The last film to win both the Audience Award and U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival was Precious in 2009, almost exactly a year before it went on to become a Best Picture Oscar nominee. Now history may be ready to repeat itself, with the intense drama Fruitvale taking both of those top prizes at last night's Sundance awards ceremony. As former Fox chairman Tom Rothman said when presenting the prize, "This will not be the last time you guys walk to a podium."
There were plenty of other winners last night, though-- there were jokes going around that Sundance is basically like the awards handed out at the end of a Little League team's season, giving everyone a chance to be recognized. With Fruitvale taking up the top two prizes for the U.S. Dramatic category, the jury came up with ways to award a few other contenders, handing the Directing prize in the category to Afternoon Delight helmer Jill Soloway, the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award to In A World writer-director Lake Bell, and creating two special jury prizes for The Spectacular Now (for lead actors Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley) and Upstream Color (for sound design, which sounds more like a "sorry we couldn't give you more" apology than any festival prize I've ever seen). There was also a Cinematography Award given to Bradford Young, who shot two of the festival's most gorgeous entries, Ain't Them Bodies Saints and Mother of George
All of those films are likely to make their way in front of audiences, with Fruitvale picked up by the Weinstein Company, The Spectacular Now at A24, Ain't Them Bodies Saints at IFC, Mother of George at Oscilloscope, and Afternoon Delight and In A World… definitely heading for distribution shortly. The other winners might prove trickier to find, and even the winner of two U.S. Documentary prizes Blood Brother has yet to find distribution-- though the buzz around its two wins last night will probably help change that.
You can see a full list of the Sundance award winners below, and for our full lineup of Sundance coverage-- which isn't over yet!-- click here.
U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary: Blood Brother / U.S.A. (Director: Steve Hoover) — Rocky went to India as a disillusioned tourist. When he met a group of children with HIV, he decided to stay. He never could have imagined the obstacles he would face, or the love he would find.
U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic: Fruitvale / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ryan Coogler) — The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers on the last day of 2008. Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O'Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray.
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary: A River Changes Course / Cambodia, U.S.A. (Director: Kalyanee Mam) — Three young Cambodians struggle to overcome the crushing effects of deforestation, overfishing, and overwhelming debt in this devastatingly beautiful story of a country reeling from the tragedies of war and rushing to keep pace with a rapidly expanding world.
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic: Jiseul / South Korea (Director and screenwriter: Muel O) — In 1948, as the Korean government ordered the Communists’ eviction to Jeju Island, the military invaded a calm and peaceful village. Townsfolk took sanctuary in a cave and debated moving to a higher mountain. Cast: Min-chul SUNG, Jung-won YANG, Young-soon OH, Soon-dong PARK, Suk-bum MOON, Kyung-sub JANG.
Audience Award: U.S. Documentary: Blood Brother / U.S.A. (Director: Steve Hoover) — Rocky went to India as a disillusioned tourist. When he met a group of children with HIV, he decided to stay. He never could have imagined the obstacles he would face, or the love he would find.
Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic: Fruitvale / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ryan Coogler) — The true story of Oscar, a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers on the last day of 2008. Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Octavia Spencer, Melonie Diaz, Ahna O'Reilly, Kevin Durand, Chad Michael Murray.
Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary: The Square (Al Midan) / Egypt, U.S.A. (Director: Jehane Noujaim) — What does it mean to risk your life for your ideals? How far will five revolutionaries go in defending their beliefs in the fight for their nation?
Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic: Metro Manila / United Kingdom, Philippines (Director: Sean Ellis, Screenwriters: Sean Ellis, Frank E. Flowers) — Seeking a better life, Oscar and his family move from the poverty-stricken rice fields to the big city of Manila, where they fall victim to various inhabitants whose manipulative ways are a daily part of city survival. Cast: Jake Macapagal, John Arcilla, Althea Vega.
Audience Award: Best of NEXT <=> : This is Martin Bonner / U.S.A.(Director and screenwriter: Chad Hartigan) — Martin Bonner has just moved to Reno for a new job in prison rehabilitation. Starting over at age 58, he struggles to adapt until an unlikely friendship with an ex-con blossoms, helping him confront the problems he left behind. Cast: Paul Eenhoorn, Richmond Arquette, Sam Buchanan, Robert Longstreet, Demetrius Grosse.
Directing Award: U.S. Documentary: Cutie and the Boxer / U.S.A. (Director: Zachary Heinzerling) — This candid New York love story explores the chaotic 40-year marriage of famed boxing painter Ushio Shinohara and his wife, Noriko. Anxious to shed her role of assistant to her overbearing husband, Noriko seeks an identity of her own.
Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic :Afternoon Delight / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Jill Soloway) — In this sexy, dark comedy, a lost L.A. housewife puts her idyllic life in jeopardy when she tries to rescue a stripper by taking her in as a live-in nanny. Cast: Kathryn Hahn, Juno Temple, Josh Radnor, Jane Lynch.
Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary: The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear / Georgia, Germany (Director: Tinatin Gurchiani) — A film director casting a 15-23-year-old protagonist visits villages and cities to meet people who answer her call. She follows those who prove to be interesting enough through various dramatic and funny situations
Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic: Crystal Fairy / Chile (Director and screenwriter: Sebastián Silva) — Jamie invites a stranger to join a road trip to Chile. The woman’s free and esoteric nature clashes with Jamie’s acidic, self-absorbed personality as they head into the desert for a Mescaline-fueled psychedelic trip. Cast: Michael Cera, Gaby Hoffmann, Juan Andrés Silva, José Miguel Silva, Agustín Silva.
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic:In a World… / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Lake Bell) — An underachieving vocal coach is motivated by her father, the king of movie-trailer voice-overs, to pursue her aspirations of becoming a voiceover star. Amidst pride, sexism and family dysfunction, she sets out to change the voice of a generation. Cast: Lake Bell, Demetri Martin, Rob Corddry, Michaela Watkins, Ken Marino, Fred Melamed.
Screenwriting Award: World Cinema Dramatic: Wajma (An Afghan Love Story) / Afghanistan (Director and screenwriter: Barmak Akram) — A young man in Kabul seduces a girl. When she tells him she’s pregnant, he questions having taken her virginity. Then her father arrives, and a timeless, archaic violence erupts – possibly leading to a crime, and even a sacrifice. Cast: Wajma Bahar, Mustafa Habibi, Haji Gul, Breshna Bahar.
Editing Award: U.S. Documentary: Gideon's Army / U.S.A. (Director: Dawn Porter) — Gideon’s Army follows three young, committed Public Defenders who are dedicated to working for the people society would rather forget. Long hours, low pay and staggering caseloads are so common that even the most committed often give up.
Editing Award: World Cinema Documentary: The Summit / Ireland, United Kingdom (Director: Nick Ryan) — Twenty-four climbers converged at the last stop before summiting the most dangerous mountain on Earth. Forty-eight hours later, 11 had been killed or simply vanished. Had one, Ger McDonnell, stuck to the climbers' code, he might still be alive.
Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary:Dirty Wars / U.S.A. (Director: Richard Rowley) — Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill chases down the truth behind America’s covert wars.
Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic: Bradford Young for Ain’t Them Bodies Saints and Mother of George.
• Ain't Them Bodies Saints / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: David Lowery) — The tale of an outlaw who escapes from prison and sets out across the Texas hills to reunite with his wife and the daughter he has never met. Cast: Rooney Mara, Casey Affleck, Ben Foster, Nate Parker, Keith Carradine.
• Mother of George / U.S.A. (Director: Andrew Dosunmu, Screenwriter: Darci Picoult) — A story about a woman willing to do anything and risk everything for her marriage.Cast: Isaach De Bankolé, Danai Gurira, Tony Okungbowa, Yaya Alafia, Bukky Ajayi.
Cinematography Award: World Cinema Documentary: Who is Dayani Cristal? / United Kingdom (Director: Marc Silver) — An anonymous body in the Arizona desert sparks the beginning of a real-life human drama. The search for its identity leads us across a continent to seek out the people left behind and the meaning of a mysterious tattoo.
Cinematography Award: World Cinema Dramatic: Lasting / Poland, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Jacek Borcuch) — An emotional love story about two Polish students who fall in love with each other while working summer jobs in Spain. An unexpected nightmare interrupts their carefree time in the heavenly landscape and throws their lives into chaos. Cast: Jakub Gierszal, Magdalena Berus, Angela Molina.
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking: Inequality for All / U.S.A. (Director: Jacob Kornbluth) — In this timely and entertaining documentary, noted economic-policy expert Robert Reich distills the topic of widening income inequality, and addresses the question of what effects this increasing gap has on our economy and our democracy.
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Achievement in Filmmaking: American Promise / U.S.A. (Directors: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson) — This intimate documentary follows the 12-year journey of two African-American families pursuing the promise of opportunity through the education of their sons.
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting: Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley in The Spectacular Now / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Scott Neustadter, Michael H. Weber) — Sutter is a high school senior who lives for the moment; Aimee is the introvert he attempts to "save." As their relationship deepens, the lines between right and wrong, friendship and love, and "saving" and corrupting become inextricably blurred. Cast: Miles Teller, Shailene Woodley, Brie Larson, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Kyle Chandler.
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Sound Design: Shane Carruth and Johnny Marshall for Upstream Color / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Shane Carruth) — A man and woman are drawn together, entangled in the life cycle of an ageless organism. Identity becomes an illusion as they struggle to assemble the loose fragments of wrecked lives. Cast: Amy Seimetz, Shane Carruth, Andrew Sensenig, Thiago Martins.
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Circles / Serbia, Germany, France, Croatia, Slovenia (Director: Srdan Golubovic, Screenwriters: Srdjan Koljevic, Melina Pota Koljevic) — Five people are affected by a tragic heroic act. Twenty years later, all of them will confront the past through their own crises. Will they overcome guilt, frustration and their urge for revenge? Will they do the right thing, at all costs? Cast: Aleksandar Bercek, Leon Lucev, Nebojsa Glogovac, Hristina Popovic, Nikola Rakocevic, Vuk Kostic.
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Punk Spirit: Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer / Russian Federation, United Kingdom (Directors: Mike Lerner, Maxim Pozdorovkin) — Three young women face seven years in a Russian prison for a satirical performance in a Moscow cathedral. But who is really on trial: the three young artists or the society they live in?
Short Film Audience Award: Catnip: Egress to Oblivion? / U.S.A.(Director: Jason Willis) — Catnip is all the rage with today's modern feline, but do we really understand it? This film frankly discusses the facts about this controversial substance.
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