Below are the award winning films of “Sundance” announced Saturday Jan 26, 2013.
Grand Jury Prize Documentary-Steve Hoover, “Blood Brother.”
- Synopsis: Rocky Braat went to India as a disillusioned American tourist. When he met a group of children with HIV/AIDS, he decided to stay. He never could have imagined the obstacles he would face. Or the love he would find.
Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic – Ryan Coogler, “Fruitvale”
- Synopsis: 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.
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary – Kalyanee Man, “A River Changes Course”
- Synopsis: Twice a year in Cambodia, the Tonle Sap River changes course, while the river of life flows in a perpetual cycle of death and rebirth and of creation and destruction. Working in an intimate, verite style, filmmaker Kalyanee Mam (Director of Photography for the Oscar-winning documentary INSIDE JOB), spent two years in her native homeland following three young Cambodians struggling to overcome the crushing effects of deforestation, overfishing, and overwhelming debt. A breathtaking and unprecedented journey from the remote, mountainous jungles and floating cities of the Cambodian countryside to the bustling garment factories of modern Phnom Penh, A RIVER CHANGES COURSE traces a remarkable and devastatingly beautiful story of a country torn between the rural present and an ominous industrial future.
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic – Muel O, “Jiseul”
- Synopsis: A local film worthy of notice, the monochrome JISEUL is the fourth film by Jeju director O Muel. It is based on the true story of the townsfolk that took sanctuary in a cave during an uprising on the island in April 1948. The Jeju 4.3 Uprising, as it later became known, was sparked when the American military regime incited social strife and subsequent conflicts that lasted until September 1954. Almost 30,000 people are estimated to have been killed-most of them civilians. The reason why the modest film feels like a solemn requiem may be rooted in resentment. Although the ire over the slaughtered innocents might be sitting at the fore of director O’s mind, the film itself never explicitly expresses it. It reveals bits of lives-quarrels, conflicts, reconciliation and comfort, sometimes nonchalantly and sometimes dramatically. Ironically, because of this, the pain stings that much more. Narrative structure choices, scale as an independent film and sound effects all go toward enhancing the impression of a requiem. (Festivalscope.com)
Audience Award: Documentary – Steve Hoover, “Blood Brother”
- Synopsis: See above Grand Jury Prize doc.
Audience Award: Dramatic – Ryan Coogler, “Fruitvale”
- Synopsis: See above Grand Jury Prize Dramatic
World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary – Jehane Noujaim, “The Square”
- Synopsis: 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?
World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic – Sean Ellis, “Metro Manila”
- Synopsis: Seeking a brighter future in megacity Manila, Oscar Ramirez and his family flee their impoverished life in the rice fields of the northern Philippines. But the sweltering capital’s bustling intensity quickly overwhelms them, and they fall prey to the rampant manipulations of its hardened locals. Oscar catches a lucky break when he’s offered steady work for an armored truck company and gregarious senior officer Ong takes him under his wing. Soon, though, the reality of his work’s mortality rate and the murky motives of his new partner force Oscar to confront the perils he faces in his new job and life.
Best of NEXT Audience Award – Chad Hartigan, “This is Martin Bonner”
- Synopsis: Martin Bonner has just moved to Nevada from the East Coast, leaving behind his two adult children and a life he spent more than two decades building. He’s there working a new job as the volunteer coordinator for a non-profit organization that helps prisoners make the transition from incarceration to freedom. It’s Martin’s first job in two years and he’s recently declared bankruptcy. At the same time, Travis Holloway, a prisoner in the program, is being released after serving twelve years. Sent back into the world with nothing, Travis also finds life in Reno difficult to adjust to, despite the help from his program sponsor, Steve Helms. The stories of Martin and Travis slowly converge, as the two men meet and find that they have much in common, not the least of which is an unspoken need for encouragement and support. Their unlikely friendship blossoms but is put to the test when Travis betrays Martin’s trust in order to reunite with his estranged daughter.
Directing Award: Documentary – Zachary Heinzerling, “Cutie and the Boxer”
- Synopsis: 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 as her overbearing husband’s assistant, Noriko finds an identity of her own.
Directing Award: Dramatic – Jill Soloway, “Afternoon Delight”
- Synopsis: A bored housewife looks to spice up her life.
World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary – Tinatin Gurchiani, “The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear”
- Synopsis: A film director casting a 15-23-year-old ideal 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.Documentary, 97/58 Min.
World Cinema Directing Award: Dramatic – Sebastian Silva, “Crystal Fairy”
- Synopsis: 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. (aceshowbiz.com)
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award – Lake Bell, “In A World
- Synopsis: 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.
World Cinema Dramatic Screenwriting Award – Barmak Akram, “Wajma (An Afghan Love Story)”
- Synopsis: 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 timeless, archaic violence erupts – possibly leading to a crime, and even a sacrifice. (sbs.com.au)
Documentary Editing Award – Matthew Hamachek, “Gideon’s Army”
- Synopsis: 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.
World Cinema Documentary Editing Award – Ben Stark, “The Summit”
- Synopsis: The Summit is a documentary detailing the tragic course of events which led to the deaths of 11 climbers trying to get up and then down K2, largely known as the most dangerous mountaineering challenge in the world. (eatsleeplivefilm.com)
Excellence in Cinematography Award: Documentary – Richard Rowley, “Dirty Wars”
- Synopsis: Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill is pulled into an unexpected journey as he chases down the hidden truth behind America’s expanding covert wars.
Excellence in Cinematography Award: Dramatic – Bradford Young, “Mother of George,”
- Synopsis: A story about a woman willing to do anything and risk everything for her marriage.
“Ain’t Them Bodies Saints”
- Synopsis: 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.
World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary – Marc Silver, “Who is Dayani Cristal?”
- Synopsis: An anonymous body in the Arizona desert sparks the beginning of a real-life human drama. The search for identity leads us back across a continent to seek out the people left behind and the meaning of a mysterious tattoo.
World Cinema Cinematography Award: Dramatic – Michal Englert, “Lasting”
- Synopsis: Lasting is an emotional love story about Michal and Karina, a pair of Polish students who meet and fall in love with each other while working summer jobs in Spain. An unexpected nightmare brutally breaks into their carefree time in the heavenly landscape and throws their lives into chaos. (lasting.pl)
World Cinema Special Jury Award – Srdan Golubovic, “Circles”
- Synopsis: Circles (Serbian: Krugovi) is a Serbian movie based on the true story of a Serbian soldier who risked his life to protect a Muslim civilian during the war in Bosnia. During the war in Bosnia in 1993, a Serbian soldier pays for his life after protecting a Muslim civilian from being attacked by three other soldiers. 15 years later, the consequences of this act of heroism are still having their repercussions. (letterboxed.com)
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Prize – Mike Lerner & Maxim Pozdorovkin. “Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer”
- Synopsis: Three young women face seven years in a Russian prison for a satirical performance in a Moscow cathedral. But who is really on trial in a case that has gripped the nation and the world beyond, three young artists or the society they live in?
Documentary Special Jury Prize – Jacob Kornbluth, “Inequality for All”
- Synopsis: U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich tries to raise awareness of the country’s widening economic gap.
Documentary Special Jury Prize – Joe Brewster and Michele Stephensen, “American Promise”
- Synopsis: This intimate documentary follows the 12-year journey of two African-American families pursuing the promise of opportunity through the education of their sons.
Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Sound Design- Shane Carruth and Johnny Marshall, “Upstream Color”
- Synopsis: 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.
Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Acting – Miles Teller and Shailene Woodley, “The Spectacular Now”
- Synopsis: Sutter Keely (Miles Teller) lives in the now. It’s a good place for him. A high school senior, charming and self-possessed, he’s the life of the party, loves his job at a men’s clothing store, and has no plans for the future. A budding alcoholic, he’s never far from his supersized, whisky-fortified thirst-master cup. But after being dumped by his girlfriend, Sutter gets drunk and wakes up on a lawn with Aimee Finicky (Shailene Woodley) hovering over him. She’s different: the “nice girl” who reads science fiction and doesn’t have a boyfriend. While Amy has dreams of a future, Sutter lives in the impressive delusion of a spectacular now, yet somehow, they’re drawn together. (Wiki)
Shorts Audience Award – Jason Willis, “Catnip: Egress to Oblivion?”
- Synopsis: Catnip is all the rage with today’s modern feline, but do we really understand it? Is it a source for harmless kicks, or a potentially crippling addiction? Is it a tool to expand one’s consciousness, or a downward spiraling path that can eventually lead to insanity? Once and for all the facts about this controversial substance are frankly discussed, in the long-lost drug educational film that never-was, “Catnip: Egress to Oblivion?”.
Short Film Grand Jury Prize – Grzegorz Zariczny, “The Whistle”
- Synopsis: Marcin, a lowest-leagues￼ football referee who lives in a small town near Krakow, dreams of better times. At his mother’s urging, he decides to change his life and find himself a girlfriend and a better job.
Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize – Andrew Bujalski, “Computer Chess”
- Synopsis: A 1980s-set story centered around a man vs. machine chess tournament.
Just as the Oscars are prestigious for major motion pictures, “Sundance” is important for the Indie crowd. How important are they? After an Oscar win, many actors have peaked and never achieve their former greatness. The list of victims of this curse is impressive.
- Cuba Gooding, Jr.
- Halle Berry
- Helen Hunt
- Mira Sorvino
- F. Murray Abraham
- Louise Fletcher
- Roberto Benigni
- Gwyneth Paltrow
- Kevin Spacey
- Luise Rainer
Take the first name, Cuba Gooding, Jr. His career was in full swing. He won an Oscar for “Jerry McGuire” in which he costarred with Tom Cruise. After his huge win, his career never lived up to it’s former glory. It’s not that he isn’t working, he’s working a lot, but the films he is doing are horrible. Take for instance; “Snow Dogs” a slightly funny film, but nowhere near an Oscar winners expectations. “Boat Trip” another stinker. The list is long and sad.
How about “Sundance?” Do winners of “Sundance” get the keys to the kingdom, or to a studio apartment in Rancho Cucamunga?
There isn’t a list of just ten actors. There are tons of films, actors, actresses, writers who have never stepped into a film again except at their local triplex. This is the way of Indie films.
“Sundance” along with other huge festivals around the world such as “Cannes” and “Venice” have several films called Indie and tons of films with big budgets and big stars. It boggles the mind as to how someone ever gets a part in a movie, let along a film green lighted.
Below is the explanation of “Slamdance” as stated on Wiki:
- As a year-round organization, Slamdance serves as a showcase for the discovery of new and emerging talent in the film industry; it is also the only major film festival fully programmed by filmmakers. Slamdance counts among its alumni many notable writers and directors who first gained notice at the festival, including Christopher Nolan, Marc Forster, Jared Hess and Oren Peli. The festival takes place each year in Utah at the same time as the Sundance Film Festival, competing to provide what its supporters consider a truer representation of independent film making. Slamdance is especially unique because their feature competition is limited to films made with budgets under $1 million dollars and made by first time directors.
These filmmakers work hard and I’m not saying major directors don’t work as hard. J.J. Abrams, who was just announced as the director of the “Star Wars VII” film probably works harder than most people, period. Yes, it is understood here that teachers work much harder for the money they make. That’s another rant, all together.
Getting your film into a festival can be hard. Getting into “Sundance” takes an act of God, and God’s name isn’t Robert Redford. Redford’s son, Jamie, who had a film at a festival in Vegas a few years back; revealed at the Q&A that he had entered films at “Sundance” three times and did get in once. Others have worse records, but he’s Redford’s son!
The moral of the story is, watch for the films above either in theaters or on other platforms, go and see them. Support indie film. If there is a local festival, go to it. You would be amazed at the awesome films that almost never get an audience.
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