Gas-huffing widowers, S&M-obsessed secretaries, high schoolers in love with their stepmothers, Parker Posey…ah yes, its got to be that time of year again: the Sundance Film Festival. On Saturday night, America’s premier indie film Shangri-La came to a close. Herewith a look at the winners:
Grand Jury Prize Dramatic ”Personal Velocity” — Directed by Rebecca Miller (daughter of playwright Arthur Miller), ”Personal Velocity” is a trilogy of women-at-a-crossroads stories starring Kyra Sedgwick, Fairuza Balk, and you guessed it, Parker Posey. Miller’s film was a steady favorite during the festival and should find an easier journey to multiplexes than last year’s winner of this prize, ”The Believer.”
Grand Jury Prize Documentary ”Daughter From Danang” — Directed by Vincente Franco and Gail Dolgin (who gave an emotional acceptance speech chronicling her simultaneous struggles with financing the film and her battle with breast cancer), ”Danang” is a powerful look at Operation Babylift, the relocation of thousands of Amerasian orphans after the end of the Vietnam War.
Directing Award Dramatic Gary Winick, ”Tadpole” — Shot on digital video for $200,000, this Miramax pick-up (for a whopping $5 million) plays like the clever spawn of ”Rushmore” and ”The Graduate,” as newcomer Aaron Stanford has the hots for his stepmom, played by Sigourney Weaver.
Directing Award Documentary Rebecca Cammisa and Rob Fruchtman, ”Sister Helen” — One of the many films in the documentary category that got financing from HBO, ”Sister Helen” is the story of a Benedictine nun running a tough-love home for recovering addicts in the South Bronx.
Audience Award Dramatic ”Real Women Have Curves” — Crowds went nuts. In fact, almost every screening broke out into standing ovations and ”You go, girl!” hoots. Why? In an age where young girls pick up fashion rags and feel insecure about their bodies, here’s a Mexican-American teenager fresh out of high school who’s proud of her curves.
Audience Award Documentary ”AMANDLA!” — First-time director Lee Hirsch looks at and listens to the role of freedom songs in the battle against apartheid in South Africa.
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award Gordy Hoffman, ”Love Liza” — The older brother of ”Love Liza” star Philip Seymour Hoffman gave a tearful thank-you to his sibling while accepting the award for his script about a depressed, gasoline-sniffing widower trying to come to grips with his shattered life.
Cinematography Award Dramatic ”Personal Velocity”
Cinematography Award Documentary ”Blue Vinyl”
Freedom of Expression Award ”AMANDLA!”
World Cinema Audience Award (tie) ”Bloody Sunday” (U.K., Ireland) and ”The Last Kiss” (Italy)
Jury Prize in Latin American Cinema ”The Trespasser”
Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking ”Gasline”
Special Jury Prizes Dramatic Films for Originality ”Secretary”; for Ensemble Cast ”Manito”; for Acting America Ferrera and Lupe Ontiveros, ”Real Women Have Curves.”
Special Jury Prizes Documentaries ”How to Draw a Bunny” and ”Señorita Extraviada.”