Well, that’s a wrap. One seriously crazy time over the last 10 days of January comes to a close with a stellar outcome. More press, more money, more important films sold, more parties, more people than ever before. Makes you wonder if our little resort town can handle the Sundance Film Festivals of the future.
The final Saturday night awards party at the Park City Racquet Club had the indoor tennis courts looking like a snazzy night club with mood cubes on cocktail tables, glowing white towers, DJs spinning hip hop mixes and waiters passing around cupcakes with Sparkler candles stuck in them.
With the famous faces gone, the room overflowed with talented (and very happy) writers, directors, publicists and press. The climate at this year’s Fest seemed much more relaxed about the competition and the sales of films. One thing of note was the abundance of political films that took home awards. The American Documentary Grand Jury Prize went to Why We Fight, a film that examines the economic, political, and ideological forces that drive American militarism and the war in Iraq. The Festival’s first-ever World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize belonged to Shape of the Moon, about three generations of a Christian family living in modern-day Indonesia, the largest Muslim community in the world. The Hero (Angola/Portugal/France) took the World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize. It follows a 20-year veteran of the Angolan civil war who returns to the capital city of Luanda. Canadian film Shake Hands with the Devil won the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award for its story of Canadian Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire and his controversial United Nations peacekeeping mission to Rwanda during the 1994 genocide. The Danish film Brothers, about two brothers dealing with family dynamics after one is sent to war in Afghanistan received the World Cinema Audience Dramatic Award.
Other winners included:
Forty Shades of Blue – Dramatic Grand Jury Prize.
Hustle and Flow – Dramatic Audience Award
Murderball – Documentary Audience Award/Special Jury Prize for Editing
Jeff Feuerzeig, The Devil and Daniel Johnston – American Documentary Directing Award
Noah Baumbach, The Squid and the Whale – Dramatic Directing Award (The squid also won The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award)
The Education of Shelby Knox – American Excellence in Cinematography Award
After Innocence – Special Jury Prize for Editing
Family Portrait – Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking
Wasp – Jury Prize in International Short Filmmaking
So what happens now? So far, 20 Sundance films have been bought by independent distributors, TV markets and major studios- and that doesn’t include the 26 premieres you will soon see on the silver screen. The most expensive film to date is Hustle and Flow which sold for $16 million. I believe that’s a record for Sundance. Some reported there was an overabundance of sexual explicitness running rampant in this year’s selections. If there was, I couldn’t find it (darn it :)). In the 10 films I saw, only Inside Deep Throat touched that statement. But I found it compelling rather than nauseating or offensive. Still, be prepared for a little shock value when these flicks hit the screen sometime later this year.