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
Winner: Exit 12
Director: Mohammad Gorjestani
Special Jury Recognition
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