In what can only be called a triumphant arrival after a long, strange trip, the Nashville-shot coming-of-age zombie drama Make-out with Violence took three juried awards this weekend at the Nashville Film Festival, including the festival's top honor, the Regal Cinemas Dreammaker Award.
Andy Duensing, one-half (with Chris Doyle) of the directing team the Deagol Brothers, was beaming last night after the awards announcement and the film's full-house screening. It was a sweet pay-off after last year's disappointment, when the film was pulled from a NaFF slot just weeks before its scheduled screening because of technical issues.
The Deagols are in good company. The last filmmaker who made that kind of splash at the festival was Memphis writer-director Craig Brewer, whose no-budget 2000 debut The Poor & Hungry gathered an armload of NaFF prizes--heralding his later success at Sundance with the rap drama Hustle & Flow. (Brewer will host a special closing-night screening of his current MTV project 5 Dollar Cover.)
To make the Deagols' victory sweeter still, one of the jurors, NPR and former New York Times critic Elvis Mitchell, was an instant fan of the movie--an endorsement the filmmakers can take to the bank. It screens once more at 4 p.m. today.
Director Yulene Olaizola took the festival's top documentary prize for her unsettling Spanish-language doc Shakespeare and Victor Hugo's Intimacies, with the crowd-pleasing Pressure Cooker (about a high-stakes cooking contest for Philadelphia inner-city kids) receiving honorable mention. Antonio Campos won a special experimental-narrative prize for his surveillance-culture high-school drama Afterschool.
A full list of the jury awards follows after the jump. Still to come are the NaFF audience awards, which remain a toss-up. Likely contenders include the well received opening-night feature (500) Days of Summer, the surprisingly engaging William Shatner's Gonzo Ballet, the Tennessee-shot Hal Holbrook drama That Evening Sun, rock doc Rock Prophecies, and the well-loved sleeper Trying to Get Good: The Jazz Odyssey of Jack Sheldon. But at this point, nobody should count out Make-out with Violence.
Regal Cinemas Dreammaker Award: The Deagol Brothers, Make-out with Violence
Regal Cinemas Dreammaker Award (Honorable Mention): Rafael Monserrate, Poundcake
Special Jury Prize for Cinematography: Seamus Tierney, The Narrows
Special Jury Prize for Acting Ensemble: Children of Invention
Special Jury Prize for Acting: Vincent D'Onofrio, The Narrows
Special Jury Prize for Experimental Narrative: Antonio Campos, Afterschool
Best Feature Documentary: Yulene Olaizola, Shakespeare and Victor Hugo's Intimacies
Feature Documentary (Honorable Mention): Mark Becker, Jennifer Grausman, Pressure Cooker
Special Jury Prize for Bravery in Storytelling: Kimberly Reed, Prodigal Sons
Best Short Documentary: Adam Petrofsky, "Witness--From the Balcony of Room 306"
Short Documentary (Honorable Mention): David Aronowitsch, "Slaves"
Best Music In A Feature Film: The Non-Commissioned Officers, Make-out with Violence
Impact of Music Award: Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi, Youssou Ndour: I Bring What I Love
Best Short Narrative: Denis Villeneuve, "Next Floor"
Short Narrative (Honorable Mention): Sam Taylor-Wood, "Love You More"
Golden Opportunity Award for Best College Student Short: Amy Gebhardt, "Walnut"
Golden Opportunity Award (Honorable Mention): Catriona McInnes, "I'm In Away From Here"
Best Animated Short: Don Hertzfeldt, "I Am So Proud of You"
Animated Short (Honorable Mention): PES, "Western Spaghetti"
Tennessee Independent Spirit Award--Feature Length Film: The Deagol Brothers, Make-out with Violence
Tennessee Independent Spirit Award--Short Film: Stewart Copeland, "Jennifer"
Best Young Filmmaker: Arni Beinteinn Arnason, "Eye for an Eye"
Rosetta Miller Perry Award for Best Black Filmmaker: Giancarlo Esposito, Gospel Hill
GLBT Film Award: Alison Reid, The Baby Formula
2009 President's Impact Award William Shatner
NPT Human Spirit Award: Joe Berlinger, Crude
The REEL Current Award: Mai Iskander, Garbage Dreams
Governor's Award: Dixie Carter
Lifetime Achievement Award: Hal Holbrook
Best Feature-Length Film Directed by a Woman: Yulene Olaizola, Shakespeare and Victor Hugo's Intimacies
Coleman Sinking Creek Award: Les Blank