One story comes from Swaziland, the other from downtown L.A.
The 2017 LA Film Festival wrapped up eight days of programming with the announcement of competition and audience awards. I didn't quite see every documentary in the lineup, but I did watch all of the winners.
The competition jury named Liyana best documentary, a film by Aaron and Amanda Kopp that blends nonfiction and animation to depict the experience of a group of orphans growing up in Swaziland. Jury members included Katherine Fairfax-Wright, Paul Federbush and Matt Holzman.
Skid Row Marathon, directed by Mark Hayes, won the audience award for documentary. It also won the LA Muse award for documentary, an honor reserved for independent films that are "quintessentially Los Angeles." Skid Row Marathon revolves around Craig Mitchell, a judge on the Superior Court of Los Angeles County who formed a running club to help people people living on Skid Row stay clean and sober.
Jury members for the LA Muse Awards included Susan Burke, Juan Iglesias and Kimrie Lewis-Davis.
The LA Muse jury also awarded a special mention for "excellence in storytelling" to Billy Mcmillin's documentary The Classic, which focuses on an intense football rivalry between two East L.A. high schools: the Garfield Bulldogs and the Roosevelt Rough Riders.
The award for short documentary went to Black America Again, directed by Bradford Young. The film is described as "a visual celebration of the beauty, strength, perseverance and spirit of the Black community in these troubling times, inspired by Common's Black America Again [album]."
Jury members for the shorts competition included Kim Adelman, Jonni Cheatwood and Naomi Ladizinsky.
Related coverage: Liyana directors on the subjects of their award-winning documentary: 'These kids are so cool. Complicated, interesting, inspiring.'
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and Documentary.org.