Sundance ceremony sweet for ‘Fruitvale’
January 28, 2013
When director Ryan Coogler stepped up to the microphone Saturday night to accept the Sundance Film Festival’s Grand Jury Prize for his film "Fruitvale," he was at a loss for words.
Coogler had already made one acceptance speech for the film when it received the Audience Award, not 10 minutes earlier.
After a shy pause, he said. "When I first made this project, it was about humanity, and how we treat the people we love most and the people we don’t know."
"Fruitvale," which was also written by Coogler, is a film about 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who lives in the San Francisco-Bay Area, and his encounters with various people on Dec. 31, 2008."
"To get this award means that this film has made an impact on those people who have seen it," he said. "I can’t wait to see you all again when this is said and done and I’m much more articulate."
The Awards Ceremony, which celebrated the artistry of independent film, was held at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse and marked the end of the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.
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"Fruitvale" wasn’t the only film to win the Grand Jury and Audience Awards during the ceremony. Steve Hoover’s documentary "Blood Brother" also impressed both audiences and the jurors.
The film is about Rocky Braat, who visited India five years ago and was inspired to stay and work with a group of HIV-positive orphans, and to basically restart his life.
"Sorry, I might cry a little bit," said Hoover, during one of the more touching moments of the ceremony, when he accepted the Grand Jury Prize. "Seeing Rocky’s life blew me away. I’ve known him for years, but when I saw him living, serving and working in India, it blew my mind. It’s an extreme honor to receive this award."
"This is so awesome," said Braat, who accompanied Hoover onto the stage. "Man, it’s encouraging for the kids, because their lives are so challenging. They die and no one remembers their name and there is nothing important about them. To take their stories and (to have) everybody see them get so moved is awesome."
Other filmmakers were also thrilled about their awards that were announced throughout the evening.
"I’ve had a lot of fun," said Georgian director Tinatin Gurchiani, whose received the Directing Award for her documentary "The Machine Which Makes Everything Disappear." "I hope the film is better than my English."
"Thank you Sundance for giving me continued encouragement to have the balls to do this," said director and screenwriter Lake Bell when she picked up the Waldo Salt Screenwriting award for her U.S. Dramatic feature "In a World," which takes place in a family of voice-over actors.
The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award is named after the prolific and award-winning screenwriter who was blacklisted during the McCarthy Era.
Some of the winners weren’t present, but had created video responses.
South Korean director Muel O, whose "Jisuel" was given the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, said in a subtitled video that he "would love to share the honor with the people of the Jeju Island."
The other was a more lighthearted response by director Sebastian Silva, who received the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award for his film "Crystal Fairy."
"I’m really thrilled but I don’t want to give a boring speech," he said before distorting his features on the screen and singing "Hava Nagila."
The ceremony was hosted by actor and Sundance Institute Artist Trustee Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who is not only known for his roles in past Sundance films "Mysterious Skin," "Brick" and "(500) days of Summer," but also premiered his feature-debut film, "Don Jon’s Addiction," during this year’s festival.
"Sundance is a community of people of filmmakers and film lovers who all believe together that there is more to movies than glitz, glamor and money," Gordon-Levitt said during a speech at the beginning of the ceremony. "Movies are much more important than that. In Hollywood you can be made to feel like a freak or pretentious if you consider movies art, and I think it makes a difference to have a community of people who have that in common and can support each other."
Prior to introducing Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam, who recapped the institute’s Mahindra Global Filmmaking Awards that included Aly Murtiba, Eva Weber, Jonas Carpignano and Sarthak Dasgupta, Gordon-Levitt made a point that the Sundance Film Festival Awards isn’t a basketball game.
"There are not winners and losers," he said. "Award shows are fun, and we all love them, but I think that anybody who is here in any capacity with a movie they had anything to do with is amazing and worth applauding. And I’m not just saying that because none of my movies have won any awards."
For more information, visit http://www.sundance.org/festival.