The 2017 edition of the SXSW Film Festival unveiled its Jury Award winners at a ceremony in Austin, Texas, on Tuesday (March 14).
In the Documentary Feature Competition, Jairus McLeary and Gethin Aldous’ The Work took home the Grand Jury prize. Set inside a single room in Folsom Prison, the doc follows three men from outside as they participate in a four-day group therapy retreat with level-four convicts.
“There is this program that exists, that works. We just want to get this film out there as much as we can, to be seen, to be discussed, to be debated, for the men and their courage,” said Aldous, in an interview with realscreen earlier this year.
Miao Wang’s Maineland received Special Jury for Excellence in Observational Cinema. Filmed over three years, the film follows two teenagers of China’s wealthy elite as they settle into a boarding school in blue-collar rural Maine. The film is part two of a trilogy Wang is filming that looks at the changing sociocultural environment of contemporary China.
Nanfu Wang was given Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling for her doc I Am Another You, where she explores the meaning of freedom while following a young drifter named Dylan Olse. Intrigued by his rejection of societal norms for a life of intentional homelessness, Wang — who served as director, producer, cinematographer and editor on her sophomore feature film — spent four weeks documenting Olsen’s journey across America by living alongside him, on the streets.
In the documentary short category, Wes Hurley and Nathan M. Miller’s Little Potato took home hardware for their film that centers around Seattle-based artist Wes Hurley and the obstacles he faced as a gay man growing up in Russia, including his escape to America after his mother becomes a mail-order bride.