And the Envelope, Please…
Thirty-four films were awarded prizes in 29 categories, honoring both veteran and first-time filmmakers from the U.S. to Spain, Cambodia, and beyond.
From a spare, gothic-realist thriller (Winter’s Bone, Grand Jury Prize Winner: Dramatic) to a stylized Australian crime thriller (Animal Kingdom, World Cinema Jury Prize: Drama), and from a visceral, soldier’s-eye-view of war (Restrepo, Grand Jury Prize: Documentary) to a gonzo non-fiction satire (The Red Chapel, World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary), the Festival’s top jury award-winners represent a great diversity of style, form, and subject matter. This year’s audience award-winners are no different, ranging from social issue exposés (Waste Land and WAITING FOR SUPERMAN) to a Peruvian love story (Contracorriente) and an urbane American comedy (happythankyoumoreplease).
First-year Festival Director John Cooper had branded the 2010 Festival a reboot, calling for a return to the Festival’s rebellious roots, and the diversity of tonight’s winners would seem to move toward satisfying that mission and complicate received notions of the homogenous "Sundance film." As he did throughout the week, Cooper brought a free-spirited levity to the ceremony. He joined Master of Ceremonies David Hyde Pierce onstage for a cheeky Festival name-check to the tune of the Black Eyed Peas’ "Boom Boom Pow." "I'm on the Skateland boom, y'all hear the Space Tourists zoom," Pierce rapped. "When I step inside the room, I make James Franco swoon." When the mugging was over, Pierce dead-panned that the Festival founder was to blame. "It was Redford’s idea," he said.
Presenting the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic, actress and juror Parker Posey effused over Winter’s Bone. "If it doesn’t get attention and respect I’m going to stab myself," she said. "We gotta support movies like this." Earlier in the evening, writer-director Debra Granik and her co-screenwriter Anne Rosellini took home the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award. And even earlier in the day, Winter’s Bone was acquired for U.S. Distribution by Roadside Attractions.
Accepting the Grand Jury Prize: Documentary for Restrepo, veteran journalists and first-time filmmakers Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington honored both their immediate subjects – the soldiers they filmed in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley – and others who’ve fought overseas. "I’d like to dedicate the prize to the Restrepo generation," Hetherington said, "and to the hundreds of thousands of men and women who come back after serving this country and are invisible."
Mads Brügger, whose daring satire The Red Chapel won the World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary, introduced his film’s stars as, "the Laurel and Hardy of Danish-Korean comedians." Simon Jul Jørgensen, the straight man of the duo, spoke of the impact that a film like Brügger’s can have. "Weapons are not the most powerful and fearsome weapons in the world," he said. "It’s humor."
Comedian Louis C.K., whose film Louis C.K.: Hilarious screened out of competition at this year’s Festival, was on hand to introduce presenters for the audience awards. He joked that it was irresponsible for people to pay for movies in such a dire economy, but also made a frank recommendation to Hollywood. "Everybody hates all movies that they pay to see," he said. "If you replaced them with movies from the Sundance Film Festival, people would love them."
Josh Radnor, writer-director for Audience Award: Dramatic winner Happythankyoumoreplease, countered the perception that his charming crowd-pleaser didn’t fit into the Festival’s call for a "cinematic rebellion." "I think it is rebellious," he said, "because it’s about people saying no to cynicism, and saying yes to love."
Sounding genuinely surprised and humbled, veteran actor Mark Ruffalo took the stage to accept a Special Jury Prize: Dramatic for his debut film, Sympathy for Delicious. "I am so proud to be out here with all these filmmakers," he said. "This is a place where we can be free. In a world that’s printed on dollar bills, we get to come here and do something that’s a little bit outside of the norm."
3 Backyards filmmaker Eric Mendelsohn won the unofficial prize for longest speech of the night. Returning to win the same directing prize he’d won 11 years prior for Judy Berlin, Mendelsohn thanked his cast and crew, his students and colleagues at Columbia University, his "countrymen" in the film industry, and the rejuvenated Festival. "In my mind Robert Redford is single-handedly doing what other governments do for filmmakers," he said. "Also, my mother would want to say that ever since The Way We Were, he can do no wrong." Before the stage was dismantled to make way for a celebratory dance party, Pierce concluded the ceremony with a simple exhortation. "Keep questioning," he said. "Keep making films that speak to us."
Grand Jury Prize: Documentary – Sebastien Junger and Tim Hetherington, Restrepo
Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic – Debra Granik, Winter’s Bone
World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary – Mads Brügger, The Red Chapel
World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic – David Michôd, Animal Kingdom
Audience Award: U.S. Documentary – Davis Guggenheim, WAITING FOR SUPERMAN
Audience Award: U.s. Dramatic – Josh Radnor, happythankyoumoreplease
World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary – Lucy Walker, Waste Land
World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic – Javier Fuentes-León, Contracorriente
Best of NEXT – Todd Barnes and Brad Barnes, Homewrecker
U.S. Directing Award: Documentary – Leon Gast, Smash His Camera
U.S. Directing Award: Dramatic – Eric Mendelsohn, 3 Backyards
World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary – Christian Frei, Space Tourists
World Cinema Directing Award: Dramatic – Juan Carlos Valdivia, Southern District
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award – Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini, Winter’s Bone
World Cinema Screenwriting Award – Juan Carlos Valdivia, Southern District
U.S. Documentary Editing Award – Penelope Falk, Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work
World Cinema Documentary Editing Award – Joëlle Alexis, A Film Unfinished
Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary – Kirsten Johnson, Laura Poitras, The Oath
Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic – Zak Mulligan, Obselidia
World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary – Kate McCullough and Michael Lavelle, His & Hers
World Cinema Cinematography Award: Dramatic – Mariano Cohn and Gastón Duprat, The Man Next Door
Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize – Diane Bell, Obselidia
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize – Josh Fox, Gasland
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize – Mark Ruffalo, Sympathy For Delicious
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Prize – Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, Enemies of the People
World Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Breakout Performance – Tatiana Maslany in Grown Up Movie Star
Awards for film in the Shorts program were presented at a separate ceremony on Tuesday night. The winners:
Jury Prize in U.S. Short Filmmaking – Drunk History
International Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking – The Six Dollar Fifty Man
Honorable Mention in Short Filmmaking – Born Sweet, Can We Talk?, Dock Ellis & the LSD No-No, Quadrangle, Rob and Valentyna in Scotland, Young Love
Also announced earlier in the week: