Sundance announces 2019 film festival awards
After 10 days and 121 feature films, the 2019 Sundance Film Festival’s Awards Ceremony took place Saturday night, with host Marianna Palka emceeing and jurors presenting 28 prizes for feature filmmaking.
Honorees represent new achievements in global independent storytelling. Bold, intimate, and humanizing stories prevailed across categories, with Grand Jury Prizes awarded to “Clemency” (U.S. Dramatic), “One Child Nation” (U.S. Documentary), “Honeyland” (World Cinema Documentary) and “The Souvenir” (World Cinema Dramatic).
The awards ceremony marked the culmination of the 2019 Festival, where 121 feature-length and 73 short films — selected from 14,259 submissions — were showcased in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance Resort, alongside work in the new Indie Episodic category, panels, music and New Frontier. The ceremony was live-streamed; video is available at youtube.com/sff.
This year’s jurors, invited in recognition of their accomplishments in the arts, technical craft and visionary storytelling, deliberated extensively before presenting awards from the stage; this year’s jurors were Desiree Akhavan, Damien Chazelle, Dennis Lim, Phyllis Nagy, Tessa Thompson, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Yance Ford, Rachel Grady, Jeff Orlowski, Alissa Wilkinson, Jane Campion, Charles Gillibert, Ciro Guerra, Maite Alberdi, Nico Marzano, Véréna Paravel, Young Jean Lee, Carter Smith, Sheila Vand, and Laurie Anderson. Festival Favorite, an award voted on by audiences, will be announced in the coming days.
Feature film award winners in previous years include “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” “I don’t feel at home in this world anymore,” “Weiner,” “Whiplash,” “Fruitvale Station,” “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” “Twenty Feet from Stardom,” “Searching for Sugarman,” “The Square,” “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl,” “Cartel Land,” “The Wolf Pack,” “The Diary of a Teenage Girl,” “Dope,” “Dear White People,” “The Cove” and “Man on Wire.”
Of the 28 prizes awarded tonight to 23 films – comprising the work of 27 filmmakers – 13 (56.5 percent) were directed by one or more women; eight (34.8 percent) were directed by one or more people of color; and one (4.3%) was directed by a person who identifies as LGBTQ.
2019 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL FEATURE FILM AWARDS
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize Documentary was presented by Rachel Grady to Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhangfor “One Child Nation” / China, U.S.A. (Directors Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Producers Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christoph Jörg, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn) — After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize Dramatic was presented by Damien Chazelle to Chinonye Chukwufor “Clemency” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter Chinonye Chukwu, Producers Bronwyn Cornelius, Julian Cautherley, Peter Wong, Timur Bekbosunov) — Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. Cast Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize Documentary was presented by Verena Paravel to Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanovfor “Honeyland” / Macedonia (Directors Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize Dramatic was presented by Jane Campion to Joanna Hoggfor “The Souvenir” / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter Joanna Hogg, Producers Luke Schiller, Joanna Hogg) — A shy film student begins finding her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man. She defies her protective mother and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship which comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams. Cast Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton.
The Audience Award U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was presented by Mark Duplass to “Knock Down the House” / U.S.A. (Director Rachel Lears, Producers Sarah Olson, Robin Blotnick, Rachel Lears) — A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates challenging powerful incumbents in Congress. One of their races will become the most shocking political upset in recent American history. Cast Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The Audience Award U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was presented by Paul Downs Colaizzo to “Brittany Runs A Marathon” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter Paul Downs Colaizzo, Producers Matthew Plouffe, Tobey Maguire, Margot Hand) — A woman living in New York takes control of her life – one city block at a time. Cast Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock, Alice Lee.
The Audience Award World Cinema Documentary was presented by Ray Romano to “Sea of Shadows” / Austria (Director Richard Ladkani, Producers Walter Koehler, Wolfgang Knoepfler) —The vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, is near extinction as its habitat is destroyed by Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia, who harvest the swim bladder of the totoaba fish, the “cocaine of the sea.” Environmental activists, Mexican navy and undercover investigators are fighting back against this illegal multimillion-dollar business.
The Audience Award World Cinema Dramatic was presented by Mark Duplass to “Queen of Hearts” / Denmark (Director May el-Toukhy, Screenwriters Maren Louise Käehne, May el-Toukhy, Producers Caroline Blanco, René Ezra) — A woman jeopardizes both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences. Cast Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh, Magnus Krepper.
The Audience Award NEXT, Presented by Adobe was presented by Danielle Macdonald to “The Infiltrators” / U.S.A. (Directors Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra, Screenwriters Alex Rivera, Aldo Velasco, Producers Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera, Darren Dean) — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowyfor-profit detention center. Cast Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay.
The Directing Award U.S. Documentary was presented by Yance Ford to Steven Bognar and Julia Reichertfor “American Factory” / U.S.A. (Directors Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Producers Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, Julie Parker Benello) — In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.
The Directing Award U.S. Dramatic was presented by Desiree Akhavan to Joe Talbotfor “The Last Black Man” in San Francisco / U.S.A. (Director Joe Talbot, Screenwriters Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Producers Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh) — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.
The Directing Award World Cinema Documentary was presented by Maite Alberdi to Mads Brüggerfor “Cold Case Hammarskjöld” / Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium (Director Mads Brügger, Producers Peter Engel, Andreas Rocksén, Bjarte M. Tveit) — Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Bjorkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjold. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime far worse than killing the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The Directing Award World Cinema Dramatic was presented by Ciro Guerra to Lucía Garibaldifor “The Sharks” / Uruguay, Argentina, Spain (Director and screenwriter Lucía Garibaldi, Producers Pancho Magnou Arnábal, Isabel García) — While a rumor about the presence of sharks in a small beach town distracts residents, 15-year-old Rosina begins to feel an instinct to shorten the distance between her body and Joselo’s. Cast Romina Bentancur, Federico Morosini, Fabián Arenillas, Valeria Lois, Antonella Aquistapache.
The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award U.S. Dramatic was presented by Phyllis Nagy to Pippa Biancofor “Share” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter Pippa Bianco, Producers Carly Hugo, Tyler Byrne, Matt Parker) — After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency was presented by Alissa Wilkinson to Jacqueline Olivefor “Always in Season” / U.S.A. (Director Jacqueline Olive, Producers Jacqueline Olive, Jessica Devaney) — When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award Emerging Filmmaker was presented by Jeff Orlowski to Liza Mandelupfor “Jawline” / U.S.A. (Director Liza Mandelup, Producers Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Hannah Reyer) — The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was presented by Alissa Wilkinson to Todd Douglas Millerfor “APOLLO 11” / U.S.A. (Director Todd Douglas Miller, Producers Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen, Evan Krauss) — A purely archival reconstruction of humanity’s first trip to another world, featuring never-before-seen 70mm footage and never-before-heard audio from the mission.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented by Jeff Orlowski to Luke Lorentzen, “Midnight Family” / Mexico, U.S.A. (Director Luke Lorentzen, Producers Kellen Quinn, Daniela Alatorre, Elena Fortes, Luke Lorentzen) — In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Vision and Craft was presented by Tessa Thompson to Alma Har’el for her film “Honey Boy” / U.S.A. (Director Alma Har’el, Screenwriter Shia LaBeouf, Producers Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Anita Gou, Christopher Leggett, Alma Har’el) — A child TV star and his ex-rodeo clown father face their stormy past through time and cinema. Cast Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Creative Collaboration was presented by Dennis Lim to Director Joe Talbot for his film “The Last Black Man in San Francisco” / U.S.A. (Director Joe Talbot, Screenwriters Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Producers Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh) — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. Cast Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, Danny Glover.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Achievement in Acting was presented by Tessa Thompson to Rhianne Barretofor “Share” / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter Pippa Bianco, Producers Carly Hugo, Tyler Byrne, Matt Parker) — After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for No Borders was presented by Maite Alberdi to Hassan Fazzilifor “Midnight Traveler” / U.S.A., Qatar, United Kingdom, Canada (Director Hassan Fazili, Screenwriter Emelie Mahdavian, Producers Emelie Mahdavian, Su Kim) — When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing their uncertain journey, Fazili shows firsthand the dangers facing refugees seeking asylum and the love shared between a family on the run.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact for Change was presented by Nico Marzano to Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanovfor “Honeyland” / Macedonia (Directors Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented by Nico Marzano to Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljumafor “Honeyland” / Macedonia (Directors Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.
A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Originality was presented by Ciro Guerra to Makoto Nagahisafor “WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES” / Japan (Director and screenwriter Makoto Nagahisa, Producers Taihei Yamanishi, Shinichi Takahashi, Haruki Yokoyama, Haruhiko Hasegawa) — Their parents are dead. They should be sad, but they can’t cry. So they form a kick-ass band. This is the story of four 13-year-olds in search of their emotions. Cast Keita Ninomiya, Satoshi Mizuno, Mondo Okumura, Sena Nakajima.
A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award was presented by Charles Gillbert to Alejandro Landesfor “Monos” / Colombia, Argentina, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Uruguay (Director Alejandro Landes, Screenwriters Alejandro Landes, Alexis Dos Santos, Producers Alejandro Landes, Fernando Epstein, Santiago Zapata, Cristina Landes) — On a faraway mountaintop, eight kids with guns watch over a hostage and a conscripted milk cow. Cast Julianne Nicholson, Moisés Arias, Sofia Buenaventura, Deiby Rueda, Karen Quintero, Laura Castrillón.
A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting was presented by Charles Gillbert to Krystyna Jandafor “Dolce Fine Giornata” / Poland (Director Jacek Borcuch, Screenwriters Jacek Borcuch, Szczepan Twardoch, Producer Marta Habior) — In Tuscany, Maria’s stable family life begins to erode as her relationship with a young immigrant develops against a backdrop of terrorism and eroding democracy.
The NEXT Innovator Prize was presented by juror Laurie Anderson to Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarrafor “The Infiltrators” / U.S.A. (Directors Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra, Screenwriters Alex Rivera, Aldo Velasco, Producers Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera, Darren Dean) — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowyfor-profit detention center. Cast Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay.
For information, visit Sundance.org.
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