Who won big at Sundance? Depends who you ask. In prizes given out Saturday, the awards jury’s favorite feature was Ira Sachs’ Forty Shades of Blue, a drama starring Rip Torn as a veteran country music impresario with a young Russian trophy wife, and its favorite documentary was Why We Fight, a critique of American militarism directed by Eugene Jarecki (brother of Andrew Jarecki, whose Capturing the Friedmans captured the same prize two years ago). The audience favorites were Craig Brewer’s hip-hop drama Hustle & Flow, already the biggest winner in Sundance history if you measure by the $9 million fee Paramount paid for it, and the documentary Murderball, a film by Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro about wheelchair-bound rugby players.
For the first time, Sundance gave awards to foreign films as well. Again, the jury and the audience differed on the top picks. The jury’s favorite foreign feature was Zézé Gamboa’s The Hero, about the aftermath of the Angolan civil war, and its documentary pick was Leonard Retel Helmrich’s Shape of the Moon, about Muslims and Christians in Indonesia. The audience’s feature winner was Susanne Bier’s adult sibling rivalry tale Brothers, and its favorite documentary was Peter Raymont’s Shake Hands with the Devil, about Roméo Dallaire, the general who led the failed UN mission in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide.
Acting prizes went to Amy Adams, playing a pregnant Southern girl living with Northern relatives in Junebug, and to Thumbsucker star Lou Pucci, playing a high schooler still afflicted with the compulsion of the title.