April 17, 2014

Sundance audience winner “Buck” takes same prize at Full Frame


By Sean O’Connell
Hollywoodnews.com: Buck Brannaman, better known in equestrian circles as the horse whisperer, continued to work his magic over crowds.

“Buck,” Cindy Meehl’s documentary on Brannaman’s unique career, took home the Audience Award at the Full Frame Documentary Film Festival, months after it claimed the same prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

It’s hard to resist Brannaman’s charms. His gift isn’t with horses – though he knows how to soothe those sometimes-savage beasts. Instead, Buck clicks with owners, explaining how a horse acts as a mirror into its rider’s soul (and some cowboys sure don’t like what they see). “Buck” certainly is a crowd-pleaser, and I can see why audiences at Full Frame were wooed.

But “Buck” wasn’t the only winner of the weekend. We’ve got the complete list of winners, announced Sunday in Durham, N.C., below:

• The Anne Dellinger Grand Jury Award was presented to Scenes of a Crime, directed by Grover Babcock and Blue Hadaegh. The film captures the mystery of a controversial videotaped confession of a New York man who still claims he is innocent of killing his child. This award is sponsored by Physcient, Inc. and Alpha Cine Labs, Seattle.

• The Full Frame Jury Award for Best Short was given to One Night in Kernersville, directed by Rodrigo Dorfman. In this well-paced recording session documentary, the film captures Jazz bassist John Brown and his band. The Full Frame Jury Award for Best Short is provided by Drs. Andrew and Barbra Rothschild.

• Buck, directed by Cindy Meehl, received the Full Frame Audience Award. The film profiles famed horse whisperer Buck Brannaman who “helps horses with people problems” by invoking the healing magic of the human-animal bond. Sponsored by Merge Records, the Audience Award is determined by counting audience ballots filled out during the festival.

• The Center For Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award was given to How to Die in Oregon, directed by Peter D. Richardson. The profound and strangely reassuring film profiles people in Oregon who choose to end their own lives under the state’s Death with Dignity Act. Provided by the Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University, this award honors a documentary artist whose work is a potential catalyst for education and change.

• The Center for Documentary Studies Filmmaker Award Jury also presented a Special Jury Award to The Interrupters, directed by Steve James. The film profiles three brave “interrupters” from Chicago’s CeaseFire organization who take on inner-city violence with a dangerous form of intervention.

• Pit No. 8 (Auk nr 8), directed by Marianna Kaat, was awarded the Charles E. Guggenheim Emerging Artist Award. The film profiles Yura and his sisters who escaped their alcoholic parents and mine for coal in abandoned pits near his Ukrainian hometown to pay the bills. Provided by the Charles E. Guggenheim family, this prize honors a first-time documentary feature director.

• We Still Live Here – Âs Nutayuneân, directed by Anne Makepeace, received the Full Frame Inspiration Award. The film captures the quest of the Wampanoag Indians to reclaim the forgotten language of their people. Sponsored by the Hartley Film Foundation, this award is presented to the film that best exemplifies the value and relevance of world religions and spirituality.

• The Full Frame President’s Awards was presented to the Caretaker for the Lord, directed by Jane McAllister. The film profiles the experience of an affable Scottish church maintenance man and the church’s aging congregation who face irrelevance together. Sponsored by Duke University and aimed at recognizing up-and-coming filmmakers, this prize is awarded to the best student film.

• How to Die in Oregon, directed by Peter D. Richardson, received The Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights. The film profiles people in Oregon who chose to end their own lives under the state’s Death with Dignity Act. Sponsored by the Julian Price Family Foundation, this award is presented to a film that addresses a significant human rights issue in the United States.

• The Kathleen Bryan Edwards Award for Human Rights Jury also presented an Honorable Mention to The Last Mountain, directed by Bill Haney. The film captures the fight for Coal River Mountain as residents face off with Massey Energy over the controversial effects of mountaintop removal mining.

• The Nicholas School Environmental Award was presented to Pit No. 8 (Auk nr 8), directed by Marianna Kaat. The film profiles Yura and his sisters who escaped their alcoholic parents. However, to pay the bills he must mine for coal in abandoned pits near his Ukrainian hometown. This is the inaugural year of the Environmental Award, which honors the film that best depicts the conflict between our drive to improve living standards through development and modernization, and the imperative to preserve both the natural environment that sustains us and the heritages that define us.

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About Sean O'Connell

Sean O'Connell is a nationally recognized film critic. His reviews have been published in print ('The Washington Post,' 'USA Today') and online (AMC FilmCritic.com, MSN's Citysearch) since 1996. He's a weekly contributor to several national radio programs. He is a longstanding member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association (BFCA), the Online Film Critics Society (OFCS), and the Southeastern Film Critics View all articles by Sean O'Connell Association (SEFCA).

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