SUNDANCE 2016

Sundance 2016 Awards: 'Birth of a Nation' Wins Audience & Grand Jury

by
January 30, 2016

Sundance 2016 - The Birth of a Nation

The official awards for the 2016 Sundance Film Festival were announced tonight at a ceremony in Park City. We've been anxiously awaiting the results of the awards at Sundance, and now we know who won big - The Birth of a Nation, the powerful directional debut of actor Nate Parker (read my review). The film won both the Audience Award and the Grand Jury Prize, which has been the case at Sundance for the last four years (last year Me & Earl & the Dying Girl won both). In addition, the other Audience Awards were the docs Jim: The James Foley Story and Sonita, and the film First Girl I Loved. Read on for the full list.

Here's the full release of winners with synopsis info next to each. The 2016 festival wraps up this weekend.

2016 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL JURY AWARDS:

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: The Birth of a Nation (Director & Screenwriter: Nate Parker) — Set against the antebellum South, this story follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. After witnessing countless atrocities against fellow slaves, Nat devises a plan to lead his people to freedom. Cast: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Mark Boone Jr.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: Weiner (Directors: Josh Kriegman, Elyse Steinberg) — With unrestricted access to Anthony Weiner's New York City mayoral campaign, this film reveals the human story behind the scenes of a high-profile political scandal as it unfolds, and offers an unfiltered look at how much today's politics is driven by an appetite for spectacle.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: Sand Storm / Israel (Director & Screenwriter: Elite Zexer) — When their entire lives are shattered, two Bedouin women struggle to change the unchangeable rules, each in her own individual way. Cast: Lamis Ammar, Ruba Blal-Asfour, Hitham Omari, Khadija Alakel, Jalal Masrwa.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: Sonita / Germany, Iran, Switzerland (Director: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami) — If 18-year-old Sonita had a say, Michael Jackson and Rihanna would be her parents and she'd be a rapper who tells the story of Afghan women and their fate as child brides. She finds out that her family plans to sell her to an unknown husband for $9,000.

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to: Roger Ross Williams for his film Life, Animated — Owen Suskind, an autistic boy who could not speak for years, slowly emerged from his isolation by immersing himself in Disney animated movies. Using these films as a roadmap, he reconnects with his loving family and the wider world in this emotional coming-of-age story.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan for their film Swiss Army Man — Hank, a hopeless man stranded in the wild, discovers a mysterious dead body. Together the two embark on an epic journey to get home. As Hank realizes the body is the key to his survival, this once-suicidal man is forced to convince a dead body that life is worth living. Cast: Paul Dano, Daniel Radcliffe, Mary Elizabeth Winstead.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Michal Marczak for his film All These Sleepless Nights / Poland — What does it mean to be awake in a world that seems satisfied to be asleep? Kris and Michal push their experiences of life and love to a breaking point as they restlessly roam the city streets in search of answers, adrift in the euphoria and uncertainty of youth.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Felix van Groeningen for his film Belgica / Belgium, France, Netherlands — In the midst of Belgium's nightlife scene, two brothers start a bar and get swept up in its success. Cast: Stef Aerts, Tom Vermeir, Charlotte Vandermeersch, Hélène De Vos.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Chad Hartigan for Morris from America — Thirteen-year-old Morris, a hip-hop loving American, moves to Heidelberg, Germany, with his father. In this completely foreign land, he falls in love with a local girl, befriends his German tutor-turned-confidant, and attempts to navigate the unique trials and tribulations of adolescence. Cast: Markees Christmas, Craig Robinson, Carla Juri, Lina Keller, Jakub Gierszał, Levin Henning.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was presented to: Penny Lane and Thom Stylinski for NUTS! — The mostly true story of Dr. John Romulus Brinkley, an eccentric genius who built an empire with his goat-testicle impotence cure and a million-watt radio station. Animated reenactments, interviews, archival footage, and one seriously unreliable narrator trace his rise from poverty to celebrity and influence in 1920s America.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for For Social Impact Filmmaking was presented to: Trapped (Director: Dawn Porter) — American abortion clinics are in a fight for survival. Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws are increasingly being passed by states that maintain they ensure women’s safety and health, but as clinics continue to shut their doors, opponents believe the real purpose of these laws is to outlaw abortion.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Writing was presented to: Kate Plays Christine / (Director: Robert Greene) — This psychological thriller follows actor Kate Lyn Sheil as she prepares to play the role of Christine Chubbuck, a Florida television host who committed suicide on air in 1974. Christine’s tragic death was the inspiration for Network, and the mysteries surrounding her final act haunt Kate and the production.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking was presented to: The Bad Kids / (Directors: Keith Fulton, Lou Pepe) — At a remote Mojave Desert high school, extraordinary educators believe that empathy and life skills, more than academics, give at-risk students command of their own futures. This coming-of-age story watches education combat the crippling effects of poverty in the lives of these so-called "bad kids."

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award was presented to: As You Are (Director: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Screenwriters: Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, Madison Harrison) — As You Are is the telling and retelling of a relationship between three teenagers as it traces the course of their friendship through a construction of disparate memories prompted by a police investigation. Cast: Owen Campbell, Charlie Heaton, Amandla Stenberg, John Scurti, Scott Cohen, Mary Stuart Masterson.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance was presented to: Joe Seo for Spa Night (Director & Screenwriter: Andrew Ahn) — Los Angeles’s Korean spas serve not only as meeting places but also as a bridge between past and future for generations of immigrant families. Spa Night explores one Korean American family’s dreams and realities as each member struggles with the overlap of personal desire, disillusionment, and sense of tradition. Cast: Joe Seo, Haerry Kim, Youn Ho Cho, Tae Song, Ho Young Chung, Linda Han.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Individual Performance was presented by to: Melanie Lynskey in The Intervention (Director & Screenwriter: Clea DuVall) — A weekend getaway for four couples takes a sharp turn when one of the couples discovers the entire trip was orchestrated to host an intervention on their marriage. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Cobie Smulders, Alia Shawkat, Clea DuVall, Natasha Lyonne, Ben Schwartz.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Individual Performance was presented to: Craig Robinson in Morris from America (Director & Screenwriter: Chad Hartigan) — Thirteen-year-old Morris, a hip-hop loving American, moves to Heidelberg, Germany, with his father. In this completely foreign land, he falls in love with a local girl, befriends his German tutor-turned-confidant, and attempts to navigate the unique trials and tribulations of adolescence. Cast: Markees Christmas, Craig Robinson, Carla Juri, Lina Keller, Jakub Gierszał, Levin Henning.

2016 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AUDIENCE AWARDS:

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was presented to: The Birth of a Nation (Director & Screenwriter: Nate Parker) — Set against the antebellum South, this story follows Nat Turner, a literate slave and preacher whose financially strained owner, Samuel Turner, accepts an offer to use Nat’s preaching to subdue unruly slaves. After witnessing countless atrocities against fellow slaves, Nat devises a plan to lead his people to freedom. Cast: Nate Parker, Armie Hammer, Aja Naomi King, Jackie Earle Haley, Gabrielle Union, Mark Boone Jr.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was presented to: Jim: The James Foley Story (Director: Brian Oakes) — The public execution of American conflict journalist James Foley captured the world’s attention, but he was more than just a man in an orange jumpsuit. Seen through the lens of his close childhood friend, Jim: The James Foley Story moves from adrenaline-fueled front lines and devastated neighborhoods of Syria into the hands of ISIS.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Between Sea and Land / Colombia (Director: Carlos del Castillo, Screenwriter: Manolo Cruz) — Alberto, who suffers from an illness that binds him into a body that doesn’t obey him, lives with his loving mom, who dedicates her life to him. His sickness impedes him from achieving his greatest dream of knowing the sea, despite one being located just across the street. Cast: Manolo Cruz, Vicky Hernandéz, Viviana Serna, Jorge Cao, Mile Vergara, Javier Sáenz.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Sonita / Germany, Iran, Switzerland (Director: Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami) — If 18-year-old Sonita had a say, Michael Jackson and Rihanna would be her parents and she'd be a rapper who tells the story of Afghan women and their fate as child brides. She finds out that her family plans to sell her to an unknown husband for $9,000.

The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was presented to: First Girl I Loved / U.S.A. (Director & Screenwriter: Kerem Sanga) — Seventeen-year-old Anne just fell in love with Sasha, the most popular girl at her L.A. public high school. But when Anne tells her best friend, Clifton—who has always harbored a secret crush on her—he does his best to get in the way. Cast: Dylan Gelula, Brianna Hildebrand, Mateo Arias, Jennifer Prediger, Tim Heidecker, Pamela Adlon.

Congrats to all of 2016's winners! I'm very happy with all of them. I loved Birth of a Nation, I loved Morris From America, I loved NUTS!, I loved Trapped, I am a big fan of As You Are (and First Girl I Loved). I'm surprised but also overjoyed that actor Craig Robinson won an award for his outstanding performance in Morris from America. There are always tons of films that deserve recognition, but it's such a relief when some of my favorites of the festival end up getting recognized. This seems like quite an unforgettable year at Sundance, and I'm so glad I was a part of it this year. As always, these are only Sundance awards and not the only good films from the fest, but this wraps up my 10th year. Recap the last of our Sundance 2016 coverage.

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  • DAVIDPD
    Well, it's now a must-see. I am also interested in SPA NIGHT as well.

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