In an unprecedented confluence of taste between the juries and audiences, two films won the four top prizes at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival.
“Quinceanera,” writer-director Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer’s “neo-sink drama” about young people caught in the warp of Latino tradition and gay gentrification in L.A.’s Echo Park, walked off with both the grand jury prize and the audience award in the dramatic competition.
In the documentary field, the same double whammy was pulled off by Christopher Quinn’s “God Grew Tired of Us,” an intimate look at how three Sudanese “lost boys” fare in their new lives in the U.S.
As of awards night, neither film had secured a domestic distribution deal, though that’s likely to change soon.
In the world cinema competition, jury prize in the dramatic section went to “13 Tzameti,” a black-and-white thriller by Georgian-born French director-writer Gela Babluani, while Mexican filmmaker Juan Carlos Rulfo’s “In the Pit,” about the workers building a second deck on the Periferico freeway in Mexico City, drew docu honors.
Audience winners for world cinema entries were drama “No. 2” and docu “De Nadie” (No One). “No. 2” is New Zealand writer-director Toa Fraser’s tale of a widow’s attempt to get her family’s groove back, and “De Nadie,” from Mexico’s Tin Dirdamal, is an account of a Central American immigrant’s perilous journey through Mexico toward the U.S. border.
Otherwise, the most honored film of the festival was “Iraq in Fragments,” which scored a hat trick by taking the awards for direction and cinematography (both by James Longley) in the documentary competition, as well as docu editing (by Billy McMillin, Fiona Otway and Longley).
Dito Montiel copped the directing prize for a U.S. dramatic feature for his personal memoir of growing up in Astoria, Queens, “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.” The Waldo Salt screenwriting prize for dramatic feature went to Hilary Brougher for her teen baby-murder drama “Stephanie Daley,” and d.p. Tom Richmond was singled out in the same category for his lensing of the terrorist bombing thriller “Right at Your Door.”
A number of special jury prizes were presented. In the dramatic competition, an award for ensemble performance went to “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints” cast members Robert Downey Jr., Shia La Boeuf, Rosario Dawson, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest and Channing Tatum. A prize for independent vision went to “In Between Days,” a minimalist drama about Korean teen immigrants in Toronto, directed by So Yong Kim and written by Kim and Bradley Rust Gray.
The docu jury voted special prizes to Ian Inaba’s “American Blackout” and Michael Cain and Matt Radecki’s “TV Junkie.”
On the world cinema side, a special jury prize for dramatic films was bestowed upon Julia Kwan’s “Eve & the Fire Horse,” while two docus were honored, Philip Groening’s “Into Great Silence” and Yonghi Yang’s “Dear Pyongyang.”
Two films tied for the jury prize in short filmmaking, Carter Smith’s “Bugcrush” and Adam Parrish King’s “The Wraith of Cobble Hill.” Jury prize for international short went to Alex Pastor’s “The Natural Route” from Spain.
Dramatic competition jurors were Miguel Arteta, Terrence Howard, Alan Rudolph, Nancy Schreiber and Audrey Wells, while documentary jury members were Joe Bini, Zana Briski, Andrew Jarecki, Alexander Payne and Heather Rae.
Judging the world cinema dramas were Irene Bignardi, Lu Chuan and Thomas Vinterberg, while international docus were assessed by Kate Amend, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade and Rachel Perkins.
Shorts jury consisted of Georgia Lee, Sydney Neter and John Vanco.
Also announced Saturday were the 2006 Sundance/NHK Intl. Filmmakers Awards, which cite screenplays by emerging filmmakers from different world territories. Winners this year are Patrice Toy for “The Spring Ritual” (Europe); Fernando Eimbcke, “Lake Tahoe” (Latin America); Cruz Angeles, “Don’t Let Me Drown” (U.S.); and Kanji Nakajima, “The Clone Returns to the Homeland” (Japan).
Jurors for these prizes were Wim Wenders, Hector Babenco, Anthony Drazan, Marcos Bernstein, Fiona Mitchell, Joan Tewksbury, Toshio Endo, Yoshio Kakeo and Shunichi Nagasaki.
The Alfred P. Sloan Prize, which includes a $20,000 prize and goes to a film spotlighting “compelling topics in science,” went to Brazilian feature “The House of Sand,” directed by Andrucha Waddington and written by Elena Soarez.