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SXSW 2012. Awards

Gathering early reviews of the winners.
The DailyGimme the Loot

The Grand Juries at this year's SXSW Film Festival have awarded Best Narrative Feature to Adam Leon's Gimme the Loot and Best Documentary Feature to Jay Bulger's Beware of Mr Baker. The Audience Awards go to Megan Griffiths's Eden (Narrative) and Annie Eastman's Bay of All Saints (Documentary). At indieWIRE, Nigel M Smith has the winners of the Short Film Jury, Film Design and Special Awards.

"At the world premiere of Gimme the Loot," writes iW's Eric Kohn, "Leon said he'd been working on reshoots only a few months ago. That encapsulates the quality driving this delightfully scrappy first feature about young New York graffiti artists, a stitched-together combo of outlaw energy and bittersweet romance that gives the impression of Little Rascals in the big city. Like the graffiti art it documents, it's a lovingly handmade affair."

The L's Mark Asch notes that it'll be "playing at New Directors/New Films the weekend after next, and you really ought to see it. Loosely inspired, it would seem, by a 20-year-old public-access TV clip in which two graffiti artists challenge their peers to tag the Shea Stadium home run apple, the film follows two tagging teens over the course of a couple of summer days, as they try to hustle up some cash — Sophia (Tashiana Washington) reselling sneakers, paint cans and stolen cellphones in the Bronx; Malcolm (Ty Hickson) on a weed run in the Village."

[Updates, 3/19: "Gimme the Loot hearkens back to NYC indies like Kids, invoking a feeling of summer without making a big deal of season or setting," writes Jesse Cataldo at the House Next Door. And it "manages to eventually exceed the sum of its parts." At the Playlist, Drew Taylor finds it "agonizing and dull; you want to love it, to give it a big warm hug, but you end up scowling at it from across the room."

Entertainment Weekly interviews Leon.

Sundance Selects has acquired North American and Latin American rights, reports indieWIRE's Peter Knegt.

Update, 3/23: All Gimme the Loot updates are now happening here.]

Beware of Mr Baker

For Filmmaker, Byron Camacho has five questions for Leon, while Dan Schoenbrun has five more for Jay Bulger, who "admits that he was initially shocked to discover that his subject, legendary rock and roll drummer Ginger Baker, was still alive. With a resume that includes stints with Cream, Blind Faith, and Public Image Ltd, and a reputation for drug-addled excess, Baker seems both a relic of a bygone era and a likely candidate for 'rock and roll casualty' status."

[Updates, 3/20: "The film's title is a literal one," notes Katie Walsh at the Playlist, "taken directly from the sign at the gate of Ginger Baker's South African compound. It also refers to the opening sequence of the film — the camera obscured, with Baker shouting 'I don't want those fucking people in my film!' before lashing out with his cane rapping the camera in the same way he might beat the skins with a drumstick. Director Jay Bulger then climbs out of his car, blood pouring from his face, and exclaims, 'Ginger Baker just hit me in the fucking nose!' Yes, this opening sequence lets us know we are in for a bit of a tangle with the talented Mr Baker, and oh, what rollicking scrap it is."

"Appealing to some for the same reasons other foul-mouthed, curmudgeonly subjects make for entertaining docs, Beware is also notable for terrifically tying up all of this year's best nonfiction music films (so far)," writes Christopher Campbell at "It helps that there's the increasing trend for directors to be curiously interested in researching obscure, forgotten and thought-dead personalities (SXSW '12 selections Searching for Sugar Man and Paul Williams Still Alive and SXSW '11 vet Last Days Here). And then there's a commonality between Searching for Sugar Man, Under African Skies and this film, all of them predominantly shot and set in South Africa. As far as what I consider the best of its kind, ultimately I think Under African Skies, which won the Audience Award in the 24 Beats Per Second program, is a more pointed and solid film. But Beware is without a doubt the most fun."]

"Eden's source material is a true — and truly horrible — story," writes Rebecca Onion for the Austin Movie Blog: "in 1994, New Mexican teenager Hyun Jae snuck out to a bar with her friend, and struck up a conversation with a handsome young man who told her he was a firefighter. Charmed, she went on a ride with him, and ended up in the trunk of a car, in the hands of a shady group of men who held her as a sex slave for two years." Jamie Chung's "Hyun Jae displays reserves of strength and mettle."

[Update, 3/19: For Drew Taylor, writing at the Playlist, Eden is "a character study with thriller elements; it exposes you to a horrible underworld without ever beating you over the head with it."]

Introducing his interview with Annie Eastman, Stephen Saito notes that the "remarkable" Bay of All Saints "tracks three women and their extended families in the poverty-plagued shoreline of Bahia where shabby shacks are erected on giant stilts and supported by the garbage that is collected underneath them. As Norato, the affable refrigerator repairman who serves as the film's guide explains, 'Anyone with money lives up in the sky' when referencing the city's great skyscrapers that house the rich before looking around to say, 'But we have our peace of the sea.'"

Updates, 3/19: For Katie Walsh, writing at the Playlist, Bay is "simply an honest exploration of this unique community and the issues that they face, while also commenting on the larger ideas of home, propriety and safety that anyone can relate to."

On Saturday, "SXSW revealed more Audience Award-winners from the Narrative Spotlight, Documentary Spotlight, Emerging Visions, Midnighters, 24 Beats Per Second, SXGlobal and Festival Favorites categories," and Anne Thompson's got the list.

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