The 2015 Sundance Film Festival Awards Have Been Announced

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2015 Sundance Film Festival Awards

The awards for the 2015 Sundance Film Festival were announced at a special ceremony on Saturday night, January 31, and as we suspected, Alfonso Gomez-Rejon’s Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, one of the biggest sales out of the festival and our favorite movie, won both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the accompanying Audience Award in the same category. 

The coming-of-age story about a high school senior, played by Thomas Mann (from Project X), who is asked to befriend a girl with leukemia, played by Olivia Cooke, has been one of the hottest tickets at the festival since it premiered even before it was scooped up by Fox Searchlight for $12 million, a Sundance record deal. It follows in the footsteps of Oscar nominees like WhiplashPreciousLittle Miss Sunshine and Beasts of the Southern Wild, which won the jury prizes at their own Sundance premieres.

The British doc The Russian Woodpecker about a Ukrainian Chernobyl survivor was given one of the first awards, the World Cinema Documentary Grand Prize with another British documentary, Louise Osmond’s Dark Horse, winning the audience award in the same category. 

Prashant Nair’s Indian drama Umrika starring Shuraj Sharma (Life of Pi) and Tony Revolori (The Grand Budapest Hotel) won the audience award in the World Cinema Dramatic category while Slow West, which was brought to the festival by A24, won the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize. 

The mountain climbing documentary Meru from directors Jimmy Chin and E. Chai Vasarhelyi, won the Audience Award in the U.S. Documentary category, while Borderline Productions’ Josh Mond’s directorial debut James White took home the Audience Award in the NEXT category. The Grand Jury documentary award, meanwhile, went to Crystal Moselle for The Wolfpack.

The remaining awards are listed as follows: 

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented by Roger Ross Williams to:

Matthew Heineman for Cartel Land / U.S.A., Mexico (Director: Matthew Heineman) — In this classic western set in the twenty-first century, vigilantes on both sides of the border fight the vicious Mexican drug cartels. With unprecedented access, this character-driven film provokes deep questions about lawlessness, the breakdown of order, and whether citizens should fight violence with violence.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented by Cary Fukunaga to:

Robert Eggers for The Witch / U.S.A., Canada (Director and screenwriter: Robert Eggers) — New England in the 1630s: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life with five children, homesteading on the edge of an impassable wilderness. When their newborn son vanishes and crops fail, the family turns on one another. Beyond their worst fears, a supernatural evil lurks in the nearby wood. Cast: Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Lucas Dawson, Ellie Grainger.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented by Elena Fortes to:

Kim Longinotto for Dreamcatcher / United Kingdom (Director: Kim Longinotto) — Dreamcatcher takes us into a hidden world seen through the eyes of one of its survivors, Brenda Myers-Powell. A former teenage prostitute, Brenda defied the odds to become a powerful advocate for change in her community. With warmth and humor, Brenda gives hope to those who have none.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented by Taika Waititi to:

Alanté Kavaïté for The Summer of Sangaile / Lithuania, France, The Netherlands (Director and screenwriter: Alanté Kavaïté) — Seventeen-year-old Sangaile is fascinated by stunt planes. She meets a girl her age at the summer aeronautical show, near her parents’ lakeside villa. Sangaile allows Auste to discover her most intimate secret and, in the process, finds in her teenage love, the only person that truly encourages her to fly. Cast: Julija Steponaitytė, Aistė Diržiūtė.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented by Winona Ryder to:

Tim Talbott for The Stanford Prison Experiment / U.S.A. (Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Screenwriter: Tim Talbott) — Based on the actual events that took place in 1971, when Stanford professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo created what became one of the most shocking and famous social experiments of all time. Cast: Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, Tye Sheridan, Johnny Simmons, Olivia Thirlby.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact was presented by Michele Norris to:

Marc Silver for 3½ MINUTES / U.S.A. (Director: Marc Silver) — On November 23, 2012, unarmed 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis was shot at a Jacksonville gas station by Michael David Dunn. 3½ MINUTES explores the aftermath of Jordan’s tragic death, the latent and often unseen effects of racism, and the contradictions of the American criminal justice system.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking was presented by Eugene Hernandez to:

Bill Ross and Turner Ross for Western / U.S.A., Mexico (Directors: Bill Ross, Turner Ross) — For generations, all that distinguished Eagle Pass, Texas, from Piedras Negras, Mexico, was the Rio Grande. But when darkness descends upon these harmonious border towns, a cowboy and lawman face a new reality that threatens their way of life. Western portrays timeless American figures in the grip of unforgiving change.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Break Out First Feature was presented by Eugene Hernandez to:

Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe for (T)ERROR / U.S.A. (Directors: Lyric R. Cabral, David Felix Sutcliffe) — With unprecedented access to a covert counterterrorism sting, (T)ERROR develops in real time, documenting the action as it unfolds on the ground. Viewers get an unfettered glimpse of the government’s counterterrorism tactics and the murky justifications behind them through the perspective of *******, a 63-year-old Black revolutionary turned FBI informant.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented by Kristen Johnson to:

Matthew Heineman for Cartel Land / U.S.A., Mexico (Director: Matthew Heineman) — In this classic western set in the twenty-first century, vigilantes on both sides of the border fight the vicious Mexican drug cartels. With unprecedented access, this character-driven film provokes deep questions about lawlessness, the breakdown of order, and whether citizens should fight violence with violence.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Cinematography was presented by Lance Acord to:

Brandon Trost for The Diary of a Teenage Girl / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Marielle Heller) — Minnie Goetze is a 15-year-old aspiring comic-book artist, coming of age in the haze of the 1970s in San Francisco. Insatiably curious about the world around her, Minnie is a pretty typical teenage girl. Oh, except that she’s sleeping with her mother’s boyfriend. Cast: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Christopher Meloni, Kristen Wiig.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Editing was presented by Sarah Flack to:

Lee Haugen for Dope / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Rick Famuyiwa) — Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself. Cast: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision was presented by Winona Ryder to:

Advantageous / U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Phang, Screenwriters: Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Phang) — In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter, Jules, do all they can to hold on to their joy, despite the instability surfacing in their world. Cast: Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Kim.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Unparalleled Access was presented by Elena Fortes to:

The Chinese Mayor / China (Director: Hao Zhou) — Mayor Geng Yanbo is determined to transform the coal-mining center of Datong, in China’s Shanxi province, into a tourism haven showcasing clean energy. In order to achieve that, however, he has to relocate 500,000 residences to make way for the restoration of the ancient city.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact was presented by Mark Cousins to:

Pervert Park / Sweden, Denmark (Directors: Frida Barkfors, Lasse Barkfors) — Pervert Park follows the everyday lives of sex offenders in a Florida trailer park as they struggle to reintegrate into society, and try to understand who they are and how to break the cycle of sex crimes being committed.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was presented by Ingrid Kopp to:

Jim Scott for How to Change the World / United Kingdom, Canada (Director: Jerry Rothwell) — In 1971, a group of friends sails into a nuclear test zone, and their protest captures the world’s imagination. Using rare, archival footage that brings their extraordinary world to life, How to Change the World is the story of the pioneers who founded Greenpeace and defined the modern green movement.

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented by Taika Waititi to:

Germain McMicking for Partisan / Australia (Director: Ariel Kleiman, Screenwriters: Ariel Kleiman, Sarah Cyngler) — Alexander is like any other kid: playful, curious and naive. He is also a trained assassin. Raised in a hidden paradise, Alexander has grown up seeing the world filtered through his father, Gregori. As Alexander begins to think for himself, creeping fears take shape, and Gregori’s idyllic world unravels. Cast: Vincent Cassel, Jeremy Chabriel, Florence Mezzara.

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting was presented by Col Needham to:

Jack Reynor for Glassland / Ireland (Director and screenwriter: Gerard Barrett) — In a desperate attempt to reunite his broken family, a young taxi driver becomes entangled in the criminal underworld. Cast: Jack Reynor, Toni Collette, Will Poulter, Michael Smiley.

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting was presented by Mia Hanson-Løve to:

Regina Casé and Camila Márdila for The Second Mother / Brazil (Director and screenwriter: Anna Muylaert) — Having left her daughter, Jessica, to be raised by relatives in the north of Brazil, Val works as a loving nanny in São Paulo. When Jessica arrives for a visit 13 years later, she confronts her mother’s slave-like attitude and everyone in the house is affected by her unexpected behavior. Cast: Regina Casé, Michel Joelsas, Camila Márdila, Karine Teles, Lourenço Mutarelli.