‘Alice’ and ‘For Sama’ take top prizes at South By Southwest Film Festival

An image from the movie “Alice.”
(Loll Willems / courtesy of South by Southwest)

The South by Southwest Film Festival announced its jury and special award winners Tuesday night at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas.

The narrative feature competition grand jury prize went to “Alice,” written and directed by Josephine Mackerras. The film stars Emilie Piponnier in the story of a woman forced to rebuild after she discovers her husband’s double life. The movie also won an inaugural award presented to a first-time female filmmaker.

A special jury prize for best ensemble was given to “Yes, God, Yes,” written and directed by Karen Maine and with a cast that includes “Stranger Things” star Natalia Dyer and “Veep’s” Timothy Simons.

A special jury prize for breakthrough voice went to “Saint Frances,” directed by Alex Thompson and written by Kelly O’Sullivan, who also stars in the movie as a nanny in suburban Chicago.


The narrative jury was made of journalists Barbara Chai, Trey Mangum and Jada Yuan.

An image from the film “For Sama.”
(Waad al-Kateab / courtesy of South by Southwest)

The documentary feature grand jury prize went to “For Sama,” directed by Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts. Al-Kateab is also the subject of the film, which follows her life during the Syrian uprising.

A special jury award for excellence in storytelling went to “Nothing Fancy,” directed by Elizabeth Carrol, a portrait of a 95-year-old British expatriate woman living in Mexico.

A special jury prize for empathy in craft went to “Ernie & Joe,” directed by Jenifer McShane, a look at two officers in the San Antonio Police Department’s mental health unit.

The documentary jury was made up of journalists Karen Han, Katie Walsh and Adam B. Vary.

The festival’s audience awards will be announced Saturday and Monday.

The festival opened last Friday with the world premiere of Jordan Peele’s “Us” and closes on Saturday with Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer’s remake of “Pet Sematary.”


SIGN UP for the free Indie Focus movies newsletter »

Follow on Twitter: @IndieFocus