For Immediate Release





American Mirror with Susan Sarandon honored with four awards


— Emilio Rivera presented with 2018 DOC LA Storyteller Award by Gabor Csupo —


LOS ANGELES, CA (October 24) – Crime doc featuring Usher, “Guilty Until Proven Guilty”, won the top Best Documentary Award at 2018 DOC LA for director Harry Moses. The work of Terence Blanchard and Usher was recognized with Best Composer Award and DOC LA Icon Award, respectively. The film exposes Louisiana’s criminal justice system through the story of Tim Conerly, a young African-American man who was imprisoned for a crime he says he did not commit. After two years in jail, he must choose between accepting a plea bargain of seven years or risking a sentence of 49  to 198.

“American Mirror” with Susan Sarandon won a record of four awards including Best Innovative Film for director Arthur Balder, Best Cinematography for Ambrose Eng, Best Composer (tie) for Mark Petrie, and the Parajanov-Vartanov Institute Award for Susan Sarandon. In this closing night world premiere directed by Arthur Balder, Oscar-winning screen icon Susan Sarandon and painter Tigran Tsitoghdzyan discuss how the apparently in conflict values of beauty and aging are perceived in our modern society dominated by social media, as he paints her portrait and recalls his formative years during a war.


Emilio Rivera was presented by Gabor Csupo with 2018 DOC LA Storyteller Award for narrating David Trevino’s “Soul of Lincoln Heights” about a 14 year old boy who brought back smiles into the lives of one Latino family in LA that had been devastated by a drive-by shooting tragedy. The film world premiered at DOC LA and won the Audience Award for a short film.  


Female directing duo from Iceland, Rakel Gardarsdottir & Augusta Olafsdottir, won Best Environmental Film for “Use Less” about the fashion industry impact on global warming. “The world’s population currently consumes 80 billion garments of clothing every year with devastating consequences to the planet,” the film warns. It also covers food waste that can feed a billion people suffering from hunger.


Zara Balfour won Best International Documentary Award for “Children of the Snow Land” about 3 teenagers in Nepal who were left as young kids at a boarding school and have not seen their parents in 12 years. Now they must climb back to the world’s highest villages where they were born and find their families. It’s a unique coming of age story set in an epic landscape that depicts the sacrifice poor villages must often make to give their children a chance a better life. 


“The Guardians”, a shocking investigative documentary expose about a corrupt system of the guardianship industry won Best Director Award for Billie Mintz. The film focuses on the retired couple Rudy and Rennie North who were kidnapped from their home in Las Vegas and drugged by a state-appointed guardian who took control of their life savings and freedom.


Carolann Stoney’s doc featuring Gus Van Sant, “Thank you for Supporting the Arts”, about a stripper-rocker-writer named Viva Las Vegas, a daughter of a Lutheran minister, and her lifelong battle against cultural expectations, won Best Producer and Audience Awards. 


Werner Herzog starrer “Ballad of a Righteous Merchant” won Best Documentary Portrait Award. Directed by his longtime friend and collaborator Herbert Golder, the film is a rare intimate glimpse at the master during the shooting of Golden Lion nominated “My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done” starring Willem Dafoe and Chloe Sevigny.


Steve Wystrach and Steve Armstrong won Best Screenwriting Award for “Manry at Sea” about a happily married middle aged father and newspaperman Robert Manry who secretly and alone crossed the Atlantic from US to England in a tiny 13 foot boat in 1965. 


Irina Patkanian’s animated doc “Little Fiel”, about Mozambican artist who makes art of decommissioned guns donated by the public in exchange for food, won Best Animated Documentary Award in a tie with Patrick Waldrop’s “Cosmic Debris” about Frank Zappa and Gabor Csupo. Annalise Pasztor and Dane Christensen won Best Student Film Awards for “Gods from Space” and “Faithful”.


First time director Melissa Pace Overholt won Honorable Mention for her feature doc “Attache” which features Lance Bass and Dr. Phil and is about the incredible success story of Mississippi based Clinton high school that created and sustained the number one show choir in the world for the past 36 years.


Other winners include Kristy Guevara-Flanagan “The End of Weed” by (Honorable Mention Short), “Pain is Mine” by Farshid Akhlaghi (Best Documentary Short), “The Ravenite” by Morgan Schmidt-Feng and Dennis Mohr (Best Mid Length Documentary), Gustav Ahlgren’s Swedish doc about domestic abuse “Before I Jump” (Best Short Experimental Documentary), “Mitzvot” by Bader AlAwadhi (Best Experimental Feature Documentary), “City of Dreams” by S1ree1 (Best Mid Length Experimental Documentary),  “The Muay Thai Kid” by Andy Schlachenhaufen (Best Sports Documentary), “Baby You’re Like a Drug” by Joshua Butler, starring Joshua Jackson, Meghan Flather and rock band MENEW (Best Music Video), and the genre defying Storytella section with “Diwa” by Aina Dumlao and Bru Muller (Best Actress/Best Short), “The Lost Footage of Leah Sullivan” by Burt Grinstead (Best Fiction Feature), “Ingest” by Ankur Malhotra (Best Fiction Screenwriting), “Twice Upon a Time” by Vojin Vasovic (Best Animation) and Tane McClure’s short film “Rockstar” (Best Song for Tarra Layne and Best Cinematography for Sandra Stenzel).




Best Documentary


Best Composer (tie)


DOC LA Icon Award



Best Innovative Film


Best Composer (tie)


Best Cinematography (feature)


Parajanov-Vartanov Institute Award



Best International Documentary