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Ice Cube (left), and Kevin Hart in a scene from ‘Ride Along’.
‘Copenhagen’, ‘Rezeta’ rule Slamdance ‘Elliot’ wins jury award

LOS ANGELES, Jan 25, (RTRS): The Slamdance Film Festival on Thursday awarded the its jury prize to “Rezeta,” the love story of a Kosovo model in Mexico City, and its audience award to “Copenhagen,” about a young man travelling to his father’s birth place. The festival, founded as a rival to the larger Sundance film festival, is in its 20th year. Juries comprised leading industry experts and esteemed filmmakers who voted on the Slamdance Jury Awards for Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, and Short Film categories. The Audience Awards, Spirit of Slamdance Award and Blackmagic Design Cinematography Award were also awarded. “Slamdance is an ongoing experiment which has proven after 20 years that when it comes to recognizing artists and launching careers, our independent and grassroots community can do it themselves. We congratulate this year’s winning filmmakers and celebrate the collective talent of Slamdance 2014,” said Peter Baxter, Co-Founder and President of Slamdance. Here is the full list of the awards, issued by the festival:

Audience Awards
Audience Award for Documentary Feature: Kidnapped for Christ, dir. by Kate S. Logan. American teenagers are taken from their homes in the middle of the night and shipped to an Evangelical reform school in The Dominican Republic. The school psychologically disorients them through culture shock and isolation, to re-build them into ideal Christian adults. One such student is David, who gets forcibly enrolled in the program after coming out to his parents. The struggles David’s community face to secure his freedom reveal how far the school will go to prevent its students from leaving. Audience Award for Narrative Feature: Copenhagen, dir. by Mark Raso.

After weeks of traveling through Europe, the immature William finds himself in Copenhagen, the place of his father’s birth. He befriends the youthful Effy, who works in William’s hotel as part of an internship program, and they set off to find William’s last living relative. Effy’s mix of youthful exuberance and wisdom challenges William unlike any woman ever has. As the attraction builds, he must come to grips with destabilizing elements of his family’s sordid past.
 

Jury Awards — Narrative
This year’s Slamdance Narrative Jury Prizes were selected by the esteemed panel of industry members Tom Hall, Katie Mustard, and Matt Harrison.
Jury Award for Narrative Feature: Rezeta, dir. by Fernando Frias De La Parra.
Rezeta, a 21-year-old model born in Kosovo, arrives in Mexico City after living off of her beauty in many different countries. Soon she meets Alex, the guy in charge of cleaning her trailer during her first commercial gig in Mexico. Their friendship unfolds naturally, but after two failed attempts at dating stereotypical Mexican males Rezeta becomes romantically interested in Alex. This is the story of their complicated love. The award winner was granted $3,500 in legal services from Pierce Law Group, and $5,000 in film from Kodak.
 

Jury Special Mention for Original Vision: I Play with the Phrase Each Other, dir. by Jay Alvarez. The first feature film composed entirely of cell phone calls. Jake, a young neurotic, is persuaded to leave his small home town and move to the city to live with Sean, a fanatical poet who survives by swindling inexperienced Craigslist customers. When Jake arrives, Sean has disappeared, and as he struggles to secure a job and a place to stay, Jake discovers a nocturnal world of neon poverty in which his friend is thriving.
 

Jury Awards — Documentary
This year’s Slamdance Documentary Jury Prizes were selected by the esteemed panel of industry members Tim League, Monteith McCollum, and Herb Stratford.
Jury Award for Documentary Feature: Elliot, dir. by Matthew Bauckman and Jaret Belliveau.
The bizarre story of Elliot “White Lightning” Scott, who plans on becoming Canada’s first action hero with his low-budget karate epic, Blood Fight.This surreal documentary captures two years in the lives of a passionate amateur filmmaker, his supportive partner Linda Lum, and their cast and crew of outrageous dreamers — all striving to achieve success.
The award winner was granted $3,500 in legal services from Pierce Law Group, and $5,000 in film from Kodak.
 

Jury Special Mention for Most Compelling Personal Journey: Huntington’s Dance, dir. by Chris Furbee.
The story of one man’s reckoning with his family’s brutal, hereditary disease: Huntington’s Disease. This first person account brings the viewer intimately into their lives. We see his denial, his mother’s death, his grappling with being tested and his eventual diagnosis. His path from caretaker, to victim to activist is tracked in a unique diary fashion over the course of 18 years.
Jury Award for Documentary Short: Glass Eyes of Locust Bayou, dir. by Simon Mercer.
Arkansas-based film-maker Phil Chambliss documents rural life through a blurred and tangled haze; his films straddle fact and fiction, good and evil, documenting a dark and strange version of Americana.
Jury Special Mention for Cinematography in a Documentary Short: White Earth, dir. by J. Christian Jensen.
Thousand of desperate souls flock to America’s Northern Plains seeking work in the oil fields. A tale of three children and an immigrant mother who brave a cruel winter and explore themes of innocence, home and the American Dream.
 

Jury Awards — Short Films
The below Short Film Jury Prizes were selected by the esteemed panel of industry members Andrew Edison, Lise Raven, and David Greenspan.
Jury Award for Narrative Short: Daybreak, dir. by Ian Lagarde.
Growing tension in a group of friends leads to quiet violence and destruction as the children enter adolescence.
Jury Special Mention for Narrative Short: The Way, dir. by Max Ksjonda.
A neglected teenager makes a bet with his friends that leads him on a dangerous trip to another city.
Jury Award for Animation Short: The Path of Wind, dir. by Kim Ju-im.
A human office chair unravels its legs and goes on a wildly imaginative psychedelic vision quest filled with both terror and beauty, leading to transformation into a musical instrument of liberation.
The below Short Film Jury Prizes were selected by the esteemed panel of industry members Skizz Cyzyk, Jacques Thelemaque, and Kendall & Joey Shanks.
Jury Award for Experimental Short: Real Ethereal, dir. by Evan Mann.
An otherworldly journey through a fantastical metaphysical realm saturated with mystery and transition.
 

Special Awards
Spirit of Slamdance Award: The Greggs, dir. by Bruce Bundy, Nigel DeFriez, Rob Malone, Kira Pearson, Alex Mechanik, Jessie Levandov, Jonathan Rosenblit. The esoteric and secluded group responsible for the creation of the world’s standardized tests must find a way to adapt when their way of life is threatened by dissent within their ranks.
The award winner was granted a MovieMagic Software Bundle from Entertainment Partners.
Blackmagic Design Cinematography Award: Sometimes I Dream I’m Flying, dir. by Aneta Popiel-Machnicka.
Weronika is a young, outstandingly talented dancer. Since she was ten years old ballet has been her entire life, day in day out, striving for excellence. Weronika’s private life, pain, loneliness and exhaustion remain somewhere in the background, brushed aside, until she suffers a serious injury just two days before a performance that is vital to her career, at the Berlin Opera.
The award winner was granted a Blackmagic Cinema Camera from Blackmagic Design, and a 4-week accessory rental package from Abelcine.
Slamdance Trailer Competition Grand Prize, presented by MixBit: Love STEAKS, dir. by Jakob Lass.
A luxury hotel. Steaks frizzle, muffintops getting massaged. Clemens (rare) joins the wellness area as a rookie. Lara (well-done) needs to assert herself in the kitchen pack. The elevator brings the two of them together. Hanging in dependence. They encounter each other, until they clash. He — a masseur. She — a cook. A couple of punches.
 

While promoting his directorial debut “Rudderless” at the Sundance Film Festival this week, actor William H. Macy stumbled across a major problem — how to avoid divulging the film’s big surprise.
“It’s been difficult to do the publicity this week because we’ve all been trying to protect that big reveal. It leaves you with nothing but to be charming,” Macy told Reuters.
“Rudderless,” which premiered at Sundance on Friday, is a story of a father coming to terms with his son’s untimely death in a school campus shooting. With the “Fargo” star behind the camera except for a minor role, the film stars Billy Crudup, Anton Yelchin and Selena Gomez.
Music plays a key part in the story, becoming the voice of the son, Josh, as his father, Sam, discovers songs written by him before his death. When Sam (played by Crudup) starts to bring the songs to life with the help of a band, his son’s music takes on its own personality.
The film’s “big reveal” is a crucial plot twist involving how personal music is to people and how the meaning of songs can change as new information comes to light.
Made for under $2 million in Oklahoma over 25 days, Macy said his biggest challenge “as a naive first-time director” was keeping within the tight budget, and finding a way to visualize the music cinematically.
 

“All that remains of Josh is his music and his lyrics. He’s a character, and the only way he can speak is through his music,” Macy said. “Music is revealing of the person who writes the song and it’s revealing of the person who sings the song.”
“Rudderless” bookends the film premieres at Sundance, after a week of 119 feature films shown at different theaters across Park City. Thirty-four films will compete in the four competition categories — US drama, US documentary, world drama and world documentary — and the winners will be announced at Saturday’s Sundance Film Festival awards.
Previous winners of the Sundance awards have gone on to win Oscars, including 2006’s “Little Miss Sunshine,” 2009’s “Precious,” and 2012’s “Beasts of the Southern Wild.”
Sundance also operates as a key market for studios to pick up independent films at the beginning of the year, although the pace of acquisitions and the prices paid have lagged the deals struck in last year’s edition.

Key acquisitions this year include opening night film “Whiplash,” which was picked up by Sony Corp’s Sony Pictures Classics for $3 million.
Focus Features, a subsidiary of Comcast Corp’s Universal Pictures, snapped up Zach Braff’s Kickstarter-funded film “Wish I Was Here” for a reported $2.7 million, and the Keira Knightley film “Laggies” was bought by A24 for $2 million.
RADiUS-TWC, the multi-platform boutique label of The Weinstein Co, which made five acquisitions last year including two of this year’s Oscar-nominated documentaries, so far has only picked up one Sundance film, “The One I Love.” The deal was made for $2 million, according to Variety.
 

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