Debuts From Female Filmmakers Win Three of Sundance 2016’s Top Four Awards

Debuts From Female Filmmakers Win Three of Sundance 2016's Top Four Awards

Three of Sundance 2016’s top four awards were bestowed on feature debuts from women directors

Elyse Steinberg and Josh Kriegman’s “Weiner,” a portrait of disgraced politician Anthony Weiner, took home the U.S. grand jury prize for documentary. Rokhsareh Ghaemmaghami’s “Sonita,” about teenage rapper and anti-child-marriage activist Sonita Alizadeh, earned the jury prize and the audience award for world documentary. (Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Ghaemmaghami.) Elite Zexer’s “Sand Storm,” a drama about a woman contending with her husband’s taking a second wife while her daughter begins a taboo relationship, won the world grand jury prize for narrative features. (Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Zexer.)

Dawn Porter’s “Trapped,” an exposé of the anti-abortion laws that threaten reproductive health and justice for women across the country by chipping away at Roe v. Wade, received a special jury award for social impact filmmaking. (Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Porter.) “Trapped” will open this year’s Athena Film Festival, which will take place on February 18-21 in New York City. 

Here are the female winners of the 2016 Sundance Film Festival’s feature film awards: 

2016 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL FEATURE FILM AWARDS: 
 
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Louis Psihoyos to:
Weiner / U.S.A. (Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg) — With unrestricted access to Anthony Weiner’s New York City mayoral campaign, this film reveals the human story behind the scenes of a high-profile political scandal as it unfolds, and offers an unfiltered look at how much today’s politics is driven by an appetite for spectacle.
  
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Asif Kapadia to:
Sonita / Germany, Iran, Switzerland (Director: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami) — If 18-year-old Sonita had a say, Michael Jackson and Rihanna would be her parents and she’d be a rapper who tells the story of Afghan women and their fate as child brides. She finds out that her family plans to sell her to an unknown husband for $9,000.
 
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Apichatpong Weerasethakul to:
Sand Storm / Israel (Director and screenwriter: Elite Zexer) — When their entire lives are shattered, two Bedouin women struggle to change the unchangeable rules, each in her own individual way. Cast: Lamis Ammar, Ruba Blal-Asfour, Hitham Omari, Khadija Alakel, Jalal Masrwa. 
 
The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented by Rose McGowan to:
Sonita / Germany, Iran, Switzerland (Director: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami) — If 18-year-old Sonita had a say, Michael Jackson and Rihanna would be her parents and she’d be a rapper who tells the story of Afghan women and their fate as child brides. She finds out that her family plans to sell her to an unknown husband for $9,000.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was presented by Jill Lepore to:
Penny Lane and Thom Stylinski for NUTS! / U.S.A. (Director: Penny Lane) — The mostly true story of Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an eccentric genius who built an empire with his goat-testicle impotence cure and a million-watt radio station. Animated reenactments, interviews, archival footage, and one seriously unreliable narrator trace his rise from poverty to celebrity and influence in 1920s America.
 
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for For Social Impact Filmmaking was presented by Simon Kilmurry to:
Trapped / U.S.A. (Director: Dawn Porter) — American abortion clinics are in a fight for survival. Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws are increasingly being passed by states that maintain they ensure women’s safety and health, but as clinics continue to shut their doors, opponents believe the real purpose of these laws is to outlaw abortion.
  
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Individual Performance was presented by Jon Hamm to:
Melanie Lynskey in The Intervention / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Clea DuVall) — A weekend getaway for four couples takes a sharp turn when one of the couples discovers the entire trip was orchestrated to host an intervention on their marriage. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Cobie Smulders, Alia Shawkat, Clea DuVall, Natasha Lyonne, Ben Schwartz. 
  
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Debut Feature was presented by Asif Kapadia to: Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel for their film When Two Worlds Collide / Peru (Directors: Heidi Brandenburg, Mathew Orzel) — An indigenous leader resists the environmental ruin of Amazonian lands by big business. As he is forced into exile and faces 20 years in prison, his quest reveals conflicting visions that shape the fate of the Amazon and the climate future of our world.
 
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was presented by Asif Kapadia to:
Mako Kamitsuna and John Maringouin for We Are X / United Kingdom, U.S.A., Japan (Director: Stephen Kijak) — As glam rock’s most flamboyant survivors, X Japan ignited a musical revolution in Japan during the late ’80s with their melodic metal. Twenty years after their tragic dissolution, X Japan’s leader, Yoshiki, battles with physical and spiritual demons alongside prejudices of the West to bring their music to the world.
 
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting was presented by Fernanda Solórzano to:
Vicky Hernandéz and Manolo Cruz in Between Sea and Land / Colombia (Director: Carlos del Castillo, Screenwriter: Manolo Cruz) — Alberto, who suffers from an illness that binds him into a body that doesn’t obey him, lives with his loving mom, who dedicates her life to him. His sickness impedes him from achieving his greatest dream of knowing the sea, despite one being located just across the street. Cast: Manolo Cruz, Vicky Hernandéz, Viviana Serna, Jorge Cao, Mile Vergara, Javier Sáenz.
 
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Screenwriting was presented by Randall Poster to:
Ana Katz and Inés Bortagaray in Mi Amiga del Parque / Argentina, Uruguay (Director: Ana Katz, Screenwriters: Ana Katz, Inés Bortagaray) — Running away from a bar without paying the bill is just the first adventure for Liz (mother to newborn Nicanor) and Rosa (supposed mother to newborn Clarisa). This budding friendship between nursing mothers starts with the promise of liberation but soon ends up being a dangerous business. Cast: Julieta Zylberberg, Ana Katz, Maricel Álvarez, Mirella Pascual, Malena Figó, Daniel Hendler. 
 
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Unique Vision and Designwas presented by Fernanda Solórzano to: Agnieszka Smoczyńska for The Lure / Poland (Director: Agnieszka Smoczynska, Screenwriter: Robert Bolesto) — Two mermaid sisters, who end up performing at a nightclub, face cruel and bloody choices when one of them falls in love with a beautiful young man. Cast: Marta Mazurek, Michalina Olszanska, Jakub Gierszal, Kinga Preis, Andrzej Konopka, Zygmunt Malanowicz. 

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