2015 Sundance Film Festival Live Awards Updates

Sundance Institute

Hi everyone, and welcome to the live blog for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony. We’re Eric Hynes, Jeremy Kinser, and Nate von Zumwalt, and we’ll be your eyes and ears for tonight’s festivities.

View the full list of winners at a glance. Also, video of the ceremony is on our YouTube channel.


Updated at 9:05 p.m

Tig talks about the positive feedback from her girlfriend about her script for the night:”Now I’m starting to wonder if she just wanted to see an awkward situation happen.”

Roger Ross Williams presents. “Anyone who has ever worked as as director will have respect for what it took to make this film. His confident hand takes us into a world where we see both brutality and grace.”

Winner of the Directing Award: U.S. Documentary:

Cartel Land, directed by Matthew Heinema

Heineman: “I want to dedicate this award to those suffering from the senseless violence happening during the drug wars in Mexico. My heart goes out to all of them.”

Fukunaga comes on stage with his patented man bun.”This is awkward. Unlike Taika, I think I won an award every time i was here. So it gives me great pleasure to pass this along.” About the jury and deliberations, he said they spent 6 to 9 hours talking. Tempting as it was to give awards to everything, “We didn’t want this to be like an upper east side birthday party. It was hard to nail it down.”

Cary Fukunaga presents:

Winner of the Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic:

The Witch, directed by Robert Eggers

Eggers: “I’m trying not to throw up. First and foremost I want to thank my wife and family. I love you guys. Thanks mom. I want to thank the Sundance institute. Thank you so much for those grants/ So many understood what this film needed to be. All the investors and procures supported this film and I’m honored they were so supportive. We have so many executive producers I’m going to forget somebody so God bless you all. Of course I’m honored to be here in the company of so many artists. Ok, thank you That’s it.”

Gordon Quinn takes the stage. “We did have a wonderul time on the jury. Many of us watched the same films over and over again in a small room.”

“A subject matter this unusual may invite scrutiny. But the celebration of imagination reflects the spirit of Sundance.”

Winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary:

The Wolfpack, directed by Crystal Moselle

Crystal Moselle: “Woo! Life is surreal. I don’t even know what to say right now. I stalked these kids on the street one day and here I am. Thank you Sundance and the jury. Thank you Verisimilitude and our various producers and all those boys. I know you’re watching this and I fucking love you.”

Edgar Wright presents:

Winner of the U. S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic:

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon: “Thank you again. I think I forgot to thank Indian Paintbrush and Steven Rales for financing. I want to thank entire cast and crew actors, Thomas Mann, Olivia Cooke, RJ Cyler, Connie Britton, Nick Offerman and Molly Shannon. This movie was about processing the loss and celebrate the life of a beautiful man, my father. So thanks again for this opportunity.”

Tig returns. “And that, my new best friends. Concludes the 2015 Sundance FIlm Festival Awards Ceremony. Now it’s time to party your heads off. “

Updated At 8:56 p.m.

Michele Norris presents: “We are a nation in crisis. As a jury we wanted to recognize a film that lets the audience examine that crisis. And lets us consider the consequences of that crisis.”

Winner of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact:

3 ½ Minutes, directed by Marc Silver

Jordan Davis’ mother Lucy McBeth wiping away tears. Marc Silver hugging both Lucy McBeth and Davis’ father Ron Davis.

Lucy: “I would never have imagined his life and death would mean so much to people.”

Ron: “Never did i believe at 2:30 in the afternoon when I hugged jordan, that that would be the last conversation i woul dhave with my son. When you hug them, realize they may not come home. This world doesn’t tolerate your children anymore. 3 ½ Minutes isn’t just a movie, it’s a movement and idea. Black lives matter. Black lives matter. Black lives matter.”

Hugs on stage between all of the people involved with the film and the jurors.

Sarah Flack, Lance Acord, and Winona Ryder present U.S. Dramatic.

Ryder is wearing a black turtleneck sweater and long grey skirt. She seems sincerely nervous.

Ryder: “I wanted to say a very sincere congrats and thanks to all of the filmmakers here tonight. It’s been a really really incredible and inspiring experience for us. And this first award honors two individuals for their unique collaborate vision. Two women who between them wrote, directed, edited and starred in a unique parable about a society’s worship of youth.”

Winona Ryder presents:

Winner for U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborate Vision:

Advantageous, directd by Jennifer Phang

Phang: “Thank you to jury and programmers. This is incredible and we’re just so proud of everyone. It’s an amazing experience. I want to shout out to our composer and team.”

Sarah Flack presents:

Winner for U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Editing:

Dope, edited by Lee Haugen

Rick Famyuiwa, director, accepts: “Lee is an amazing guy, He was my brother in arms I wish you were here so I could give you a big hug. thanks.”

Lance Acord presents:

Winner of the Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic:

The Diary of a Teenage Girl, cinematography by Brandon Trost

Director Marielle Heller accepts for Brandon Trost: “I’m so happy for Brandon. He did an amazing job. He was so artful and did an amazing job. I think it was a huge group effort. I’m so proud of how the movie looks. Thank you.”

Winona Ryder presents:

Winner of the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic:

The Stanford Prison Experiment, screenplay by Tim Talbott

Director Kyle Patrick Alvarez accepts for Tim: “He did incredible work wont his and worked on it an incredibly long time. It’s an honor for me accept this for me. Good material will always rise up. I’m sure he’s very grateful. Everyone on the team is too.”

Updated at 8:38 p.m.

Tig returns to stage. “Please welcome my twin brother, Adam Scott.”

They pose together, sporting nearly identical preppy haircuts.

Scott, very sardonic: “Nice to have a night like tonight when we can get all caught up on things, like clapping. “

Adam Scott presents:

Winner of Audience Award: U.S. Documentary:

Meru, directed by Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi

Chai Vasarhelyi: “Thank you. Thank you to the audiences. We thank the Sundance Institute for taking a chance on this film and introducing it to the world.”

Jimmy Chen: “I thank all the filmmakers here who blew my mind. I thank my wife who not only made a film but we made a baby while we made this film.”

Tig returns. “He’s invited everyone in Hollywood to his podcast except for me. Kevin Pollack.”

Pollack: “Thank you, Tig. I think you know why. I’ve been here many times as an actor, including for The Usual Suspects, please be seated. But this is the first time I’ve been here as a director.

Kevin Pollack presents:

Winner of the Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic:

Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, directed by Alfonso Gomez-Rejon

Alfonso Gomez-Rejon: “Kevin, you may remember I was a PA on Casino. This is a total dream come true. This week has been incredibly cathartic for so many reasons. To be selected as part of this group is a dream. I want to thank you on behalf of the hundred artists who worked on this film. I dedicate to all the young artists in Laredo, my hometown. Thanks!”

Tig introduces the US Doc jury.

Juror Kristen Johnson: “This jury spent 8 hours in deliberation. You may imagine it was because we were fighting. But it was a love-fest, and every one of us wanted to discuss every film in the competition. “

Juror Eugene Hernandez: Eugene: “At its core the Sundance Film Festival is about discovery. In their feature film debut, these filmmakers expose a story that powoerful forces would rather see hidden.”

Kristen Johnson presents

Winner of the Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary:

Cartel Land, by Matthew Heineman

They present to Cartel Land’s Matthew Heineman and Matt Porwoll

Heineman: “This is a huge, huge honor. I first want to thank the Sundance Institute. We’re all so lucky to be part of this family. We wouldn’t be here if not for them. They’ve been so incredibly supportive. Most important I want to thank Matt and our amazing ten on the ground who ricked their lives to tell this story.

Porwoll: “I want to thank Matthew Heineman for taking us on this journey our local producer in Mexico for keeping an eye on us.”

Eugene Hernandez presents:

Winner of the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Break Out First Feature:

(T)error, directed by Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe

Sutcliffe: “We made this film because trusting the FBI is … We’re so grateful to Sundance for giving us the opportunity to make this film on the war on terror. This is a horror film.

Cabral: “I want to shout to subjects in the film This was an incredibly difficult film to make. Thank you to all the Muslims and the defendants. This is for them.”

Eugene Hernandez returns: “With this award we recognize the restraint of filmmakers letting image and sound speak for themselves.”

Winner for U. S. Documentary Special Jury award for Verité Filmmaking:

Western, directed by Bill Ross and Turner Ross

Bill and Turner video: The duo running on snowy street, screaming ‘Woo hop hop’and sliding in the snow.


Updated at 8:16 p.m.

Kevin Corrigan is being very Kevin Corrigan on stage. He seems a touch out of sorts, stammering and clammy and strangely ingratiating.

Kevin Corrigan presents:

Winner of the Audience Award: Best Of Next

James White, directed by Josh Mond

Mond comes out in the Festival jacket, ski hat, and unlaced winter boots.

“Fuck.” Reads his thank you’s from the back of his hand. “I want to start off thanking the Next section. I got a call and was bummed we weren’t in the main competition then I saw the other names and I was excited. I’m really proud to be in this section, Shit, this is crazy. I’ve got thank my brothers and my teachers. You’re still teaching me. Thanks to my partners Sean Durkin and Antonio Campos. I love you brothers so much. Let’s have fun tonight. Peace.”

Patrick Fugit presents:

Winner of the Audience Award for World Cinema Dramatic:

Umrika, directed by Prashant Nair

Nair: “This is amazing. We’ve loved sharing our film with audiences so this is a great gift. I think directors get a lot of credit here at sundance but this wouldn’t have happened without the tenacity of my producer who is also my fiancee Swati Shetty. Thank you Sundance.”

Updated at 8:12 p.m

Out comes the jury for the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, which is comprised of Mia Hansen Love, Col Needham and Taika Waititi.

Mia Hansen Love presents:

Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting:

The Second Mother, Regina Casé and Camila Márdila

Camila Mardila is here with director Anna Muylaert.

Ana Muylaert: “My character represents Brazil that is disappearing. I hope in new Brazil there’s less social injustice. thank you very much. Regina is really a fantastic actress.”

Camila: “We want to dedicate this award to all housemaids in Brazil. It was a great pleasure to work with all the awesome artists in this movie. I hope these characters can reach peoples hearts and minds and inspire women to challenge this second class citizen role we still play in society. Thank you.”

Col Needham presents:

Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting:

Glassland, Jack Reynor

Jack Reynor accepts via video. He’s sitting on a couch, wearing glasses and a hoodie.

“Just got the news. I’m completely overwhelmed and shaking. Thank you. It’s such an honor for me.”

Waititi gives away the cinematography award by acting the sad sack:

“As someone who’s never won an award at this festival, it gives me no pleasure whatsoever to give away an award. For those who don’t win an award. Use it. You’ll become successful and rich. You’ll never resent this festival. And you’ll be so happy.”

Taika Waititi presents:

Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematography:

Partisan, Germain McMicking

Partisan director Ari Kleiman accepts for DP Germain McMicking:

“I guess if Germain was here he’d be telling you how great I am and how great to work with. Germain put his heart into this and I accept it very proudly on behalf of him.”

Taika Waititi presents:

Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award:

The Summer of Sangaile, directed by Alanté Kavaïté

Kavaïté has a champagne glass, and wishes everyone cheers as she stands on a balcony in Paris. Alante Kavate on Video: “You’ve made me such a happy director. thank you to my gorgeous actors and my director of photographer and producer. Cheers, (holds up glass of champagne.)”

Col Needham presents:

Winner of the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize:

Slow West, directed by John Maclean

Kalani Queypo accepts on behalf of John Maclean for Slow West.

“I’m the last man standing. I survived the gifting parties. Hello this is a message from John Mclean I wish I could be here to accept my award. I’m in Sequoia, California staring at the world’s biggest tree and it is big. Thanks agents. Thaks to dad for taking me to see westerns when I was a wee boy. Thanks again and I wish I had a helicopter.”


Updated 7:58 p.m.

Tig returned to introduce world cinema competitions and the jurors. Out come the World Cinema Documentary Jury, comprised of Ingrid Kopp, Mark Cousins and Elena Fortes Acosta.

Ingrid Kopp presents:

Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Editing Award:

How to Change the World, edited by Jim Scott

Jerry Rothwell for Jim Scott: “That’s a fantastic surprise. This was a very complicated edit and Jim was fantastic and its well deserved.”

Mark Cousins presents:

Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact:

Pervert Park, directed by Frida Barkfors and Lasse Barkfors

Pervert Park directors are flustered and speechless. “We want tot hank the jury and the festival, the swedish film institute and the festival.”

Elena Fortes Acosta presents:

Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Unparalleled Access:

The Chinese Mayor, directed by Hao Zhou

Producer Zhao Qi accepts on behalf of The Chinese Mayor. “I’m a goddamn good asshole producer. This is the place where any independent voice can have their voice hear.”

Elena Fortes Acosta presents:

Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award:

Dreamcatcher, directed by Kim Longinotto

Producer accepts on behalf of Longinotto: “Thank you and congratulation to Kim Teddy and the whole team. Flip your hair be a diva. The real award goes to people trying to stop human traffic. Thank you for being on the front lines.”

Mark Cousins presents:

Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize:

Russian Woodpecker, directed by Chad Gracia

Chad Gracia: “Many thousands of Ukrainians and Ukrainian artists “aren’t as lucky to be here. I don’t think we can stop Russia with bombs, but with a little bit of art and truth maybe we can make some progress.”

Cinematographer: “I would like to concentrate the attention for many thousands, the best Ukrainian people who were killed in the past year. A lot of them artists. I hope this film in some way will change the situation and help Ukraine. Thank you so much from all Ukrainians. Long live the Ukraine.”

Fedor, subject: “Save the Ukraine now. Tomorrow will be too late. Now kremlin attacks Ukraine. Next will be Europe. Next will be World War. Save Ukraine please.”

Updated 7:39 p.m.

Putnam talks about the Sundance Institute’s work, and the opportunity to become a member. “I hope you’ll stay involved with us all year long,” Putnam says.

She introduces John Cooper, who comes out with a rainbow colored scarf. He thanks the staff, the programming team, and the volunteers. “all 1950 of them,” he said. Calling special attention to those who gave 100 hours of their time: “the 100 club.” Then he gave the Gayle Stevens Volunteer Award to Cheryl Soshnik.

Cooper compares the Festival’s relationship with filmmakers to “the best date ever. Our connection led to amazing sex. And in the morning we still had more to talk about. And the best part–we still know each other’s names.”

Cooper introduces Trevor Groth. And he presents the Alfred P. Sloan Prize.

Winner of the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize:

The Stanford Prison Experiment, directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez

“This was such an honor to win. I share this award with screenwriter Tim Talbott, who spent 10 years working on it. We wanted to present this experiment in as truthful a way as possible.”

Updated at 7:27 p.m.

Starting the evening off with the psychedelic teaser that’s preceded every screening during the Festival.

Here comes Tig Notaro.

Tig is wearring a beige blazer and blue jeans and stalking the stage like the stand-up comedian she is.

“I think I was the obvious choice to host. Considering I’ve only seen Grease and Star Wars. I actually used to volunteer at the Festival. In the mid-to-late 90s.”

“If someone had pulled me asked and said you’re outside in the freezing cold and living on cheese and crackers. Come here I have some news, in just 17 years you’ll have a movie about your life premiering at the festival and the same year you’ll be hosting the awards, I’d be like ‘Yeah, I know.'”

“I was instructed to do old material. But I’m not just going to do old material, I’m going to do my oldest material. My very first comedy routine.” A joke about her name, conflated with “pig” and “tit.”

“So I’m going to tell my very first joke written when I was ten years old. What consists of a navel army? Bellybuttons.”

“Congrats to everybody here. You did it, we did it, you’re amazing.”

Tig introduces Keri Putnam.

Updated at 7:00 p.m.

For several years running, and thus now traditionally, the Awards Ceremony takes place a few miles north of Park City at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse at Kimball Junction. We’re about half an hour away from the ceremony, and people are filing in, partaking of the buffet, and pigeon walking to the soul tunes that are echoing around the room.

This year the airy, Space Shuttle-accommodating Fieldhouse hangar is decorated sparingly, which is in keeping with 2015’s minimalist design. Outside of a few projected pinwheels against the rafters, the only discernible decoration is a giant circle against the back wall of the stage. There’s a subtly shifting glow emanating from behind the circle, which is also the place from which the host and presenters will emerge. Even the monitors that flank either side of the stage stick to the circular theme, with rounded images from this year’s films eclipsing one another.

This year’s host is popular stand-up comic and documentary subject Tig Notaro. In the film Tig, which screened as part of the Documentary Premieres category, directors Kristina Goolsby and Ashley York follow Notaro during her L.A. concert, which helped her to cope with both her battle with breast cancer and the unexpected death of her mother. She’s got her work cut out for her if she wants to out-bawdy last year’s hosts, Megan Mullally and Nick Offerman, but something tells me she’s up to the task.

As the Festival comes to a close, our minds go back to the start, way back to Thursday, January 20, when Festival founder Robert Redford, flanked by Festival Director John Cooper and Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam, discussed the state of all things Sundance for the media. Referencing the Charlie Hebdo tragedy in Paris, he said, “I think freedom of expression seems to be in danger in a lot of areas. But as far as we’re concerned, we will do everything in our power to keep it alive.” Looking back on the week, it’s clear that the 2015 iteration of the Festival has done just that.

Among the 124 narrative and documentary features in this year’s slate, several films transcended the trade and entertainment pages and became news items of their own. Alex Gibney’s Going Clear, an expose of the Church of Scientology, has had people talking and filing all week, and has sent the Church’s marketing and social media departments working overtime to counteract the bad press. Meanwhile The Russian Woodpecker has become something of a minor sensation with its assertions that the Soviet-era Chernobyl leak was an inside job, with the Ukraine still paying the price for Russian malfeasance. Other bracingly uncensored films included the FBI informant doc thriller (T)error, Censored Voices, Cartel Land, and Kirby Dick’s The Hunting Ground.

Hang right here for just a few more minutes, as this year’s Awards Ceremony is about to begin.

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