The 2019 Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse in Park City, Utah. © 2019 Sundance Institute | Jonathan Hickerson
Dana Kendall, Jeremy Kinser, and Nate von Zumwalt
[Ed. note: Looking for updates from the 2020 Sundance Film Festival awards ceremony? Head here.]
Updated 9:12 PM MT
Palka introduces Rachel Grady, who along with co-director Heidi Ewing is an Academy Award nominee for the film Jesus Camp and has won numerous Emmy awards and a Peabody Award. She made her Sundance debut in 2010 with 12th & Delaware and returned in 2012 with Detropia, which went on to win an Emmy. She was back in 2016 with Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, which was the Day One selection that year and was nominated for an Emmy.
Grady presents: “Long week. The Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary goes to the film which expanded our preconception of autonomy and choice. This provocative film left the jury changed.
U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary
One Child Nation, directed by Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang
Wang: “Thank you so much. Thanks to Sundance Institute and Sundance Film Festival. Thanks to the jury. Us Chinese filmmakers—every time we make a film it’s a process of taking risks, not only physical but creative and financial. We are so grateful to the people who shared their ideas with us so we could make this.”
Zhang: “Thank you to the people who shared their stories in our film. They trusted us and we’re very grateful for their trust.”
Wang: “I also want to thank my husband who shot and edited this but can’t be here because he is taking care of our baby in the condo.”
Palka returns to introduce Damien Chazelle, who first came to Sundance in 2013 as writer/director of a short film named Whiplash, which won the Short Film Grand Jury prize that year. He returned the following year with the feature length version of Whiplash which won both the Sundance Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award and went on to be nominated for five Academy Awards. Chazelle’s next film La La Land was nominated for a record tying 14 Academy Awards, winning six, including Best Director, making him the youngest director in Oscar history to win that award. And his current film First Man is an award-winning biopic starring Ryan Gosling as Neil Armstrong.
Chazelle presents… “For its rigorous, unflinching, and masterful depiction of one woman’s struggle within the system…”
U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic
Clemency, Chinonye Chukwu
Chukwu: “Oh, my God! OK, y’all gonna have to give me a second. Y’all, making this film has been a soul journey and started with Troy Davis in September 2011. I have been transformed by his life and it has put me on a trajectory that has expanded by compassion and empathy. I wrote this because I wanted us to connect with the ecosystem to incarceration so we as a society can stop defining people by their worst possible acts … and root our societies in true justice and mercy and freedom, which is all tied to our joy inside that nobody can incarcerate or execute. You have proven that there is an audience for this film and I thank you. .. Thank you Alfre [Woodard] for trusting me to direct you. Thank you to the rest of the cast and crew, my family and friends who have supported me emotionally and sometimes physically. Thank the many men and women who are incarcerated, the lawyers and activists. Here is to true mercy and true justice and true freedom. Thank you.”
Updated 9:03 PM MT
Palka and Orlowski return to the stage.
Orlowski presents: “For juxtaposing two cultures with insight…”
Directing Award: U.S. Documentary
American Factory, directed by Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert
Bognar: “Thank you. Thank you to the jury, to Sundance, thank you for having us. We would not be here without our team—this is a collaborative effort. Directors are in a marriage with their editors, and the editors should be right up here. To our team, we’re so lucky to be here. This would not be the film it is without our producers who expanded this film, to our DPs, our composer who elevated the film dramatically, our sound designer, everyone, thank you.”
Reichert: “All the documentarians worked their asses of to get here and they’ll work their asses off for the impact campaign after this. We made a small film with big ambitions. We hope it can serve to turn down the steam between the two great economic superpowers. We hope our film can speak to working people who make this world run. We hope to build a platform for working people to see themselves as protagonists in their story.”
Palka introduces Desiree Akhavan, director of Miseducation of Cameron Post and Appropriate Behavior.
Akhavan presents: “So, here we go. For its fearless embrace of provocation, humor, and empathy, its generosity of spirit, and expansiveness of thought …
Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic
The Last Black Man in San Francisco, directed by Joe Talbot
Talbot: “Thank you guys so much. Thank you to the programmers and the Institute. Jimmie and I started talking about this movie when we were little kids. This is a dream for us. I made a movie with my best friend in the entire world. I’m speechless. Thank you.”
Updated 8:55 PM MT
Palka returns to the stage to introduce the U.S. Dramatic jury:
The U.S. Dramatic jury includes Dennis Lim the director of programming at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, where he serves on the selection committees for the New York Film Festival and New Directors /New Films. He’s the former film editor of the Village Voice and is the author of a critical biography on David Lynch.
Also on the jury is Phyllis Nagy, a writer and director whose latest screenplay, Carol, was awarded the New York Film Critics Circle Award for best screenplay and received nominations for an Academy Award, a BAFTA Award, and a Writers Guild Award for best adapted screenplay. Mrs. Harris, an HBO film Nagy wrote and directed, received 12 Emmy nominations.
Joining them is acclaimed actress Tessa Thompson. Her performance in the 2014 Sundance film Dear White People landed her a Gotham Award for “breakthrough actor.” She has recently appeared in Creed II and the hit blockbuster Thor: Ragnarok, Annihilation, the HBO drama series Westworld and the 2018 Sundance hit Sorry to Bother You. She will next be seen in Sony’s new Men in Black spin-off.
Thompson presents… “I’ll take this opportunity to speak on behalf of my jury mates. We want to offer thanks. There are some people we’d like to acknowledge. For her breakthrough performance depicting the interior life of a teenaged girl…”
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting
Share, actress Rhianne Barreto
Barreto via video: “Thank you, Sundance and the jury, for this incredible honor. I’m very stunned and confused. I would like to thank my mom and dad and eight brothers and sisters. I’d like to thank God and the producers … and the entire cast and crew. … I want to thank Canada for letting me in and letting us shoot when the U.S. wouldn’t. … I would like to thank Pippa Bianco, who originated this. Not only did you write and direct a nuanced script but you fought for me throughout this. You stuck to your guns. Thank you for championing me and believing in me. Thank you for being my friend.”
Lim announces: “For its symphony of ideas and master class…
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Collaboration
The Last Black Man in San Francisco, directed by Joe Talbot
Actor Jimmie Fails: “Wow, there are so many people in here I don’t even know what to say. I’m just a kid from San Francisco trying to make a story with my best friend. It takes a village to make a film so I want to thank everyone who made it possible. And thank you for everyone in the audience for being here.”
Thompson returns… “To honor the emergence of a bold new voice…”
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award: Vision and Craft
Honey Boy, directed by Alma Har’el
Har’el: “Wow, it’s a lot of people. Thank you so much for having me here, it’s my first scripted film. I want to thank Shia LaBeouf for trusting me with his life story and to Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe, every actor on this film—every person that worked on it every producer and my father and mother we made this film and one of the reasons I wanted to make this film was because shia and i are both children of alcoholics and I like to think all are my brothers and sisters. I’m really proud to be here in a year where 44 percent of the directors are women. We’re here, we’re ready. Stop sending us to fucking shadow white men. We can do this.”
Nagy presents: “I am unsurprisingly here to give a screenwriting award. For its command of subtext and suspense, the
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic
Share, Director/Screenwriter Pippa Bianco
Bianco: “This is very heavy glass—y’all live stream this so I’m gonna have to thank everyone who gave years of their life. My wonderful crew had been with me since day one, since my first Craigslist job. … Programmers and jurors, thank you. Brilliant cast who took a chance on me and gave their hearts. … The team who allowed me to finish the film when a personal crisis took me away. … And of course my beautiful family. This film was a labor of love and your love sustains me. And to my family who is no longer here.”
Updated 8:43 PM MT
Palka is back on stage to introduce the U.S. Documentary Competition Jury:
The first three members of the U.S. Documentary jury include.
Lucien Castaing-Taylor, an anthropologist, artist, and filmmaker. His films include Leviathan, a collaboration with Véréna Paravel with whom he has co-directed nine films including somniloquies and Caniba. Their work is in the permanent collection of New York’s Museum of Modern Art and has been exhibited at the Tate Modern, the Whitney Biennial, and elsewhere.
Jeff Orlowski is an award-winning filmmaker and the founder of Exposure Labs. He directed the Emmy-winning Chasing Coral, an underwater mission to explore the disappearance of coral reefs. This work continues the momentum of Orlowski’s debut feature the Academy Award–nominated and Emmy-winning Chasing Ice.
Alissa Wilkinson, is a staff writer and film critic for Vox, who is also an associate professor at The King’s College in Manhattan. A member of the New York Film Critics Circle she spent a decade writing for a wide variety of publications, including Rolling Stone, Vulture, RogerEbert.com, The Washington Post, and the Atlantic.
Jeff Orlowski and Alissa Wilkinson take the stage.
Orlowski presents: “We had such amazing films to watch. It was a delight and joy for our entire team to watch them. Right now for
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Cinematography
Midnight Family, shot by Luke Lorentzen
“Thank you so much this week has been a whirlwind of excitement i want to thank all the people who supported this film. My producer met me as a 23 year old and followed me all along the way. Thank you to everybody at Sundance Institute. Oh my god. This is amazing. Thank you.”
Wilkinson presents: “Our next Special Jury Award goes to a film that shaped archival material that when our nation wasn’t shaped by borders.
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Editing
Apollo 11, Todd Douglas Miller
Miller: “Thanks guys. Thanks so much. This is really great because five years ago we were 0.0 on awards, so we did it! APOLLO 11 is a great story. We survived two government shutdowns trying to make this film. This is for [the government workers who helped us].”
Orlowski presents: “For exposing the contemporary search for connection as well as its psychological toll…
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Emerging Filmmaker
Jawline, directed by Liza Mandelup
Mandelup: “Oh my God, I was not expecting that. Thank you. We didn’t even have a single test screening for this film. This was crazy because this was the first audience to see it. I’m very thankful. I’m the only one here but there are a lot more people who made this film. I can’t thank everybody enough. There were so many who believed at an early stage. Thank you so much and thank you Sundance.”
Wilkinson presents: “A film that insisted we look and look closer at images we simply didn’t want to see…
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Moral Urgency
Always in Season, directed by Jacquelin Olive
Olive: “Thank you. I’m accepting this award for the nearly 5,000 victims of lynching whose stories call to me. Despite being brutalized sometimes out of their humanity, their voices were still powerful enough to call me to make this film. I accept this in honor of Lennon Lacy and his family, who despite incredible pain move forward to tell his story regardless. I accept this in honor of us who can never again turn away from this history.”
Updated 8:34 PM MT
Palka returns to introduce Ray Romano and Mark Duplass, the stars of this year’s Premieres section film Paddleton.
Romano teases Duplass about losing at Sundance 25 times, which equals the number of films he’s been involved with at the Festival.
Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary
Sea of Shadows, directed by Richard Ladkani
Ladkani: “Woohoo! Thank you so much; you don’t know how much this means to us. It’s really an honor to be here. … This film is really something very special because we hoped this film would be here so that we could have a change in Mexico City with the government. There’s a huge crisis there. The cartel and others are trying to feed off the planet. We hope to change this. … On the frontlines we had terrible news. The really bad guys are attacking the activists. We have to make that stop. We can’t lose another species. Join the fight so we can stop this and make the planet a better place.”
Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic
Queen of Hearts, directed by May El-Toukhy
Maren Louise Käehne and May El-Toukhy: “Thank you Sundance for this fantastic award. We’re so sorry we can’t be with you tonight. We would like to thank the Festival for having us. We had such a great time. And thank you to the audience for engaging with our film.”
Duplass announces: “OK, we also have the great pleasure of announcing the Audience Awards presented by Acura…”
Audience Award: U.S. Documentary
Knock Down the House, directed by Rachel Lears
Lears: “Thank you so much to the Festival for believing in this film when it wasn’t done yet and to the incredibly courageous women who allowed us to document their stories. We can’t believe this is happening, so thank you guys so much. This film is about power. It’s about what it takes to believe that you deserve to have power in the world and it’s about making the politically impossible possible. We hope it can be part of a huge groundswell and movement around changing the face of representation in our democracy.”
Romano introduces: “OK, before I do this I know this isn’t the place, please, Rams, beat the Patriots….
Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic
Brittany Runs a Marathon, directed by Paul Downs Colaizzo
“Thanks to the audiences. We set out to humanize a character that didn’t get dignity in America. … Thank you to the audience for doing that with us.”
Updated 8:20 PM MT
Palka returns to introduce the World Cinema Dramatic jury:
The World Cinema Dramatic jury includes Jane Campion, whose 1993 film The Piano brought her the distinction of being the only female director to receive the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival and the second of only five women to be nominated for best director at the Academy Awards. Campion’s six-hour miniseries Top of the Lake screened at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, receiving eight Emmy nominations and two Golden Globe nominations.
Also on the jury are Charles Gillibert, who developed CG Cinéma in 2013 as a mainstay of innovative international French film production. In 2016 the CG Cinéma supported films Mustang, Personal Shopper and Things to Come respectively were nominated for an Academy award, won best director in Cannes, and best director at the Berlin Film Festival.
And finally, Ciro Guerra, a filmmaker whose third feature, Embrace of the Serpent, won the Art Cinema Award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival Directors’ Fortnight and became the first Colombian film nominated for the best foreign language film at the Academy Awards.
Gillibert: “One of the most pleasant surprises in this category was to find a strong number of female characters. Among this talent, one performance stood out to us…
World Cinematic Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting
Krystyna Janda for Dolce Fine Giornata
Producer Marta Habior: “Thank you so very much for this. I think if our character or Krystyna was here what they would have to say would be that we should finally learn how to listen to each other and how to respond and not react and how to love. I would like to dedicate this award to all the females out there and all the people with open hearts and free spirits.
Guerra: “For its boundless and amazing creativity, which proved to be endlessly surprising…”
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Originality
We Are Little Zombies, directed by Makoto Nagahisa
Nagahisa: “I love you. Thank you, Sundance; thank you, everybody. This is my first feature film, so I put my everything into my film. I’m extremely happy that everyone enjoyed it and I hope the film gives the young generation the strength to battle disappointment. This is just the beginning. We make new film history.”
Gillibert returns: “For its energy and strong cinematic vision…”
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award
Monos, directed by Alejandro Landes
Landes: “Thank you. It took so many amazing people from different countries to make this film and it was like an aligning of the stars. To the kids in the film, this goes to their spirit. It goes to show that there’s no conflict in the world that’s a foreign conflict.”
Guerra returns: “For its surprising maturity in tis portrayal of a teenaged girl’s first sexual adventure…”
Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic
The Sharks, Lucía Garibaldi
“I don’t know what to say. Are you sure? I mean we are from Uruguay . This is our first film that made it to Sundance.”
Campion announces: ”So the was a unanimous decision for this jury. We appreciated this film’s tone, which was delicate, precise, and emotional. This film fascinated and touched us. The three of us will not forget The Souvenir.
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic
The Souvenir, Joanna Hogg
Hogg via video: “Thank you, Sundance. Thank you jury. I’d like to accept this beautiful award on behalf of all my collaborators.”
Honor Swinton Byrne via video: Thank you so much. We’re so happy. Thank you.”
Updated 8:10 PM MT
Palka introduces the World Cinema Documentary jury, which includes Maite Alberdi, a celebrated documentary filmmaker from Chile who directed Tea Time.
Also on the jury are Nico Marzano, the film curator and head of distribution at London’s Institute of Contemporary Arts, and Véréna Paravel, an anthropologist, artist, and filmmaker whose films include Leviathan and Caniba.
Marzano: “Hello everyone. There was a German philosopher Joseph Bonds who said the cinema is an art form that should show us how to exist.”
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change
Honeyland, directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska
Stefanov: “Today our planet is facing the biggest environmental challenges. Our society is facing the biggest moral challenges. … One of the biggest causes of this is using unsustainable resources. We believe our character shows a clear authentic principle of sharing with humans and nature.”
Kotevska: “A huge thank-you for the most wonderful audience we could ever imagine in our lives. We were aiming to make this film equally about humans and the environment, and we learned so much about human relationships and family. This film is made with six people who are like family. This is inspiration for everyone who wants to tell a story to not be discouraged.”
Alberdi comes to the stage: “Because it allows us to connect with a universal social and political issue through a moving microcosm…”
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: No Borders
Midnight Traveler, directed by Hassan Fazili
Producers Emelie Mahdavian and Su Kim: “Our director and his family are very sad because they cannot be here tonight. But once we tell him that we won he will be very happy.”
This was a dream come true for this family. Despite the refugee fatigue it was important to have this film where they open up bravely and we could go with them on this harrowing journey.”
Marzano returns to present…
Marzano: “For the astonishing visuals and distinct point of view…”
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Cinematography
Honeyland, shot by Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma
“Thank you very much for this award. It means a lot for us, especially for the entire team from our small country Macedonia. Thanks for the directors and entire team for the opportunity to work on this amazing documentary. Thanks a lot to Sundance and everyone who supported this movie.”
Alberdi returns to present…
Alberdi: “For subverting the standards of this so–called investigative journalistic approach…”
Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary
Cold Case Hammarskjöld, directed by Mads Brügger
Brügger via video: “I’m very sorry I cannot be with you tonight. I had to go to Sweden for the European premiere. Very heavy, very proud. Actually I feel like my head is about to explode. But it’s such a big honor. Thank you to the jury, programmers, volunteers. Sundance means the world to me.”
Paravel: “For its elegance and rich cinematic language and respectful relationship with the community the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary goes to
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary
Honeyland, directed by Ljubomir Stefanov and Tamara Kotevska
“What else to say? I need to use this device to say all the names we would like to thank. … And our small country is really eager to send this message to the government: please clean the air of the most polluted country in the world.”
Updated 7:52 PM MT
Cooper introduces Director of Programming Kim Yutani, who serves in her new role for the first time this year.
Yutani then announces the Short Film Award winners, which were announced earlier this week.
Palka is back on stage and introduces actress Danielle MacDonald (Patti Cake$, Bird Box) to announce the NEXT Audience Award.
MacDonald: “Hey, I’m so excited to be back here. I was here two years ago with Patti Cake$ and my life changed.”
NEXT Audience Award Presented by Adobe goes to:
The Infiltrators, directed by Christine Ibarra and Alex Rivera
Ibarra: “Wow, it’s a freaking honor to be here right now. … To paraphrase one of our protagonists, the strongest walls we have to break are not outside but inside.”
Palka reads a letter from Laurie Anderson, who can’t be here tonight. Anderson is a writer, director, visual artist, and vocalist, whose groundbreaking works have spanned the worlds of art, theatre, and experimental music. Anderson is the single juror for the NEXT INNOVATOR AWARD, which recognizes the most innovative and forward-thinking film screened in the NEXT category. The winner is, for a second time:
The Infiltrators, directed by Christine Ibarra and Alex Rivera
Rivera: “I can’t believe this. Thank you to the people who shared their story with us. When you do documentaries you’re always a bit of a vampire—you’re living off of someone else’s story. … This story rests on the imagination of the undocumented activists who are really trying to teach us what America is. … If you fight to be here, that’s why you get to be an American. We learn from them, so thank them.”
Updated 7:38 PM MT
The voice of God introduces tonight’s host, Marianna Palka. Palka is an award-winning multi-hyphenate who wrote, directed, and starred in five of her own films, including Good Dick, which premiered in U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival; Egg, which has been universally well-received with 100% on Rotten Tomatoes; Always Worthy; and the award-winning Bitch, which premiered in the Midnight section of the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and is currently streaming on Netflix. She was also in Peter Mullan’s Neds and Neil Gaiman’s Good Omens. She had a recurring role as Minerva on HBO’s Girls and can currently be seen as Reggie Walsh, aka Vicky the Viking, in the hit Netflix original series GLOW.
Palka introduces Sundance Institute Executive Director Keri Putnam.
Putnam presents awards that were announced earlier in the week.
The winners are:
Sundance Institute / NHK Award
From Japan, Taro Aoshima for Planet Korsakov
Sundance Institute / Amazon Studios Producers Awards
Lori Cheatle, for her body of work as a documentary feature producer.
The award for narrative feature producer went to Carly Hugo and Matt Parker for their body of work, which includes Share, currently playing in U.S. Dramatic Competition.
The Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize
Chiwetel Ejiofor for his directorial debut The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind.
Updated 7:00 PM MT
Hello everyone, and welcome to the live blog for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival Awards Ceremony. We are Dana Kendall, Jeremy Kinser, and Nate von Zumwalt, and we’re ready to serve as your eyes and ears for tonight’s festivities. We’re stationed just to the right of the stage, alongside the hundreds of white folding chairs that await this year’s filmmakers, artists, industry professionals, members of the press, and fortunate gawkers. As soon as things get underway, we’ll be listening, typing, and posting as fast as we can to update you on all of the winners and presenters, and give you a sense of what’s going on.
Once again, the Awards Ceremony takes place at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse at Kimball Junction, which is about a 15-minute drive from Main Street in downtown Park City. The Fieldhouse is a vast rectangular space, built primarily for athletics, with an elevated running track affixed to the perimeter of the structure. Festival staff and volunteers are going over their protocols, tech people are laying down wires and searching for power outlets, cameras are being set up behind us, and food is being put out for the first wave of attendees that will arrive at 6:00 p.m. Mountain Time. The stage this year is again unadorned save for three rectangular LED screens flashing this year’s vibrant graphics.
As the Festival comes to a close, our minds cast back over the past 10 days of screenings, panels, and special events. To weather that spanned from balmy, snowless days earlier in the Festival to more dry, cold but manageable days to close things out. To more voices calling for greater diversity and representation not just in terms of gender but also in terms of race, sexual orientation, and class.
A good many perspectives were offered at this year’s slate of 121 features, but rather than pat ourselves on the back for such a breadth of offerings, perhaps it’s best to take the note and agree that we continue to need more diversity, to recognize truly singular perspectives and more daring artistry, to push for greater access to resources, and to continue to listen to those who’ve been heard not nearly enough.
And with that, let’s pause for just a few minutes and wait for the 2019 Awards Ceremony to begin.