The 25-day Seattle International Film Festival ended its run yesterday with audience awards - aka the Golden Space Needle awards - going to Niki Caro's Whale Rider as best film and Caro as best director. Whale Rider, which is now on release in the US through Newmarket Films, was also the audience prize winner at Toronto last year and Sundance in January.
Seattle, which is in its 29th year this year, is the longest film festival in North America and screened over 220 features. It closed officially last night with a screening of Daniele Thompson's Jet Lag starring Jean Reno and Juliette Binoche.
Other Golden Space Needle awards, for which 70,000 ballots were cast in total, went to Seol Kyung-gu as best actor for Oasis, Moon So-ri as best actress for Oasis, A Great Wonder (US) and The Revolution Will Not Be Televised (Venezuela/France) tied as best documentary and Jonathan LeMonde's Misdemeanor (US) as best short.
Aisling Walsh was named the winner of the Women In Cinema Lena Sharpe Award for persistence of vision for Song For A Raggy Boy.
Four juried awards were also announced yesterday. Allan Mindel's Milwaukee, Minnesota was named winner of the New American Cinema Award by a jury composed of journalists Eugene Hernandez (IndieWire) and Glenn Kenny (Premiere) and Will Machin (Buena Onda Films). The jury also made honorable mentions to Jamie Hook's Naked Proof and Paxton Winters' Crude.
The winner of the New Directors Showcase Award was Russian film Black Ice directed by Mikhail Brashinsky. The jury, which consisted of Gunnar Almer (Swedish Film Institute), Wouter Barendrecht (Fortissimo Films) and Carl Spence (San Francisco International Film Festival) cited it as "a striking directorial debut that abandons traditional narrative structure in favour of provocative aesthetics and inventive storytelling."
Meanwhile the Asian Tradewinds Award was given to Johnny To's PTU from Hong Kong. The jury, consisting of Arianna Bocco (Miramax Films), journalist Sheila Benson and Cheng-Sim Lim (UCLA Film & Television Archives), also gave an honorable mention to Sayew, a Thai film directed by Kongdej Jaturanrasanee and Kiat Songsananta.
In the documentary category called First Person Singular, the jury named two films winners. Kim Bartley and Donnacha O'Briain's The Revolution Will Not Be Televised and Sam Green and Bill Siegel's The Weather Underground shared the prize. The jury, composed of film-maker Rick Stevenson, actor/director Tom Skerritt and screenwriter Stewart Stern, said that they were "two beautifully accomplished films that give important voice to stories that demanded to be told."