SXSW is one of the most fun festivals of the year.
The 30th SXSW Film & TV Festival has announced its 2023 Jury and Special Award winners, including categories such as Narrative Feature, Documentary Feature, Shorts, Design, XR Experience, and Louis Black “Lone Star” Award, among others.
The festival also added a new category in honor of Janet Pierson, Director Emeritus, called the Janet Pierson Champion Award. All film categories will be eligible for category-specific Audience Awards that will be announced via sxsw.com that week.
The festival celebrated filmmaking duo Daniels, who first brought their work to SXSW 11 years ago and won the Music Video Competition.
The VP of Film & TV, Claudette Godfrey, expressed her excitement for the diverse work in the festival’s lineup and the success of the festival’s past winners at the ceremony.
Let’s take a look at the juries and this year’s winners.
The 2023 SXSW Film Festival Juries:
Narrative Feature Competition: Helena Andrews-Dyer, The Washington Post; Tomris Laffy, film writer and critic; Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair
Documentary Feature Competition: Mae Abdulbaki, Movie Reviews Editor, Screen Rant; Joel Anderson, Slate; Allegra Frank, The Daily Beast
Louis Black “Lone Star”: David Fear, Rolling Stone; Mimi Swartz, Texas Monthly; Eric Webb, Austin American-Statesman
Narrative Shorts Program: Greta Talia Fuentes, VP of Film Production and Development, MACRO; Jamal Watson, Senior VP of Development and Production, Monkeypaw; Ash Hoyle, Sundance Film Festival
Documentary Shorts: Hayley Nenadal, Festival Director, EarthX Film; Greg Rhem, writer, director, producer and creative consultant, MTV Documentary Films; Ina Pira, Vimeo
Animated Shorts: Justine Baillargeon, Cannes Film Festival Market; Danny Madden, filmmaker, ORNANA; Steph Swope, co-founder, studio partner, and producer, Minnow Mountain;
Midnight Shorts: Laura Moss, filmmaker; Pip Ngo, SVP of Sales and Acquisitions, XYZ Films; Arbi Pedrossian, VP of Development, 20th Digital Studio;
Music Videos: Michelle An, Executive VP and Head of Visual Content, Interscope Records; Luiza Baffa, AKQA Sao Paulo; Owen Brown, director and creative director, CTRL5
Texas Shorts: Amy Miskovsky, Festival Director, Hill Country Film Festival; Angie Reza Tures, Executive Director, Femme Frontera; Iliana Sosa, filmmaker
TV Pilot Competition: Jen Chaney, Vulture, New York Magazine; Stacey Rice, casting director; Caleb Ward, VP of Acquisitions and Development, Highland Film Group
Excellence in Poster Design: Tony Industry; Phoebe Joynt, artist, designer, muralist; Kevin Tong, freelance graphic designer
XR Experience Jury: Jessica Brillhart; Amy Dotson, Director, Center for an Untold Tomorrow; Charlie Fink, Forbes
Who Won SXSW?
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION Presented by Panavision
Winner: Raging Grace
Director/Screenwriter: Paris Zarcilla, Producer: Chi Thai
Special Jury Award for Performance: Courtney Eaton
Special Jury Award for Cinematography: Eric Branco, Story Ave
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION Presented by ACE91
Winner: Angel Applicant
Director/Screenwriter: Ken August Meyer, Producers: Ken A. Meyer, Jason Roark
Special Jury Award for Innovation in Storytelling: Another Body
Directors: Sophie Compton, Reuben Hamlyn, Producers: Elizabeth Woodward, Sophie Compton, Reuben Hamlyn, Screenwriters: Sophie Compton, Reuben Hamlyn, Isabel Freeman
SHORT FILM GRAND JURY AWARDS Presented by IMDbPro
NARRATIVE SHORT COMPETITION
Winner: It Turns Blue
Director/Screenwriter: Shadi Karamroudi, Producers: Shadi Karamroudi, Mehran Noori, Mina Dreki, Theodora Valentis
Special Jury Award: Flores del Otro Patio
Director: Jorge Cadena, Screenwriters: Jorge Cadena, Li Aparicio Candama, Producers: Yan Decoppet, Gabriela Bussmann
DOCUMENTARY SHORT COMPETITION
Winner: Nǎi Nai & Wài Pó (Grandma & Grandma)
Director: Sean Wang, Producers: Sean Wang, Sam Davis
Special Jury Award: Suddenly TV
Director/Producer: Roopa Gogineni
Winner: The Flute
Director: Nick Roney, Screenwriters: Nick Roney, Ed Leer, Producers: Brendan Garrett, Ryland Burns
Special Jury Award: Pennies from Heaven
Director: Sandy Honig, Screenwriters: Sandy Honig, Annabel Meschke, Sabina Meschke, Producer: Jake Honig
Winner: The Debutante
Director/Screenwriter: Elizabeth Hobbs, Producer: Abigail Addison
Special Jury Award for Animation Directing: Tom CJ Brown, Christopher at Sea
Winner: Amanda Sum – ‘Different Than Before’
Director/Screenwriter: Mayumi Yoshida
Special Jury Award: Residente – ‘This is Not America ft. Ibeyi’
Director: Grégory Ohrel
Winner: Breaking Silence
Directors: Amy Bench, Annie Silverstein, Producers: Monique Walton, Amy Bench
Special Jury Award: When You Left Me On That Boulevard
Director/Screenwriter: Kayla Abuda Galang, Producers: Alifya Ali, Kayla Abuda Galang, David Oconer, Udoy Rahim, Samantha Skinner
TV PILOT COMPETITION
Showrunner/Director/Screenwriter: Jocko Sims, Producers: Jocko Sims, Christopher Santiago, Chaz Hazlitt, Andrew Zolot
Special Jury Award for Outstanding Performance: Josh Fadem, Harbor Island
POSTER DESIGN COMPETITION
Designer: Javier Devitt
Special Jury Award: Riders on the Storm
Designer: Casey Moore
Directors: Jason Motlagh, Mark Oltmanns
XR EXPERIENCE COMPETITION
Winner: Consensus Gentium
Director/Screenwriter: Karen Palmer, Producers: Tom Millen, Thalia Mavros, Jackson Lapsley Scott, Tuyet Huynh
Special Jury Award: Body of Mine
Director/Producer/Screenwriter: Cameron Kostopoulos
SXSW Special Awards
Janet Pierson Champion Award presented by Indiewire
To honor Janet Pierson, Director Emeritus of the SXSW Film & TV Festival after 15 years of leadership, a prize was created in 2023 called the Janet Pierson Champion Award. As part of IndieWire’s dedication to elevating Film & TV creators, IndieWire is proud to present the Janet Pierson Champion Award rewarding innovation and excellence in the art of storytelling to TBD.
Janet Pierson Champion Award
Winner: Lizzie Shapiro
Lizzie Shapiro is a producer based in Brooklyn, NY. She most recently produced Story Ave and Parachute in the 2023 SXSW Film & TV Festival. Previous credits include then feature films Shiva Baby (SXSW, TIFF) and Mickey and the Bear (SXSW, Cannes) that both premiered to critical acclaim and were distributed by Utopia Films. She has also produced several short films that have premiered at film festivals worldwide. Lizzie has participated in the Film Independent Producer’s Lab and IFP Week: No Borders. She is a founding member of the film collective Thick Media.
Louis Black “Lone Star” Award
Winner: The Lady Bird Diaries
Director: Dawn Porter, Producers: Kim Reynolds, Dawn Porter
To honor SXSW co-founder/director Louis Black, a jury prize was created in 2011 called the Louis Black “Lone Star” Award, presented to a feature film world premiering at SXSW that was shot primarily in Texas or directed by a current resident of Texas. (Opt-in Award)
“The Lady Bird Diaries celebrates an iconic Texan and exalts her Texanhood. Dawn Porter uses only archival treasures to craft a film of visual magnetism and narrative momentum — a real feat. And yet, her film is no hagiography. Through Porter’s savvy direction, viewers are encouraged to sit with the fascinating contradictions of Lady Bird’s politics, passions and place in time. Documentary examinations of the Johnson era are thick on the ground, but the first lady’s intimate confessions open up a rare bloom.”
Special Jury Award: The Herricanes
Director: Olivia Kuan, Producers: James Lee Hernandez, Brian Lazarte, Lisa France, James Short, Olivia Kuan, Justin Baldoni, Andrew Calof
“The Herricanes tackles a range of topics with passion, heart and verve, much like its subjects, who were members of the Houston team that was part of the first all female football tackle league in the US in the 1970s.”
Thunderbird Rising Award presented by Thunderbird Pictures
Born from a fusion of LA’s leading-edge artistry and Austin’s independent spirit, Thunderbird Pictures is a full-service Production and Distribution company committed to supporting the filmmaker’s vision from concept through creative marketing and transparent profit participation. The Thunderbird Rising Award is presented to new directors whose original storytelling both inspires and delights.
Thunderbird Rising Award Winner: Paris Zarcilla, Raging Grace
“Thunderbird Pictures celebrates a first-time feature director who demonstrated a level of excellence in all aspects of cinematic storytelling. This juxtaposition of thrilling suspense and evocative social commentary on the modern immigrant struggle was both unique and profound. The Thunderbird Rising Award Goes To Director Paris Zarcilla for his film Raging Grace.”
Thunderbird Rising Special Award: Brittany Snow, Parachute
Thunderbird Pictures acknowledges a first-time feature director and stellar ensemble cast for their brave exploration of a pressing modern issue. This lucid look at the heartbreak of body dysmorphia and its destructive impact on intimacy and connection was poignant and essential. The Thunderbird Rising Special Award Goes To Director Brittany Snow for her film Parachute.
The Hope Award presented by ACE91
ACE91 is honored to sponsor the Documentary Feature Competition category and the Hope Award. We celebrate these extraordinary films and the talented, compassionate, and diverse filmmakers who made them. Together we amplify the impact of their storytelling. The 2023 Hope Award is presented to a feature documentary that has inspired us to act for the betterment of our communities and the world.
The Hope Award Winner: Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie
Director: Davis Guggenheim, Producers: Davis Guggenheim, Annetta Marion, Jonathan King, Will Cohen
“This very intimate exploration of a beloved artist and his incredible journey from young struggling actor to movie star and then to essential leader of a movement to cure Parkinson’s Disease, gave us tremendous hope that there can be a cure for the disease, if not in this lifetime, then in the lifetime of Michael’s children. While the documentary took us deeply into Michael’s life story and exposed his inner thinking, Director Davis Guggenheim made us feel we were with Michael on the journey, not voyeurs watching him. The film was wonderfully crafted through exceptional editing and a creative and unique use of Michael’s body of narrative work. It was hugely inspirational, providing hope against all odds, and reminding us that no matter what hand we are dealt, we each have a part to play in the world. In the face of great success and then in the face of his own mortality, Michael’s perseverance, and incredible bravery, along with the support of his loving family, all deftly shared in the film, was moving and profound.”
The Hope Special Award: Confessions of a Good Samaritan
Director: Penny Lane, Producer: Gabriel Sedgwick
“Director and protagonist Penny Lane’s brave personal exploration of her experience as she donates a kidney to an anonymous person, is an incredibly raw and powerful portrayal of a rarely talked about but vital subject matter. From the initial decision to donate, to the emotional and physical ups and downs of her experience as she realizes her naïveté, to the successful outcome of her operation and donation, Penny’s openness in front of and behind-the-camera, and the style of her filmmaking gave us a powerful window into the various stages of her process and thinking. We went along with her for the ride and at the same time came away with an excellent and important awareness of the history of organ transplantation and the vital need to address this growing challenge. The film helps us realize that ordinary citizens can make a transformative life and death difference in other people’s lives. It was a powerful eye opener to the possibilities of live donor organ transplantation and how it can save lives.”
Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award
Presented to: Chronicles of a Wandering Saint
Director/Screenwriter: Tomas Gomez Bustillo, Producers: Gewan Brown, Amanda Freedman
In honor of a filmmaker whose work strives to be wholly its own, without regard for norms or desire to conform. The Adam Yauch Hörnblowér Award is presented to a filmmaker from our Visions screening category.
ZEISS Cinematography Award
Winner: Fancy Dance
Cinematographer: Carolina Costa, AMC
ZEISS Cine Lenses is honored to be returning this year to support the SXSW film community in the Cinematography category. We believe that by supporting the art within the frame, ZEISS helps filmmakers realize their creative vision.
“We are honored to present this year’s ZEISS Cinematography Award to Carolina Costa, AMC for her breathtaking work on Fancy Dance. The film creates an intense tone throughout as we are plunged into the gripping narrative of a young woman fighting to celebrate her culture while searching for a mother who may be lost to her forever. Carolina Costa, as Director of Photography for this film, masterfully creates a visual landscape for this emotional story to unfold with beautiful, naturalistic lighting and artful composition. Fancy Dance is a supreme example of cinematography that complements and elevates the storytelling of a film.