Funny woman Tig Notaro brought her droll comic stylings to Sundance to host the festival’s 2015 awards, which have wrapped.
“Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” took home the night’s big prize, winning the Grand Jury Prize in the US Dramatic slate. “Thsi movie was about processing life, but really about celebrating a beautiful man… my father, through humor,” said director Alfonso Gomez-Rejon. For the third year in a row, the Audience and Grand Jury prizes are shared by the same film.
Magnolia pickup “The Wolfpack” predictably snagged the US Documentary Grand Jury Prize. “I stalked these kids on the street one day, and here I am,” said director Crystal Moselle. “To all those boys, I know you’re watching this, and I fucking love you.”
US Dramatic juror Cary Fukunaga handed the US Dramatic Directing Award to Robert Eggers, definitely nervous, for his detail-obsessed, masterful horror pic “The Witch.” “The thing about this film was how collaborative it was… all of the producers and investors really supported what this film needed in order to make it as good as it needed to be, and I’m so honored.”
“Cartel Land“‘s Matthew Heineman picked up the US Documentary Directing Award, dedicating the prize to victims of “the senseless violence that has perpetuated in the drug wars in Mexico.”
The first-ever U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Editing went to “Dope,” the sprawling, drug-addled teen comedy snapped up by Open Road and Sony early in the fest (the film hits theaters in June). Meanwhile, “Diary of a Teenage Girl“‘s Brandon Trost picked up Cinematography kudos for the sexy ’70s-set coming-of-age comedy. US Dramatic Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award went to “The Stanford Prison Experiment” scribe Tim Talbott, who earlier tonight shared the Alfred P. Sloan prize with director Kyle Patrick Alvarez.
US Dramatic jurors Sarah Flack, Lance Acord and a shaky-seeming Winona Ryder presented the Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision to Jennifer Phang’s future-bending sci-fi “Advantageous.” “This is incredible and we’re just so proud of everyone. It’s an amazing experience and it has taken awhile,” said Phang, whose film imagines a technology that enables humans to start anew– as someone else.
US Documentary jurors Michelle Norris of NPR, cinematographer Kirsten Johnson and Indiewire co-founder Eugene Hernandez spent eight hours in deliberation, awarding Special Jury Award for Cinematography to incisive crime doc “Cartel Land“‘s Matthew Heineman and Matt Porwoll. Also on the Documentary side, the special jury award for Breakout First Feature went to probing FBI terror doc “(T)ERROR.” “This is a horror film in case anybody is asking,” said co-director David Felix Sutcliffe.
“Western” directors the Ross Brothers, all smiles, took home (in absentia) the Special Jury Award for documentary Verite Filmmaking. Social Impact award-winning directors of moving Jordan Davis doc “3 1/2 Minutes” thanked Davis’ parents, who also took to the stage, for supporting this long in-the-works project that examines black lives torn asunder, and a criminal justice case gone horribly awry. “We would not be standing here without the visionaries who put this film together on our behalf. I prayed many nights… but never would have imagined that Jordan’s life as well as his death would mean so much to so many people. It would change the consciousness and prick the souls of our nation,” said Davis’ tearful mother in a moving acceptance speech.
Adam Scott doled out a Competition Audience Award to the documentary “Meru,” whose directors Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi “also made a baby while we made this film.” Kevin Pollak then took to the stage to predictably announce hot Fox Searchlight pickup (to the tune of $4 million) “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl” the winner of the US Dramatic Audience Award. It’s a prototypical Sundance quirkfest tragicomedy that Park City audiences are eating up, as will filmgoers when the film releases this year.
Actor Kevin Corrigan presented the NEXT Audience Award to palpably shocked director Josh Mond’s extremely moving “James White,” starring Christopher Abbott and Cynthia Nixon as a dissolute twentysomething and his cancer-ridden mother. The film was inspired by Mond’s own experiences with his late mother.
The Audience Award for World Documentary went to “Dark Horse,” with no winner, unfortunately, on hand to accept the prize. The Audience Award for World Cinema Dramatic was handed to Bollywood period drama “Umrika” starring “Life of Pi”‘s Suraj Sharma.
World Cinema Dramatic jurors Mia Hansen-Love (whose own “Eden” played Sundance’s Spotlight section this year), Taika Waititi and Col Needham gave “The Second Mother“‘s Regina Case and Camila Mardila the Special Jury Award for acting. Director Anna Muylaert accepted the award on their behalf, noting that the two characters are meant to represent Brazils of old and new. “I hope this inspires women to question the second-class citizen role we still play in our society.” The Special Jury Award for acting was shared by Irish addict drama “Glassland” star Jack Reynor, who thanked Sundance via Skype.
The World Cinema Award for Cinematography went to Germain McMicking for “Partisan,” starring Vincent Cassel as a cult ringleader. “The Summer of Sangaile” director Alanté Kavaïté took the Directing Award. Talked-about Michael Fassbender starrer “Slow West” took the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize. “I wish I could be here to pick up my award. I’m now in Upstate California staring at the world’s largest tree,” read director John MacLean’s thank-you dispatch.
The night is clipping along nicely, as winners are keeping their speeches short. World Cinema Documentary Jurors Ingrid Kopp, Elena Fortes Acosta and the always smoothly intoned Mark Cousins accorded their editing prize to “How to Change the World,” Special Jury Award for Impact to “Pervert Park“ and Special Jury Award for Unparalleled Access to buzzed-about “The Chinese Mayor.” “This is the place where any independent filmmaker can have their voice,” said Zhou Hao upon accepting the award.
The World Cinema Documentary Award went to acclaimed women’s issues doc “Dreamcatcher” directed by Kim Longinotto. “The real award goes to people who are trying to stop human trafficking,” said the winner. The World Cinema Documentary’s Grand Jury Prize went to “The Russian Woodpecker,” Chad Garcia’s inquiry into Chernobyl and the Maidan uprising. “I don’t think we can stop Russia with bombs but with a little art & truth maybe we can make some progress,” said impassioned filmmaker Garcia.
The Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, honoring films with a focus on technology or science, went to director Kyle Patrick Alvarez and screenwriter Tim Talbott for their fact-based US Dramatic Competition entry “The Stanford Prison Experiment.” (Past winners include indie darlings Mike Cahill for “I Origins” and Andrew Bujalski for his critics’ cause célèbre “Computer Chess.”)
Early in the evening, Festival director John Cooper offered lighthearted tribute to Sundance filmmakers: “For us it is like the best date ever. You walked in with style and confidence, you showed us you had a vulnerable side. Our great connection led to amazing sex and in the morning we still had more to talk about. And the best part is, we know each other’s names.”