Carol Nguyen’s ‘No Crying at the Dinner Table’ Among SXSW Doc Winners

No Crying at the Dinner Table

By Pat Mullen

The show couldn’t go on at SXSW, but the awards did. The Austin, Texas music-and-film festival was the first big event to drop amid the COVID-19 pandemic with events scuttled mere days before they were to take place. Some films still screened online, while calls for coverage offered films some degree of exposure. SXSW did its best to give the films the premieres they deserved despite foregoing the events and fanfare that would have put participants at risk. The fest announced its list of jury prize winners across categories for drama, docs, features, and shorts. The show can still go on in some form thanks to Vimeo links.

The list of SXSW winners includes Toronto filmmaker Carol Nguyen for her intimate and personal doc No Crying at the Dinner Table. The film, a Canada’s Top Ten selection and a nominee at the (also cancelled) Canadian Screen Awards, No Crying at the Dinner Table offers a group therapy session for Nguyen’s family as she invites them to gather around the table and share their perspectives on love and loss. The jury called the film “insightful, raw, and, ultimately, extraordinary.”

The feature documentary prize went to Katrine Philp’s An Elephant in the Room. The Danish doc observes a group of children as the kids make sense of loss and navigate their grief. “Grief is one of the most challenging subjects for any filmmaker,” said the jury in a statement. “The grief of young children even more so. In An Elephant in the Room, Katrine Philp follows a group of kids as they work with a grief counseling center in New Jersey. And while the resulting film is certainly heartbreaking, thanks to the director’s artistry and sensitivity it is also inspiring, uplifting, and — especially in these troubled times —essential.” The feature doc jury also awarded Alice Gu’s The Donut King a special recognition for achievement in documentary storytelling and Jenny Shi’s Finding Yingying a special recognition for breakthrough voice.

The full list of SXSW doc winners as is follows:

Documentary Feature Competition: An Elephant in the Room – Katrine Philp

  • Special Jury Recognition for Achievement in Documentary Storytelling:* The Donut King – Alice Gu

Special Jury Recognition for Breakthrough Voice: Finding Yingying – Jiayan “Jenny” Shi

Documentary Short: No Crying at the Dinner Table – Carol Nguyen

Documentary Short – Special Jury Recognition: Mizuko – Katelyn Rebelo, Kira Dane; Día de la Madre – Ashley Brandon, Dennis Höhne

Texas High School Shorts – Special Jury Recognition: Documentary: Unveiled – Sofia Bajwa

Louis Black “Lone Star” Award Special Jury Recognition for Documentary: Boys State – Amanda McBaine, Jesse Moss