
On August 1st, 1966, a sniper rode the elevator to the top floor of the University of Texas Tower and opened fire, holding the campus hostage for 96 minutes. When the gunshots were finally silenced, the toll included 16 dead, three dozen wounded, and a shaken nation left trying to understand.
Combining archival footage with rotoscopic animation in a dynamic, never-before-seen way, TOWER reveals the action-packed untold stories of the witnesses, heroes and survivors of America’s first mass school shooting, when the worst in one man brought out the best in so many others.
TEXAS COMPETITION SPECIAL JURY PRIZE: BOOGER RED
DIR: Berndt Mader
Booger Red is a hybrid narrative/documentary film where fictional journalist, Onur Tukel, investigates the true case of the ‘Mineola Swingers Club’ trials. In 2006, seven people were sentenced to life for purportedly running the largest child sex ring in Texas history–inside of a swingers club in Mineola, Tx. Onur, portraying a veteran reporter, interviews the actual defendants and lawyers involved in the trials. On his journey through the seedy underbelly of east Texas, Onur is forced to confront his own history with abuse while he discovers that the allegations at the root of his investigation might have never happened.
SILVER HEART AWARD (PRESENTED BY THE EMBREY FAMILY FOUNDATION): HOOLIGAN SPARROW
DIR: Nanfu Wang
The danger is palpable as intrepid young filmmaker Nanfu Wang follows maverick activist Ye Haiyan (a.k.a Hooligan Sparrow) and her band of colleagues to Hainan Province in southern China to protest the case of six elementary school girls who were sexually abused by their principal.
Marked as enemies of the state, the activists are under constant government surveillance and face interrogation, harassment, and imprisonment. Sparrow, who gained notoriety with her advocacy work for sex workers’ rights, continues to champion girls’ and women’s rights and arms herself with the power and reach of social media.
Filmmaker Wang becomes a target along with Sparrow, as she faces destroyed cameras and intimidation. Yet she bravely and tenaciously keeps shooting, guerrilla-style, with secret recording devices and hidden-camera glasses, and in the process, she exposes a startling number of undercover security agents on the streets.
Eventually, through smuggling footage out of the country, Wang is able tell the story of her journey with the extraordinary revolutionary Sparrow, her fellow activists, and their seemingly impossible battle for human rights.
SHORT FILM GRAND JURY PRIZE: THE BLACK BELT
DIR: Margaret Brown
SHORT FILM SPECIAL JURY PRIZE: MINOR SETBACK
DIR: Augustine Frizzell
STUDENT SHORT FILM GRAND JURY PRIZE: FATA MORGANA
DIR: Amelie Wen
STUDENT SHORT SPECIAL JURY PRIZE: THE MINK CATCHER
DIR: Samantha Buck
ANIMATED SHORT FILM GRAND JURY PRIZE (PRESENTED BY REEL FX): SNOWFALL
DIR: Conor Whelan
2016 Dallas International Film Festival Awards – Audience Awards (PRESENTED BY THE ARTHUR E. BENJAMIN FOUNDATION)
NARRATIVE FEATURE: TRANSPECOS
DIR: Greg Kwedar
On a remote desert highway a makeshift Border Patrol checkpoint is manned by three agents: Flores (Gabriel Luna): with an uncanny ability to track; Davis (Johnny Simmons): joined the Border Patrol with dreams of romancing señoritas and riding on horseback; Hobbs (Clifton Collins, Jr.): one of the old guards who believes a college degree can’t stop a bullet.
It starts out like most boring days, but soon the contents of one car will change everything. What follows is a journey to uncover the surreal, frightening secrets hidden behind the facade of this lonely outpost. The end of the path may cost them their lives along a border where the line between right and wrong shifts like the desert itself.
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT
DIR: Jenna Jackson and Anthony Jackson
UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT is every parent’s worst nightmare come to life.
In 2006, Corpus Christi homemaker Hannah Overton and her husband were in the process of adopting 4-year-old Andrew Burd. In October of that year, Andrew died. His death was determined to be the result of deliberate salt poisoning, and Hannah was charged with capital murder and sentenced to life in prison. Maintaining her innocence the entire time, Hannah spent almost eight years incarcerated before a hard-won battle resulted in her conviction being overturned. All of the inconsistencies, flawed arguments and erroneous conclusions from her original trial—along with her being ruthlessly portrayed in the media as a cold-hearted killer—were finally brought to light.
Directors Jenna and Anthony Jackson have extensively detailed Hannah’s story to show how it took a team of lawyers that fervently believed in justice to finally gain her freedom.
SHORT FILM: SO GOOD TO SEE YOU
DIR: Duke Merriman