People’s Choice Award: Landfill Harmonic directed by Graham Townsley & Brad Allgood
Landfill Harmonic follows the Recycled Orchestra of Cateura, a Paraguayan musical group that plays instruments made entirely out of garbage. When their story goes viral, the orchestra is catapulted into the global spotlight. Under the guidance of idealistic music director Favio Chavez, the orchestra must navigate a strange new world of arenas and sold-out concerts. However, when a natural disaster strikes their country, Favio must find a way to keep the orchestra intact and provide a source of hope for their town. The film is a testament to the transformative power of music and the resilience of the human spirit.
Student Choice Award: The Important Places directed by Forest Woodward
First Place Feature Length (Juried Award): East LA Interchange directed by Betsy Kalin directed by Betsy Kalin
East LA Interchange follows the evolution of working-class, immigrant Boyle Heights from multiethnic to predominately Latino and a center of Mexican-American culture in the U.S. The film shows how Boyle Heights survived the building of the largest and busiest freeway interchange system in North America that threatened to destroy their neighborhood. The documentary explores how the freeways – a symbol of Los Angeles ingrained in America’s popular imagination – impact Boyle Heights’ residents: literally, as an environmental hazard and structural blockade and figuratively, as a conversational interchange about why the future of their beloved community should matter to us all.
Second Place Feature Length (Juried Award): Almost There directed by Dan Rybicky
For many, Peter Anton’s house embodies an end-of-life nightmare: the utility companies long ago shut off the heat and electricity, the floorboards are rotting, and the detritus of a chaotic life is precariously stacked to the ceiling. But for the filmmakers Dan Rybicky and Aaron Wickenden, Anton’s home is a treasure trove, a startling collection of unseen and fascinating paintings, drawings, and notebooks, not to mention Anton himself, a character worthy of his own reality TV show. Though aging, infirm, cranky, and solitary, Anton also is funny and utterly resilient. Rybicky and Wickenden’s remarkable journey follows a gifted artist through startling twists and turns. By its quietly satisfying ending, Almost There has provided enough human drama for a season of soap operas, plus insights into mental illness, aging in America, and the redemptive power of art.