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Sundance Film Festival 2012 Award Winners

Movie Sundance by Joey Paur

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival has come to an end, and the winners of the Jury, Audience, and NEXT <=> awards have been announced. There was a great selection of films this year at the festival, and I've seen more good than bad. I'm ultimately happy with the outcome. Beasts of the Southern Wild was this year's most buzzed about film and took home the top Grand Jury Prize. I didn't like it as much as everyone else, but it was still good, and it won. I think it was just way too over hyped for what I ended up seeing. Maybe I would have liked it more had I gone in with no expectations. 

Here's the full breakdown of winners:

Sundance Institute this evening announced the Jury, Audience, NEXT <=> and other special awards of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival at the Festival’s Awards Ceremony in Park City, Utah. An archived video of the ceremony in its entirety is available at Sundance.org/Live.

"Every year the Sundance Film Festival brings to light exciting new directions and fresh voices in independent film, and this year is no different,” said John Cooper, Director of the Sundance Film Festival. “While these awards further distinguish those that have had the most impact on audiences and our jury, the level of talent showcased across the board at the Festival was really impressive, and all are to be congratulated and thanked for sharing their work with us.”

Keri Putnam, Executive Director of Sundance Institute, said, “As we close what was a remarkable 10 days of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival, we look to the year ahead with incredible optimism for the independent film community. As filmmakers continue to push each other to achieve new heights in storytelling we are excited to see what’s next.”

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival Awards presented this evening were:

The Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Charles Ferguson to:

The House I Live In
 / U.S.A. (Director: Eugene Jarecki) — For over 40 years, the War on Drugs has accounted for 45 million arrests, made America the world's largest jailer and damaged poor communities at home and abroad. Yet, drugs are cheaper, purer and more available today than ever. Where did we go wrong and what is the path toward healing?

The Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Justin Lin to:

Beasts of the Southern Wild
 / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar) — Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under, in this tale of a six year old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world. Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry.

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Nick Fraser to:

The Law in These Parts
 / Israel (Director: Ra'anan Alexandrowicz) — Israel's 43-year military legal system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories unfolds through provocative interviews with the system’s architects and historical footage showing the enactment of these laws upon the Palestinian population.

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Julia Ormond to:

Violeta Went to Heaven (Violeta se Fue a Los Cielos)
 / Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Spain (Director: Andrés Wood, Screenwriters: Eliseo Altunaga, Rodrigo Bazaes, Guillermo Calderón, Andrés Wood) — A portrait of famed Chilean singer and folklorist Violeta Parra filled with her musical work, her memories, her loves and her hopes. Cast: Francisca Gavilán, Thomas Durand, Luis Machín, Gabriela Aguilera, Roberto Farías.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura, was presented by Mike Birbiglia to:

The Invisible War
 / U.S.A. (Director: Kirby Dick) — An investigative and powerfully emotional examination of the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military, the institutions that cover up its existence and the profound personal and social consequences that arise from it.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura, was presented by Mike Birbiglia to:

The Surrogate
 / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ben Lewin) — Mark O'Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist in an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he contacts a professional sex surrogate to take him on a journey to manhood. Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy.

The World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary was presented by Edward James Olmos to:

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
 / Sweden, United Kingdom (Director: Malik Bendjelloul) — Rodriguez was the greatest ‘70s US rock icon who never was. Hailed as the greatest recording artist of his generation he disappeared into oblivion – rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away.

The World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic was presented by Edward James Olmos to:

Valley of Saints
 / India, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Musa Syeed) — Gulzar plans to run away from the war and poverty surrounding his village in Kashmir with his best friend, but a beautiful young woman researching the dying lake leads him to contemplate a different future Cast: Gulzar Ahmad Bhat, Mohammed Afzal Sofi, Neelofar Hamid.

The Best of NEXT <=> Audience Award, Presented by Adobe Systems Incorporated, was presented by Tim Heidecker to:

Sleepwalk With Me
 / U.S.A. (Director: Mike Birbiglia, Screenwriters: Mike Birbiglia, Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia, Seth Barrish) — Reluctant to confront his fears of love, honesty, and growing up, a budding standup comedian has both a hilarious and intense struggle with sleepwalking. Cast: Mike Birbiglia, Lauren Ambrose, Carol Kane, James Rebhorn, Cristin Milioti.

The U.S. Directing Award: Documentary was presented by Fenton Bailey to:

The Queen of Versailles
 / U.S.A. (Director: Lauren Greenfield) — Jackie and David were triumphantly constructing the biggest house in America – a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot palace inspired by Versailles – when their timeshare empire falters due to the economic crisis. Their story reveals the innate virtues and flaws of the American Dream.

The U.S. Directing Award: Dramatic was presented by Lynn Shelton to:

Middle Of Nowhere
 / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ava DuVernay) — When her husband is incarcerated, an African-American woman struggles to maintain her marriage and her identity. Cast: Emayatzy Corinealdi, David Oyelowo, Omari Hardwick, Lorraine Touissaint, Edwina Findley.

The World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary was presented by Jean-Marie Teno to:

5 Broken Cameras
 / Palestine, Israel, France (Directors: Emad Burnat, Guy Davidi) — A Palestinian journalist chronicles his village’s resistance to a separation barrier being erected on their land and in the process captures his young son’s lens on the world.

The World Cinema Directing Award: Dramatic was presented by Alexei Popogrebsky to:

Teddy Bear
 / Denmark (Director: Mads Matthiesen, Screenwriters: Mads Matthiesen, Martin Pieter Zandvliet) — Dennis, a painfully shy 38-year-old bodybuilder who lives with his mother, sets off to Thailand in search of love. Cast: Kim Kold, Elsebeth Steentoft, Lamaiporn Sangmanee Hougaard, David Winters, Allan Mogensen.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award was presented by Anthony Mackie to:

Safety Not Guaranteed
 / U.S.A. (Director: Colin Trevorrow, Screenwriter: Derek Connolly) — A trio of magazine employees investigate a classified ad seeking a partner for time travel. One employee develops feelings for the paranoid but compelling loner and seeks to discover what he’s really up to. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Mark Duplass, Jake Johnson, Karan Soni.

The World Cinema Screenwriting Award was presented by Richard Pena to:

Young & Wild
 / Chile (Director: Marialy Rivas, Screenwriters: Marialy Rivas, Camila Gutiérrez, Pedro Peirano, Sebastián Sepúlveda) — 17-year-old Daniela, raised in the bosom of a strict Evangelical family and recently unmasked as a fornicator by her shocked parents, struggles to find her own path to spiritual harmony. Cast: Alicia Rodríguez, Aline Kuppenheim, María Gracia Omegna, Felipe Pinto.

The U.S. Documentary Editing Award was presented by Kim Roberts to:

DETROPIA
 / U.S.A. (Directors: Heidi Ewing, Rachel Grady) — The woes of Detroit are emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base. This is the dramatic story of a city and its people who refuse to leave the building, even as the flames are rising.

The World Cinema Documentary Editing Award was presented by Clara Kim to:

Indie Game: The Movie
 / Canada (Directors: Lisanne Pajot, James Swirsky) — Follow the dramatic journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release those works, and themselves, to the world.

The Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary was presented by Tia Lessin to:

Chasing Ice
 / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Orlowski) — Science, spectacle and human passion mix in this stunningly cinematic portrait as National Geographic photographer James Balog captures time-lapse photography of glaciers over several years providing tangible visual evidence of climate change.

The Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented by Amy Vincent to:

Beasts of the Southern Wild
 / U.S.A. (Director: Benh Zeitlin, Screenwriters: Benh Zeitlin, Lucy Alibar) — Waters gonna rise up, wild animals gonna rerun from the grave, and everything south of the levee is goin’ under, in this tale of a six year old named Hushpuppy, who lives with her daddy at the edge of the world. Cast: Quvenzhané Wallis, Dwight Henry.

The World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary was presented by Jean-Marie Teno to:

Putin's Kiss
 / Denmark (Director: Lise Birk Pedersen) — 19-year-old Marsha is a model spokesperson in a strongly nationalistic Russian youth movement that aims to protect the country from its enemies. When she starts recognizing the organization’s flaws, she must take a stand for or against it.

The World Cinema Cinematography Award: Dramatic was presented by Alexei Popogrebsky to:

My Brother the Devil
 / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Sally El Hosaini) — A pair of British Arab brothers trying to get by in gangland London learn the extraordinary courage it takes to be yourself. Cast: James Floyd, Saïd Taghmaoui, Fady Elsayed.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for an Agent of Change was presented by Heather Croall to:

Love Free or Die
 / U.S.A. (Director: Macky Alston) — One man whose two defining passions are in conflict: An openly gay bishop refuses to leave the Church or the man he loves.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance was presented by Heather Croall to:

Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry
 / U.S.A., China (Director: Alison Klayman) — Renowned Chinese artist and activist Ai Weiwei has garnered international attention as much for his ambitious artwork as his political provocations and increasingly public clashes with the Chinese government.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing was presented by Cliff Martinez to:

Andrea Sperling and Jonathan Schwartz for Smashed and Nobody Walks

Smashed
 / U.S.A. (Director: James Ponsoldt, Screenwriters: Susan Burke, James Ponsoldt) — Kate and Charlie are a young married couple whose bond is built on a mutual love of music, laughter and... drinking. When Kate decides to get sober, her new lifestyle brings troubling issues to the surface and calls into question her relationship with Charlie. Cast: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Aaron Paul, Octavia Spencer, Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally.

Nobody Walks / U.S.A. (Director: Ry Russo-Young, Screenwriters: Lena Dunham, Ry Russo-Young) — Martine, a young artist from New York, is invited into the home of a hip, liberal LA family for a week. Her presence unravels the family’s carefully maintained status quo, and a mess of sexual and emotional entanglements ensues. Cast: John Krasinski, Olivia Thirlby, Rosemarie DeWitt, India Ennenga, Justin Kirk.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting was presented by Cliff Martinez to:

The Surrogate
 / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Ben Lewin) — Mark O'Brien, a 36-year-old poet and journalist in an iron lung, decides he no longer wishes to be a virgin. With the help of his therapist and the guidance of his priest, he contacts a professional sex surrogate to take him on a journey to manhood. Cast: John Hawkes, Helen Hunt, William H. Macy.

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Artistic Vision was presented by Clara Kim to:

Can
 / Turkey (Director and screenwriter: Rasit Celikezer) — A young married couple live happily in Istanbul, but their decision to illegally procure a child threatens their future together. Cast: Selen Uçer, Serdar Orçin, Berkan Demirbag, Erkan Avci.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Prize for its Celebration of the Artistic Spirit was presented by Richard Pena to:

SEARCHING FOR SUGAR MAN
 / Sweden, United Kingdom (Director: Malik Bendjelloul) — Rodriguez was the greatest ‘70s US rock icon who never was. Hailed as the greatest recording artist of his generation he disappeared into oblivion – rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away.

The inaugural Short Film Audience Award, Presented by Yahoo!, based on online voting for nine short films that premiered at the Festival and are currently featured on Yahoo! Screen, was presented to:

The Debutante Hunters (Director: Maria White)
 — In the Lowcountry of South Carolina a group of true Southern belles reveal their more rugged side, providing a glimpse into what drives them to hunt in the wild.

The following awards were presented at separate ceremonies at the Festival:

The Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking was awarded to: FISHING WITHOUT NETS / U.S.A. (Director: Cutter Hodierne, Screenwriters: Cutter Hodierne, John Hibey). The Jury Prize in Short Film, U.S. Fiction was presented to: The Black Balloon / U.S.A. (Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie). The Jury Prize in Short Film, International Fiction was presented to: The Return (Kthimi) / Kosovo (Director: Blerta Zeqiri, Screenwriter: Shefqet Gjocaj). The Jury Prize in Short Film, Non-Fiction was presented to: The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom / U.S.A. (Director: Lucy Walker). The Jury Prize in Animated Short Film was presented to: A Morning Stroll / United Kingdom (Director: Grant Orchard). A Special Jury Award for Comedic Storytelling was presented to: The Arm / U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Brie Larson, Sarah Ramos, Jessie Ennis). A Special Jury Award for Animation Direction was presented to: Robots of Brixton / United Kingdom (Director: Kibwe Tavares).

The winning directors and projects of the Sundance Institute | Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award, in recognition and support of emerging independent filmmakers from around the world, are: Etienne Kallos / Vrystaat (Free State) (South Africa); Ariel Kleiman / Partisan (Australia); Dominga Sotomayor / Tarde Para Morir Joven (Late To Die Young) (Chile); and Shonali Bose / Margarita. With a Straw (India).

The Sundance/NHK International Filmmaker Award, honoring and supporting emerging filmmakers, was presented to Jens Assur, director of the upcoming film Close Far Away.

The inaugural Hilton Worldwide LightStay Sustainability Award for a completed feature film was presented to The Island President, directed by Jon Shenk. The in-process feature film award was presented to Solar Mamas, directed by Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief. Each project received $25,000.

The inaugural Sundance Institute Indian Paintbrush Producer’s Award and $10,000 grant was presented to Dan Janvey and Josh Penn for Beasts of the Southern Wild.

The Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prizes, presented to outstanding feature films focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character, were presented to Robot & Frank, directed by Jake Schreier and written by Christopher Ford, and Valley of Saints, directed and written by Musa Syeed. The two films will split the $20,000 cash award by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival Jurors were: U.S. Documentary Competition: Fenton Bailey, Heather Croall, Charles Ferguson, Tia Lessin, Kim Roberts; U.S. Dramatic Competition: Justin Lin, Anthony Mackie, Cliff Martinez, Lynn Shelton, Amy Vincent; World Cinema Documentary Competition: Nick Fraser, Clara Kim, Jean-Marie Teno; World Cinema Dramatic Competition: Julia Ormond, Richard Pena, Alexei Popogrebsky; Alfred P. Sloan Award: Tracy Day, Helen Fisher, Dr. Robert J. Full, Gwyn Lurie, Alex Rivera; Short Film Competition: Mike Judge, Dee Rees, Shane Smith.

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival presented 117 feature-length films, representing 30 countries by 45 first-time filmmakers, including 24 in competition. These films were selected from 4,042 feature-length film submissions composed of 2,059 U.S. and 1,983 international feature-length films. 91 films at the Festival were world premieres. The Short Film Program was comprised of 64 short films selected from a record 7,675 submissions.

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