The 17th annual Los Angeles Film Festival handed out its awards this past Sunday, with doc jury and audience awards going to Wish Me Away; Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest; Senna and the short I Am a Girl!
The jury selected Beverly Kopf and Bobbie Birleffi’s Wish Me Away for the documentary award. The doc tells the story of Nashville singer Chely Wright’s decision to come out of the closet, despite its potential to hurt her career in the country music market.
The winning film took a cash prize of US$15,000 funded by Film Independent.
The jury, composed of director Jeff Malmberg (Marwencol), executive director of the International Documentary Association Michael Lumpkin, and co-editor of Slake magazine Laurie Ochoa, said: “For its honesty, humor and potential to change minds and even save lives, the jury awards the Documentary Award to Wish Me Away.”
The jury also selected I Am a Girl! by Susan Koenen as best documentary short film. It also recently won the Worldwide Short Film Festival’s doc award.
“For using gorgeous cinematography and energetic editing to capture a young woman’s journey from biological maleness to forthright femininity, and for giving us a glimpse at an open-minded new generation with a better understanding of gender and sexuality issues than their parents ever dreamed, the jury presents the Documentary Short Film Award to Susan Koenen for I Am a Girl!” read the jury statement.
Michael Rapaport’s Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest was honored with the audience award for best documentary feature. The film explores the triumphant and tumultuous history of pioneering hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest.
Senna, which won the World Cinema documentary audience award at Sundance earlier this year took home the audience award for best international feature. The Asif Kapadia-directed film is a high-octane look at Formula One driver Ayrton Senna.
“It was such a rich year in competition films, so our juries had really tough choices to make,” said festival artistic director David Ansen. “The winning films are the cream of a particularly delicious crop, and we’re delighted that they reflect the Festival’s dedication to movies from all over the world.”
The Los Angeles Film Festival ran from June 16 to June 26.