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LA Film Festival Awards Unknown Soldier and Tarnation

By Keiko Beatie

Ferenc Toth's Unknown Soldier and Jonathan Caoutte's Tarnation were awarded the top honors at the 10th Annual Los Angeles Film Festival, 2004.   Unknown Soldier is the story of a homeless 18 year-old teenager in Harlem, whose hard edge story captured the Target Filmmaker Award for Best Narrative Feature. Winning cash value of $50,000 Unknown Soldier was a popular choice by both the jury and audience.  Director Ferenc Toth and Producer Sean Bachrodth are now being noticed in the local industry for their work.  As for the real life documentary, the top prize went to Tarnation, directed by Jonathan Caoutte.  This was also a big favorite at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, made for under $250, Caquette was hailed as a new breed of documentary filmmaker, telling the difficult story of his life with a schizophrenic mother.   The Jury shared the opions of Sundance received the Target Documentary Award for Best Documentary Award, winning $25,000 in cash.

Maria Full of Grace
Another Sundance winner and now noticed by the audience of LAFF is Joshua Marston, with his Maria Full of Grace, which won the narrative audience award for his story of a young Colombian woman.   Mike Wranovics won the documentary feature audience award for his baseball doc, Up for Grabs, and Shona Auerbach's Dear Frankie won the audience prize for best international feature. James D. Scurlock's Parents of the Year won the audience award for best short.

The popular short film awards, Shinyun Won's Bread and Milk won the narrative short film prize, Adam Feinstein's Say You Love Me won the best doc short award and Jonathan Dix's Hello was honored as best animated short. Sikander Goldau's Fragile was given a special mention for excellent filmmaking in the short film competition.

Jeanette Brox from the film Wilderness Survival for Girls was awarded a new prize for Outstanding Performance in the Narrative Competition.  Written and directed by the husband and wife team of Eli and Kim Roberts, whose post credits are Long Days Journey Into Night and the Academy Award winning documentary Daughter from Danang, the film had sold-out screenings throughout the festival.  Other films that audiences supported with attendance and buzz were Rock School, Metallica, Before Sunset, and The Clearing.   Rock School was noticed by major studios and distributors and was acquired by NewMarket during the Festival.

The Los Angeles Film Festival may not be the only Festival set in the metropolis of southern California but its reputation for its support of up and coming filmmakers and the industry is well known.  The Festival has grown to 40,000 attendees, with 206 films from more than 30 countries.  IFP/Los Angeles a nonprofit membership organization, which supports independent film and supports a community of artist whose mission is diversity, innovation and uniqueness of vision.  IFP/Los Angeles also creates the Independent Spirit Awards and the Los Angeles Film Festival.  With more than 6,000 members, IFP is one of the largest non-profit organizations for independent filmmakers.

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