SXSW ’22: “Master of Light,” “Bad Axe” recognized at festival’s awards

SXSW named the winners of its jury and special awards at its 29th annual film festival on Tuesday (March 16), highlighted by major awards to documentariesMaster of Light, Bad Axe and What ...
March 16, 2022

SXSW named the winners of its jury and special awards at its 29th annual film festival on Tuesday (March 16), highlighted by major awards to documentariesMaster of LightBad Axe and What We Leave Behind.

The Documentary Feature Competition award was presented to Master of Light (pictured), from filmmaker Rosa Ruth Boesten. The documentary follows a classical painter who, after spending 10 years in federal prison, travels to his hometown to paint his family members.

“In both substance and form, Master of Light is a gift. The earnest and gifted painter George Anthony Morton embeds viewers in his world as he struggles to render his mother — both on the canvas and in his psyche. Boesten disabuses us of static tropes about America’s merciless drug war and about contemporary art. With astonishing intimacy, the film’s visuals build an artful bridge between two- and three-dimensional realms that are deeply rooted and utterly transcendent,” SXSW stated in a news release about the awards.

Bad Axe, a documentary from David Siev, was recognized with a Special Jury award for Exceptional Intimacy in Storytelling. The film is about an Asian-American family in the rural U.S. fighting to keep their restaurant alive despite the COVID-19 pandemic, neo-Nazis and generational scars from the Cambodian killing fields.

Another Special Jury award for Acting in a Documentary was presented to Steve Glew, subject of The Pez Outlaw by filmmakers Amy Bandlien Storkel and Bryan Storkel. The film relates how Glew made millions of dollars by smuggling rare pez dispensers into the U.S. from eastern Europe in the 1990s, until his business was devastated by his rival, “The Pezident.”

The winner of the Documentary Short Competition was Rayka Zehtabchi and Shaandiin Tome’s Long Line of Ladies, a film about preparations for an Ihuk, the long-dormant coming-of-age ceremony of the Karuk tribe in Northern California. A Special Jury prize for Visual Reflection was awarded to Jamie Meltzer’s not even for a moment do things stand still, which depicts visitors from around the U.S. gathering to honor loved ones who died from COVID-19.

Both SXSW’s New Voices Award and its Louis Black “Lone Star” Award for a film shot primarily in Texas or directed by a current resident of the state were presented to the documentary What We Leave Behind from director Iliana Sosa. The film follows Sosa as she chronicles her grandfather’s work to build a house for himself in rural Mexico, while exploring his life, their relationship and his homeland.

The surrealist documentary Folk Frontera, from directors Alejandra Vasquez and Sam Osborn, won the Texas Shorts competition. The short follow two fronteriza women struggling to find their place in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Feature films that received jury awards were selected from the festival’s Narrative Feature and Documentary Feature Competition categories. All film categories at the festival are eligible for category-specific Audience Awards, which will be announced next week.

“It was extraordinary to gather together in person again after so long, and we are so grateful to the filmmakers and audience who joined us at SXSW 2022 in Austin, Texas for our first in-person event since 2019,” Janet Pierson, VP, director of film, said in a news release.

Films will be available on the SXSW platform until March 21, with the Online Shift72 Screening Library available until March 31 for films that opted in to the extended timeframe.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.