At the Sundance Film Festival Awards ceremony on Saturday, director John Cooper broke down in tears. Why? Because it was such a damned fine festival, where so many filmmakers were discovered and lauded. We are in a sweet zone for indie cinema, and Sundance helped to make that so.
One of the tortures for many of us attending was simply not being able to see as many films as we would like. You catch the stream and see what you see and interview who you want to and in the end you take your slice. There is no other way to roll. You can't see everything. Rodrigo Perez of The Playlist wondered why anyone would go to a party when they could see another movie. But the fest is many things to many people. I wouldn't have missed the IMDb dinner with Col Needham, Lucy Walker, Lynn Shelton and others--during the course of many revelations about our favorite films over the years, Shelton got the news from her producer that her film "Touchy Feely" had gotten some offers. They hugged. Sundance is also about getting to know people better. Sharing the love.
The awards Sunday night went to a broad smattering of global dramas and documentaries. Here's the ceremony, charmingly hosted by Sundance regular Joseph Gordon-Levitt (@hitRECordJoe), who sold his directorial debut "Don Jon's Addiction" at the fest. The full list of winners is below.
Tom Rothman, ex-co-chairman of Twentieth Century Fox and founder of Fox Searchlight, gave the Grand Jury Dramatic Prize to Ryan Coogler for "Fruitvale," his second of the night, as he also won the U.S. Dramatic audience award, "for its skillful realization and devastating emotional impact and moral and social urgency," he said. (Here's our review.)
"When I first wrote this project it was about humanity," said an overwhelmed Coogler, "how we treat each other. To get this award meant that it had a profound impact on the audience. This goes back to my home the Bay Area where Oscar Grant lived, breathed and survived for 22 years." (Weinstein Co. acquired the film.)
The Waldo Salt screenwriting award, for its "laugh-out-loud comedic moments and shrewd social commentary" went to actress-turned-writer-director Lake Bell for "In a World." "Thank you Sundance for giving me the encouragement to have the balls to do this," she said. (Here's Indiewire's interview, and The Playlist's review.)
The directing award for U.S. documentary went to a movie about the complex nature of love and art, "Cutie and the Boxer," about married Japanese artists. Director Zachary Heinzerling admitted that the film was funded "purely on grants." (Radius-TWC acquired the film.)
The directing award, "for its deft balance of tone and ensemble performances," said juror Edward Burns, went to Jill Solloway of "Afternoon Delight," one of two award-winners produced by Jen Chaiken and Sebastian Dungan, who also produced cinematorgaphy winner "Ain't Them Bodies Saints." Solloway cited her fellow Sundance women filmmakers, saying, "we crossed the street together holding hands." (Here's Indiewire's review.)
Juror Rodrigo Prieto cited the naturalistic lighting in giving the cinematography prize to Sundance standout Bradford Young for two fims, "Ain't Them Bodies Saints" and "Mother of George." Both directors came up to accept the award on his behalf and said "Thank you, Bradford." (Here's our review of "Ain't Them Bodies Saints," which was acquired by IFC FIlms; Oscilloscope picked up "Mother of George.")
The editing prize for a U.S. doc went to Matthew Hamachek for HBO's "Gideon's Army"; it was his second editing award at Sundance.
Steve Hoover's "Blood Brother" took home the U.S. Grand Jury Prize as well as the US doc competition audience award. Juror Davis Guggenheim said, "this movie shook us to our very core, a movie about self-sacrifice, a delicate character study, exuberant, heartbreaking, transcendent and profoundly moving."
A special dramatic jury prize for aural inventiveness and sound design went to Shane Carruth and Johnny Marshall for "Upstream Color." (Review round-up here.)
U.S. doc cinematography went to Richard Rowley of "Dirty Wars." (Sundance Selects acquired the film.)
A special jury prize for U.S. documentary went to "Inequality for All." "It was an honor to work with Robert Reich, and I hope the ideas get out to the world," said director Jacob Kornbluth. (Sundance Selects acquired the film.)
"A River Changes Course" won the Grand jury prize for world cinema.
The special jury award for world documentary went to "American Promise," from Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson.
The World Cinema Special Jury Prize, "or their confrontation with power," went to "Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer," from Mike Lerner & Maxim Pozdorovkin, "a film about female revolution." It's "the year of the pussy at Sundance," said juror Sean Farnell. (HBO Documentary Films acquired the doc.)
Cinematography went to "Who is Dayani Cristal?" D.P.s Marc Silver & Pau Esteve Birba. Silver thanked "whoever invented the Canon EOS 7D." (Our review and feature is here.)
The world doc editing award went to Ben Stark of "The Summit." Well-deserved. Director Nick Ryan accepted. (Our review is here.)
Complete list of winners below: