Sundance paints ‘Blue’

'Forty Shades,' 'Fight,' 'Hustle' top fest

See Winners

PARK CITY — Memphis proved to be the lucky charm at the Sundance Film Festival this year, as the winners of the top awards both were filmed in the Tennessee music capital.

Ira Sachs’ “Forty Shades of Blue,” a small, dark-horse film about the disintegration of a marriage between an older music producer and his young Russian wife, prevailed over several more highly touted entries to take the American Dramatic Grand Jury Prize at the awards ceremony.

Less surprisingly, the American Dramatic Audience Award went to the fest’s biggest commercial success story, Craig Brewer’s “Hustle & Flow,” the story of a pimp who pursues his dream of becoming a rapper. Pic was acquired by Paramount for $9 million after its first screening.

On the documentary side, Eugene Jarecki’s “Why We Fight,” an analysis of the growth of the military-industrial complex and its driving force in U.S. foreign policy since World War II, snared the Grand Jury Prize for American docu.

Doc audience prizewinner was Henry Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro’s “Murderball,” a look at quadriplegic rugby as played — very roughly — in wheelchairs.

Kudos galore

Sundance gave out more prizes this year than ever, as the 2005 edition added a full slate of world cinema awards in both the dramatic and documentary categories. General reckoning placed the overall quality of the docs — American and foreign — far better than the erratic nature of the dramatic fare in both divisions.

The festival’s first World Cinema Dramatic Jury Prize was given to “The Hero,” an Angola/Portugal/France co-production about the aftermath of the civil war in Angola by first-time director Zeze Gamboa. World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize went to Dutch helmer Leonard Retel Helmrich’s “Shape of the World,” a verite look at life in Jakarta, Indonesia.

Audiences voted their top world cinema dramatic award to Susanne Bier’s “Brothers” from Denmark, a study of two very different siblings at a time of unusual crisis, while most popular world cinema docu with audiences was Peter Raymont’s “Shake Hands With the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallaire” from Canada, about the Canadian general who could do nothing to stop the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Doubly honored on Saturday night was Noah Baumbach, who won the jury’s dramatic directing award as well as the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for “The Squid and the Whale,” his highly personal portrait of the effects of their parents’ divorce on two brothers in 1980s Brooklyn.

“Hustle & Flow” also copped two prizes, as Amelia Vincent won the dramatic cinematography award.

Docu directing prize went to Jeff Feuerzeig for “The Devil and Daniel Johnston,” a look at a bipolar musical genius, while docu cinematography nod went to Gary Griffin for “The Education of Shelby Knox.”

Special delivery

The American dramatic jury, which consisted of Chris Eyre, Vera Farmiga, John C. Reilly, B. Ruby Rich and Christine Vachon, gave two special jury prizes for acting, to Amy Adams for “Junebug” and to Lou Pucci for “Thumbsucker.” It also presented a pair of special jury prizes for originality of vision, to Miranda July, who wrote, directed and acted in “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” and to Rian Johnson, director of “Brick.”

The American documentary jury, which was filled out by Jean-Philippe Boucicaut, Gail Dolgin, Steve James, Jehane Noujaim and Stacy Peralta, gave a special jury prize for editing to “Murderball’s” Geoffrey Richman and Conor O’Neill, and a special jury prize to “After Innocence,” directed by Jessica Sanders.

World cinema dramatic jury, which featured Antonia Bird, Mike Goodridge and Fernando Leon de Aranoa, presented a special jury prize to Jorge Gaggero’s “Live-In Maid,” an Argentina/Spain co-production, while the world docu jury, comprising Miriam Cutler, Jean Perret and Penny Woolcock, gave special jury prizes to Sean McAllister’s “The Liberace of Baghdad” (U.K.) and Simone Bitton’s “Wall” (France/Israel).

The Alfred P. Sloan Prize, a $20,000 cash award for a film on science and technology, went to Werner Herzog’s “Grizzly Man,” about the life and death of grizzly bear lover, protector and victim Timothy Treadwell, which was among many festgoers’ selections as best films of the festival.

The American dramatic film widely considered to have been most unfairly neglected by the jury was “Police Beat,” a highly distinctive and sensationally beautiful second feature by “The Woman Chaser” director Robinson Devor.

Fest’s best

“The Squid and the Whale,” “Thumbsucker,” “Me and You and Everyone We Know,” “Brick,” “Hustle & Flow” and, to a less consistent extent, “Forty Shades of Blue” were generally the other films mentioned as the best by festgoers who saw most of the competition titles. There also were several dubious competition titles that, per general opinion, belonged either in other sections such as Frontier or nowhere at all.

The world dramatic competition was short on world preems, and it will be interesting to follow the section’s progress over the coming year or two to see if the fest can attract more major titles; its best-liked features, such as “Brothers” and “This Charming Girl,” had already been seen at other fests.

Among its world preems, the high-profile Premieres section once again served up quite a few relative disappointments. The opener, Don Roos’ “Happy Endings,” received a sharply divided response. Richard Shepard’s “The Matador,” picked up by Miramax, was regarded as a decent commercial entry, and Rodrigo Garcia’s “Nine Lives,” George C. Wolfe’s “Lackawanna Blues” and Andy Fickman’s “Reefer Madness” enjoyed receptions that were more favorable than not. Less-than-stellar reactions were accorded to numerous others, including Hal Hartley’s sci-fier “The Girl From Monday,” Michael Hoffman’s “Game 6,” Thomas Vinterberg’s “Dear Wendy,” Dave McKean’s “MirrorMask” and Arie Posin’s “The Chumscrubber.”

Two big hits among the Special Screenings were Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine’s revelatory documentary “Ballets Russes,” filled with never-before-seen archival footage, and Luc Jacquet’s “The Emperor’s Journey,” about Emperor penguins in Antarctica.

At least two films, Ben Wolfinsohn’s “High School Record” and David LaChapelle’s “Rize,” jumped out from the pack in the American Spectrum.

Most debated film, pro and con, of the Frontier section was William Greaves’ “Symbiopsychotaxiplasm: Take 2½,” while the Midnight attraction that sparked the most talk was David Slade’s elegantly shocking “Hard Candy.”

And the winners are…

Audience Award World Cinema: Documentary
“Shake Hands with the Devil: The Journey of Romeo Dallair”
Directed by Peter Raymont

Audience Award World Cinema: Dramatic
Directed by Susanne Bier

Audience Award American Documentary
Directors Henry-Alex Rubin & Dana Adam Shapiro

Audience Award American Dramatic
“Hustle & Flow”
Director / Screenwirter Craig Brewer

Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary
“Shape of the Moon”
Directed by Leonard Retel Helmrich

Jury Prize for World Cinema Dramatic
“The Hero”
Directed by Zeze Gamboa

Grand Jury Prize Documentary
“Why We Fight”
Director / Screenwriter: Eugene Jarecki

Grand Jury Prize Dramatic
“Forty Shades of Blue”
Directed by Ira Sachs

Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award (SPLIT)
“The Way I Spent the End of the World”
Directed by Catalin Mitulescu
“The Minder”
Directed by Rodrigo Moreno
“Virtual Love”
Directed by Richard Press
“Yomoyama Blues”
Directed by Mipo Oh

Alfred P. Sloan Prize
“Grizzly Man”
Directed by Werner Herzog

Special Jury Award in Short Filmmaking
“Family Portrait”
Directed by Patricia Riggen

Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking: International
Directed by Andrea Arnold

Special Jury Award in Short Filmmaking (Honorable Mention) (SPLIT)
“One Weekend a Month”
Directed by Eric Escobar
Directed by Chris Landreth
“Small Town Secrets”
Directed by Katherine Leggett
“Tama Tu”
Directed by Taika Waititi
“Victoria Para Chino”
Directed by Cary Fukunaga

Special Jury Award in Short Filmmaking
“Bullets in the Hood: A Bed-Stuy Story”
For Grassroots Political Filmmaking Directed by Terrence Fisher and Daniel Howard

Special Jury Prize Dramatic – Acting (SPLIT)
Amy Adams for the film “Junebug”
Lou Pucci for the film “Thumbsucker”

Special Jury Prize Dramatic – Originality of Vision (SPLIT)
“Me and You and Everyone We Know”
Directed/Screenwriter Miranda July
Directed by Rian Johnson

Special Jury Prize Documentary (SPLIT)
“After Innocence”
Directed by Jessica Sanders
For Editing
Directed by Henry-Alex Rubin & Dana Adam Shapiro; Edited by Geoffrey Richman & Conor O’Neill; Assistant Editors: David Egan, Jamie Gross, Steven Walker

Special Jury Prize World Documentary (SPLIT)
Directed by Simone Bitton“The Liberace of Baghdad”
Directed by Sean McAllister

Special Jury Prize World Dramatic (SPLIT)
“The Forest for the Trees”
Director / Screenwriter: Maren Ade“Live-In Maid”
Directed by Jorge Gaggero

Excellence in Cinematography Award Documentary
“The Education of Shelby Knox”
Directed by Marion Lipschutz & Rose Rosenblatt Edited by Rose Rosenblatt and Jeremy Stulberg

Excellence in Cinematography Award Dramatic
“Hustle & Flow”
Directed by Craig Brewer; Edited by Billy Fox

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award
“The Squid and the Whale”
Director / Screenwriter Noah Baumbach

Directing Award Documentary
“The Devil and Daniel Johnston”
Directed by Jeff Feuerzeig

Directing Award Dramatic
“The Squid and the Whale”
Director / Screenwriter Noah Baumbach