The hugely successful, first summer edition of the Sheffield Doc/Fest wound to a close this morning as delegates began to take trains back to London and as the festival's presented it's awards in a lively ceremony at the Showroom Cinema.
And when it was all over, it was THE INTERRUPTERS, Steve James' extraordinary look at a team of gang violence preventers in Chicago, that took home the Special Jury Prize, the top award at Sheffield. It was the first major festival award for THE INTERRUPTERS, which premiered out of competition at Sundance and which received the Jury Prize from the Miami Film Festival in March (Full Disclosure: I was a member of the Miami jury, along with Sheffield Director Heather Croall).
The jury win by THE INTERRUPTERS solidifies the belief that the film will be a strong, and perhaps the leading, contender for end-of-the-year awards and honors. The film is certainly one of the best nonfiction features in recent years and a classic example of verite filmmaking that has largely been supplanted by the more constructed work of the past decade.
The Special Jury also an honorary mention to Alma Har'el's BOMBAY BEACH, which received the World Documentary Competition prize at Tribeca earlier this year. BEACH and fellow Special Jury competition title CALVET, a world premiere here, were two of the most buzzed about films at this year's festival. Other films in the Special Jury competition included AT NIGHT I FLY, Barbara Kopple's GUN FIGHT, Sundance award winner HELL AND BACK AGAIN and IDFA 2010 champ POSITION AMONG THE STARS.