The Sundance Film Festival, a program of the nonprofit Sundance Institute, returned back in person and across the country online for 2023. Whether you gathered in theaters or are joining us from home, the Festival offers the opportunity to be a part of the discovery of stories and artists that will inspire and entertain us for years to come. The 2023 Sundance Film Festival jurors and audiences have voted with the awards announced today during an event at The Ray Theatre in Park City and updated on Sundance Film Festival’s official social accounts. The award-winning films will screen in person and via the online Festival platform on Saturday, January 28, and Sunday, January 29. Tickets for all award-screening films are available beginning at 1:00 p.m. MT today.
The jury and audience-awarded prizes amplify the fearless and dynamic stories across sections, with Grand Jury Prizes awarded to A Thousand and One (U.S. Dramatic), Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project (U.S. Documentary), Scrapper (World Cinema Dramatic), and The Eternal Memory (World Cinema Documentary), and the NEXT Innovator Award presented by Adobe was awarded to KOKOMO CITY.
Voted on by the audience, Radical was granted the Festival Favorite Award. Audience Awards for films in competition were presented by Acura to The Persian Version (U.S. Dramatic) and Beyond Utopia (U.S. Documentary), and presented by United Airlines to Shayda (World Cinema Dramatic) and 20 Days in Mariupol (World Cinema Documentary). KOKOMO CITY won the audience award for NEXT.
Voted on by the audience, Radical was granted the Festival Favorite Award. Audience Awards for films in competition were presented by Acura to The Persian Version (U.S. Dramatic) and Beyond Utopia (U.S. Documentary), and presented by United Airlines to Shayda (World Cinema Dramatic) and 20 Days in Mariupol (World Cinema Documentary). KOKOMO CITY won the audience award for NEXT.
“This year’s Festival has been an extraordinary experience,” said Joana Vicente, Sundance Institute CEO. “The artists that comprise the 2023 Sundance Film Festival have demonstrated a sense of urgency and dedication to excellence in independent film. Today’s award winners highlight our programs’ most impressive achievements in the current moment of cinematic arts. I hope you will join me in congratulating our winners, as well as thanking all artists across sections for sharing their stories with the Sundance community.”
“In addition to acknowledging our artists, I want to thank this year’s jurors for their time and thoughtful consideration,” added Kim Yutani, Sundance Film Festival Director of Programming. “Their efforts help contextualize our artists’ work beyond the Festival program and elevate their stories to new audiences around the globe. The winners themselves represent a diverse mix of bold storytelling, thought-provoking reflections, and critical representations of our world today.”
The awards announcement marks a key point of the 2023 Festival, where 111 feature-length and 64 short films — selected from 15,856 submissions — have been presented in Park City, Salt Lake City, and at the Sundance Resort, while over 75% of the feature films, plus Shorts and Indie Episodics, are available via the Festival’s online platform through Sunday, January 29.
This year’s jurors were: Jeremy O. Harris, Eliza Hittman, and Marlee Matlin for U.S. Dramatic Competition; W. Kamau Bell, Ramona Diaz, and Carla Gutierrez for U.S. Documentary Competition; Shozo Ichiyama, Annemarie Jacir, and Funa Maduka for World Cinema Dramatic Competition; and Karim Amer, Petra Costa, and Alexander Nanau for World Cinema Documentary Competition; Madeleine Olnek for the NEXT competition section; Destin Daniel Cretton, Marie-Louise Khondji, and Deborah Stratman for the Short Film Program Competition.
Feature film award winners in previous years include: Nanny, The Exiles, CODA, Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Flee, Hive, Minari, Boys State, Epicentro, Yalda, A Night for Forgiveness, Clemency, One Child Nation, Honeyland, The Souvenir, 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.
The 2023 Sundance Film Festival awards are:
GRAND JURY PRIZES
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to A.V. Rockwell for A Thousand and One / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: A.V. Rockwell, Producers: Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, Lena Waithe, Rishi Rajani, Brad Weston) — Convinced it’s one last, necessary crime on the path to redemption, unapologetic and free-spirited Inez kidnaps 6-year-old Terry from the foster care system. Holding on to their secret and each other, mother and son set out to reclaim their sense of home, identity, and stability in New York City. Cast: Teyana Taylor, Will Catlett, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, Aaron Kingsley Adetola. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: Never have I seen a life so similar to my own rendered with such nuance and tenderness. I walked out of the theatre and wept in front of people I barely know because this film reached into my gut and pulled from it every emotion I’ve learned to mask in these spaces. As a jury we know how impossible it is to make work that is real, full of pain, and fearless in its rigorous commitment to emotional truth born of oppressive circumstances. It is our honor to award the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic to A Thousand and One.
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson for Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project / U.S.A. (Directors and Producers: Joe Brewster, Michèle Stephenson, Producer: Tommy Oliver) — Intimate vérité, archival footage, and visually innovative treatments of poetry take us on a journey through the dreamscape of legendary poet Nikki Giovanni as she reflects on her life and legacy. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: This film focuses on a singular, unapologetic voice, and through her story it captures the experience of the collective. The strong directorial vision illuminates the joy and the raw reality of the Black experience. Also it is fucking funny. The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary goes to Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to Charlotte Regan for Scrapper/ U.K. (Director and Screenwriter: Charlotte Regan, Producer: Theo Barrowclough) — Georgie is a dreamy 12-year-old girl who lives happily alone in her London flat, filling it with magic. Out of nowhere, her estranged father turns up and forces her to confront reality. Cast: Harris Dickinson, Lola Campbell, Alin Uzun, Ambreen Razia, Olivia Brady, Aylin Tezel. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: A charming and empathetic film full of integrity and life. Scrapper is a poignant study on grief and how the protagonist attempts to shrink her world. Through a child’s eyes, we observe abandonment, detachment and coldness, delivered with love, humor and warmth. The jury was drawn by the honest and sincere performances, strong direction, playful cinematography, and impressive script. The authenticity and command of place and space by the filmmaker and her insistence in creating a world where pain and joy align perfectly delivered a story full of heart and soul. The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic goes to Scrapper.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Maite Alberdi for The Eternal Memory/ Chile (Director and Producer: Maite Alberdi, Producers: Juan de Dios Larraín, Pablo Larraín, Rocío Jadue) — Augusto and Paulina have been together for 25 years. Eight years ago, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. Both fear the day he no longer recognizes her. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: This film opened our hearts by bringing us closer to the meaning of life and death, and the element that threads sense into all of it – love. Through a simple yet complex portrayal of a confinement, it brings us to the lives of these fascinating characters who make us wiser and more loving the longer we stay with them. The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary goes to The Eternal Memory.
FESTIVAL FAVORITE AWARD
Selected by audience votes from the feature films that screened at the 2023 Sundance Film Festival, the Festival Favorite Award was presented to Radical / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Christopher Zalla, Producers: Ben Odell, Eugenio Derbez, Joshua Davis) — In a Mexican border town plagued by neglect, corruption, and violence, a frustrated teacher tries a radical new method to break through his students’ apathy and unlock their curiosity, their potential… and maybe even their genius. Based on a true story. Cast: Eugenio Derbez, Daniel Haddad, Jenifer Trejo, Mia Fernanda Solis, Danilo Guardiola. World Premiere. Fiction. Available online.
The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was awarded to Beyond Utopia / U.S.A. (Director: Madeleine Gavin, Producers: Jana Edelbaum, Rachel Cohen, Sue Mi Terry) — Hidden camera footage augments this perilous high-stakes journey as we embed with families attempting to escape oppression from North Korea, ultimately revealing a world most of us have never seen. World Premiere. Available online.
The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was awarded to The Persian Version / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Maryam Keshavarz, Producers: Anne Carey, Ben Howe, Luca Borghese, Peter Block, Corey Nelson) — When a large Iranian-American family gathers for the patriarch’s heart transplant, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past. Toggling between the United States and Iran over decades, mother and daughter discover they are more alike than they know. Cast: Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bella Warda, Bijan Daneshmand, Shervin Alenabi. World Premiere. Available online.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic, Presented by United Airlines was awarded to Shayda/ Australia (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Noora Niasari, Producer: Vincent Sheehan) — Shayda, a brave Iranian mother, finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her 6-year-old daughter. Over Persian New Year, they take solace in Nowruz rituals and new beginnings, but when her estranged husband re-enters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardized. Cast: Zar Amir Ebrahimi, Osamah Sami, Leah Purcell, Jillian Nguyen, Mojean Aria, Selina Zahednia. World Premiere. Available online.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary, Presented by United Airlines was awarded to 20 Days in Mariupol/ Ukraine (Director and Producer: Mstyslav Chernov, Producers: Michelle Mizner, Raney Aronson-Rath, Derl McCrudden) — As the Russian invasion begins, a team of Ukrainian journalists trapped in the besieged city of Mariupol struggle to continue their work documenting the war’s atrocities. World Premiere. Available online.
The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was awarded to KOKOMO CITY / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: D. Smith, Producers: Harris Doran, Bill Butler) — Four Black transgender sex workers explore the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves, while confronting issues long avoided. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online.
JURY AWARDS FOR DIRECTING, SCREENWRITING & EDITING
The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to Luke Lorentzen for A Still Small Voice / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Luke Lorentzen, Producer: Kellen Quinn) — An aspiring hospital chaplain begins a yearlong residency in spiritual care, only to discover that to successfully tend to her patients, she must look deep within herself. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: This film is a deep dive into grief and the complications of mourning. It has a rigorous and unflinching lens that holds steadfast to the cinematic language the director chose for the film. The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary goes to Luke Lorentzen, A Still Small Voice.
The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Sing J. Lee for The Accidental Getaway Driver / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Sing J. Lee, Screenwriter: Christopher Chen, Producers: Kimberly Steward, Basil Iwanyk, Andy Sorgie, Brendon Boyea, Joseph Hiếu) — During a routine pickup, an elderly Vietnamese cab driver is taken hostage at gunpoint by three recently escaped Orange County convicts. Based on a true story. Cast: Hiệp Trần Nghĩa, Dustin Nguyen, Dali Benssalah, Phi Vũ, Gabrielle Chan. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: The jury was bowled over by this director’s singular vision that merged the grit of a Western crime film and the poetic imagery of Asian New Wave. This hybridized approach revealed the complexities of existing between cultures and evoked an enormous amount of empathy for its protagonist and the true story underneath it from this jury. The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic goes to Sing J. Lee, The Accidental Getaway Driver.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to Anna Hints for Smoke Sauna Sisterhood/ Estonia, France, Iceland (Director: Anna Hints, Producer: Marianne Ostrat) — In the darkness of a smoke sauna, women share their innermost secrets and intimate experiences, washing off the shame trapped in their bodies and regaining their strength through a sense of communion. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: A transcendental story of women that bring us into their bodies, their traumas and their healing. Tales of patriarchy that we have rarely seen on screen come together with cinematic beauty, humor, wisdom and refreshing self-awareness. The directing award goes to Anna Hints, Smoke Sauna Sisterhood.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to Marija Kavtaradze for Slow/ Lithuania, Spain, Sweden (Director and Screenwriter: Marija Kavtaradze, Producer: Marija Razgute) — Dancer Elena and sign language interpreter Dovydas meet and form a beautiful bond. As they dive into a new relationship, they must navigate how to build their own kind of intimacy. Cast: Greta Grinevičiūtė, Kęstutis Cicėnas. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: In this untraditional love story, we follow the journey of two individuals who pose the question: what is desire? Marija Kavtaradze’s expert direction guides her audiences to discover their own answer, which delightfully shifts as each act provokes greater interrogation. Kavtaradze is a poet and an expert weaver, intertwining scenes of provocative movement with more quiet, insightful moments rich in dialogue. It combines to deliver a drama that resonates long after the film ends; a tenderness that lingers in the minds and hearts of viewers. The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic goes to Marija Kavtaradze, Slow.
The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Maryam Keshavarz for The Persian Version / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Maryam Keshavarz, Producers: Anne Carey, Ben Howe, Luca Borghese, Peter Block, Corey Nelson) — When a large Iranian-American family gathers for the patriarch’s heart transplant, a family secret is uncovered that catapults the estranged mother and daughter into an exploration of the past. Toggling between the United States and Iran over decades, mother and daughter discover they are more alike than they know. Cast: Layla Mohammadi, Niousha Noor, Kamand Shafieisabet, Bella Warda, Bijan Daneshmand, Shervin Alenabi. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: We were impressed by the craft of this screenplay that wove together the lives of a fractured family over multiple generations with humor, candor, affection, and verve before surprising us all with the revelation of a family secret that healed past wounds. The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic goes to Maryam Keshavarz, The Persian Version.
The Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to Daniela I. Quiroz for Going Varsity in Mariachi / U.S.A. (Directors: Alejandra Vasquez, Sam Osborn, Producers: James Lawler, Luis A. Miranda, Jr., Julia Pontecorvo) — In the competitive world of high school mariachi, the musicians from the South Texas borderlands reign supreme. Under the guidance of coach Abel Acuña, the teenage captains of Edinburg North High School’s acclaimed team must turn a shoestring budget and diverse crew of inexperienced musicians into state champions. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: A joyful edit that carries the heart of the characters while still exploring difficult and sensitive issues in a delicate and beautiful way. We deeply care for our heroes and the spirit of life on the border. The Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: U.S. Documentary goes to Editor, Daniela I. Quiroz, Going Varsity in Mariachi.
SPECIAL JURY AWARDS
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Ensemble was presented to the cast of Theater Camp / U.S.A. (Directors and Screenwriters: Molly Gordon, Nick Lieberman, Screenwriters: Noah Galvin, Ben Platt, Producers: Erik Feig, Samie Kim Falvey, Julia Hammer, Ryan Heller, Will Ferrell, Jessica Elbaum) — When the beloved founder of a run-down theater camp in upstate New York falls into a coma, the eccentric staff must band together with the founder’s crypto-bro son to keep the camp afloat. Cast: Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison, Ayo Edebiri. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: Creativity does not have to be a torturous, solitary endeavor–it often rarely is. A film is made with a community and those that celebrate that invite new communities to the worlds they have built. As a jury of theatre nerds who felt welcomed back to a place that feels like home it is our pleasure to award the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Ensemble to the cast of Theater Camp. A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Vision was presented to the creative team of Magazine Dreams / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Elijah Bynum, Producers: Jennifer Fox, Dan Gilroy, Jeffrey Soros, Simon Horsman) — An amateur bodybuilder struggles to find human connection as his relentless drive for recognition pushes him to the brink. Cast: Jonathan Majors, Haley Bennett, Taylour Paige, Mike O’Hearn, Harrison Page, Harriet Sansom Harris. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: This immersive film’s relentless tension achieved through the rigorous marriage of light, camera movement, sound, and an overwhelming performance left us all disturbed, yet riveted. It will reverberate through audiences to much debate. The U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Vision goes to the creative team of Magazine Dreams.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting was presented to Lio Mehiel for Mutt / U.S.A. (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Vuk Lungulov-Klotz, Producers: Alexander Stegmaier, Stephen Scott Scarpulla, Jennifer Kuczaj, Joel Michaely) Jury citation:— Over the course of a single hectic day in New York City, three people from Feña’s past are thrust back into his life. Having lost touch since transitioning from female to male, he navigates the new dynamics of old relationships while tackling the day-to-day challenges of living life in between. Cast: Lío Mehiel, Cole Doman, MiMi Ryder, Alejandro Goic. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: We were charmed, seduced, and compelled by this fresh new performer as we watched them navigating the intimate complexities of their everyday life and relationships in his search for acceptance. We award the U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting to Lio Mehiel, Mutt. A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Clarity of Vision was presented to The Stroll / U.S.A. (Directors: Kristen Lovell, Zackary Drucker, Producer: Matt Wolf) — The history of New York’s Meatpacking District, told from the perspective of transgender sex workers who lived and worked there. Filmmaker Kristen Lovell, who walked “The Stroll” for a decade, reunites her community to recount the violence, policing, homelessness, and gentrification they overcame to build a movement for transgender rights. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: It demonstrates an intimate look from the people who have the lived experience. It shows why it is important for the people who are members of the community to be at the helm of their stories. The U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Clarity of Vision goes to The Stroll. A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Freedom of Expression was presented to Bad Press / U.S.A (Directors: Rebecca Landsberry-Baker, Joe Peeler, Producers: Conrad Beilharz, Garrett F. Baker, Tyler Graim) — When the Muscogee Nation suddenly begins censoring its free press, a rogue reporter fights to expose her government’s corruption in a historic battle that will have ramifications for all of Indian country. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: An essential story that is being told at a critical time featuring Indigenous people confronting their own power structures. It shines a light on the fact that even though freedom of expression is enshrined in the constitution, none of us can take it for granted. And it has the best ending line of any documentary. “My name is angel. And there’s a rainbow!” The U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Freedom of Expression award goes to Bad Press.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision was presented to Fantastic Machine/ Sweden, Denmark (Directors and Producers: Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck) — From the first camera to 45 billion cameras worldwide today, the visual sociologist filmmakers widen their lens to expose both humanity’s unique obsession with the camera’s image and the social consequences that lay ahead. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: For sending us on a journey to realize that the invention of image was perhaps one of the most important turning points of our recent history, reshaping radically our inner structure and sense of identity. In a time where everyone is the creator of their own narrative, through image, the film forces, everyone, even us filmmakers, to take a step back and reflect upon our intentions regarding the images we want to put out into the world. It is an artful, hilarious and terrifying homage to the importance of critical thinking. The World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision goes to Fantastic Machine.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Verite Filmmaking was presented to Against the Tide/ India (Director and Producer: Sarvnik Kaur, Producer: Koval Bhatia) — Two friends, both Indigenous fishermen, are driven to desperation by a dying sea. Their friendship begins to fracture as they take very different paths to provide for their struggling families. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: In a time where we are inundated with climate change headlines that seems to not be leading to much change, here is a film that places us in the point of view of two unforgettable protagonists. Their lives, hardships and humor reflect those of billions of people that are most affected by global warming and who are seeing their livelihoods being threatened in its essence. It reminds of the power of verite filmmaking to transport us into the lives of people who might be so distant from us and experience the challenges of their life circumstances first hand. The World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Verite Filmmaking goes to Against the Tide. A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Vision was presented to Sofia Alaoui for Animalia / France, Morocco, Qatar (Director and Screenwriter: Sofia Alaoui, Producers: Margaux Lorier, Toufik Ayadi, Christophe Barral) — A young, pregnant woman finds emancipation as aliens land in Morocco. Cast: Oumaïma Barid, Mehdi Dehbi, Fouad Oughaou. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: In this original story of a woman making her way through a living and breathing landscape, we experience a world turned upside down, of humans in collision with nature and an uncovering of supernatural forces. We were delighted to discover in Sofia Alaoui’s first feature a subversive voice that tackles and interrogates the universe in what is ultimately a journey to simply discover oneself. The World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Vision goes to Sofia Alaoui, Animalia.
A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Cinematography was presented to Lílis Soares for Mami Wata/ Nigeria (Director and Screenwriter: C.J. “Fiery” Obasi, Producer: Oge Obasi) — When the harmony in a village is threatened by outside elements, two sisters must fight to save their people and restore the glory of a mermaid goddess to the land. Cast: Evelyne Ily, Uzoamaka Aniunoh, Kelechi Udegbe, Emeka Amakeze, Rita Edochie, Tough Bone. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: Through each frame, Lilis Soares’ expert lens mesmerized the jury. The richness of the black and white images, combined with the intricate and intimate camerawork of both the performances and natural landscape, elevated this folkloric tale to an intoxicating, visual experience. The World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Cinematography goes to Lílis Soares, Mami Wata. A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Best Performance was presented to Rosa Marchant for When It Melts/ Belgium (Director and Screenwriter: Veerle Baetens, Screenwriter: Maarten Loix, Producers: Bart Van Langendonck, Ellen Havenith, Jacques-Henri Bronckart) — Many years after a sweltering summer that spun out of control, Eva returns to the village she grew up in with an ice block in the back of her car. In the dead of winter, she confronts her past and faces up to her tormentors. Cast: Charlotte De Bruyne, Rosa Marchant. World Premiere. Available online.
Jury citation: For delivering a piercing and resonant performance that haunted the jury for days. She employed a poetic nuance and complexity throughout her interpretation of the role, belying experience well beyond her years. This is an actor to follow and the jury looks forward to watching her command more screens. The World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Best Performance goes to Rosa Marchant, When it Melts.
NEXT INNOVATOR AWARD PRESENTED BY ADOBE
The NEXT Innovator Award presented by Adobe was presented to KOKOMO CITY / U.S.A. (Director and Producer: D. Smith, Producers: Harris Doran, Bill Butler) — Four Black transgender sex workers explore the dichotomy between the Black community and themselves, while confronting issues long avoided. World Premiere. Documentary. Available online.
Jury citation: For taking the traditional “talking heads” documentary structure and opening it up with the use of camera, sound, editing techniques, and imagery to create a dazzling journey with a fluidity that is entirely new. For a groundbreaking presentation of the lives of black trans women sex-workers in black and white, for taking us into their bedrooms and sharing in their incredible vulnerability as we hear their stories, all the while listening with her camera in a way that is electric and alive. For examining the injustice of a world that relegates so many women to a second-class citizenship and the oppressive nature of gender roles for everyone. For making perhaps the funniest movie Sundance has ever shown, and reminding us that the life or death struggle of these women is best understood in their defiant use of humor as a weapon.
The NEXT wave of cinema is the profound use of comedy for serious subject matter, and for bringing us all together with laughter, in a hope that the love we come to feel for the people in this film can result in a larger social transformation. The NEXT Innovator Award goes to KOKOMO CITY directed by D. Smith.
SHORT FILM AWARDS PRESENTED BY SHUTTERSTOCK
Jury prizes for short filmmaking were awarded to:
The Short Film Grand Jury Prize presented by Shutterstock was awarded to When You Left Me On That Boulevard / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Kayla Abuda Galang, Producers: Alifya Ali, David Oconer, Udoy Rahim, Samantha Skinner) — Teenager Ly and her cousins get high before a boisterous family Thanksgiving at their auntie’s house in southeast San Diego in 2006. Cast: Kailyn Dulay, Melissa Arcaya, Elle Rodriguez, Whitney Agustin, Gina May Gimongala, Allan Wayne Anderson. World Premiere. Available Online.
Jury citation: From the first moment, we were fully on board for this rowdy ride. An uproarious take on extended family, irreverence and tradition with incredible attunement to details and frame. This directorial feat of freshness is our enthusiastic choice for the Sundance Grand Jury Short Film Prize goes to When You Left Me On That Boulevard
The Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction presented by Shutterstock was awarded to Rest Stop / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Crystal Kayiza, Producers: Jalena Keane-Lee, Brit Fryer) — On a bus ride from New York to Oklahoma, Meyi, a young Ugandan-American girl, realizes her place in the world through her mother’s ambitious effort to reunite their family. Cast: Leeanna E. Tushabe, Alicia Basiima, Khalid Semakula, Robert Wanyama, Margaret Bisase, Olivia Nantongo. Available Online.
Jury citation: An exquisite song of the ordinary. We were struck by this unhurried portrayal of itinerancy and estrangement. To this deeply American story, we give the Best US Fiction Short Film Award to Rest Stop.
The Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction presented by Shutterstock was awarded to The Kidnapping of the Bride / Germany (Director and Screenwriter: Sophia Mocorrea, Producer: Sarah Valerie Radu) — Luisa from Argentina and Fred from Germany are confronted with their social roles at their wedding. The German tradition of kidnapping the bride shakes the couple’s equality. There is no room for love in this role-play of marriage. Cast: Rai Todoroff, David Bruning, Tatiana Saphir, Anne Kulbatzki, Michaela Winterstein, Niels Bormann. World Premiere. Available Online.
Jury citation: An elegant telling of a relationship caught between worlds. Directed with a honed sense of the ever-shifting dynamics and limits of gender and culture, this film reoriented us, drawing from the power of what’s felt and what’s left unsaid. The Best Intl Fiction Short Film Award goes to The Kidnapping of the Bride.
The Short Film Jury Award: Animation presented by Shutterstock was awarded to The Flying Sailor / Canada (Directors and Producers: Wendy Tilby, Amanda Forbis, Producer: David Christensen) — Two ships collide in a harbor, an explosion shatters a city, and a sailor is blasted skyward, where he soars high above the mayhem and toward the great unknown. Available Online.
Jury citation: This beautiful portrait of both an instant and a life lifted us out of our seats and took us on an emotional, innovative and explosive ride. The Best Animation Short Film Award goes to The Flying Sailor.
The Short Film Jury Award: Non-Fiction presented by Shutterstock was awarded to Will You Look At Me / China (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Shuli Huang) — As a young Chinese filmmaker returns to his hometown in search of himself, a long-overdue conversation with his mother drives them into a quest for acceptance and love. Available Online.
Jury citation: A complex personal journey of a son accepting his mother’s refusal. Enchanting, unpretentious images accompany an unflinching soundtrack to portray both a private self and universal misunderstanding. The Best Non-Fiction Short Film Award goes to Will You Look at Me. A Short Film Special Jury Award, International: Directing presented by Shutterstock was awarded to AliEN0089 / Chile (Director and Screenwriter: Valeria Hofmann, Producers: Augusto Matte, Daniela Camino, Pascual Mena) — While a gamer uploads a testimonial video to denounce the harassment she suffers in a video game, a stranger enters her home and hacks her computer, blurring the boundaries between the real and virtual worlds. Cast: Mariana di Girolamo. World Premiere.
Jury citation: A frightening tale blending online gaming, contemporary politics, and genre elements to create a striking horror story. We give a Short Film Special Jury Award for Directing to AliEN0089. A Short Film Special Jury Award, U.S: Directing presented by Shutterstock was awarded to The Vacation / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Jarreau Carrillo, Producers: Marttise Hill, Julius Pryor) — A Black man attempts to take a vacation. Cast: Drew Harris, Jarreau Carrillo, Ohene Cornelius, Trae Harris. Available Online.
Jury citation: An ingenious reinvention of the chamber-drama as a vehicle for neighborhood dreamers and schemers. For its comic timing and assured direction, we give a Short Film Special Jury Award for Directing to The Vacation.
PREVIOUSLY GRANTED 2023 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS
The 2023 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, presented to an outstanding feature film about science or technology, was presented to The Pod Generation. The filmmakers received a $20,000 cash award from Sundance Institute with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
The Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Nonfiction went to Jess Devaneyfor It’s Only Life After All (Premieres).
The Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Fiction went to Kara Durrett for The Starling Girl (U.S. Dramatic Competition).
The Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Nonfiction went to Mary Manhardt, and the Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Fiction went to Troy Takaki.
The Sundance Institute | NHK Award went to Olive Nwosu for Lady.
Sundance Institute | Stars Collective Imagination Awards went to Tamara Shogaolu for their project 40 Acres, Navid Khonsari, Vassiliki Khonsari, and Andres Perez-Duarte for their project BLOCK PARTY BODEGA, and Vanessa Keith for their project Year 2180.
The Sundance Film Festival® The Sundance Film Festival, a program of the nonprofit, Sundance Institute, is the pre-eminent gathering of original storytellers and audiences seeking new voices and fresh perspectives. Since 1985, hundreds of films launched at the Festival have gone on to gain critical acclaim and reach new audiences worldwide. The Festival has introduced some of the most groundbreaking films and episodic works of the past three decades, including Fire of Love, Cha Cha Real Smooth, Flee, CODA, Passing, Summer Of Soul (…or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised), Clemency, Never Rarely Sometimes Always, Zola, O.J.: Made in America, On The Record, Boys State, The Farewell, Honeyland, One Child Nation, The Souvenir, The Infiltrators, Sorry to Bother You, Top of the Lake, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Mudbound, Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, Brooklyn, Precious, The Cove, Little Miss Sunshine, An Inconvenient Truth, Napoleon Dynamite, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Reservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The program consists of fiction and nonfiction features and short films, series and episodic content, emerging media, and performances, as well as conversations, and other events. The Festival takes place both in person in the state of Utah and online, connecting audiences across the U.S. to bold new artists and films. The 2023 Festival takes place January 19–29. Be a part of the Festival at Sundance Film Festival and follow the Festival at Facebook,Instagram, Twitter, andYouTube.
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Today the nonprofit Sundance Institute announced an additional five world premiere feature films, plus four award-winning feature films from previous Festivals, to the 2023 Sundance Film Festivallineup. The 2023 Festival will take place January 19–29, 2023, in person in Park City, Salt Lake City, and the Sundance Resort, along with a selection of films available online across the country January 24–29, 2023. Single Film Tickets for in-person and online go on sale January 12 at 10 a.m. MT.
The latest feature films world premiering at the upcoming Festival include: Beyond Utopia, playing in the U.S. Documentary Competition section; Earth Mama, Flora and Son, and Past Lives, playing in the Premieres section; and Stephen Curry: Underrated,playing in the Special Screenings section.
Returning to the Festival as Encore Special Screenings are CODA (2021 Sundance Film Festival), Klondike (2022 Sundance Film Festival), Navalny (2022 Sundance Film Festival), and Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) (2021 Sundance Film Festival). This will be the first time these Sundance award winners will screen in person at the Festival in Park City. Encore Special Screenings will screen January 25–27, with many of the filmmakers in attendance for post-screening Q&A’s.
“These five new films round out our program in an exciting and emotional way. They are cinematic experiences that delight, entertain, and keep us on the edge of our seats. The works introduce us to new voices, along with directors we’re excited to welcome back to the Festival,” said Kim Yutani, Sundance Film Festival Director of Programming. “Having four encore films play in Utah is truly a homecoming. While they reached audiences around the world, wherever they were, this year they will return to fuel the energy and excitement at the heart of the Sundance community.”
The Sundance Film Festival is an artist program of the Sundance Institute. Proceeds earned through Festival ticket sales go to uplifting and developing emerging artists on a year-round basis through focused labs, direct grants, fellowships, residencies, and more.
Today’s additions add to the 2023 Festival slate, where 110 feature-length films will screen representing 28 countries, and 45 of 124 (36%) feature film directors are first-time feature filmmakers. 17 of the feature films and projects were supported by Sundance Institute in development through direct granting or residency labs.
98, or 89%, of the Festival’s 110 feature films will be world premieres. Director demographics are available in an editor’s note below. The latest additions to the 2023 Sundance Film Festival by section are: U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION Beyond Utopia / U.S.A. (Director: Madeleine Gavin, Producers: Jana Edelbaum, Rachel Cohen, Sue Mi Terry) — Hidden camera footage augments this perilous high-stakes journey as we embed with families attempting to escape oppression, ultimately revealing a world most of us have never seen. World Premiere. Available online.
PREMIERES Earth Mama / U.S.A (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Savanah Leaf, Producers: Cody Ryder, Shirley O’Connor, Medb Riordan, Sam Bisbee) — A pregnant single mother with two children in foster care embraces her Bay Area community as she fights to reclaim her family.Cast: Tia Nomore, Erika Alexander, Doechii, Sharon Duncan Brewster, Dominic Fike, Bokeem Woodbine.World Premiere. Fiction.
Flora and Son / U.S.A, Ireland (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: John Carney, Producers: Anthony Bregman, Peter Cron, Rebecca O’Flanagan, Robert Walpole) — Single mom Flora is at war with her teenage son, petty thief Max. Encouraged by the police to find Max a hobby, she rescues a beat-up guitar from a dumpster and finds that one person’s trash can be a family’s salvation. Cast: Eve Hewson, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Orén Kinlan, Jack Reynor. World Premiere. Fiction.
Past Lives / U.S.A (Director and Screenwriter: Celine Song, Producers: Christine Vachon, Pamela Koffler, David Hinojosa) — Nora and Hae Sung, two deeply connected childhood friends, are wrest apart after Nora’s family emigrates from South Korea. Two decades later, they are reunited in New York for one fateful week as they confront notions of destiny and love, and the choices that make a life. Cast: Greta Lee, Teo Yoo, John Magaro. World Premiere. Fiction.
SPECIAL SCREENINGS Stephen Curry: Underrated/ U.S.A. (Director and Producer: Peter Nicks, Producers: Ryan Coogler, Erick Peyton) — Stephen Curry is one of the most influential, dynamic, and unexpected players in the history of basketball. Intimate cinematic video, archival footage, and on-camera interviews reveal Curry’s rise from an undersized college player to a four-time NBA champion. World Premiere. Documentary.
ENCORE SPECIAL SCREENINGS
CODA / U.S.A, France (Director and Screenwriter: Siân Heder, Producers: Philippe Rousselet, Fabrice Gianfermi, Patrick Wachsberger) — As a CODA – Child of Deaf Adults – Ruby is the only hearing person in her deaf family. When the family’s fishing business is threatened, Ruby finds herself torn between pursuing her love of music and her fear of abandoning her parents. Cast: Emilia Jones, Eugenio Derbez, Troy Kotsur, Ferdia Walsh-Peelo, Daniel Durant, Marlee Matlin. World Premiered in the 2021 Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Dramatic Competition section, where it won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic, Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, and U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast.
Klondike/ Ukraine, Turkey (Director, Screenwriter, and Producer: Maryna Er Gorbach, Producers: Mehmet Bahadir Er, Sviatoslav BulakovskyI) — The story of a Ukrainian family living on the border of Russia – Ukraine during the start of war. Irka refuses to leave her house even as the village gets captured by armed forces. Shortly after they find themselves at the center of an air crash catastrophe on July 17, 2014. Cast: Oxana Cherkashyna, Sergey Shadrin, Oleg Scherbina, Oleg Shevchuk, Artur Aramyan, Evgenij Efremov. World Premiered in the 2022 Sundance Film Festival’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition section, where it won the Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic.
Navalny / U.S.A. (Director: Daniel Roher, Producers: Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller, Shane Boris) —Anti-authoritarian Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny recovers in Berlin after nearly being poisoned to death with the nerve agent Novichok. He makes shocking discoveries about his assassination attempt and bravely decides to return home – whatever the consequences. World Premiered in the 2022 Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary Competition section, where it won Festival Favorite and the Audience Award: U.S. Documentary.
Summer of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised) / U.S.A. (Director: Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, Producers: David Dinerstein, Robert Fyvolent, Joseph Patel) — An epic event that celebrated Black history, culture, and fashion shines a light on the importance of history and the healing power of music during times of unrest. World Premiered in the 2021 Sundance Film Festival’s U.S. Documentary Competition section, where it won the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary and Audience Award: U.S. Documentary.
The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future requires a lot of deep thinking to truly embrace what the inner message is trying to tell the audience. Francisca Alegria directs and co-writes this beautiful Film that at its core is an allegory for how we are destroying our planet and might die from our own mistakes. As well, the way that the Movie tells its story is so unique and inspiring that its hard not to at least admire what the vision was even if it doesn’t entirely connect with the audience.
Magdalena (Mia Maestro) comes back from the dead, as she is reborn and comes up from the river with fish and singing animals around her. The Film makes sure to use its language sparingly and when it does it is significant, but everything else is surrounded by lore and mythical happenings. There is so much to digest and process throughout the Feature, but it is a wonder to be seen. There is so much beauty, worry, and horrors that are presented throughout the feature that will disturb the audience if the allegory is discovered immediately.
The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future tells us the terrifying reality we live in, that we are separating children from their families, in depictions of the calves and cows going to the milk farm, that we’re killing the environment and one day we’re not going to have much of a planet to live on. Instead of being a drag, and bringing its audience to depression, the beauty of the Cinematography and marvelous performance from Maestro truly makes the Film great. However, if the message doesn’t hit home immediately, its entire message might get lost. The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future is beautiful to look at, and is making a compelling statement, if one can get past the horrors of our reality.
The Cow Who Sang a Song into the Future screens at Sundance as follows: Premiere: Jan 23rd 8:30 pm EST Second screening: Jan 25th 10am EST (24 hours)
Some films make your innards turn, make you squirm and give you the most uncomfortable feelings of all time. These aren’t bad things, it means the movie is doing exactly what it is supposed to do, and Palm Trees and Power Lines does exactly that. Jamie Dack both writes and directs this Feature, and while it is one of the most uncomfortable and cringiest movies that could possibly be seen it will definitely work for some audiences. However, this did not resonate with me, but I understand that this will affect people differently and it is hard to dismiss what does work within the Film.
Lea (Lily McInerny) is your typical 17-year-old girl, who is just endlessly bored with what life has handed her. She’s not interested particularly in what her friends are up to, disrespects her mother, and just kind of floats through life doing what she wants to. As she’s at a diner with some friends, trying to dine and dash, about to be caught, Tom (Jonathan Tucker) emerges and helps her narrowly escape the consequences of his actions. There is something different about Tom, Lea is drawn to him, his smooth talking and way he takes interest in her. However, something darker lurks as it usually does when a man whose in his 30s takes interest in a teenager.
Palm Trees and Power Lines is carried by its powerhouse performances from both McInerny and Tucker. They excel in their performances, shining bright throughout their screen time, with Lily starting off with her boredom being tangible and then her interest and desire to be wanted by Tom. Tucker’s performance as Tom is disturbing, in all the wrong ways. His way to smooth talk and get around her nerves is something truly monstrous. Furthering the advancement of the story and the truly despicable things that happen in this Movie, makes your stomach churn. Palm Trees and Power Lines will resonate with some audiences and make them truly feel sick to their stomach, and others will struggle to resonate and connect to these characters. Depending on where one falls on that resonation, will entirely make or break the experience for them.
Palm Trees and Power Lines screens at Sundance as follows: Premiere screening: Jan 24th at 2:15 pm EST Second screening: Jan 26th 10am EST (24 hours) Award screening: Jan 29th 10am EST (72 hours) Award screening: Jan 30th 10 am EST (48 hours)
Winners at this year’s Sundance Film Festival have been announced and NANNY wins top honours taking the U.S. Grand Jury Prize. The U.S. Grand Jury Prize for Documentary went to THE EXILES.
Audience Awards went to last-minute Festival addition NAVALNY, which centers on Russia’s jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny for U.S. Documentary. It also won the Festival Favourite Award.
Cooper Raiff‘s CHA CHA REAL SMOOTH took the U.S. Dramatic Award. The latter starring Raiff and Dakota Johnson, just sold for $15 million to Apple TV+.
Co-Canadian production FRAMING AGNES picked-up two awards, the Audience Award: NEXT and the NEXT Innovator Award.
Complete list of Winners:
GRAND JURY PRIZES
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to Nikyatu Jusu for Nanny / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Nikyatu Jusu, Producers: Nikkia Moulterie, Daniela Taplin Lundberg) — Aisha is an undocumented nanny working for a privileged couple in New York City. As she prepares for the arrival of the son she left behind in Senegal, a violent supernatural presence invades her reality, threatening the American dream she is painstakingly piecing together. Cast: Anna Diop, Michelle Monaghan, Sinqua Walls, Morgan Spector, Rose Decker, Leslie Uggams.
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Ben Klein and Violet Columbus for The Exiles / U.S.A. (Directors: Ben Klein, Violet Columbus, Producers: Maria Chiu, Ben Klein, Violet Columbus) — Documentarian Christine Choy tracks down three exiled dissidents from the Tiananmen Square massacre, in order to find closure on an abandoned film she began shooting with Renee Tajima-Peña in 1989.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to Alejandro Loayza Grisi for Utama / Bolivia/Uruguay/France (Director and Screenwriter: Alejandro Loayza Grisi, Producers: Santiago Loayza Grisi, Federico Moreira, Marcos Loayza, Jean-Baptiste Bailly-Maitre) — In the Bolivian highlands, an elderly Quechua couple has been living the same daily life for years. When an uncommon long drought threatens their entire way of life, Virginio and his wife Sisa face the dilemma of resisting or being defeated by the environment and time itself. Cast: Jose Calcina, Luisa Quispe, Santos Choque.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Shaunak Sen for All That Breathes / India, U.K. (Director and Producer: Shaunak Sen, Producers: Aman Mann, Teddy Leifer) — Against the darkening backdrop of Delhi’s apocalyptic air and escalating violence, two brothers devote their lives to protect one casualty of the turbulent times: the bird known as the Black Kite.
The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was awarded to Navalny / U.S.A. (Director: Daniel Roher, Producers: Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller, Shane Boris) — Shot as the story unfolded, a fly-on-the-wall documentary thriller about anti-authoritarian Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Recovering in Berlin after nearly being poisoned to death with the nerve agent Novichok, Navalny makes shocking discoveries about his assassination attempt and bravely decides to return home – whatever the consequences.
The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was awarded to Cha Cha Real Smooth / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Cooper Raiff, Producers: Dakota Johnson, Ro Donnelly, Erik Feig, Jessica Switch, Cooper Raiff) — A directionless college graduate embarks on a relationship with a young mom and her teenage daughter while learning the boundaries of his new bar mitzvah party-starting gig. Cast: Dakota Johnson, Cooper Raiff, Vanessa Burghardt, Evan Assante, Brad Garrett, Leslie Mann.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was awarded to Girl Picture / Finland (Director: Alli Haapasalo, Screenwriters: Ilona Ahti, Daniela Hakulinen, Producers: Leila Lyytikäinen, Elina Pohjola) — Mimmi, Emma and Rönkkö are girls at the cusp of womanhood, trying to draw their own contours. In three consecutive Fridays two of them experience the earth moving effects of falling in love, while the third goes on a quest to find something she’s never experienced before: pleasure. Cast: Aamu Milonoff, Eleonoora Kauhanen, Linnea Leino.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was awarded to The Territory / Brazil/Denmark/United States (Director: Alex Pritz, Producers: Will N. Miller, Sigrid Dyekjær, Lizzie Gillett, Anonymous) — When a network of Brazilian farmers seizes a protected area of the Amazon rainforest, a young Indigenous leader and his mentor must fight back in defense of the land and an uncontacted group living deep within the forest.
The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was awarded to Framing Agnes / Canada, U.S.A. (Director: Chase Joynt, Producers: Samantha Curley, Shant Joshi, Chase Joynt) — After discovering case files from a 1950s gender clinic, a cast of transgender actors turn a talk show inside out to confront the legacy of a young trans woman forced to choose between honesty and access.
FESTIVAL FAVORITE AWARD
Selected by audience votes from the 84 features screened at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, the Festival Favorite Award was presented to Navalny / U.S.A. (Director: Daniel Roher, Producers: Odessa Rae, Diane Becker, Melanie Miller, Shane Boris) — Shot as the story unfolded, a fly-on-the-wall documentary thriller about anti-authoritarian Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Recovering in Berlin after nearly being poisoned to death with the nerve agent Novichok, Navalny makes shocking discoveries about his assassination attempt and bravely decides to return home – whatever the consequences.
JURY AWARDS FOR DIRECTING, SCREENWRITING & EDITING
The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to Reid Davenport for I Didn’t See You There / U.S.A. (Director: Reid Davenport, Producer: Keith Wilson) — Spurred by the spectacle of a circus tent that goes up outside his Oakland apartment, a disabled filmmaker launches into an unflinching meditation on freakdom, (in)visibility, and the pursuit of individual agency.
The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Jamie Dack for Palm Trees and Power Lines / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Jamie Dack, Screenwriter: Audrey Findlay, Producers: Leah Chen Baker, Jamie Dack) — Seventeen-year-old Lea spends her summer aimlessly tanning with her best friend, tiptoeing around her fragile mother, and getting stoned with a group of boys from school. This monotony is disrupted by an encounter with Tom, a man twice her age, who promises an alternative to Lea’s unsatisfying adolescent life. Cast: Lily McInerny, Jonathan Tucker, Gretchen Mol.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to Simon Lereng Wilmont for A House Made Of Splinters / Denmark (Director: Simon Lereng Wilmont, Producer: Monica Hellström) — In Eastern Ukraine, follow the daily life of children and staff in a special kind of home: an institution for children who have been removed from their homes while awaiting court custody decisions. Staff do their best to make the time children have there safe and supportive.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to Maryna Er Gorbach for KLONDIKE / Ukraine/Turkey (Director and Screenwriter: Maryna Er Gorbach, Producers: Maryna Er Gorbach, Mehmet Bahadir Er, Sviatoslav BulakovskyI) — The story of a Ukrainian family living on the border of Russia – Ukraine during the start of war. Irka refuses to leave her house even as the village gets captured by armed forces. Shortly after they find themselves at the center of an air crash catastrophe on July 17, 2014. Cast: Oxana Cherkashyna, Sergey Shadrin, Oleg Scherbina, Oleg Shevchuk, Artur Aramyan, Evgenij Efremov.
The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award:U.S. Dramatic was presented to K.D. Dávila for Emergency / U.S.A. (Director: Carey Williams, Screenwriter: KD Davila, Producers: Marty Bowen, Isaac Klausner, John Fischer) — Ready for a night of partying, a group of Black and Latino college students must weigh the pros and cons of calling the police when faced with an unusual emergency. Cast: RJ Cyler, Donald Watkins, Sebastian Chacon, Sabrina Carpenter.
The Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to Erin Casper and Jocelyne Chaput for Fire Of Love / U.S.A. (Director: Sara Dosa, Producers: Shane Boris, Ina Fichman, Sara Dosa) — Intrepid scientists and lovers Katia & Maurice Krafft died in a volcanic explosion doing the very thing that brought them together: unraveling the mysteries of volcanoes by capturing the most explosive imagery ever recorded. A doomed love triangle between Katia, Maurice and volcanoes, told through their archival footage.
SPECIAL JURY AWARDS
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Uncompromising Artistic Vision was presented to Bradley Rust Gray for blood / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Bradley Rust Gray, Producers: David Urrutia, Bradley Rust Gray, So Yong Kim, Elika Portnoy, Alex Orlovsky, Jonathon Komack Martin) — After the death of her husband, a young woman travels to Japan where she finds solace in an old friend. But when comforting turns to affection, she realizes she must give herself permission before she can fall in love again. Cast: Carla Juri, Takashi Ueno, Gustaf Skarsgård, Futaba Okazaki, Issey Ogata.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Ensemble Cast was presented to John Boyega, Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, London Covington, and Michael K Williams for 892 / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Abi Damaris Corbin, Screenwriter: Kwame Kwei-Armah, Producers: Ashley Levinson, Salman Al-Rashid, Sam Frohman, Kevin Turen, Mackenzie Fargo) — When Brian Brown-Easley’s disability check fails to materialize from Veterans Affairs, he finds himself on the brink of homelessness and breaking his daughter’s heart. No other options, he walks into a Wells Fargo Bank and says “I’ve got a bomb.“ Cast: John Boyega, Michael Kenneth Williams, Nicole Beharie, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, Selenis Leyva.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change was presented to Aftershock / / U.S.A. (Directors and Producers: Paula Eiselt, Tonya Lewis Lee) — Following the preventable deaths of their partners due to childbirth complications, two bereaved fathers galvanize activists, birth-workers and physicians to reckon with one of the most pressing American crises of our time – the U.S. maternal health crisis.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Creative Vision was presented to Descendant / U.S.A. (Director: Margaret Brown, Producers: Essie Chambers, Kyle Martin) — Clotilda, the last known ship carrying enslaved Africans to the United States, arrived in Alabama 40 years after African slave trading became a capital offense. It was promptly burned, and its existence denied. After a century shrouded in secrecy and speculation, descendants of the Clotilda’s survivors are reclaiming their story.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Documentary Craft was presented to The Territory / Brazil/Denmark/United States (Director: Alex Pritz, Producers: Will N. Miller, Sigrid Dyekjær, Lizzie Gillett, Anonymous) — When a network of Brazilian farmers seizes a protected area of the Amazon rainforest, a young Indigenous leader and his mentor must fight back in defense of the land and an uncontacted group living deep within the forest.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Excellence In VeritéFilmmaking was presented to Midwives / Myanmar (Director: Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing, Producers: Bob Moore, Ulla Lehman, Mila Aung-Thwin, Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing) — Two midwives work side-by-side in a makeshift clinic in Myanmar.
A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Innovative Spirit was presented for Leonor Will Never Die / Philippines (Director and Screenwriter: Martika Ramirez Escobar, Producers: Monster Jimenez, Mario Cornejo) — Fiction and reality blur when Leonor, a retired filmmaker, falls into a coma after a television lands on her head, compelling her to become the action hero of her unfinished screenplay. Cast: Sheila Francisco, Bong Cabrera, Rocky Salumbides, Anthony Falcon.
A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting was presented to Teresa Sánchez for Dos Estaciones / Mexico (Director and Screenwriter: Juan Pablo González, Screenwriters: Ana Isabel Fernández, Ilana Coleman, Producers: Jamie Gonçalves, Ilana Coleman, Bruna Haddad, Makena Buchanan) — In the bucolic hills of Mexico’s Jalisco highlands, iron-willed businesswoman Maria Garcia fights the impending collapse of her tequila factory. Cast: Teresa Sánchez, Tatín Vera, Rafaela Fuentes, Manuel García-Rulfo.
NEXT INNOVATOR AWARD PRESENTED BY ADOBE
The NEXT Innovator Award presented by Adobe was presented to Chase Joynt for Framing Agnes / Canada, U.S.A. (Director: Chase Joynt, Producers: Samantha Curley, Shant Joshi, Chase Joynt) — After discovering case files from a 1950s gender clinic, a cast of transgender actors turn a talk show inside out to confront the legacy of a young trans woman forced to choose between honesty and access.
SHORT FILM AWARDS PRESENTED BY XRM Media
Jury prizes for short filmmaking were awarded to:
The Short Film Grand Jury Prize was awarded to The Headhunter’s Daughter / Philippines (Director and Screenwriter: Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan, Producer: Hannah Schierbeek) — Leaving her family behind, Lynn traverses the harrowing roads of the Cordilleran highlands to try her luck in the city as a country singer. Cast: Ammin Acha-ur.
The Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction was awarded to Walter Thompson-Hernández for IF I GO WILL THEY MISS ME / U.S.A. (Director and Screenwriter: Walter Thompson-Hernández, Producer: Stuart McIntyre) — Lil’ Ant is obsessed with Pegasus, the Greek mythological character, since first learning about him at school in Watts, California. He begins to notice imaginary airplane people around his home, and yearns to fly with them. Cast: Anthony Harris Jr.
The Short Film Jury Award:International Fiction was awarded to Dania Bdeir for Warsha / France/Lebanon (Director and Screenwriter: Dania Bdeir, Producer: Coralie Dias) — A Syrian migrant working as a crane operator in Beirut volunteers to cover a shift on one of the most dangerous cranes, where he is able to find his freedom. Cast: Khansa.
The Short Film Jury Award: Nonfiction was awarded to Samir Karahoda for Displaced / Kosovo (Director and Screenwriter: Samir Karahoda, Producer: Eroll Bilibani) — In postwar Kosovo, driven to keep their beloved sport table tennis alive, two local players wander from one obscure location to another carrying with them their club’s only possession: their tables.
The Short Film Jury Award: Animation was awarded to Joe Hsieh for Night Bus / Taiwan (Director and Screenwriter: Joe Hsieh, Producers: Wan Lin Lee, Joe Hsieh, Joe Chan) — On a late-night bus, a panicked scream shatters the night’s calm. A necklace is stolen, followed by a tragic and fatal road accident. The series of intriguing events that follows reveal love, hatred, and vengeance. Cast: Shu Fang Chen, Ming Hsiu Tsai, Yu Fang Lee, Shing Ming Wang, Shang Sing Guo, Pi Li Yeh.
A Short Film Special Jury Award: Ensemble Cast was presented to Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro, and Lorre Motta for A wild patience has taken me here / Brazil (Director and Screenwriter: Érica Sarmet, Producers: Lívia Perez, Silvia Sobral, Érica Sarmet) — Tired of loneliness, a middle aged motorcyclist goes to a lesbian party for the first time. There she meets four young queers who share their home and affections. An encounter of generations, a tribute to those who brought us here. Cast: Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro, Lorre Motta.
A Short Film Special Jury Award: Screenwriting was awarded to Sara Driver for Stranger Than Rotterdamwith Sara Driver / United States (Directors: Lewie Kloster, Noah Kloster, Screenwriter: Sara Driver) — In 1982, the completion of Jim Jarmusch’s sophomore film, Stranger Than Paradise, hinged on producer Sara Driver’s willingness and ability to smuggle one of the world’s rarest and most controversial films across the Atlantic Ocean.
EARLIER SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AWARDS
The 2022 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, presented to an outstanding feature film about science or technology, was presented to After Yang. The filmmakers received a $20,000 cash award from Sundance Institute with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
The Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Nonfiction went to Su Kim for Free Chol Soo Lee (U.S. Documentary Competition).
The Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Fiction went to Amanda MarshallGod’s Country (Premieres).
The Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Nonfiction went to Toby Shimin, and the Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Fiction went to Dody Dorn.
The Sundance Institute | NHK Award went to Hasan Hadi for his film The President’s Cake.
Sarah Jo (Kristine Froseth) is a naïve 26-year-old caregiver with shockingly little knowledge about sex, likely due to a trauma she suffered nearly ten years prior. She begins a sexual relationship with the father of one of her clients, which ends even quicker than it began, but wants to continue learning more about her sexuality and desires. So Sarah Jo makes an alphabetical list of positions and scenarios she wants to experience – and she is dedicated to checking them all off.
In only her second Feature film, Writer/Director/Actor Lena Dunham has crafted another project that is sex-positive and holds nothing back. The dialogue and storyline are exactly what you would expect from the award-winning Artist behind HBO’s Girls, and is just as divisive as you expect too. She is not trying to gain new fans here or change any opinions you might have of her. After so many years in the business, the honesty and frank depiction of sexuality in her work speaks for itself, and she continues to be a true “love it or hate it” icon. I admire that she does not let any of that controversial baggage get the best of her in Sharp Stick, and that she continues to speak for a generation with her graphic and humorous innuendos and flourishes (and really appreciated how natural the Covid integrations were throughout the Film). Yet I feel like she does not fully know what she wants to say here, despite how personal the project obviously is to her. By the time the Film concludes, it feels more like two very different storylines smashed together as opposed to one cohesive picture, and the all-too short runtime does not allow Dunham any time to examine what is really going on with Sarah Jo.
All of that said, Dunham has put together an eclectic ensemble to tell this story, with standout turns from Jon Bernthal, Zola’sTaylour Paige, Jennifer Jason Leigh and an absolutely uninhibited Scott Speedman. They all help prop-up Froseth’s great performance that straddles the line between innocence and maturity. She goes all in here, accurately capturing Dunham’s voice. I wish the Film were as strong as she is.
SHARP STICK screens at Sundance as follows:
PREMIERE Jan 22 8:30PM EST Available Until Jan 22 11:30PM EST
SECOND SCREENING Jan 24 10:00AM EST Available Until Jan 25 10:00AM EST
Emily (Aubrey Plaza) has a checkered past and her debts are mounting up. With prior arrests and charges on her record, well-paying jobs are hard to come by. When a friend at her catering job gives her a number to help with money, Emily lands herself in the middle of a credit card scam that proves to be just as lucrative as it is dangerous.
EMILY THE CRIMINAL is one of the most intense and thrilling movies of this year’s Festival. Full stop. First-time feature Writer/Director John Patton Ford has created one hell of a debut Feature, anchored by an unforgettable and unpredictable performance from Plaza. We know how strong and bold of an Actor she is, and she goes all in on that persona with Emily. She knows what she wants, and she will not let anyone stand in the way of her achieving her goals – even when her careless actions put her in immediate danger. The sheer raw brutality on display here will keep you on the edge of your seat, lending a gritty aura that hovers over the Film like a washed out haze. The feeling of dread and fear is palpable, and even with a second half turn slowing things down, you simply cannot look away from the dystopic world Emily inhabits.
Supporting turns from Theo Rossi (of Sons of Anarchy) and scene-stealer Gina Gershon are great, but they stand no chance of competing with Plaza. She is captivating and genuinely electric. You want her to succeed, even when she is or at least should be failing. Her harsh New Jersey accent is still ringing in my ears. I cannot wait for more people to experience this terrifying ride, and am looking forward to this being another stop on Plaza’s road to mega stardom.
EMILY THE CRIMINAL screens at Sundance as follows:
PREMIERE Jan 24 5:15 PM EST Available Until Jan 24 8:15PM EST
SECOND SCREENING Jan 26 10:00AM EST Available Until Jan 27 10:00AM EST
Young widow Chloe (Carla Juri) travels to Japan for work where she’s welcomed by an old friend, Toshi (Takashi Ueno). Chloe wanders this unfamiliar landscape and creates bonds with people along the way.
Writer/Director Bradley Rust Gray’s latest Feature is a meditation on grief and learning how to feel again. His Script follows Chloe as she builds relationships with people in Japan, even though there are language barriers involved for all. One of the most touching relationships is shared with Yatsuro (Issei Ogata). He’s an elderly man whose wife is battling breast cancer. It’s a touching relationship as they share a similar yet different experience.
Gray’s long takes capture something beautiful happening with every frame. The unhurried pacing mimics Chloe’s slow process of learning and allowing herself to live and love again. The relationships she builds bring her closer to feeling again, particularly in the bond she shares with Toshi.
blood is concerned with capturing an experience. Due to this, it’s anchored in its lead character. Juri is exquisite in every frame. Most of the time, she’s listening to people speak in a language she doesn’t fully understand. It’s captivating to watch her simply exist in Chloe’s skin as she navigates her new world.
blood screens virtually at Sundance:
Premiere: Jan. 24 at 5PM EST
Second Screening: Jan. 26 at 10AM EST (available for 24hrs)
Writer/Director Carlota Pereda’s daring Feature debut is a twisted revenge against bullies tale.
In a small Spanish town, teenager Sara (Laura Galán) spends her summer days working at her parents’ butcher shop. The days are anything but fun, as the teenagers in the town incessantly bully her. Going so far as calling her family the “Three Little Pigs”. When a serial killer arrives in their town and takes a liking to Sara, she has a choice to make: side with the maniac who’s tormenting her bullies, or save them.
Piggy is a cautionary tale for bullies everywhere and doubles as a revenge fantasy for those who have been bullied. Pereda dives us into this world and immediately makes us side with Sara. We feel her pain from the very first spiteful remark laid upon her. In achieving this, Pereda has placed us in Sara’s position. Making us become conflicted as to what Sara will…and should do.
The emotional journey we go on with Sara works thanks to Galán’s fierce performance. She captivates at every turn with each thought conveyed through her eyes. She shows the confusion Sara feels about this sadistic killer and her bullies.
Overall, Piggy is a daring and rare film with a strong lead performance and a story with an impactful message. As a genre film is doesn’t disappoint.
Piggy screens virtually at Sundance: Premiere: Jan. 24 at 11PM EST
Second Screening: Jan. 26 at 10AM EST (available for 24hrs)
Julian Higgins’ Feature debut follows Sandra (Thandiwe Newton) in the direct aftermath of her mother’s passing. Over the course of seven days, the increasing environment of racism and misogyny brings Sandra to a boiling point.
God’s Country is a slow-burn pressure-cooker of a film that will have you on the edge of your seat. Higgins creates tension in every frame as we follow Sandra’s grieving process and determination to be taken seriously in a world against her. The anxiety-inducing music by DeAndre James Allen-Toole adds to this unnerving atmosphere making for one intense viewing experience.
At the heart of the Film is a captivating character study that rests on Newton’s sturdy shoulders. She gives a tour-de-force performance perfectly exposing the grieving process. While Sandra’s mourning, a confrontation with two hunters who trespass on their property increases her grief and anger. Higgins and co-writer Shaye Ogbonna have created a grossly understated character. Newton plays into this understatement allowing for one surprising, riveting performance.
God’s Country screens virtually at Sundance: Premiere: Jan. 23 at 11PM EST
Second Screening: Jan. 25 at 10AM (available for 24hrs)