2009 Sundance Film Festival Announces Awards

Press Release

The jury and audience award-winners of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival were announced at the Festival’s closing Awards Ceremony hosted by actor Jane Lynch in Park City, Utah. Films receiving jury awards were selected from the four categories: U.S. Dramatic and Documentary Competition and World Dramatic and Documentary Competition. Films in these categories were also eligible for the 2009 Sundance Film Festival Audience Awards. The U.S. Audience Awards presented by Honda were announced by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The World Cinema Audience Awards were announced by Benjamin Bratt. Highlights from the Awards Ceremony can be seen on the Sundance Channel, the Official Television Network of the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, beginning Sunday, January 25, as well as on the official Festival website, www.sundance.org/festival.

“This has been a truly remarkable year for Sundance in ways even we did not fully predict. We opened the Festival with animation and closed with science fiction, and in between showcased some of the best films we’ve ever seen,” says Geoffrey Gilmore, Director, Sundance Film Festival. “People ask us how independent film has evolved over the past 25 years and the answer is, quite simply, it’s better.”

“We knew this would be an historic year, given our anniversary and the inauguration,” says John Cooper, Director of Programming, Sundance Film Festival. “But I have to say that adding to the excitement and experience was the selection of truly high quality films in this year’s competition. We were blown away and so were audiences.”

The 2009 Sundance Film Festival Juries consisted of:

U.S. Dramatic Competition:, Virginia Madsen, Scott McGehee, Maud Nadler, Mike White and Boaz Yakin; U.S. Documentary Competition: Patrick Creadon, Carl Deal, Andrea Meditch, Sam Pollard and Marina Zenovich; World Dramatic Competition: Colin Brown (U.S.), Christine Jeffs (New Zealand) and Vibeke Windeløv (Denmark); World Documentary Competition: Gillian Armstrong (Australia), Thom Powers (U.S.); Hubert Sauper (France); Shorts Competition: Gerardo Naranjo, Lou Taylor Pucci and Sharon Swart; The Alfred P. Sloan Prize: Fran Bagenal, Rodney Brooks, Raymond Gesteland, Jeffrey Nachmanoff and Alex Rivera.

For the 2009 Sundance Film Festival, 118 feature-length films were selected including 91 world premieres, 16 North American premieres, and 5 U.S. premieres representing 21 countries with 42 first-time filmmakers, including 28 in competition. These films were selected from 3,661 feature- length film submissions composed of 1,905 U.S. and 1,756 international feature-length films.

The 2009 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners:

The Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Documentary was presented to We Live in Public, directed by Ondi Timoner. The film portrays the story of the Internet’s revolutionary impact on human interaction as told through the eyes of maverick web pioneer, Josh Harris, and his transgressive art project that shocked New York.

The Grand Jury Prize: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire, directed by Lee Daniels and written by Damien Paul. The film tells the redemptive story of Precious Jones, a young girl in Harlem struggling to overcome tremendous obstacles and discover her own voice.

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Rough Aunties, directed by Kim Longinotto. Fearless, feisty and unwavering, the ‘Rough Aunties’ protect and care for the abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa. United Kingdom

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to The Maid (La Nana), directed by Sebastián Silva. When her mistress brings on another servant to help with the chores, a bitter and introverted maid wreaks havoc on the household. Chile

The Audience Awards are presented to both a dramatic and documentary film in four Competition categories as voted by Sundance Film Festival audiences. The 2009 Sundance Film Festival Audience Awards are presented by Honda.

The Audience Award presented by Honda: U.S. Documentary was presented to The Cove, directed by Louie Psihoyos. The horrors of a secret cove nestled off a small, coastal village in Japan are revealed by a group of activists.

The Audience Award presented by Honda: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire, directed by Lee Daniels and written by Damien Paul. The film tells the redemptive story of Precious Jones, a young girl in Harlem struggling to overcome tremendous obstacles and discover her own voice.

The World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary was presented to Afghan Star, directed by Havana Marking. After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, Pop Idol has come to television in Afghanistan: millions are watching and voting for their favorite singer. Marking’s film follows the dramatic stories of four contestants as they risk their lives to sing. Afghanistan/United Kingdom

The World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic was presented to An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig from a screenplay by Nick Hornby. In the early 60s, a sharp 16-year-old with sights set on Oxford meets a handsome older man whose sophistication enraptures and sidetracks both her and her parents. United Kingdom

Directing Awards recognize excellence in directing for dramatic and documentary features.

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to El General and director Natalia Almada. As great-granddaughter of President Plutarco Eliás Calles, one of Mexico’s most controversial revolutionary figures, the filmmaker paints an intimate portrait of Mexico.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Sin Nombre, written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Filmmaker Fukunaga’s first-hand experiences with Mexican immigrants seeking the promise of the U.S. form the basis of this epic Spanish-language dramatic thriller.

The World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary was presented to Afghan Star, directed by Havana Marking. After 30 years of war and Taliban rule, Pop Idol has come to television in Afghanistan: millions are watching and voting for their favorite singer. Marking’s film follows the dramatic stories of four contestants as they risk their lives to sing. Afghanistan/United Kingdom

The World Cinema Directing Award: Dramatic was presented to Five Minutes of Heaven, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel from a screenplay by Guy Hibbert. Two men from the same town but from different sides of the Irish political divide discover that the past is never dead. United Kingdom/Ireland

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award was presented to Nicholas Jasenovec and Charlyne Yi for Paper Heart. Even though performer Charlyne Yi doesn’t believe in love, she bravely embarks on a quest to discover its true nature – a journey that takes on surprising urgency when she meets unlikely fellow traveler, actor Michael Cera.

The World Cinema Screenwriting Award was presented to Five Minutes of Heaven, directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel from a screenplay by Guy Hibbert. Two men from the same town but from different sides of the Irish political divide discover that the past is never dead. United Kingdom/Ireland

The U.S. Documentary Editing Award was presented to Sergio. Directed by Greg Barker and edited by Karen Schmeer, the film examines the role of the United Nations and the international community through the life and experiences of Sergio Vieira de Mello, the U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights.

The World Cinema Documentary Editing Award was presented to Burma VJ. Directed by Anders Østergaard and edited by Janus Billeskov Jansen and Thomas Papapetros. The film takes place in September 2007 as Burmese journalists risk life imprisonment to report from inside their sealed-off country. Denmark

The Excellence in Cinematography Awards honor exceptional cinematography in both dramatic and documentary categories.

The Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to The September Issue. With unprecedented access, director R.J. Cutler, cinematographer Bob Richman and their crew shot for nine months to capture editor-in-chief Anna Wintour and her team preparing the 2007 Vogue September issue, widely accepted as the “fashion bible” for the year’s trends.

The Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to Sin Nombre, written and directed by Cary Joji Fukunaga. Cinematographer: Adriano Goldman. Filmmaker Fukunaga’s first-hand experiences with Mexican immigrants seeking the promise of the U.S. form the basis of this epic Spanish-language dramatic thriller.

The World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary was presented to Big River Man, John Maringouin’s documentary about at an overweight, wine-swilling Slovenian world-record-holding endurance swimmer who resolves to brave the mighty Amazon in nothing but a Speedo. U.S.A./United Kingdom

The World Cinema Cinematography Award: Dramatic was presented to An Education, directed by Lone Scherfig from a screenplay by Nick Hornby. Cinematographer: John De Borman. In the early 1960s, a sharp 16-year-old girl with sights set on Oxford meets a handsome older man whose sophistication enraptures and sidetracks both her and her parents. United Kingdom

A World Cinema Special Jury Prize for Originality was presented to Louise-Michel, directed by Benoit Delépine and Gustave de Kervern, about a group of disgruntled female French factory workers who, after the factory abruptly closes, pool their paltry compensation money to hire a hit man to knock off the corrupt executive behind the closure. France

A World Cinema Special Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Tibet in Song directed by Ngawang Choephel. Through the story of Tibetan music, this film depicts the determined efforts of Tibetan people, both in Tibet and in exile, to preserve their unique cultural identity. Choephel served six years of an 18-year prison sentence for filming in Tibet. Tibet

A World Cinema Special Jury Prize for Acting was presented to Catalina Saavedra for her portrayal of a bitter and introverted maid in The Maid (La Nana). Chile

A Special Jury Prize: U.S. Documentary was presented to Good Hair, directed by Jeff Stilson, in which comedian Chris Rock travels the world to examine the culture of African-American hair and hairstyles.

A Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Independence was presented to Humpday, Lynn Shelton’s farcical comedy about straight male bonding gone a little too far.

A Special Jury Prize for Acting was presented to Mo’Nique for her portrayal of a mentally ill mother who both emotionally and physically imprisons her daughter in Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire.

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The editors of Digital Content Producer and millimeter post live from the Sundance Film Festival as the news happens. Check back several times a day for the latest industry news, reports from press conferences, and product introductions.

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