This year’s Sundance Film Festival capped off this evening with the fest’s annual awards show, held at Park City, Utah’s own Basin Recreation Field House. The ceremony opened at 7:00PM MT, featuring host (and Sundance premiere “The Incredible Jessica James” star) Jessica Williams shepherding along the festivities in predictably amusing fashion.
Macon Blair’s playful suspense film “I don’t feel at home in this world anymore.” won the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, while the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize went to “Dina.”
“I don’t feel at home in the world anymore.” marks the directorial debut of Blair, previously best known for his acting collaborations with director Jeremy Saulnier (“Blue Ruin”). The movie stars Melanie Lynskey as a woman who embarks on a darkly comic adventure as she seeks out the identity of the person who robbed her apartment, joining forces with her eccentric neighbor (Elijah Wood).
“Dina” is the sophomore effort from “Mala Mala” directors Antonio Santini and Dan Sickles, who focus on the life of Dina Bruno, a woman afflicted with Asperberg’s Syndrome who finds an ideal romantic companion with her financé, Scott.
In her opening speech, Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam addressed the current political state of the country with a series of well-received remarks that culminated with one major takeaway aimed at both artists and fans: “We stand with you and all people risking their lives for their values or seeking refuge.”
Many of the speeches delivered over the course of the evening acknowledged the divisive political situation across the country.
In his acceptance speech, Blair noted that his parents attended the recent Women’s March on Washington, while a similar march took place at Sundance. “Those things were really hopeful for me,” Blair said. “They made me feel really good in the face of all this craven, regressive bullshit going on.”
Actor Gael Garcia Bernal, a member of the U.S. Dramatic Jury, alluded to the current international tensions with the Trump Administration. “Today, especially, I’m from Iraq, from Iran, from Syria, I’m from many other countries as well,” he said. “You know, it’s so obvious that we’re so interdependent, so interconnected with everything we do. We think about each other…I invite you on behalf of everyone from Mexico, to come to Mexico.”
Comedian Larry Wilmore, a member of the U.S. Documentary jury, sounded a similar note of solidarity. “Even though I grew up Catholic, today I am a Muslim, Wilmore said, then joked: “Tomorrow, I have to go to the airport, so I’ll be Catholic again.”
Praising “Dina,” Wilmore added, “Any time when our world seems to be getting darker and more dangerous, this film dares to be simply more beautiful.”
Fellow juror and documentary filmmaker Robert Greene (“Kate Plays Christine”) also hit a topical note. “I texted a few Muslim filmmakers we all know and said, ‘I’m thinking about you,'” he said. “One them wrote back, ‘Keep our friend in mind, because he just arrived to JFK and had been detained.’ I didn’t know what to do. It feels really strange to be in this kind of room, although this is a great group of people. One thing you can do is keep telling stories, which is what we do.”
Winning the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award For Storytelling, director Yance Ford added, “Neutrality helps the oppressor, never the victim. Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented. Sometimes, we must interfere. That moment is now. We must document and prevent our nation from folding in on itself. Each of us must stand together as pillars of fire in the darkness. The time is now. Summon your courage, Gather your cameras. America needs us.”
Meanwhile, filmmaker Eliza Hittman acknowledged the challenges facing women in the film industry while accepting her prize for best director for “Beach Rats,” which new distribution company Neon announced it had acquired moments later. “There’s nothing more taboo in this country than a woman,” she said. “I’m going to work my way through a system that’s completely discriminatory towards women. Hollywood, I’m coming for you.”
Documentarian Jeff Orlowski won the U.S. Documentary Audience Award and acknowledged the film’s alarming perspective on climate change. “Can we have a shoutout for science?” he said. “I don’t want this to be political because climate change and science shouldn’t be political. We want this film to be a tool to as many audiences out there. If you know anyone out there skeptical of climate change, please show them this film. We don’t want to make these films. It’s something we feel have to do.”
Upon winning the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize for the documentary, “Last Men in Aleppo,” the film’s co-director Firas Fayyad took the stage and commented: “We are Syrian. We are not ashamed. We do our best to fight for the freedom of speech, for justice. We do all this to change for the best. We trust in the U.S. people that they can change, that they can fight like our fight.”
Featuring awards judged by six different juries, the ceremony is always a lively, fun and forward-thinking end to the festival. Juries doled out Grand Jury Prizes and were also allowed to bestow special awards (like accolades for directing, writing and acting) as they saw fit. Audience awards, as voted on by film-goers, were also announced at the annual event.
Check out the full list of winners below.
U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize: “I don’t feel at home in this world anymore.”
U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize: “Dina”
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic: “The Nile Hilton Incident”
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize, Documentary: “Last Men in Aleppo”
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award For Inspirational Filmmaking: “Step”
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award For Editing: “Unrest”
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award For Storytelling: “Strong Island”
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award, The Orwell Award: “Icarus”
U.S. Documentary Directing Award: Peter Nicks, “The Force”
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award For Best Cinematography: “Yellow Birds”
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award For Breakthrough Performance: Chante Adams, “Roxanne Roxanne”
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award For Breakthrough Director: Maggie Betts, “Novitiate”
U.S. Dramatic Directing Award: Eliza Hittman, “Beach Rats”
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award For Excellence in Cinematography: “Machines”
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award For Commanding Vision: “Motherland”
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award For Masterful Storytelling: “Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World”
World Cinema Documentary Directing Award: Pascale Lamche, “Winnie”
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award For Cinematography: “Axolotl Overkill”
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award For Cinematic Vision: “Free and Easy”
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award For Screenwriting: “Pop Aye”
World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award: Francis Lee, “God’s Own Country”
U.S. Dramatic Audience Award: “Crown Heights”
U.S. Documentary Audience Award: “Chasing Coral”
World Cinema Audience Award, Dramatic: “Sueno en Otro Idioma (I Dream In Another Language)”
World Cinema Audience Award, Documentary: “Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower”
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: “Ingrid Goes West”
NEXT Audience Award: “Gook”
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize: Alfred P. Sloan Prize: “Marjorie Prime” (previously announced)