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Billy The Kid wins Target Documentary Award at the LA Fest

Film Independent announced the winners of the Target Filmmaker Awards at the Los Angeles Film Festival's Spirit of Independence event honoring Clint Eastwood on Thursday, June 28. These awards, presented by Terrence Howard and Aidan Quinn, include the Target Filmmaker Award for Best Narrative Feature, which went to Chris Eska for August Evening, and the Target Documentary Award for Best Documentary Feature, which went to Jennifer Venditti for Billy the Kid.
"These films represent the unique vision, independent spirit and outstanding qualities we strive to support and promote at Film Independent," said Executive Director Dawn Hudson. "We are extremely grateful for Target's continuous support of the Festival and these talented artists."

This year's Audience Award winners and the winners of the short film and music video competitions will be announced on Closing Night of the festival on Sunday, July 1.

In Chris Eska's August Evening, Jaime is an undocumented worker, putting in long days on a chicken farm and sharing cramped quarters with his family. When tragedy disrupts his life, he and his widowed daughter-in-law Lupe reluctantly travel across Texas to seek help from Jaime's estranged children. But even as the pair struggles to stay together, they slowly come to realize the inevitability of growing apart. A quietly compelling character study, Chris Eska's debut feature captures the weight of loaded silences, the tenderness of an unseen glance and the glories of a quiet August evening.

In awarding August Evening with the Target Filmmaker Award for Best Narrative Feature, the jury stated the following: "Each director of films in this category brought a unique vision and genuine ambition to his or her project. Our award goes to a film whose sustained thematic and visual execution, and whose focus on the human condition - on the responsibility of parents to their children and children to their parents - fulfills its adherence to the traditions of classic world cinema. That film is August Evening."

The Narrative Feature Competition jury was comprised of Karyn Kusama, Rob Nelson and Tom Quinn.

Jennifer Venditti's Billy the Kid introduces audiences to Billy P., the remarkable 15-year-old subject of Venditti's engrossing verite portrait of life, love and growing up different in small-town Maine. At first, Billy seems like any other awkward teen into air guitar, professional wrestling and girls. Gradually, however, Billy and his mother reveal to Venditti's empathetic camera a darker history of behavioral problems, institutionalization and medical treatments. Against such a background, that which initially seemed normal -- choir practice, a first crush -- becomes heroic, while Billy's disarming humor and startling wisdom become all the more affecting.

In awarding Billy the Kid with the Target Filmmaker Award for Best Documentary Feature, the jury stated the following: "The jury awards the Target Documentary Award to Jennifer Venditti for Billy the Kid. Inspired by her extraordinarily guileless young subject and matching his unique adolescent openness with her own artistic integrity in her auspicious filmmaking debut, Venditti finds a graceful documentary voice - patient, respectful, even tender - that perfectly matches the delicate turmoil observed in the life of one disarmingly articulate 15-year-old young man with, as he says, 'issues.'"

The Documentary Competition jury was comprised of Patrick Creadon, Rob Epstein and Lisa Schwarzbaum. -0-

Awards were given out in the following categories:

Target Filmmaker Award (for Best Narrative Feature)

Winner: August Evening written/directed by Chris Eska
Credits: Producers Connie Hill, Jason Wehling
Cast: Pedro Castaneda, Veronica Loren, Abel Becerra, Walter
Perez, Sandra Rios, Cesar Flores

The Target Filmmaker Award carries an unrestricted cash prize of
$50,000 funded by Target, offering the financial means to help
filmmakers transfer their vision to the screen. The award recognizes
the finest American narrative film in competition. The award is given
to the winning director of the Narrative Feature Competition. A
special jury selects the winner. All narrative feature-length films
screening in the Narrative Competition section were eligible. The jury
consisted of Karyn Kusama, Rob Nelson and Tom Quinn.

Target Documentary Award (for Best Documentary Feature)

Winner: Billy the Kid written/directed by Jennifer Venditti
Credits: Producers Jennifer Venditti, Chiemi Karasawa

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