July 4, 2006

“Ira,” “Mario” toast of L.A. Film Festival

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - Robert Cary's "Ira &
Abby" was recognized with the audience award for best narrative
feature at the closing-night ceremonies of the 2006 Los Angeles
Film Festival. The audience award for best documentary feature
went to Jeff Werner and Susan Koch's "Mario's Story."

A romantic comedy about a couple who marries impulsively,
"Ira" was written by Jennifer Westfeldt, who stars in the film
opposite Chris Messina. Westfeldt also co-wrote and starred in
"Kissing Jessica Stein," which won the audience award for best
narrative feature at the 2001 edition of LAFF.

"Mario's Story" centers on a teenager from East Los
Angeles, Mario Rocha, who was sentenced to life in prison for a
murder he didn't commit, and the 10-year fight to secure his

The awards were presented Sunday by Christina Applegate at
the Wadsworth Theater in West Los Angeles, where Fox
Searchlight's "Little Miss Sunshine" screened as the
closing-night film.

The festival, organized by filmmaker support organization
Film Independent, bestowed its audience award for best
international feature on Tomer Heymann's "Paper Dolls," an
Israeli film to be distributed by Strand Releasing, about a
group of gay Philippine immigrants who serve as caregivers to
the elderly in Tel Aviv.

The award for outstanding performance in the narrative
competition went to the ensemble cast of Mike Akel's "Chalk," a
comedy focusing on high school teachers that stars Troy
Schremmer, Janelle Schremmer, Shannon Haragan and Chris Mass.

As announced June 28 at the fest's Spirit of Independence
event, Steve Collins' "Gretchen" was the recipient of the
Target Filmmaker Award (for best narrative feature) and Amy
Berg's "Deliver Us From Evil" took the Target Documentary Award
(for best documentary feature). Those awards carried
unrestricted cash prizes of $50,000 each, funded by Target.

Reuters/Hollywood Reporter