Sundance 2014 Awards: 'Whiplash' & 'Alive Inside' Win Over Audiences
The official awards for the 2014 Sundance Film Festival were announced tonight at a ceremony in Park City. We've been curiosuly awaiting the results of the awards at Sundance, and now we know who won big - Whiplash, directed by Damien Chazelle, starring Miles Teller and JK Simmons in an intense drumming drama. It landed a double header win - Audience Award and Directing Award, which puts it up there with the likes of Fruitvale last year, Precious and Quinceañera as other double-header winners before. There were plenty of other expected and yet fantastic awards given out, so read on for the full list of 2014 winners.
Here's the full release of winners with synopsis info next to each. The 2014 festival wraps up this weekend.
2014 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL JURY AWARDS:
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: Whiplash (Director & Screenwriter: Damien Chazelle) — Under the direction of a ruthless instructor, a talented young drummer begins to pursue perfection at any cost, even his humanity.
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: Rich Hill (Directors: Andrew Droz Palermo, Tracy Droz Tragos) — In a rural, American town, kids face heartbreaking choices, find comfort in the most fragile of family bonds, and dream of a future of possibility.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: To Kill a Man from Chile, France (Director & Screenwriter: Alejandro Fernández Almendras) — When Jorge, a hardworking family man who's barely making ends meet, gets mugged by Kalule, a neighborhood delinquent, Jorge's son decides to confront the attacker, only to get himself shot. Even though Jorge's son nearly dies, Kalule's sentence is minimal, heightening the friction.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: Return to Homs from Syria, Germany (Director: Talal Derki) — Basset Sarout, the 19-year-old national football team goalkeeper, becomes a demonstration leader and singer, and then a fighter. Ossama, a 24-year-old renowned citizen cameraman, is critical, a pacifist, and ironic until he is detained by the regime's security forces.
The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Cutter Hodierne for Fishing Without Nets — A story of pirates in Somalia told from the perspective of a struggling, young Somali fisherman.
The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to: Ben Cotner & Ryan White for The Case Against 8 — A behind-the-scenes look inside the case to overturn California's ban on same-sex marriage. Shot over five years, the film follows the unlikely team that took the first federal marriage equality lawsuit to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Sophie Hyde for 52 Tuesdays from Australia (Director: Sophie Hyde, Screenplay & Story by: Matthew Cormack, Story by: Sophie Hyde) — Sixteen-year-old Billie’s reluctant path to independence is accelerated when her mother reveals plans for gender transition, and their time together becomes limited to Tuesdays. This emotionally charged story of desire, responsibility, and transformation was filmed over the course of a year—once a week, every week, only on Tuesdays.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard for 20,000 Days On Earth from the UK — Drama and reality combine in a fictitious 24 hours in the life of musician and international culture icon Nick Cave. With startlingly frank insights and an intimate portrayal of the artistic process, this film examines what makes us who we are and celebrates the transformative power of the creative spirit.
The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Craig Johnson & Mark Heyman for The Skeleton Twins (Director: Craig Johnson, Screenwriters: Craig Johnson, Mark Heyman) — When estranged twins Maggie and Milo feel that they’re at the end of their ropes, an unexpected reunion forces them to confront why their lives went so wrong. As the twins reconnect, they realize the key to fixing their lives may just lie in repairing their relationship.
The Screenwriting Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Eskil Vogt for Blind from Norway, Netherlands (Director & Screenwriter: Eskil Vogt) — Having recently lost her sight, Ingrid retreats to the safety of her home—a place she can feel in control, alone with her husband and her thoughts. But Ingrid's real problems lie within, not beyond the walls of her apartment, and her deepest fears and repressed fantasies soon take over.
The Editing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented by Jonathan Oppenheim to: Jenny Golden, Karen Sim for Watchers of the Sky (Director: Edet Belzberg) — Five interwoven stories of remarkable courage from Nuremberg to Rwanda, from Darfur to Syria, and from apathy to action.
The Editing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Jonathan Amos for 20,000 Days On Earth from the UK (Directors: Iain Forsyth & Jane Pollard) — Drama and reality combine in a fictitious 24 hours in the life of musician and international culture icon Nick Cave. With startlingly frank insights and an intimate portrayal of the artistic process, this film examines what makes us who we are and celebrates the transformative power of the creative spirit.
The Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Christopher Blauvelt for Low Down (Director: Jeff Preiss, Screenwriters: Amy-Jo Albany, Topper Lilien) — Based on Amy-Jo Albany's memoir, Low Down explores her heart-wrenching journey to adulthood while being raised by her father, bebop pianist Joe Albany, as he teeters between incarceration and addiction in the urban decay and waning bohemia of Hollywood in the 1970s.
The Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to: Rachel Beth Anderson, Ross Kauffman for E-TEAM (Directors: Katy Chevigny, Ross Kauffman) — E-TEAM is driven by the high-stakes investigative work of four intrepid human rights workers, offering a rare look at their lives at home and their dramatic work in the field.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Use of Animation was presented to: Watchers of the Sky (Director: Edet Belzberg) — Five interwoven stories of remarkable courage from Nuremberg to Rwanda, from Darfur to Syria, and from apathy to action.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Intuitive Filmmaking was presented to: The Overnighters (Director: Jesse Moss) — Desperate, broken men chase their dreams and run from their demons in the North Dakota oil fields. A local Pastor's decision to help them has extraordinary and unexpected consequences.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Musical Score was presented to: The Octopus Project for Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter (Director: David Zellner, Screenwriters: David Zellner, Nathan Zellner) — A lonely Japanese woman becomes convinced that a satchel of money buried in a fictional film is, in fact, real. Abandoning her structured life in Tokyo for the frozen Minnesota wilderness, she embarks on an impulsive quest to search for her lost mythical fortune.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent was presented to: Justin Simien for Dear White People (Director & Screenwriter: Justin Simien) — Four black students attend an Ivy League college where a riot breaks out over an “African American” themed party thrown by white students. With tongue planted firmly in cheek, the film explores racial identity in postracial America while weaving a story about forging one's unique path in the world.
A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for the Delightful Ensemble Performance, and How the Director Brought His Own Unique Universe into Cinema was presented to: God Help the Girl from the UK (Director & Screenwriter: Stuart Murdoch) — This musical from Stuart Murdoch of Belle & Sebastian is about some messed up boys and girls and the music they made.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematic Bravery was presented to: We Come as Friends from France, Austria (Director: Hubert Sauper) — We Come as Friends is a modern odyssey, a science fiction–like journey in a tiny homemade flying machine into the heart of Africa. At the moment when the Sudan, Africa's biggest country, is being divided into two nations, a "civilizing" pathology transcends the headlines—colonialism, imperialism, and yet-another holy war over resources.
The Short Film Audience Award, Presented by YouTube, based on web traffic for 15 short films that screened at the Festival and were concurrently featured on YouTube, was presented to: Chapel Perilous (Director & Screenwriter: Matthew Lessner) — Levi Gold is paid an unexpected visit by Robin, a door-to-door salesman with nothing to sell. The ensuing encounter forces Levi to confront his true mystical calling, and the nature of reality itself. A metaphysical comedy trip-out with Sun Araw.
2014 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AUDIENCE AWARDS:
The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic Presented by Acura, was presented to: Whiplash (Director & Screenwriter: Damien Chazelle) — Under the direction of a ruthless instructor, a talented young drummer begins to pursue perfection at any cost, even his humanity.
The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary Presented by Acura, was presented to: Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory (Director: Michael Rossato-Bennett) — Five million Americans suffer from Alzheimer's disease and dementia—many of them alone in nursing homes. A man with a simple idea discovers that songs embedded deep in memory can ease pain and awaken these fading minds. Joy and life are resuscitated, and our cultural fears over aging are confronted.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Difret from Ethiopia (Director & Screenwriter: Zeresenay Berhane Mehari) — Meaza Ashenafi is a young lawyer who operates under the government's radar helping women and children until one young girl's legal case exposes everything, threatening not only her career but her survival.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: The Green Prince from Germany, Israel, United Kingdom (Director: Nadav Schirman) — This real-life thriller tells the story of one of Israel’s prized intelligence sources, recruited to spy on his own people for more than a decade. Focusing on the complex relationship with his handler, The Green Prince is a gripping account of terror, betrayal, and unthinkable choices, along with a friendship that defies all boundaries.
The Audience Award: Best of NEXT <=> was presented to: Imperial Dreams (Director: Malik Vitthal, Screenwriters: Malik Vitthal, Ismet Prcic) — A 21-year-old, reformed gangster's devotion to his family and his future are put to the test when he is released from prison and returns to his old stomping grounds in Watts, Los Angeles.
Congrats to all of 2014's winners! This is a solid set of awards from Sundance, with lots of extra mentions for people who deserve it - everything from Justin Simien, director of Dear White People, getting a special Jury Awards, The Octopus Project winning Best Score, to the documentary The Overnighters getting an award, plus Whiplash double heading as Grand Jury and Audience Award, which will put Damien Chazelle on the map in a big way. I had an amazing time at the festival and saw quite a few films, but I did realize that Whiplash, even though my very first film, was still one of the best of the fest by the end. It's an excellent film, I hope it goes on to do very well in theaters. Follow the last of our Sundance 2014 coverage.