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Sunday, January 28, 2007

2007 Sundance winners (with links to reviews, and info on acquisitions)

Just back from a screening of 'Manda Bala (Send a Bullet),' the amazing documentary that won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance.

Here's the full list of 2007 award winners at the festival (from Sundance's official press release), with a few links to reviews. I've put an asterisk* next to films that have been acquired by distributors as of Saturday:

    The Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was given to MANDA BALA (SEND A BULLET), directed by Jason
    Kohn. In Brazil, known as one of the world's most corrupt and violent countries, MANDA BALA follows a
    politician who uses a frog farm to steal billions of dollars, a wealthy businessman who spends a small
    fortune bulletproofing his cars, and a plastic surgeon who reconstructs the ears of mutilated kidnapping
    victims.

    The Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was given to PADRE NUESTRO, directed by Christopher Zalla. Fleeing a
    criminal past, Juan hops a truck transporting illegal immigrants from Mexico to New York City, where he
    meets Pedro, who is seeking his rich father.

    The World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary was given to ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS (VORES LYKKES
    FJENDER)/Denmark, directed by Eva Mulvad and Anja Al Erhayem. In ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS, Malalai
    Joya, a 28-year-old Afghani woman, redefines the role of women and elected officials in her country with
    her historic 2005 victory in Afghanistan's first democratic parliamentary election in over 30 years.

    The World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic was given to SWEET MUD (ADAMA MESHUGAAT)/Israel,
    directed by Dror Shaul. On a kibbutz in southern Israel in the 1970's, Dvir Avni realizes that his mother is
    mentally ill. In this closed community, bound by rigid rules, Dvir must navigate between the kibbutz motto
    of equality and the stinging reality that his mother has, in effect, been abandoned by the community. (Variety review)

    The Audience Awards are given to both a dramatic and documentary film in the Independent Film
    Competition as voted by Sundance Film Festival audiences. The 2007 Sundance Film Festival Audience
    Awards for the Independent Film Competition are presented by Volkswagen of America, Inc.

    The Audience Award: Documentary was given to HEAR AND NOW, directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky.
    Brodsky tells a deeply personal story about her deaf parents and their radical decision–after 65 years living
    together in silence–to undergo cochlear implant surgery, a procedure that could give them the ability to
    hear. (Variety review)

    The Audience Award: Dramatic was given to GRACE IS GONE*, directed by James C. Strouse. After
    learning that his wife has been killed in Iraq, a father finds the courage to tell his daughters the news
    during a quixotic road trip to an amusement park. (Variety review ... Cinematical review ... Hollywood Reporter review)

    The World Cinema Audience Awards are given to both a dramatic and documentary film in the World
    Cinema Competition as voted by Sundance Film Festival audiences.

    The World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary was given to IN THE SHADOW OF THE
    MOON/United Kingdom*, directed by David Sington. One of the defining passages of American history, the
    Apollo Space Program literally brought the aspirations of a nation to another world. Awe-inspiring footage
    and candid interviews with the astronauts who visited the moon provide unparalleled perspective on the
    precious state of our planet.

    The World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic was given to ONCE/Ireland*, directed by John Carney.
    ONCE is a modern day musical set on the streets of Dublin. Featuring Glen Hansard and his Irish band
    "The Frames," the film tells the story of a busker and an immigrant during an eventful week as they write,
    rehearse and record songs that reveal their unique love story.

    The Directing Awards recognize excellence in directing for dramatic and documentary features.

    The Directing Award: Documentary went to Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, directors of WAR/DANCE. (Variety review)

    The Directing Award: Dramatic was presented to Jeffrey Blitz, director of ROCKET SCIENCE. (Variety review ... Cinematical review)

    The Excellence in Cinematography Awards honor exceptional photography in both a dramatic and
    documentary film at the Festival. Heloisa Passos for MANDA BALA (SEND A BULLET) from the
    Documentary Competition and Benoit Debie for JOSHUA* from the Dramatic Competition received the
    2007 Cinematography Awards. (Variety review of JOSHUA ... Hollywood Reporter review of JOSHUA)

    The Independent Film Competition Documentary Jury presented the Documentary Editing Award to
    editors Hibah Sherif Frisina, Charlton McMillian, and Michael Schweitzer for their work on the film
    NANKING*. (Variety review)

    The Jury for the Independent Film Dramatic Competition presents the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award
    for outstanding achievement in writing. The 2007 prize was given to James C. Strouse for GRACE IS
    GONE*.

    The Documentary Jury presented a Special Jury Prize to NO END IN SIGHT, directed by Charles
    Ferguson, “in recognition of the film as timely work that clearly illuminates the misguided policy decisions
    that have led to the catastrophic quagmire of the U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq.”

    The Jury for the Independent Film Dramatic Competition also presented two special Jury Prizes. Special
    Jury Prizes for Acting were presented to Jess Weixler in TEETH “for a juicy and jaw-dropping
    performance” and to Tamara Podemski in FOUR SHEETS TO THE WIND “for a fully realized physical
    and emotional turn.” The Jury also presented a Special Jury Prize for Singularity of Vision to Chris
    Smith, director of THE POOL. (Hollywood Reporter review of FOUR SHEETS and TEETH ... Cinematical review of TEETH)

    The World Cinema Documentary Competition Jury presented a Special Jury Prize to HOT HOUSE/Israel,
    directed by Shimon Dotan.

    The World Cinema Dramatic Competition Jury presented a Special Jury Prize to THE LEGACY
    (L’HERITAGE)/France directed by Géla Babluani and Temur Babluani. (Variety review)

    The Shorts Jury presented the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking to EVERYTHING WILL BE OK directed
    by Don Hertzfeldt. The Jury Prize in International Short Filmmaking was given to THE TUBE WITH A
    HAT/Romania, directed by Radu Jude. The Shorts Jury awarded Honorable Mentions in Short
    Filmmaking to DEATH TO THE TINMAN, directed by Ray Tintori; THE FIGHTING CHOLITAS,
    directed by Mariam Jobrani; MEN UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER BETTER (MARDHA HAMDIGAR RA
    BEHTAR MIFAHMAND)/Iran, directed by Marjan Alizadeh; MOTODROM/Germany, directed by Joerg
    Wagner; SPITFIRE 944 directed by William Lorton; and t.o.m./United Kingdom, directed by Tom Brown
    and Daniel Gray. The 2007 Sundance Film Festival Short Film Awards are presented by Adobe Systems
    Incorporated. The Shorts Jury also presented a Special Jury Prize to the documentary short film
    FREEHELD, directed by Cynthia Wade.

Only a few of the winners have been acquired thus far: Fox Searchlight is distributing JOSHUA, ThinkFilm is distributing IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON, and The Weinstein Company is distributing GRACE IS GONE.

Looking forward to seeing GRACE and ROCKET SCIENCE tomorrow before I leave...

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