Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable, This One's For The Ladies and My Dead Dad's Porno Tapes also earn recognition
A film about China's burgeoning live streaming market -- where hundreds of millions of people log on to engage in virtual relationships with nymphets and other 'personalities' -- has earned the top documentary prize at SXSW.
People's Republic of Desire directed by Hao Wu won the Grand Jury Award for Documentary Feature at a ceremony Tuesday night at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas.
"This is totally unexpected. Ohmygod," Hao exclaimed as he accepted the award. "Thanks to my subjects who trusted me to tell their stories and thanks for everyone who worked on the film."
I also want to thank my mom who's been nagging me to go back into business and not making films for the past five or six years. But I love you, mom.
Hao also thanked his wife and young children for putting up with his absences over several years while making the film. And he gave a special shootout to another member of his family.
"I also want to thank my mom who's been nagging me to go back into business and not making films for the past five or six years," he joked. "But I love you, mom."
"In a digital universe where live streamers earn as much as $200K a month, can virtual relationships replace real-life human connection?" SXSW wrote in its description of Hao's film. "People's Republic of Desire tells the stories of two such online stars who've risen from isolation to fame and fortune in China. The film takes us on a vérité journey through their live streaming showrooms, which have become virtual gathering places for hundreds of millions - from the super rich who lavish performers with digital gifts, to poor migrant workers who worship them."
Announcing the award Tuesday night, juror April Wolfe declared, "Believe me, I love horror films and this is really terrifying."
The three-member doc jury -- made up of Wolfe, former lead film critic for the LA Weekly, K. Austin Collins, staff writer for The Ringer, and Violet Lucca, digital producer at Film Comment magazine -- presented two additional prizes. It gave a Special Jury Recognition for Best Feminist Reconsideration of a Male Artist to director Sasha Waters Freyer for her film Garry Winogrand: All Things Are Photographable.
Fryer's documentary explores the work of Winogrand (1928-1984), considered by some to be the greatest street photographer of his era. Winogrand won acclaim for photographs that combine a documentary quality with poetic and narrative dimensions. But some of his work -- especially the book "Women Are Beautiful" -- has been criticized as reducing women to sexual objects.
"I have to thank my mom who's not here because she's back home watching my kids," Freyer said as she accepted the award. "I'm so honored to be here, yeah. Thank you."
This One's For The Ladies, Gene Graham's documentary about a group of Women of Color in Newark, New Jersey who take part in weekly fundraisers featuring exotic dancers, earned the Special Jury Recognition for Best Cast.
"We just loved to hear them talk," jury member Collins noted. "Their openness and humor about the most intimate parts of their lives -- also showing us very intimate parts of their lives -- sex, race, the economy, violence, it was all always idiosyncratic and never trite."
"The fact that we're even here is incredible," producer Paul Rowley said from the stage. "We got distribution yesterday." Indeed, Neon announced it had picked up the film in a press release distributed Monday as the documentary was holding its world premiere.
Related: Neon picks up SXSW doc This One's For The Ladies. Director says film is not for anyone uncomfortable with 'seeing a large black penis'
In the Documentary Shorts category the Grand Jury Award went to My Dead Dad's Porno Tapes, directed by Charlie Tyrell.
"In My Dead Dad’s Porno Tapes director Charlie Tyrell attempts to uncover a deeper understanding of his deceased father by examining his posthumous possessions," SXSW writes in the catalogue description. "Told through a combination of stop-motion animation, home movies and recorded phone calls, this documentary short offers a window into the complexity of family relationships and the things we leave behind."
"I'm super nervous," Tyrell admitted as he took to the podium. "Everything goes to SXSW and the people that gather and the volunteers... Fuck, I don't know. I'm going to go call my mom. If anyone has lost anyone, have a drink on them tonight."
Matthew Carey is a documentary filmmaker and journalist. His work has appeared on Deadline.com, CNN, CNN.com, TheWrap.com, NBCNews.com and in Documentary magazine.