‘Murmur’ wins top honors at Slamdance 2020
The 2020 Slamdance Film Festival awards
Jury Awards | Narrative Features
• Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize - “Murmur” (Dir. Heather Young)
• Honorable Mentions - “Residue” (Dir. Merawi Gerima)
Jury Awards | Documentary Features, Documentary Shorts
• Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize - “Higher Love” (Dir. Hasan Oswald)
• Honorable Mention - “Maxima” (Dir. Claudia Sparrow)
• Documentary Short Grand Jury Prize - “To Calm the Pig Inside” (Dir. Joanna Vasquez Arong)
• Honorable Mention - “Umbilical” (Dir. Danski Tang) and “My Favorite Food is Indian Tacos, My Favorite Drink is Iced Tea and My Favorite Thing is Drumming“ (Dir. Derius Matchewan)
Jury Awards - Narrative Shorts
• Narrative Shorts Grand Jury Prize - “Moving” (Dir. Adinah Dancyger)
• Honorable Mention - “Proof” (Dir. Nishtha Jain, Deepti Gupta)
Jury Awards - Experimental Shorts/Animated Shorts
• Experimental Shorts Grand Jury Prize - “Shooting Stars” (Dir. Magda Jaroszewicz)
• Honorable Mention - “Meteorite” (Dir. Mauricio Saenz)
Animated Shorts Grand Jury Prize - “The Little Soul” (Dir. Barbara Rupik)
• Honorable Mention - “Symbiosis” (Dir. Nadja Andrasev)
Slamdance Acting Award
• Obinna Nwachukwu (“Residue”)
Slamdance Acting Award Honorable Mention
•Maya Harman (“Chubby”)
George Starks Spirit of Slamdance Award Winner
•Yani Gellman (Dir. ”Greetings, from the Planet Krog!”)
CreativeFuture Innovation Award
• “The Little Soul” (Dir. Barbara Rupik)
The AGBO Fellowship, presented by Joe and Anthony Russo, Award Winner
• Carlota Pereda, (Dir. ”Piggy”)
• Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature - “Residue” (Dir. Merawi Gerima)
• Audience Award for Documentary Feature - “Bastards’ Road” (Dir. Brian Morrison)
• Best of Breakouts Audience Award - “Shoot to Marry” (Dir. Steve Markle)
When filmmaker Heather Young heard she won the 2020 Slamdance Narrative Feature Grand Jury Prize Thursday night for her film “Murmur” she burst out with an “Oh, wow!”
Those words resonated with the audience that packed Treasure Mountain Inn’s Ballroom for the awards, known as the Sparkys, even through a mobile phone speaker.
Young had traveled back to her home in Halifax, Nova Scotia, before the ceremony and was notified of her win by Slamdance co-founder Paul Rachman.
Rachman asked Young if she prepared an acceptance speech.
“No, this is a surprise,” she said. “This is amazing, and I can’t wait for my Sparky Dog.”
The jury that selected “Murmur” as the winner, wrote in a statement that the film is a “devastating debut feature.”
“This richly detailed and deeply humane drama offers an insightful and sympathetic portrait of a lonely woman — affectingly portrayed by newcomer Shan McDonald — who goes to self-destructive extremes while attempting to fill the gaping void in her life,” the jury’s statement said.
The jury also awarded the Narrative Feature Honorable Mention to Merawi Gerima’s debut feature, “Residue.”
The jury said the film is “at once inventive, poetic and angry about issues of identity, gentrification and the difficulty of returning home.”
Obinna Nwachukwu, who plays Jay, the main character in “Residue,” was given the Outstanding Acting Award.
“Residue” also took home the Audience Award for Narrative Feature, while director Brian Morrison’s “Bastards’ Road” won the Audience Award for Documentary Feature.
“Bastards’ Road,” which chronicled Iraq War veteran and former Marine Jonathan Hancock’s 6,000 mile walk from Maryland to California, as a way to deal with is post-traumatic stress disorder, raise awareness about the plight of his brothers in arms and visit surviving members of his battalion.
The Documentary Feature Grand Jury Prize went to “Higher Love,” directed by Hasan Oswald. The film, set in the midst of New Jersey’s heroin crisis, follows a factory worker who is searching for his addicted pregnant girlfriend, in hopes to save her and their unborn child.
“Shoot to Marry,” directed by Steve Markle, was handed the Best of Breakouts Audience Award, which showcases returning Slamdance filmmakers.
The AGBO Fellowship, facilitated by Slamdance alumni Joe and Anthony Russo, along with their colleagues at their AGBO production company, was awarded to Carlota Pereda, director of the short film “Piggy,” a Spanish-language work about a teen who is ridiculed about her weight and has to walk home from public swimming pool in her swimsuit after her clothes were stolen.
In addition to $25,000 cash prize, the AGBO Fellowship will give Pereda the opportunity to be mentored by the Russo Brothers, and receive development support from their studio.
“Carlota Pereda’s ‘Piggy’ is a punch to the face,” the Russos said in a statement. “(It’s) an accomplished mix of biting social commentary and emotionally devastating filmmaking. We’re extremely proud to present her with this year’s AGBO Fellowship. And we look forward to supporting her work in the future.”
The 2020 CreativeFuture Innovation Award went to “The Little Soul,” directed by Barbara Rupik.
The CreativeFuture Innovation Award, which emerged from a partnership between Slamdance and CreativeFuture, is given to an emerging filmmaker who exhibits the innovative spirit of filmmaking.
“Congratulations to Barbara Rupik for winning Slamdance’s CreativeFuture Innovation Award this year,” said CreativeFuture CEO Ruth Vitale in a statement. “Her film, ‘The Little Soul,’ uses a surreal yet beautiful animation technique to tell a bold, imaginative story. Its combination of artistry and craft exemplifies the innovative spirit of filmmaking, and we look forward to seeing what Barbara does next.”
Thursday night’s awards ceremony started with a few words by Slamdance President and co-founder Peter Baxter.
“We’re about to congratulate the Slamdance 2020 winners, but crucially we are about to celebrate one of the filmmakers who have shown us the art of filmmaking is brilliantly alive,” Baxter said. “You, the next generation collective, have formed art which is risk-taking, brave and really creates the unexpected for the next cultural generations.”
Baxter told this year’s filmmakers that their characters in their films weren’t the only ones on an adventure.
“It’s you who are on an adventure, and Slamdance is your companion and will remain your companion through your journey,” he said.
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