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5th Annual LAFA Winners Announced

LAFA has announced the winners of 2020, and we're excited to share the results!

This year's Best of Fest award goes to "Jimmy Carter: Rock & Roll President", directed by Mary Wharton. The premier judge, Dave Eichhorn, reviewed the film (which also won Best Documentary Feature): "Engaging and simply terrific! Mary Wharton’s Jimmy Carter; Rock and Roll President may not stray very far from standard documentary format, but the magic is in how the filmmakers put it all together in such a way that the running time goes by in a flash. This is in part due to the incredible archival footage (much of it previously unseen) that is so deftly spun into the film. We learn through celebrities, rock stars & family members that despite his political successes, Carter remained likeable, common & down-to-earth. He was firm yet fair; fun yet hardworking; incredibly smart yet seriously humble….and had a taste for music that might truly surprise you. For me, having lived through this period of American history, the movie brought forth a flood of wonderful emotions. This one will put a smile on anyone’s face, regardless of political beliefs."

Eichhorn selected The Reckoning (dir. Neil Marshall) as Best of Fest Runner-Up. In addition, The Reckoning won Best Narrative Feature, Best Director (Feature), Best Ensemble (Charlotte Kirk, Sean Pertwee, Steven Waddington, Joe Anderson) and Best Cinematography.(Luke Bryant). Juror Shaw Jones stated: "Producers Charlotte Kirk, Edward Evers-Swindell and Producer/Director Neil Marshall weave a compelling tale of revenge and sacrifice. Masterfully executed- every aspect of filmmaking is top notch."

The Outsiders Football Club won the Jury President Award, and was described by Nami Melumad as "Brilliant, hilarious and kicking are three words that come to mind when watching The Outsiders Football club. It's a great story about a very unlikely bond... The characters are colorful, hilarious and easy to relate with, and the ensemble did a great job bringing them to life. You almost can't take your eyes off Daniel Lugo (Facundo Amin) and Zharick Leon (Martina Ibañez). With some dramatic and even thriller-ish flavors, this comedy is highly entertaining. Juan Camilo Pinzon's unique visual style and the mesmerizing colors he chose are a great bonus. Kudos!"

Stolpersteine (dir. Reza Sam Mosadegh) won Best Narrative Short. Juror Virginia Bach said: "A powerful short film that reminds us that those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."

The Shepherd (dir. László Illés) won Best Indie Feature of the year. Juror Comika Hartford stated: "A slow burn with an intense payoff. While there is amazing work from the entire cast & crew Ági Jókai brought so much vital survivorhood to the disturbing violation at the center of this story that she elevated the discourse on war and war crimes. The casual, purposeful, and seemingly inevitable acts of rape and violence during the conflict are on display here as are the generational costs of such evils."

Emmett Cooke, the composer of Opeka, won Best Original Score. Juror Nami Melumad stated: "Composer Emmett Cooke sets the tone and the emotion perfectly as we follow the intriguing journey of Argentine priest Pedro Opeka. His fantastic score significantly helps to shape the filmmaker's perspective throughout this incredible documentary. Very well done!"

Juror Lisa Roumain selected Maarten Lemmens (Goalie) as Best Director (Short), and described it as "A snappy & endearing animated little gem that screams “DON’T GIVE UP!”

Nikola Bozadzhiev won Best First Time Director (Feature) for his work on Shibil. Juror Mason Heidger said: "Nothing about this film says “first time” anything. Beautifully shot and realized. Acting, directing, cinematography, music, editing. All amazing. Looking forward to see what Nikola makes next!"

Juror Jean Vincentelli picked Distemper (dir. Elias Plagianos) as this year's Best Web/TV Pilot. Vincentelli said: "I have been attracted by that film because it treates about a current problem: the search for a vaccine against the Trypanosomiasis, as we are searching nowadays a vaccine against Covid 19. One century between these two searches, but the same problems.... That pilot makes us want to see other episodes happening between England and Belgian Congo. The great actors, Abigail Hawk and Chiké Okonkwo transport us in that medical and human saga. Congratulations to the director Elias Plagianos or that wonderful idea which shows us the medical searching kigdom one century ago."

Juror Shaw Jones picked Didier Flamand (Fire in Water) as Best Actor of the year. Flamand also won Best Duo (along with lead actress Madeleine Assas). Jones said: "Didier Flamand’s performance is a master acting class in patience and vulnerability. Flamand and Madeleine Assas are stunning together on screen." Juror Beate Malkus added: "Two eggs in boiling water, a crack in one of them. Esther Artner and Julie Duffet don't need more than this sagacious metaphor to establish 'Fire in Water', the story of a couple's life. They created a beautiful film about their relationship, their purposes and what they have become. The couple having breakfast. Olivier looking into the newspaper, Sofia looking at Olivier. Few words spoken. The rustling of the newspaper, the ticking of a clock. Two eggs in boiling water, a crack in one of them. Sofia looking at the crack. This is the moment, when she starts to understand - Madeleine Assas and Didier Flamand offer us fascinating, intense and connected performances full of sensibility, experience, natureness and vulnerability. They put these two people's relationship, their longings, disappointments, their facades and - even more important: what there is behind the curtain, what has been covered for years - into single moments of realization, so beautiful and painful and hope giving at the same time, that they are touching us deeply, even moving us to tears. A deep bow to Madeleine Assas and Didier Flamand and to their brilliant performances!"

Katie Vincent won Best Actress of the year for her lead role in Windblown. Juror Casey Ruggieri stated: "Kate gives a haunting performance as grieving sister, Beth Reeves in Windblown. A little Elizabeth Moss, a little Maisie Williams, but entirely her own actress, Vincent's performance is turbulent, forceful, and real. Suffering loss is messy, eruptive, and heart-wrenching- Vincent nails it in this performance. Bravo."

Wienerland (dir. Jan Woletz & Stefan Polasek) which was also nominated for Best of Fest, won Best TV Series of the year. Juror Jarek Marszewski stated: "Magic challenged our faith”, says one of the characters of WIENERLAND. So true - magic is the key to this intriguing combination of western, horror and fantasy. With its dense, compelling atmosphere and a gallery of colorful characters, WIENERLAND is an exciting tale of violence, illusion, deceit and hope; a story of a search for harmony in a world of chaos and decay. The creative team (Christof G. Dertschei, Jan Woletz and Stefan Polasek) together with a strong cast ensemble (Jeannine Mik, Michael Pink, Barbara Koudelka, Max Grodenchik) do an impressive job bringing this fascinating world to life in a truly gripping and original way. Congratulations!"

Pork Chop, an animated short film by Katherine Guggenberger, won Best Animation and Student Film. Juror Mor Cohen said: "Fantastic animation and superb story telling! Katherine Guggenberger's Pork Chop is a true work of art and really makes the most use of its medium. This film keeps throwing one unimaginable plot twist after another, and in its very short runtime takes the audience through a very peculiar yet rewarding emotional journey. To complete the package, Steven Yannacone's wonderful score fits like a glove, elavateing this already-perfect short to even higher grounds. Bravo!"

One of the team's favorite films, The Sunset Channel, won Best Editing. Juror Adrian Morales Ramos stated: "When the job is done properly, it's hard to distinguish where the director and the editor's job start or ends so the credit of my following words goes to both equally. The editing carries this story, enhancing the lead actor's performance and utilizing the sound design and music to smooth the flow of the film. In an instant gratification social media heavy society, it is risky to bet on a low pace dramatic film, however, in the case of The Sunset Channel, it works superbly. The slow pace dolly shots and the "just long enough to make us feel as uncomfortable as the main character" moments, the off-screen action enhanced by the lighting and sound design, all blended it together with a seamless edit creates the suspense needed for this mystery. And just when your attention span may shift, we have the driving montages with tasteful jump-cutting between scenes and fades in the right places to keep our attention refreshed and into the main character's shoes. Great job."

Bad Furniture (dir. Randall Maxwell) won Best Indie Short, Queering - Season 2 (dir. Leticia De Bortoli) won Best Web Series of the year, The Return (Jon Fish) won Best Documentary Short, Angela Zhang - All From Me (dir. Outerspace Leo & Wang Shou Jie) won Best Music Video of the year, Sonntag (dir. Mariano Cabaco) took home Best First Time Director (Short), Renaissance Man (written by Robert Tolz) won Best Screenplay, and A Crack in the Sky, written by Thomas Franey, won Best Television Script of the year.

Congratulations to all the nominees and winners of the 5th Annual Los Angeles Film Awards!

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