“Winter’s Bone,” director Debra Granik’s spare, suspenseful tale of a teenage girl’s coming-of-age in the rural Ozarks, and “Restrepo,” an intense, close-up documentary look at a group of American soldiers in Afghanistan by Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington, won the top jury prizes for American films at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival awards ceremony, held at the Racquet Club on Saturday evening.
Audience awards for American competition entries were voted for “Happythankyoumoreplease,” writer-director Josh Radnor’s sitcom-style comedy about young New Yorkers trying to deal with grownup issues, and the docu “Waiting for Superman,” Davis Guggenheim’s agitating assessment of the failing of the American public schools system.
In World Cinema, the dramatic grand jury prize winner was “Animal Kingdom,” Australian writer-director David Michod’s brooding drama about a Melbourne crime family, while “The Red Chapel,” Danish helmer Mads Bruegger’s prankish peek inside North Korea, copped the top documentary prize.
Aud winners for international features were Peruvian writer-director Javier Fuentes-Leon’s “Contracorriente” (Undertow), a ghost story with unusual sexual complications, and “Waste Land,” British documaker Lucy Walker’s look at Brazilian artist Vik Muniz’s photographic project involving the pickers of recycled garbage near Rio.
Directing award for the U.S. dramatic competition went to Eric Mendelsohn for “3 Backyards,” the observational study of the dramatic in everyday life. Among U.S. docs, Leon Gast took directing honors for “Smash His Camera,” about paparazzo Ron Galella.
World Cinema directing honors were given to Bolivian helmer Juan Carlos Valdivia for “Southern District,” a view of the changes taking place in Bolivia as seen through a well-to-do family, and to Switzerland’s Christian Frei for his docu “Space Tourists,” about wealthy adventurers who buy trips to the International Space Station.
Waldo Salt screenwriting awards went to Granik and Anne Rosellini for “Winter’s Bone” and Valdivia for “Southern District.”
Special jury prizes were bestowed in several categories: to a U.S. dramatic entry for “Sympathy for Delicious,” directed by Mark Ruffalo and written by Christopher Thornton, who also starred as a paralyzed DJ who gets involved in faith healing; to a U.S. documentary for Josh Fox’s “GasLand,” about the effects of natural gas on air and water; to the World Cinema docu “Enemies of the People,” directed by Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath, about recent Cambodian history and the struggle for closure, and for breakout performance in a World Cinema entry to Tatiana Maslany for her performance as a precocious teenager in “Grown Up Movie Star” from Canada.
Excellence in cinematography awards were given in four categories: to Zak Mulligan for director Diane Bell’s “Obselidia” (U.S. dramatic); to Kirsten Johnson and Laura Poitras for Poitras’ “The Oath” (U.S. docu); to cinematographer-directors Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat for “The Man Next Door,” from Argentina (world dramatic); and to Kate McCullough and Michael Lavelle for Ken Wardrop’s “His and Hers,” from Ireland (world docu).
Editing awards were accorded to documentaries: Penelope Falk for Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg’s “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” (U.S.) and Joelle Alexis for Yael Hersonski’s “A Film Unfinished” from Germany and Israel (world).
Sixteen films vied for awards in the two competitive U.S. sections, while there were 14 world cinema dramatic features and 12 world documentaries in the running.
The fest launched a category this year, Next, devoted to films made for less than $50,000, and the Best of Next award was won by the screwball comedy “Homewrecker,” directed by brothers Todd and Brad Barnes and written by them and Sophie Goodhart. Unusually, this award was determined by ballots cast by the eight filmmakers participating in the category.
Bell’s “Obselidia” was the winner of the annual Alfred P. Sloan prize for a feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme. Award includes $20,000 in cash.
David Hyde Pierce, who starred in the Midnight feature “The Perfect Host,” presided over the ceremonies. Presenters included Louis C.K. and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Previously announced jury prize winners for short filmmaking were Jeremy Konner’s “Drunk History: Douglass and Lincoln” (U.S.) and Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland’s “The Six Dollar Fifty Man” from New Zealand (world). Honorable mentions went to Cynthia Wade’s “Born Sweet” (U.S./Cambodia), Jim Owen’s “Can We Talk?” (U.K.), James Blagden’s “Dock Ellis and the LSD No-No” (U.S.), Alex Montoya’s “How I Met Your Father” (Spain), Amy Grappell’s “Quadrangle” (U.S.), Eric Lynne’s “Rob and Valentyna in Scotland” (U.S./UK) and Ariel Kleiman’s “Young Love” (Australia).
The Sundance/NHK Intl. Filmmakers Awards are given annually to emerging filmmakers and projects in the U.S., Japan, Europe and Latin America. Winners this year were Amat Escalante, “Heli,” from Mexico; Andrei Zvyagintsev, “Elena,” from Russia; Daisuke Yamaoka, “The Wonderful Lives of Asahigaoka” (written with Yugo Eto), from Japan; and Benh Zeitlin, “Beasts of the Southern Wild” (written with Lucy Alibar) from the U.S.