Docs

SXSW ’19: “For Sama” takes top doc prize

Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ For Sama has taken home the top prize for best documentary feature at the 26th annual SXSW Film Festival Awards on Tuesday (March 12) in Austin, ...
March 13, 2019

Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts’ For Sama has taken home the top prize for best documentary feature at the 26th annual SXSW Film Festival Awards on Tuesday (March 12) in Austin, Texas.

The intimate 94-minute feature-length film (pictured), which held its world premiere at the Texas-based festival, chronicles the female experience of war by documenting the five-year journey of director al-Kateab as she navigates through love, marriage and motherhood during the revolution in Aleppo, Syria. For Sama is produced by ITN Productions.

Jenifer McShane’s Ernie & Joe received special jury recognition for empathy in craft. The 96-minute film follows two officers from the San Antonio Police Department as they divert people away from jail and into mental health treatment.

Elizabeth Carroll‘s Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy, meanwhile, was recognized by the special jury for excellence in storytelling. The 90-minute project documents master chef, teacher and activist Diana Kennedy who has been relentlessly fighting for change in the environment to produce and sustain fresh food for future generations.

In the documentary short category, Mohammad Gorjestani’s Exit 12 took the prize for his film that centers around former U.S. Marine Roman Baca who opens a New York-based dance company to help other veterans cope with the depression, anxiety and anger of war through dance and choreography.

The complete list of documentary and unscripted winners follows below.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION

Winner: For Sama
Directors: Waad al-Kateab, Edward Watts

Special Jury Recognition for Empathy in Craft
Ernie & Joe
Director: Jenifer McShane

Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Storytelling  
Nothing Fancy: Diana Kennedy 
Director: Elizabeth Carroll

DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

Winner: Exit 12
Director: Mohammad Gorjestani

Special Jury Recognition
All Inclusive
Director: Corina Schwingruber Ilić

SXSW SPECIAL AWARDS

Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship

Winner: Victoria Chalk

ZEISS Cinematography Award

Winner: Amazonia Groove
Director: Bruno Murtinho

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)

Winner: The River and the Wall
Director: Ben Masters

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