Sarah-Violet Bliss and Charles Rogers' hipster comedy Fort Tilden and Margaret Brown's Gulf-spill documentary The Great Invisible took home the top prizes at SXSW this year.
In an interview with Women and Hollywood, Bliss declared, "There's more depth and richness to Fort Tilden than people expect from a traditional comedy." Perhaps that's what set Bliss and Rogers' feature debut, about two female friends with no life skills who have trouble getting to the beach, apart from the rest of the pack.
The Great Invisible, on the other hand, is Margaret Brown's fourth documentary (including an episode of Independent Lens). Brown revealed the personal motivations for making her latest film in a conversation with Women and Hollywood:
I'm from Alabama, where the spill hit pretty hard. In the weeks after the spill, my father sent me pictures of his house in Mobile Bay surrounded by boom, which were the orange barriers BP used to try and prevent oil from seeping into the marshes and reaching the shoreline. For me, it was so jarring to see this place that was so familiar, as it prepared for the worst. When I talked to people I realized there was a collective sense of powerlessness in the face of the incoming oil, and I thought the one thing I could try and do to help was to make something about it.
Diana Whitten's Vessel, about the abortion organization Women on Waves, won the Special Jury Recognition for Political Courage prize. Whitten described her documentary to Women and Hollywood as "one about a woman who hears and answers a calling, and transforms a wildly improbable idea into a global movement."
The Gamechanger Emergent Woman Director Award, which comes with a $2500 grant, went to Kelly & Cal's Jen McGowan.
Scroll down for the list of female winners from SXSW:
NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Grand Jury Winner: Fort Tilden
Director: Sarah-Violet Bliss & Charles Rogers
Special Jury Recognition for Best Acting Duo: 10,000KM (Long Distance)
DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Grand Jury Winner: The Great Invisible
Director: Margaret Brown
Special Jury Recognition for Political Courage: Vessel
Director: Diana Whitten
Short Film Jury Awards
Winner: Quelqu'un d'extraordinaire
Director: Monia Chokri
Special Jury Recognition
Director: Allison Schulnik
Winner: Some vacation
Director: Anne S. Lewis
TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL SHORTS
Director: Caila Pickett & Max Montoya
SXSW Special Awards
SXSW GAMECHANGER EMERGENT WOMAN DIRECTOR AWARD
Winner: Jen McGowan, Kelly & Cal
Special Mention: Kat Candler. Hellion