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Alice directed by Josephine Mackerras
Alice directed by Josephine Mackerras

The 2019 Jury and Special Award winners of the 26th SXSW Film Festival Awards were announced at the historic Paramount Theatre with the top awards going to Alice directed by Josephine Mackerras winning Best Narrative Feature Film and For Sama directed by Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts winning Best Documentary Feature Film. Short films and other juried sections, including Film Design Awards, were also presented.

SXSW also announced Special Awards including the Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship, the Vimeo Staff Picks Award, the ZEISS Cinematography Award, the Louis Black “Lone Star” Award, the Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award, and the CherryPicks Female First Feature Award which went to Alice director Josephine Mackerras.

SXSW continues showing films through Saturday, March 16.

2019 SXSW Film Festival Awards

Feature Film Grand Jury Awards


Winner: Alice
Director: Josephine Mackerras
“What starts off as a simple domestic story became a riveting tale of survival and female friendship that had us compelled from start to finish. For its nuanced character study and singular storytelling, the Grand Jury winner is Alice.”

Special Jury Recognition for Best Ensemble: Yes, God, Yes
Director: Karen Maine
“For this festival, we could have given out a dozen acting awards, but we could have also given a dozen acting awards for this movie. In this particular film, this entire cast made us laugh with their horny hijinks. The Special Jury Recognition for Best Ensemble goes to Yes, God, Yes.”

Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Voice: Saint Frances
Director: Alex Thompson
“This film tackles complex issues about family, politics, religion and women’s lives with a light touch that never felt preachy. For its realness and diverse vision, the Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Voice goes to Saint Frances.”


For Sama directed by Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts
For Sama directed by Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts

Winner: For Sama
Directors: Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts
“This extraordinary and harrowing documentary captures an epic personal story of a mother’s love for her daughter and a wife’s love for her husband through the lens of the bloody and brutal siege of Aleppo.”

Special Jury Recognition for Empathy in Craft : Ernie & Joe Director: Jenifer McShane
“Everyone needs to pay the fuck attention to this deeply felt and expertly rendered documentary about two members of the San Antonio Police Department’s Mental Health Unit, who are changing how police see their own jobs with their embrace of making empathy and the individual the priority over force and violence.”

Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Storytelling
Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy
Director: Elizabeth Carroll
“The question of who writes history is delightfully explored as we travel to Diana Kennedy’s vibrant home and experience this white British woman’s fierce passion for and lifelong dedication to authentic, regional Mexican cuisine.”

Short Film Grand Jury Awards

Presented by Vimeo, an all-in-one video platform that provides creative professionals and businesses with tools and technology they need to succeed with video – from hosting, to collaborating, to distributing and monetizing.


Winner: Liberty Director: Faren Humes
“It is a complex and brilliant slice of life story about a community that is rarely seen. We feel that Faren Humes is an emerging director with a strong personal vision who was able to humanize a world that is persevering amongst the imminent threat of gentrification.”

Special Jury Recognition: The Orphan
Director: Carolina Markowicz
“We wanted to give recognition to another stand out film in the Narrative Shorts competition”


Winner: Exit 12
Director: Mohammad Gorjestani
“We are giving the award to Exit 12 for its strong directorial vision and creative risk-taking. We celebrate Mo as an incredibly talented, energizing, and emerging voice in cinema and hope this award will help propel his already promising career to greater heights. Congratulations!”

Special Jury Recognition: All Inclusive
Director: Corina Schwingruber Ilić
“Special Jury Recognition goes to All Inclusive, a wry look at our modern-day pursuit of happiness. Every shot is perfectly composed, the editing is spot-on, and it’s funny – delightfully depressing. Bravo!”


Winner: Other Side of the Box
Director: Caleb J. Phillips
“It’s the perfect blend of dread, humor, originality, chilling scares, excellent production values, and well crafted storytelling. More than just getting under our skin, it left us hopeful for a feature length adaptation.”


Winner: Guaxuma
Director: Nara Normande
“In a remarkable field of films, this was a choice that was exceptionally difficult to make. We chose Nara Normande’s Guaxuma for it’s brilliant and beautiful animation and moving story. We look forward to seeing what comes next from Normande and from the remarkable group of filmmakers honored alongside her film. This film was well crafted in every aspect, from story to animation technique to design and direction, every choice was brilliantly conceived and executed in perfect harmony. It flowed beautifully like a good poem or dream.”

Special Jury Recognition: Slug LIfe
Director: Sophie Koko Gate
“A visually stunning and deliciously bizarre look into Sophie Koko Gate’s mind drew out genuine, unbridled laughter from the audience that we simply could not ignore. As a filmmaker with a firm grasp of her own artistic and comedic style, we are happy honor a film that lives up to the motto, ‘Keep Austin Weird.”


Winner: “Hurray for The Riff Raff” – Pa’Lante
Director: Kristian Mercado
Hurray for the Riff Raff’s honest representation of today’s Puerto Rico was both beautiful and heartbreaking.”

Special Jury Recognition: “Quarrel” – Moses Sumney
Directors: Allie Avital, Moses Sumney
“Moses Sumney’s self-directed depiction of human and animal perception — with a surprise twist in the ending — was breathtaking.”


Winner: I Am Mackenzie
Director: Artemis Anastasiadou
“We’d like to give the Grand Jury Prize to a film made by a promising new talent in Texas for its poignant portrayal of a coming of age story. The Grand Jury Prize for Texas Short goes to I Am Mackenzie.”

Special Jury Recognition: A Line Birds Cannot See
Director: Amy Bench
“First, we’d like to give a Special Jury Recognition to a film for its important, timely and humanizing story of immigrants. Special Jury Recognition goes to A Line Birds Cannot See.”


Winner: Fifteen
Director: Louisa Baldwin
“A lovely narrative of a teenage girl falling in love and experiencing the unique highs and lows of a lesbian relationship. The voiceover wonderfully expresses the complexities of publicly expressing her sexuality. The visuals provide snapshots of the journey, allowing the audience to feel with the characters.”

Special Jury Recognition: Double Cross
Director: Amiri Scrutchin
“A short that skillfully exhibits multiple drawn styles of animation while telling an enjoyable story about a basketball game.”


Winner: Maggie
Director: Sasha Gordon
“Kudos to the SXSW programmers. The episodic pilot programs were full of bold and authentic voices and with filmmakers courageously sharing their lives with rooms full of strangers. The lineup was varied, moving, and a joy to experience. We can’t wait to see how these stories continue. Though it was a tough decision, one show stood out for its natural humor, excellent grounded performances, and brutal honesty. We only wish the episodes were longer. We selected Maggie, directed by Sasha Gordon, as this year’s standout Episodic Pilot.”

Special Jury Recognition: Revenge Tour
Directors: Andrew Carter, Kahlil Maskati
“We also wanted to acknowledge another fantastic show that gave us a lot to talk about. We were drawn to the confident choices and authentic perspectives of this pilot and wanted to acknowledge their captivating and heartfelt approach to bad breakup vengeance. Our Special Jury Recognition goes to the team from Revenge Tour, directed by Andrew Carter and Kahlil Maskati.”

SXSW Film Design Awards


Winner: Daniel Isn’t Real
Designer: Jock
Design Company: 4twenty limited
“It was the clear winner for all of us. It grabs your attention and holds it. The colors, design, font, and imagery all work very effectively to convey the themes of the movie.”


Winner: Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse
Directors: Brian Mah, James Ramirez
“Come on, are you kidding? We had to pick this. It’s fantastic.”

Special Jury Recognition: The Darkest Minds
Director: Michelle Dougherty
“We love the subtle, but rich animation in the typography. The pinpricks of light and colour are beautiful. It’s an understated but stunning piece.”

SXSW Special Awards

SXSW Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship Presentation

The Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship is a year-long experience that encourages and champions the talent of an emerging documentary editor. Awarded annually, the fellowship was created to honor the memory of gifted editor Karen Schmeer.

Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship

Presented to: Victoria Chalk
“This playfully macabre and awkwardly silly take on masculinity had us laughing out loud. For many of us, there’s never a ‘right time’ to meet your partner’s parents, but the main actor in this short plays every wrong moment just right.”

Vimeo Staff Picks Award
Vimeo is excited to announce the second annual Vimeo Staff Pick Award here at SXSW. Short films featured in the Narrative, Documentary, Animation, Midnight, 360/VR, and Texas Shorts competitions are eligible for this award, which includes a $5,000 cash prize and, of course, a Vimeo Staff Pick. The winning film will be released on Vimeo on Wednesday, March 13.

Vimeo Staff Picks Award

Presented to: Milton directed by Tim Wilkime
“This playfully macabre and awkwardly silly take on masculinity had us laughing out loud. For many of us, there’s never a “right time” to meet your partner’s parents, but the main actor in this short plays every wrong moment just right.”

ZEISS Cinematography Award

For over a 100 years, ZEISS has been making lenses for cinematography, to support filmmaking at all levels. The cinematographers of these films have worked extremely hard to bring you the very best imagery in storytelling and it is their vision which gives life to the director’s story, and for that, we say thank you.

ZEISS Cinematography Award

Winner: Amazonia Groove
Director: Bruno Murtinho
“For its rich use of color and composition, it’s nuanced attention to the people, places, rhythms and of course the sounds of Northern Brazil and its extraordinary art, culture and spirit.”

SXSW Louis Black “Lone Star” Award

To honor SXSW co-founder/director Louis Black, a jury prize was created in 2011 called the Louis Black “Lone Star” Award, presented to a feature film world premiering at SXSW that was shot primarily in Texas or directed by a current resident of Texas. (Opt-in Award)

Louis Black “Lone Star” Award

Winner: The River and the Wall
Director: Ben Masters
“In a field of 11 features and 10 documentaries one film separated from the pack with unbridled ambition, astounding photography and an essential, wide-eye perspective of the precious land between Texas and Mexico. We present the Louis Black Lone Star award to The River and the Wall.”

SXSW Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award

In honor of a filmmaker whose work strives to be wholly its own, without regard for norms or desire to conform. The Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award is presented to a filmmaker from our Visions screening category.

SXSW Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award

Presented to: Tito directed by Grace Glowicki
We are giving this award for fearless filmmaking from filmmakers who don’t give a f*ck about audience expectations and are hell bent on doing whatever it takes to deliver their vision.”

CherryPicks Female First Feature Award

“CherryPicks created the first feature by a female team award to support its mission to shine a spotlight on female voices. We hope to encourage women and audiences alike to create and support the stories women tell.”

CherryPicks Female First Feature Award

Winner: Alice
Director: Josephine Mackerras
“This years award goes to the film Alice, a story about a woman who finds the strength within herself despite all odds to save herself and her child. Aside from being a strong story, filmmaker Josephine Mackerras proves she has the vision and talent to become a leading voice in the film industry.”

CherryPicks Special Recognition:

Winner: Days of the Whale
Director: Catalina Arroyave Restrepo
“CherryPicks is proud to give this Special Recognition Award to Days of the Whale, to recognize the incredible work of director Catalina Arroyave Restrepo and producer Natalia Agudelo. Like Alice, this film stood out on its own with a unique, interesting story and a strong voice, showing filmmaking skill at a high level.”

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