AFI Dallas: And the Winners Are ...

Right click for a better look at AFI Dallas' winners, who are, from left: Rebecca Harrell and Josh Tickell (Fields of Fuel), Diane Magary (The Second Line), Rupinder Nagra and Richie Mehta (Amal), Tom Baker (Cook County), Scott Grunpeter (Tracing Cowboys) and Yen Tan (Ciao.

After the jump, AFI Dallas International Film Festival's list of award-winners, presented today during an end-of-fest brunch at -- where else? -- the W, where I'd recommend you never again put any body part in the front-driveway fountain. Look, the security guards outside last night swore they've never seen anyone vomit in the pool, much less a petite, well-garbed young gal, but did admit, well, it happens at least once every weekend somewhere on the property. You stay class, Dallas.

That aside aside, before the fest -- or 11-day hostage crisis with gift bags -- comes to a complete stop with festivities wrapping tonight, a few notes from last night's House of Blues shalom, where the Polyphonic Spree bewildered, then absolutely bewitched the audience of mostly outta-towners and/or Preston Hollowinners (Holloweeners?) with a setlist that included Tripping Daisy's decade-old "About the Movies" from Jesus Hits Like the Atom Bomb -- fitting, since, ya know, it was a film fest's shindig. "Been waiting a long time to play that," said frontman messiah Tim DeLaughter, who made it worth the wait.

One thing about Tim DeLaughter: He will reach for the sun on ya, even at, like, midnight.

Course, you could tell it was film-festive when, upon the band's launching into "Light & Day," two people around me said, at the same time, "That's the song from Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind." Well, sure. I wish the band hadn't garbled the opening verse of this number last night; kinda muted the impact of the famous double-0 chorus, but you live and, ya know, learn the whole song next time?

As for putting a bow on the fest itself, well, we'll get to it soon enough -- off shortly to moderate a Q&A with Garth Jennings and Nick Goldsmith, better known as the filmmaking duo Hammer & Tongs behind, oh, Radiohead, Blur, Beck, R.E.M. and Vampire Weekend videos, as well as 2007 Sundancer Son of Rambow shortly to unspool at the AMC NorthPark as the fest's last hurrah, huzzah. And still trying not to vomit in the W wading pool. There's that too. --Robert Wilonsky

And now, the AFI winners:

DALLAS, TX, April 6, 2008 – AFI DALLAS International Film Festival Presented by Target, Founding Sponsor Victory Park announces its 2008 Award winners with Anna Melikyan’s MERMAID as the winner of the unrestricted $25,000 cash prize for the Target Ten Filmmaker Award for Best Narrative Feature with Simon Bross’ BAD HABITS receiving an honorable mention in the category and Daniel Junge’s and Siatta Scott Johnson’s IRON LADIES OF LIBERIA as the winner of the unrestricted $25,000 cash prize for the Target Ten Filmmaker Award for Best Documentary. The award was presented by Ron Livingston, who returned to AFI DALLAS as a juror after having his film MUSIC WITHIN make it’s world premiere during the first year of the festival.

Presented by BATTLE IN SEATTLE star Martin Henderson, Josh Tickell’s FIELDS OF FUEL won the $10,000 cash prize for the inaugural Current Energy Earth Friendly Award, while the MPS Studios Texas Filmmaker Award and $20,000 in cash, goods and services went to David Pomes’ COOK COUNTY, with Yen Tan’s CIAO receiving an Honorable Mention.

Presented by AFI DALLAS Artistic Director and CEO, Michael Cain, Jason Wulfsohn’s TRACING COWBOYS won the $10,000 HDNet Award for best feature shot in HD.

John Magary’s THE SECOND LINE won the award for Best Short, while the award for Best Student Short went to Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt’s THE VULNERABLE ONES (LES VULNERABLES). David Lowery’s A CATALOG OF ANTICIPATIONS received an Honorable Mention I the category and Special Directing Mention went to Ken Wardrop for BONGO BONG and Leslie Ali for THE OBJECT. Reel FX Entertainment presented the award for Best Animated Short to Trevor Jimenez’ KEY LIME PIE.

Richie Mehta’s AMAL won the Audience Award for Best Narrative, while Timothy Greenfield-Sanders’ THE BLACK LIST won for Best Documentary and Rajeev Dassani’s A DAY’S WORK won the Audience Award for Best Short. Stuart Townsend, whose film BATTLE IN SEATTLE screened just the night before as part of the Closing Night Gala, presented the awards.

The winners of the jury prizes for Best Short, Best Student Short and the Audience Awards each receive production and scheduling software from Entertainment Partners.

James Faust, AFI DALLAS Director of Programming, said, “There was a significant level of art and accomplishment with each of the films in the competitive categories from a diverse group of talented filmmakers. The jury had one hell of a tough job in having to choose one to honor over the others.”

Cain added, "Having our award winners represent five different countries including Russia, Mexico, Canada and Congo speaks to the fact that we are bringing the best films from all over the world to the audiences here in Dallas. And seeing that our attendance has increased by 50% from our first year to this year tells us that Dallas film goers are enthusiastically filling the theaters and responding to that."

JURY AWARDS:

TARGET TEN NARRATIVE FEATURE: MERMAID
DIR: Anna Melikyan (Russia)
Cast: Mariya Shalayeva, Yevgeni Tsyganov, Mariya Sokova

HONORABLE MENTION: BAD HABITS
DIR: Simón Bross (Mexico)
Cast: Ximena Ayala, Elena de Haro, Marco Antonio Treviño

TARGET TEN DOCUMENTARY FEATURE: IRON LADIES OF LIBERIA
DIR: Daniel Junge (USA)

CURRENT ENERGY EARTH FRIENDLY: FIELDS OF FUEL
DIR: Josh Tickell

MPS STUDIOS TEXAS: COOK COUNTY
DIR: David Pomes
Cast: Anson Mount, Xander Berkeley, Ryan Donowho, Polly Cole

HONORABLE MENTION: CIAO
DIR: Yen Tan (USA)
Starring: Adam Neal Smith, Alessandro Calza, Ethel Lung

HDNET FEATURE: TRACING COWBOYS
DIR: Jason Wulfsohn (USA)
Starring: Eileen Dietz, Megan Edwards, Sacha Grunpeter

SHORT: THE SECOND LINE
DIR: John Magary (USA)

HONORABLE MENTION: A CATALOG OF ANTICIPATIONS
DIR: David Lowery (USA)

STUDENT SHORT: THE VULNERABLE ONES (LES VULNERABLES)
DIR: Bent-Jorgen Perlmutt (Congo/USA)

HONORABLE MENTION: A DAY’S WORK
DIR: Rajeev Dassani (USA)

ANIMATED SHORT: KEY LIME PIE
DIR: Trevor Jimenez (Canada)

AUDIENCE AWARDS:

NARRATIVE: AMAL
DIR: Richie Mehta (Canada)
Cast: Rupinder Nagra, Naseeruddin Shah, Seema Biswas, Koel Purie

DOCUMENTARY: THE BLACK LIST
DIR: Timothy Greenfield-Sanders (USA)
Featuring: Chris Rock, Lou Gossett Jr., Vernon Jordan, Thelma Golden

SHORT: A DAY’S WORK
DIR: Rajeev Dassani (USA)

2008 AFI DALLAS JURY MEMBERS:

NARRATIVE FEATURE JURY includes:

Steven Sawalich
Steven Sawalich is a writer, producer and director. His film MUSIC WITHIN, about Vietnam veteran and motivational speaker Richard Pimentel, made its world premiere as the Opening Night Gala presentation at the 2007 AFI DALLAS International Film Festival.

Elvis Mitchell
Elvis Mitchell is a former film critic for The New York Times, and is currently the host of KCRW's pop culture and film interview program "The Treatment." Mitchell recently produced THE BLACK LIST with director Timothy Greenfield-Sanders. The film examines race, culture and the seeds of success through portraits of 20 influential African Americans.

Trevor Goth
Trevor Goth served as Senior Programmer at Sundance for nine years before becoming Director of Programming at Cinevegas.

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE JURY includes:

Socheata Poeuv
Socheata Poeuv has served on staff at ABC World News Tonight Weekend, NBC News TODAY and NBC News Dateline. She is a 2007 Echoing Green Fellow and Visiting Fellow at the Yale University Genocide Studies Program. Her directorial debut, NEW YEAR BABY, won the $25,000 Target Documentary Award at the 2007 AFI DALLAS International Film Festival.

Kit Carson
L.M. Kit Carson is a writer, director, producer and actor. His diverse resume includes DAVID HOLZMAN'S DIARY, TEXAS CHAINSAW MASSACRE 2, BOTTLE ROCKET and PERFUME. He is a Native Texan and AFI DALLAS Board Member.

Ron Livingston
Ron Livingston is an actor whose credits include OFFICE SPACE, SWINGERS and ADAPTATION. He has also had roles in “Sex and the City” and “Band of Brothers.” He starred as Richard Pimentel in Steven Sawalich’s MUSIC WITHIN, which opened the 2007 AFI DALLAS International Film Festival.

CURRENT ENERGY EARTH FRIENDLY JURY includes:

Current Energy
Current Energy is a Dallas-based company that provides energy efficient solutions that are environmentally friendly. The company was founded in 2001, anticipating the impact that energy deregulation would have on companies, and was recognized by the U.S. Department of Energy in the fall of 2007 with an Energy Innovators Award.

MPS STUDIOS TEXAS COMPETITION JURY includes:

Amy Talkington
Amy Talkington is a writer, director and Dallas native. She was selected as one of Filmmaker Magazine's "25 new indie faces to watch" and one of four up-and-coming female directors by Vogue. Her first feature film, THE NIGHT OF THE WHITE PANTS – starring Tom Wilkinson, Nick Stahl and Selma Blair, made its Dallas premiere at the 2007 AFI DALLAS International Film Festival.

Tom Huckabee
Tom Huckabee is a writer, director and producer, and has worked closely over the years with long-time friend Bill Paxton on films such as the 2001 thriller FRAILTY. He was the founding Artistic Director of the Lone Star International Film Festival and has long been a supporter of filmmaking in Texas.

Kelly Williams
Kelly Williams is the Film Program Director of the Austin Film Festival. He received one of the inaugural Excellence Awards at the 2008 International Film Festival Summitt.

HDNET JURY includes:

HDNet
HDNet, Launched September 2001 by co-founders Mark Cuban – owner of Dallas Mavericks – and Philip Garvin of Colorado Studios, is the first national television network broadcasting all of its programming in 1080i HD, the highest-quality format of high-definition television (HDTV).

SHORT COMPETITION JURY includes:

Jacques Thelemaque
Jacques Thelemaque is an award-winning writer and director. In 1993, he co-founded Filmmakers Alliance with his wife, Diane Gaidry, and as President, has built the grassroots collective from a loose-knit group of eight filmmakers into an important independent filmmaking resource organization with over 400 members.

Harry Kellerman
Harry Kellerman is a writer and director who won the 2007 AFI DALLAS Audience Award for his short film THE LITTLE GORILLA.

STUDENT COMPETITION JURY includes:

Andy Anderson
Andy Anderson is an accomplished artist and filmmaker who served as Chair of the Art and Art History Department at University of Texas at Arlington, where he now continues as a Professor and Writer in Residence, teaching Introduction to Screenwriting, Advanced Screenwriting and the Narrative Film class.

ANIMATION COMPETITION JURY includes:

Chris Wedge – Director, Tex Avery Award winner
Chris Wedge is a director of such films as ICE AGE and ROBOTS, and producer of the 2008 remake of HORTON HEARS A WHO. In 1998 he won an Academy Award for his animated short film BUNNY. Wedge is also co-founder and Vice President of Creative Development at Blue Sky Studios.

Reel FX
Reel FX Creative Studios, founded in 1993, is an award-winning creative studio where accomplished artists and preeminent technology converge to produce extraordinary creative solutions. Their services include visual effects, animation, design and creative editorial.

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