'Spa Night,' 'Kiki' and 'Major!' win top awards at Outfest Los Angeles

Outfest Los Angeles awarded nearly 20 honors Sunday to films that screened at theaters throughout the city during the 11-day film festival. Major awards went to “Spa Night,” “Major!” and “Kiki.”

Spa Night,” from director Andrew Ahn, was awarded with a special mention for outstanding performance for its lead, Joe Seo, and the best narrative feature prize by the grand jury. The film, a coming of age and coming out tale set in Los Angeles’ Korean spas, was also a standout at the Sundance Film Festival this year. Seo won the breakthrough performance prize at Sundance.

“This evocative narrative succeeds, from its subtle script to its expressive cinematography,” the Outfest jury said of the film. “A profoundly American story that takes place within an often underrepresented community, this moving film conveys the simple truth that many of us discover our identities in small moments of desire rather than in bombastic narrative twists.”

Of Seo, the jury added: “This actor’s nuanced, textured portrayal brings to life a main character who often has little to say, but speaks volumes through a subdued physical and emotional performance. In a delicate film where the main character struggles with the weight of the conflicts, it is this actor’s compelling emotional specificity that keeps the audience engaged from start to finish.”

Major!,” a documentary about transgender icon Miss Major Griffin-Gracy from director Annalise Ophelian, won the audience’s documentary award as well as a special mention by the judges who praised the film “for its depiction of undying activism.” Griffin-Gracy is a Stonewall riots veteran who has been advocating on behalf of the trans community for over 40 years. 

“This documentary shines a light and shows compassion for so many who would otherwise remain unheard,” the judges’ comments read. “This is a film that deserves to be seen and celebrated by audiences around the globe.  From Stonewall to the fight for trans rights and visibility, Miss Major was and continues to be one of the most important and legendary heroes in the community.” 

“Kiki” creators Twiggy Pucci Garçon and Sara Jordenö won for emerging talent. “Kiki,” another well-received picture from Sundance, reintroduces the world to New York’s ballroom and voguing scene, an updated version, some have said, of the seminal “Paris Is Burning.” The judges believed the pair’s “highlighting [of] the diverse array of issues facing Black LGBTQ people today while also celebrating their vibrant culture with warmth, humanity, and a sharp eye for detail,” in their first feature documentary to be worthy of recognition. 

Below is the full list of winners and honorees from Outfest 2016:

U.S. Documentary Audience Award

“Major!,” directed by Annalise Ophelian

U.S. Narrative Audience Award

“Miles,” directed by Nathan Adloff

Audience Award for Best First U.S. Dramatic Feature

“Suicide Kale,” directed by Carly Usdin

Documentary Special Mention

“Major!,” directed by Annalise Ophelian

Documentary Grand Jury Prize

“Southwest of Salem: The Story of the San Antonio Four,” directed by Deborah Esquenazi

Special Mention for Outstanding Performance

Joe Seo, “Spa Night”

Best Screenwriting in a U.S. Feature

Ingrid Jungermann, “Women Who Kill”

U.S. Grand Jury Prize

“Spa Night,” directed by Andrew Ahn

International Grand Jury Prize

“Being 17,” directed by André Téchiné

International Special Mention

“The Nest,” directed by Filipe Matzenbacher and Marcio Reolon

Best Documentary Short

“These … Tears,” directed by Dan Taberski

Best Narrative Short

“Fake It,” directed by Tzurit Hartzion

Special Mention for Artistic Achievement

“B,” directed by Kai Stänicke

Emerging Talent

Twiggy Pucci Garçon and Sara Jordenö, “Kiki”

Freedom Award

Tiffany Rhynard and Moises Serrano, “Forbidden: Undocumented and Queer in Rural America”

Artistic Vision

Kuba Czekaj, “Baby Bump”

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