Drought, a documentary by the Mexican director Everardo González about a north-eastern Mexico cattle-ranching community, was yesterday honoured by the jury as best documentary at the annual LA Film Festival where it had its US premiere.
The jury said González’ film was “of extraordinary calibre” and “epic in scope”. “Through this powerful film, the story of a remote Mexican community grappling with a growing drought becomes a universal parable and an alarming harbinger.”
The winner of the jury award receives an unrestricted $15,000 cash prize. The award was established by the festival to encourage independent filmmakers to pursue their artistic ambitions.
The documentary Birth Story: Ina May Gaskin and The Farm Midwives, directed by Sara Lamm and Mary Wigmore, was chosen by the audience as best documentary feature. The film tells the story of Ina May Gaskin and the courageous midwives of the farm commune who inspired the modern midwifery movement.
The audience award for best international feature went to Searching for Sugar Man, a documentary by the Swedish director Malik Bendjelloul. The documentary, which will be out in UK cinemas on 27 July, recently had its European premiere at Sheffield Doc/Fest.
Searching for Sugar Man shows how, years after facing into obscurity at home, the music of ‘70s US singer/songwriter Rodriguez became an underground sensation in South Africa. Then, decades after his disappearance, two fans uncover the startling truth behind the legend.
“Every single filmmaker in this year’s festival deserves kudos for their artistry and compelling stories. Our juries had such gems to choose from in each competition and the winners truly represent what we hold dear—diversity and uniqueness of vision,” festival director Stephanie Allain said.
David Ansen, artistic director of the festival said in a statement that 2012 was an extremely competitive year and the juries had hard choices to make.
The festival, now in its 18th year, is organised by Film Independent, the non-profit arts organization that also produces the Spirit Awards and this year showed 200 feature films, shorts and music videos, coming from more than 30 countries.