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Taiwanese drama wins top honors at the virtual Slamdance Film Festival

(Photo courtesy of Slamdance Film Festival) Tender Huang plays a receptionist in a "suicide hotel," in the drama "Taipei Suicide Story," which won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for narrative features at the 2021 Slamdance Film Festival. Huang also won the festival's Acting Award.

Stories about connection, life and death were the big winners at this year’s Slamdance Film Festival.

Winners were announced Thursday, the last full day of the two-week festival, which bypassed Park City this year and went virtual because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The drama “Taipei Suicide Story” won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award for narrative features. Directed by the one-named filmmaker KEFF, the story centers on a receptionist at a “suicide hotel” in Taiwan, who strikes up a relationship with a guest who can’t decide if she wants to live or die.

Tender Huang, who plays the receptionist, also received the Slamdance Acting Award for his performance in the 45-minute drama.

The Grand Jury Prize for documentary features went to the Austrian-produced “Code Name: Nagasaki,” directed by Fredrik S. Hana. The movie shows Hana following his friend, Marius Lunde, who is trying to find his birth mother who abandoned him in Norway at age 5 to go back to her native Japan.

The Audience Award for documentary features went to Justin Monroe’s “Holy Frit,” which follows a Los Angeles artist who bluffs his way into getting a commission to make a massive stained-glass window, and then must figure out how to create it.

A “best of the fest” program will be available to stream through the weekend at slamdance.com. Among the offerings this weekend is the festival’s closing-night film, “18th & Grand,” a documentary about Los Angeles’ raucous Olympic Auditorium, a famous venue for boxing, wrestling and other events. A pass for the weekend’s screenings is $10.

Here is the full list of Slamdance winners:

Grand Jury Prizes

• Narrative Feature: “Taipei Suicide Story,” directed by KEFF (Taiwan); honorable mention to “A Family,” directed by Jayden Stevens (Australia).

• Documentary Feature: “Code Name: Nagasaki,” directed by Fredrik S. Hana (Austria).

• Breakout Features: “No Trace,” directed by Simon Lavoie (Canada); honorable mention to “A Black Rift Begins to Yawn,” directed by Matthew Wade (United States).

• Documentary Shorts: “Unforgivable,” directed by Marlén Viñayo (El Salvador); honorable mention to “Ain’t No Time for Women,” directed by Sarra El Abed (Canada).

• Unstoppable Shorts: “The Bin,” directed by Jocelyn Tamayao (Philippines); honorable mentions to “Feeling Through,” directed by Doug Roland (United States), and “Full Picture,” directed by Jacob Reed (United States).

• Narrative Shorts: “In France Michelle is a Man’s Name,” directed by Em Weinstein (United States); honorable mentions to “MADA (Mother),” directed by Joseph Douglas Elmhirst (United States), and “Delimitation,” directed by Tereza Vejvodova (Czech Republic).

• Experimental Shorts: “Passage,” directed by Ann Oren (Germany); honorable mention to “Mountain Lodge directed by Jordan Wong (United States).

• Animated Shorts: “Return to the Peach Blossom Wonderland,” directed by Haomin Peng, Yue Huang, Yuchao Luo (China); honorable mention to “Lizard Ladder,” directed by Ted Wiggin (United States).

Other jury prizes

• Slamdance Acting Award: Tender Huang, “Taipei Suicide Story” (Taiwan); honorable mention to Michelle Uranowitz, “The Ultimate (by Lou Fescano)” (United States).

• AGBO Fellowship Award Winner: Agnieszka Polska, director of “Hurrah, We Are Still Alive!” (Poland)

• Slamdance Founder Award Winner: Tilane Jones, President of ARRAY (United States).

• George Starks Spirit of Slamdance Award Winner: Chelsea Christer, director of “Bleeding Audio” (United States); honorable mention to Mohammad Mohammadian, director of “Life” (Iran).

• CreativeFuture Innovation Award: “Opera,” by Erick Oh.

Audience Awards winners

• Narrative Feature: “Taipei Suicide Story,” directed by KEFF (Taiwan).

• Documentary Feature: “Holy Frit,” directed by Justin Monroe (United States).

• Episodic: “The Little Broomstick Rider,” directed by Matteo Bernardini (Italy).

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