The Golden Rock Documentary Award went to Dirty Wars by Richard Rowley. This documentary follows journalist Jeremy Scahill as he investigates covert military operations on several fronts. Scahill also received the Courage in Filmmaking Award from the Little Rock Film Festival.
The Dirty Wars website describes the film:
What begins as an investigation into a US night raid gone terribly wrong in a remote corner of Afghanistan quickly transforms into a high-stakes global investigation into one of the most secretive and powerful military units in American history… As Scahill digs deeper into the activities of the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), he is forced to confront painful truths about the consequences of a war without end that extends through Republican and Democratic administrations. Pulled deeper into the stories he investigates and the lives of the people he meets along the way, Scahill realizes that the investigation has transformed him…
Tracing the rise of JSOC, the most secret and elite fighting force in U.S. history, Dirty Wars reveals cover operations unknown to the public and carried out across the globe by men who do not exist on paper and will never appear before Congress. In military jargon, JSOC teams “find, fix and finish” their targets, who are selected through a secret process. No target is off limits for the “kill list,” including U.S. citizens. Dirty Warstakes viewers to remote corners of the globe to see first-hand wars fought in their name and offers a behind-the-scenes look at a high-stakes investigation. We are left with haunting questions about freedom and democracy, war and justice.
The other nominees for Golden Rock Documentary were 12 O’Clock Boys by Lotfy Nathan, The Kill Team by Dan Krauss, Pussy Riot-A Punk Prayer by Mike Lerner & Maxim Pozdorovkin, and These Birds Walk by Omar Mullick & Bassam Tariq.
Short Term 12, Destin Daniel Crettin’s film which opened the Little Rock Film Festival, captured the Golden Rock Narrative Award. Set in a foster-care facility, it explores the lives of some of the kids as well as the supervisors as they wrestle (often with honest humor) with life.
The film features Brie Larson, John Gallagher Jr., Kaitlyn Dever, Keith Stanfield, Stephanie Beatriz, Rami Malek, Alex Calloway, Kevin Hernandez, Lydia Du Veaux, Frantz Turner, Diana Maria Riva, Harold Cannon, Silvia Curiel, Bran’dee D’Allen and Melora Walters. Crtittin both wrote and directed the film. Brett Pawlak is the cinematographer, Nat Sanders the film editor and Joel P. West composed the score.
Short Term 12 has won awards at several other festivals. Cinedigm has announced plans to release the film later in the summer.
The other nominees were David Riker’s The Girl, Josh Barrett and Marc Menchaca’s This Is Where We Live, Daniel Patrick Carbone’s Hide Your Smiling Faces and Barmak Akram’s Wajma—An Afghan Love Story.
The OXFORD AMERICAN magazine has been a part of the Little Rock Film Festival since the first year. A couple of years ago, they established an award for Best Southern Film.
The winner this year was Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker directed by Lily Keber. The documentary explores the life, times and music of piano legend James Booker, who Dr. John described as ‘the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.’
The award was chosen by OA editor Roger Hodges and presented by publisher Warwick Sabin.
There are four awards presented to films in the “Made in Arkansas” track. This year there were fifteen shorts and five feature films in contention for these awards.
Liza Burns won the Best Actor award for her performance in the feature 45 RPM. (Note that actor is used as a gender non-specific term.) The other nominees were Jeff Bailey for “The Discontentment of Ed Telfair,” Jeffrey Fuell for “Blood Brothers” and Graham Gordy for “Mary.”
The Charles B. Pierce Award for Best Short went to “The Discontentment of Ed Telfair” which was directed by Daniel Campbell. The other nominees were “Diamond John” (directed by Travis Mosler), “Last Shot Love” (directed by Nolan Dean) and “Mary” (directed by Zach Turner). Interestingly, the latter two and Campbell’s winning film were all grouped together in the “Heartbeats” block.
The award for Best Feature went to 45 RPM directed by Juli Jackson. The other nominees were Last Summer by Mark Thiedeman and The Identity Theft of Mitch Mustain by Matthew Wolfe.
Mark Thiedeman won Best Director for Last Summer. This is the third consecutive year Thiedeman has had a film at the Little Rock Film Festival. The other nominees were Amman Abbasi for “Bad Water,” Zach Turner for “Mary” and Juli Jackson for 45 RPM.
The Little Rock Film Festival values promotion of the next generation of filmmakers. Partnering with AETN and the THEA Foundation, LRFFYOUTH! features workshops, screenings and awards.
The Best Youth Film award went to Robert Crisp for his film “Saturday.”
The THEA Foundation presented four scholarships to youth filmmakers. A scholarship for cinematography went to Zak Heald, Crisp earned a scholarship for his editing, Joseph Largent won a scholarship for screenwriting, and the scholarship for directing went to Anna Thompson.
A new award was presented at the 2013 Little Rock Film Festival Arkansas Times Awards Gala. The Heifer Social Impact Award recognized a film that best promotes awareness and advocacy of global problems and solutions. The funding for the award came from the National Park Service through the Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site.
The award was actually presented first on Saturday night at an event sponsored by Heifer and presented again at the Sunday evening gala. The award went to These Birds Walk which was directed by Omar Mullick and Bassam Tariq.
The World Shorts Award went to Amy Seimetz’s “When We Lived in Miami.” It was shown in the “Sore Times” block of films.
The Little Rock Film Festival concluded on Sunday evening with the Arkansas Times Awards Gala. There were thirteen awards presented that evening. A fourteenth award – the Diamond Award for Excellence in filmmaking – was presented earlier in the festival to Harry Thomason and Linda Bloodworth-Thomason.
The Arkansas Times Audience Award went to Bloodworth-Thomason’s Bridegroom. This documentary had previously won an audience award at the 2013 Tribeca Film Festival where the film was introduced by President Bill Clinton.
Because the filmmakers were unavailable to attend on Sunday and accept the award, Shane Bitney Crone, one of the subjects of the documentary, accepted the award.