Another 10 days in Utah and the biggest Independent film festival in the United States just finished for another year — with an explosion of exciting new work presented and awarded from American and international independent filmmakers everywhere, showcasing an amazing selection of fresh, new talent and new voices in the world of film. Here’s what happened:
It was Beasts of the Southern Wild, an enchanting and surreal story of a young girl who lives in a far off place with her father near the southern delta, that was awarded both the Grand Jury Prize for best dramatic film and the Excellence in Cinematography Award for a dramatic picture. The film was directed by American director Benh Zeitlin, while the screenplay was written and co-written by Zeitlin and Lucy Alibar. The Grand Jury Prize for best documentary was awarded to Eugene Jarecki’s The House I Live In – a look into the on-going war on drugs in America, and the devastating effect that it’s had on the nation’s poorest communities.
So what did the people want? Unsurprisingly, Ben Lewin’s The Surrogate – a tale of a poet with an iron lung who chooses to lose his virginity — was awarded the Audience Award for best U.S dramatic and the Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting, while Kirby Dick’s harrowing look into the rape of soldiers in the United States army, The Invisible War, took home the Audience Award for best U.S documentary. It was the much talked about Indian/American feature, Valley of Saints, the story of a young man’s future by Mike Birbiglia, Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia and Seth Barrish that ended up with the World Cinema Audience Award for a dramatic, while Sweden’s SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN was awarded the World Cinema Audience Award for best documentary.
It’s what’s behind the film that counts these days, and this year the Sundance wasn’t short of directional talent. For best U.S documentary, it was Lauren Greenfield with the Queen of Versailles who was awarded the Directing Award, while writer and director Ava DuVernay was given the Directing Award for a U.S dramatic with Middle of Nowhere. Outside the States, Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi took home the World Cinema Directing Award for best Dramatic with 5 Broken Cameras – their journey into a Palestinian village struggling to resist a separation barrier being built through their home. It was Mads Matthiesen with his film, Teddy Bear who ended up with the World Cinema Directing Award for best dramatic.
And let’s not forget the writers. The Sundance gave the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award to Safety Not Guaranteed, a film written by Derek Connelly and directed by Colin Trevorrow, telling the story of three magazine employees who look into the person behind an advert for time travel. The World Cinema Screenwriting Award was given to Chilean feature, Young & Wild, with a screenplay by Marialy Rivas, Camila Gutiérrez, Pedro Peirano and Sebastián Sepúlveda.
The Editing Award for a U.S. documentary went to DETROPIA by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, while the World Cinema Documentary Editing Award was given to the Canadian Indie Game: The Movie, by Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky. Along with Beasts of the Southern Wild, Jeff Orlowski’s documentary Chasing Ice was given the Excellence in Cinematography Award while Sally El Hosaini’s My Brother the Devil was presented with the World Cinema Cinematography Award for her film about two British Arab boys in the underbelly of London. Danish documentary, Putin’s Kiss took home the other World Cinema Cinematography Award.
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