Sundance likes ‘Like Crazy’

'How to Die in Oregon' wins top docu prize

Love and death ruled Park City on Saturday night as “Like Crazy,” director Drake Doremus’ heartfelt drama about a young couple trying to make a transcontinental relationship work, and HBO production “How to Die in Oregon,” helmer Peter D. Richardson’s grim documentary about physician-assisted suicide in the Beaver State, won the grand jury prizes for American films at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

Marking Doremus’ second consecutive Sundance appearance (after last year’s “Douchebag”), “Like Crazy” was clearly a big hit with the dramatic competition jury, which also bestowed a special jury prize on British co-lead Felicity Jones. Paramount and Indian Paintbrush acquired worldwide rights to “Crazy” in one of the fest’s earliest pickups, with Par set to distribute the film.

The audience awards for U.S. documentary and dramatic entries, respectively, went to “Buck,” Cindy Meehl’s portrait of real-life horse whisperer Buck Brannaman, and Iranian-American helmer Maryam Keshavarz’s “Circumstance,” a lesbian love story set in Tehran, set to be released in the U.S. by Participant Media.

The World Cinema grand jury prizes were presented to “Happy, Happy,” Norwegian director Anne Sewitsky’s comic drama about a sexually unfulfilled housewife, and “Hell and Back Again,” Danfung Dennis’ tough-minded documentary about a U.S. Marine’s traumatic experience battling Taliban forces in Afghanistan. Dennis, a war photographer, also scored the jury’s cinematography kudo for his innovative line-of-fire lensing.

Aud nods for international features were voted to “Kinyarwanda,” writer-director Alrick Brown’s drama set during the Rwandan genocide, and “Senna,” British documaker Asif Kapadia’s nonfiction portrait of Brazilian Formula One racing legend Ayrton Senna.

Sean Durkin drew the U.S. dramatic directing award for his unsettling cult-themed drama “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” acquired by Fox Searchlight during the fest. Among American docs, Jon Foy took helming honors for “Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles,” about the search for an elusive street artist.

World Cinema directing kudos were both given to British filmmakers: actor-turned-helmer Paddy Considine for “Tyrannosaur,” a gritty drama about the growing bond between a violent man and an abused housekeeper, and James Marsh for “Project Nim,” his simian-themed follow-up to “Man on Wire” (which won both the grand jury prize and the audience award for World Cinema documentary in 2008). HBO and Roadside Attractions have partnered to distribute “Project Nim” Stateside.

The Waldo Salt screenwriting award, honoring a U.S. dramatic entrant, went to writer-director Sam Levinson for “Another Happy Tale,” his film about two siblings dragged to a family wedding. World Cinema writing prize was given to Israeli scribe Erez Kav-El for “Restoration,” a tale of intergenerational strife.

In addition to Jones’ citation for “Like Crazy,” the dramatic competition jury presented a special jury prize to “Another Earth” writer-director Mike Cahill and co-scribe/producer/actress Brit Marling. As announced Friday, “Another Earth” also received the Alfred P. Sloan prize, bestowed annually on a film focusing on science or technology as a theme.

Other special jury prizes were handed to Olivia Colman and Peter Mullan for their perfs in Considine’s “Tyrannosaur”‘; U.S. docu “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey,” Constance Marks’ look at Kevin Clash, the man behind the popular Muppet; and World Cinema docu “Position Among the Stars,” the third entry in Dutch-Indonesian helmer’s Leonard Retel Helmrich’s nonfiction trilogy examining a family living in a Jakarta slum.

In addition to “Hell and Back Again,” excellence in cinematography prizes were presented to Bradford Young for “Pariah” (U.S. dramatic); helmer Eric Strauss, Ryan Hill and Peter Hutchens for “The Redemption of General Butt Naked” (U.S. docu); and Diego F. Jimenez for “All Your Dead Ones” (World Cinema docu).

“To.get.her,” Erica Dunton’s dark thriller about five college girls who meet for a weekend vacation that turns deadly, received the Best of Next audience award.

The Sundance Institute/NHK Award for emerging filmmakers was presented to Cherien Dabis, director of “May in the Summer.” Dabis previously appeared in the dramatic competition with 2009’s “Amreeka.”

And the winners are:

Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic): “Like Crazy”

Grand Jury Prize (Documentary): “How to Die in Oregon”

Directing (Dramatic): Sean Durkin, “Martha Marcy May Marlene”

Directing (Documentary): Jon Foy, “Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles”

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award (Dramatic): Sam Levinson, “Another Happy Day”

Editing (Documentary): Matthew Hamachek and Marshall Curry, “If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front”

Special Jury Prize (Dramatic): Mike Cahill and Brit Marling, “Another Earth”

Cinematography (Dramatic): “Pariah

Special Jury Prize (Dramatic): Felicity Jones, “Like Crazy”

Special Jury Prize (Documentary): “Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey”

Audience Award (Dramatic): “Circumstance”

Audience Award (Documentary): “Buck”

World Cinema Audience Award (Dramatic): “Kinyarwanda”

World Cinema Audience Award (Documentary): “Senna”

Best of Next Audience Award: “To.get.her”

World Cinema Jury Prize (Dramatic): “Happy, Happy”

World Cinema Directing Award (Dramatic): Paddy Considine, “Tyrannosaur”

World Cinema Screenwriting Award: Erez Kav-El, “Restoration”

World Cinema Cinematography Award (Dramatic): “All Your Dead One”

World Cinema Jury Prize (Dramatic): “Tyrannosaur”

World Cinema Jury Prize (Documentary): Danfung Dennis, “Hell and Back Again”

World Cinema Directing Award (Documentary): “Project Nim”

World Cinema (Documentary) Editing Award: “The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975”

World Cinema Cinematography Award (Documentary): “Hell and Back Again”

World Cinema Special Jury Prize (Documentary): “Position Among the Stars”

Alfred P. Sloan Award: Mike Cahill and Brit Marling, “Another Earth”

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