Sarasota Film Festival Names Award Winners

THE RIDER  -Still 1 - Publicity - H 2017
Courtesy of Telluride Film Festival

Titles that received recognition include Chloe Zhao's 'The Rider,' 'I Am Not a Witch,' 'Minding the Gap,' 'RBG' and 'Hearts Beat Loud.'

The Sarasota Film Festival, the 20th annual edition of which came to a close on Saturday, has announced its award winners in 10 categories. 

Judges Penelope Ann Miller, Roberto Bentivegna and Patrick Harrison decided that I Am Not a Witch by director Rungango Nyoni won the narrative feature competition. Minding the Gap by Bing Liu was the documentary feature prize winner, as chosen by Tatiana Siegel (senior film writer at The Hollywood Reporter), Melissa Silverstein and Mark Bailey. 

The fest also featured a Independent Visions jury prize, which includes a distribution deal from FACTORY 25. This year, that award went to Milford Graves: Full Mantis by Jake Meginsky and Neil Young. Matt Grady, Autumn Bailey and Penny Lane sat on the Independent Visions jury. 

Lastly, Orson Cummings, Judge Charles Williams and Del Jacobs judged the shorts competitions. They tapped Niki Linderoth von Bahr's The Burden as best animated short, Alireza Ghasemi's Lunch Time as best narrative short and Tal Amiran's Sand Men as best documentary short. 

The film festival also hands out four audience awards in the categories of best narrative feature, documentary feature, short film and best in world cinema. Brett Haley's Hearts Beat Loud; RBG,  directed by Betsy West and Julie Cohen; Dan Habib's Mr. Connolly Has ALS and Oded Raz's Maktub took home these honors, respectively. 

Presented by The Huisking Foundation, the Terry Porter Visionary Award went to The Rider by Chloe Zhao for “its spirit of independence and experimentation,” according to the festival.

Jury members also presented a special recognition award to Helena Howard of Josephine Decker's Madeline’s Madeline, a special mention for visionary storytelling to Ricky D’Ambrose for Notes on an Appearance and a prize for social commentary to Rudy Valdez's The Sentence. 

“We couldn’t be more pleased with the 20th anniversary of the Sarasota Film Festival, which brought together groundbreaking films and important conversations for our audiences,” Sarasota Film Festival president Mark Famiglio said in a statement. “Congratulations to this year’s winners — the esteemed festival jury and our audiences have thoroughly enjoyed your engaging and inspiring films, and we thank you for letting us showcase them here in Sarasota.”

This year's Sarasota Film Festival ran from April 13 through Sunday.