Psychological thriller and prison documentary take top awards at 2017 SXSW

(Last Updated On: March 21, 2017)

Most Beautiful Island, a psychological thriller that examines the plight of undocumented female
immigrants hoping to make a life in New York, took home the Grand Jury Award in the Narrative Feature Competition at the 2017 SXSW Film Festival.

Written and directed by Anna Asensio and produced by Larry Fessenden, the film chronicles a

Caption: MOST BEAUTIFUL ISLAND, © 2017 Palomo Films, LLC | Credit: Noah Greenberg

harrowing day in the life of Luciana, a young immigrant woman struggling to make ends meet while striving to escape her past. As Luciana’s day unfolds, she is whisked, physically and emotionally, through a series of troublesome, unforeseeable extremes. Before her day is done, she inadvertently finds herself a central participant in a cruel game. Lives are placed at risk, while psyches are twisted and broken for the perverse entertainment of a privileged few.

Asensio also stars with Natasha Romanova, David Little, Nicholas Tucci and Larry Fessenden in the 80-minute film, shot on Super 16.

Click to see the Trailer


“The Work,” directed by Jarius McLeary and Gethin Aldous and executive produced by James McLeary, Rob Allbee, Gethin Aldous won the Grand Jury Award for documentary feature film at this year’s SXSW Film Festival.

Caption: Participants in the group therapy program at Folsom Prison featured in THE WORK. | Credit: Photographer: Joe Wigdahl Copyright: Blanketfort Media, LLC

The 87-minute documentary feature film, set inside a single room in Folsom Prison, follows three
men from outside as they participate in a four-day group therapy retreat with level-four convicts. Over the course of four days, each man in the room takes his turn at delving deep into his past. The raw and revealing process that the incarcerated men undertake exceeds the expectations of the free men, ripping them out of their comfort zones and forcing them to see themselves and the prisoners in unexpected ways. “The Work” offers a powerful and rare look past the cinder block walls, steel doors and the dehumanizing tropes in our culture to reveal a movement of change and redemption that transcends what we think of as rehabilitation.

For more information visit “The Work” online.

The 2017 SXSW Film Festival screened 130 features, consisting of 84 World Premieres, 14 North American Premieres, and 5 US Premieres, with 54 first-time filmmakers. 128 shorts screened as part of 12 curated shorts programs. The 258 films were selected from 7,651 overall submissions, consisting of approximately 2,432 features and 4,975 shorts


2017 SXSW Winners, below:

Narrative Feature Competition

Grand Jury Winner: Most Beautiful Island
Director: Ana Asensio

Special Jury Recognition for Best Breakthrough Performance: James Freedson-Jackson
Film: The Strange Ones

Special Jury Recognition for Best Ensemble: Matt Jones, Eleanore Pienta and Will Rogers
Film: A Bad Idea Gone Wrong

Documentary Feature Competition

Grand Jury Winner: The Work
Director: Jarius McLeary and Gethin Aldous

Special Jury Recognition for Excellence in Documentary Storytelling: I Am Another You
Director: Nanfu Wang

Special Jury Recognition for Excellence In Observational Cinema:Maineland
Director: Miao Wang

SXSW Short Film Jury Awards

Presented by OneFifty, a content incubator from Time Warner Inc.

Narrative Shorts

Jury Award Winner: Forever Now
Director: Kristian Håskjold.

Special Jury Recognition for Acting: DeKalb Elementary
Actress: Tarra Riggs

Special Jury Recognition: Charlotte Wells
Film: Laps

Documentary Shorts

Jury Award Winner: Little Potato
Director: Wes Hurley & Nathan M. Miller

Midnight Shorts

Jury Award Winner: The Suplex Duplex Complex
Director: Todd Rohal

Animated Shorts

Jury Award Winner: Wednesday With Goddard
Director: Nicolas Menard

Special Jury Recognition: Pussy
Director: Renata Gasiorowska

Music Videos

Jury Award Winner: Leon Bridges – “River”
Director: Miles Jay

Special Jury Recognition: Tame Impala- “The Less I Know the Better”
Director: Canada

Texas Shorts

Jury Award Winner: The Rabbit Hunt
Director: Patrick Bresnan

Texas High School Shorts

Jury Award Winner: Better Late Than Never
Director: Atheena Frizzell

Special Jury Recognition: Darcy’s Quinceanera
Director: Sam Cooper

SXSW Film Design Awards

Excellence in Poster Design

Jury Award Winner: FRY DAY
Designer: Caspar Newbolt

Special Jury Recognition: Like Me
Designer: Jeremy Enecio

Excellence in Title Design

Jury Award Winner: Into the Current
Director: Chris R. Moberg & Jared Young.

Virtual Reality

Jury Award Winner Room – Scale: After Solitary
Director: Cassandra Herrman, Lauren Mucciolo

Special Jury Recognition Room-Scale for Innovative Use of Virtual Reality Technology in the Field of Health: Reinvent
Director: Ian Forester, Sook-lei Liew, Phd

Jury Award Winner 360° Video: Behind the Fence
Director: Lindsay Branham, Jonathan Olinger

Special Jury Recognition 360° Video for Technical Excellence: Dreams of “O”
Director: Félix Lajeunesse, Paul Raphaël

SXSW Special Awards

SXSW LUNA® Chicken & Egg Award
Winner: Nanfu Wang I am Another You

SXSW LUNA® Gamechanger Award
Winner: Ceylan Ozgun Ozcelik. Inflame

Louis Black “Lone Star” Award
Winner: Mr. Roosevelt
Director: Noel Wells

Karen Schmeer Film Editing Fellowship
Presented to: Leigh Johnson

Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award
Winner: Peter Vack Assholes

SXSW Audience Awards

Narrative Feature Competition: The Light of the Moon
Director: Jessica M. Thompson

Documentary Feature Competition: Dealt
Director: Luke Korem

Headliners: Baby Driver
Director: Edgar Wright

Narrative Spotlight: Mr. Roosevelt
Director: Noel Wells

Documentary Spotlight: The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin
Director: Jennifer M. Kroot

Visions: Becoming Bond
Director: Josh Greenbaum

Midnighters: 68 Kill
Director: Trent Haaga

Episodic: Dear White People
Directors: Justin Simien

24 Beats Per Second: May It Last: A Portrait of the Avett Brothers
Directors: Judd Apatow and Michael Bonfiglio

Global: Divine Divas
Director: Leandra Leal

Festival Favorites: The Big Sick
Director: Michael Showalter

Excellence in Title Design: Into the Current
Designer: Chris R. Moberg & Jared Young

Excellence in Poster Design: Like Me
Designer: Jeremy Enecio