March 12, 2013, 8:45 p.m.
AUSTIN, Texas — “Short Term 12,” which follows a young woman who works as a supervisor at a foster-care group home, won the grand jury prize in the narrative feature competition at the South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival Tuesday night.
A favorite with festival-goers since its first screening Sunday morning, the film was written and directed by Destin Daniel Cretton, whose previous film was “I Am Not a Hipster.” It stars Brie Larson in a quietly riveting, breakout performance and features John Gallagher Jr. and Kaitlyn Dever in supporting roles.
“This is so crazy emotional,” Cretton said as he took the stage with more than a dozen members of his cast and crew.
Brie Larson stars in “Short Term 12.” (SXSW / March 12, 2013)
Noting the many filmmakers he had met during the festival and at others, he added, “to call this a competition is silly and totally wrong.”
A special jury recognition prize for ensemble cast went to the actors of writer-director Carlos Puga’s “Burma,” who include Christopher Abbott, Gaby Hoffmann, Christopher McCann and Dan Bittner. A special jury recognition for acting went to Tishuan Scott, star of writer-director Chris Eska’s African American, Civil War drama “The Retrieval.”
“William and the Windmill,” directed by Ben Nabors, won the grand jury prize in the documentary feature competition. A special jury recognition for cinematography went to director of photography Scott Duncan for his work on “Touba.” A special jury recognition for directing went to AJ Schnack and David Wilson for “We Always Lie to Strangers.”
“William and the Windmill” is a look at a young Malawian, William Kamkwamba, who built a power-generating windmill that greatly helped his family and brought him worldwide recognition. The film examines the thorny questions and difficult decisions that arise for someone in Kamkwamba’s position, as to whether he is being aided or exploited in the face of growing fame.
“Just to show the film to an audience has been a gift,” Nabors said in accepting the prize. “It’s a real honor to win an award and it’s completely unexpected.”
Numerous short-film prizes also were given out in the ceremony at Austin’s Paramount Theatre, with “Ellen Is Leaving” capturing the narrative competition and “SLOMO” winning the documentary competition. “The Apocalypse” won for midnight short, and “Oh Willy…” won for animated short.
The much-anticipated “Spring Breakers,” starring Selena Gomez, Vanessa Hudgens and Ashley Benson, got its U.S. premiere, and actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt‘s debut as writer-director screened under its new name, the shortened “Don Jon.”
The opening-night midnight selection, “Cheap Thrills,” E.L. Katz’s comedy thriller starring Pat Healy, David Koechner and Sara Paxton, was picked up for distribution by Drafthouse Films during the festival. IFC Midnight acquired “Haunter,” director Vincenzo Natali‘s supernatural thriller with “Little Miss Sunshine” star Abigail Breslin. Magnolia Pictures announced its acquisition of the music documentary “Muscle Shoals” just ahead of its SXSW screening, the film having premiered earlier this year at Sundance.
Among titles said to be in play for distribution deals are “Short Term 12,” “We Always Lie to Strangers,” Joe Swanberg’s well-received romantic comedy “Drinking Buddies,” starring Olivia Wilde, Anna Kendrick, Jake Johnson and Ron Livingston, Alex Winter’s documentary “Downloaded” and Bryan Poyser’s “The Bounceback.”