Alonso Ruizpalacios’ Starz Pilot for “Vida” Wins Audience Award at the SXSW Film Festival

The audience has spoken… And, they’ve given Alonso Ruizpalacios his due prize.

The SXSW Film Festival announced its Audience Award winners, with the Mexican film director and co-helmer So Yong Kim’s Vida taking home the Episodic prize.

Starz's Vida

The forthcoming Starz series was created by Tanya Saracho and directed by Kim. Ruizpalacios directed the Vida pilot.

Abner Benaim took home the prize in the 24 Beats Per Second category for his documentary film, Ruben Blades Is Not My Name.

The Panamanian film director’s film is hailed as a celebration of the Latin American icon who was at the center of the New York Salsa revolution in the 1970’s. His socially charged lyrics and explosive rhythms brought Salsa music to an international audience. Blades has won 17 Grammys, acted in Hollywood, earned a law degree from Harvard and even ran for President of his native Panama.

Santiago Caicedo’s Virus Tropical was the Audience Award Winner in the Global category.

The black-and-white feature is closely adapted from the graphic novel of the same name by Power Paola, the nom de plume of Colombian-Ecuadorian cartoonist Paola Gaviria.

The Audience Awards follow the previously announced 2018 Jury Awards.

Over nine days, the 2018 SXSW Film Festival screened 136 features.

Here’s the complete list of Audience Award winners:

NARRATIVE FEATURE COMPETITION
Audience Award Winner: First Match
Director: Olivia Newman 

DOCUMENTARY FEATURE COMPETITION
Audience Award Winner: TransMilitary
Directors: Gabriel Silverman, Fiona Dawson 

NARRATIVE SPOTLIGHT
Audience Award Winner: All Square
Director: John Hyams 

DOCUMENTARY SPOTLIGHT
Audience Award Winner: The Dawn Wall
Director: Josh Lowell, Peter Mortimer 

VISIONS
Audience Award Winner: Profile
Director: Timur Bekmambetov 

MIDNIGHTERS
Audience Award Winner: Upgrade
Director: Leigh Whannell 

EPISODIC
Audience Award Winner: Vida
Director: Alonso Ruizpalacios, So Yong Kim 

24 BEATS PER SECOND
Audience Award Winner: Ruben Blades Is Not My Name
Director: Abner Benaim 

GLOBAL
Audience Award Winner: Virus Tropical
Director: Santiago Caicedo 

FESTIVAL FAVORITES
Audience Award Winner: Science Fair
Director: Cristina Costantini, Darren Foster 

SXSW Film Design Awards
EXCELLENCE IN TITLE DESIGN
Audience Award Winner: #19 – Offf Barcelona 2017
Directors: Eve Duhamel, Julien Vallee

Docu-Feature Film “Ruben Blades Is Not My Name” Currently in Production

Here’s your chance to learn about the man behind the living legend that is Ruben Blades

The 67-year-old Panamanian singer will be the focus of a docu-feature from Abner Benaim’s Apertura Films and Gema Juarez Allen’s Gema Films.

Ruben Blades

Entitled Ruben Blades Is Not My Name, the film about the Grammy– and Latin Grammy-winning salsa singer/composer is currently shooting in New York, will then segue to Panama and other Latin American countries.

Benaim, who helmed Panama’s 2014 Oscar entry Invasion, is directing.

Ruben Blades Is Not My Name turns on a multi-faceted figure who wrote and performed what was then the best-selling salsa album in history, 1978’s Siembra, was educated at Harvard University, was and is a political activist, and made a run for Panamanian president in 1994, obtaining 20% of the votes. He has enjoyed a second career as an actor, is currently playing Daniel Salazar in Fear the Waking Dead.

“The arc of the story is still playing itself out, but it will definitely be related to the history of Latin America in the past 50 years, of which Ruben has been a witness and an active part of,” said Benaim.

“We will concentrate on his music and particularly his lyrics and their effect on those who’ve listened to them, danced to them, thought about them, and were somehow shaped by them.”

“By way of its format, Ruben Blades Is Not My Name will include interviews with Ruben, other musicians and artists, friends and family and will use lots of incredible archive footage from concerts, daily life, politics, films and more,” Benaim added, saying that the docu-feature will also shoot Blades offstage as a man, “as someone who lives a private life also.”

Ruben Blades Is Not My Name is “a film full of rhythm, music and good stories -with the most remarkable characters. Ruben is a wonderful storyteller, so it will be a very entertaining and moving piece that will travel wherever there are fans of Ruben and beyond,” added Juarez Allen.

Panamanian TV station TVN is backing the docu-feature. Producers are in talks with co-producers from the U.S. and Latin America and sales agents for worldwide rights, per Benaim.