Sundance 2019 Awards: 'Brittany Runs' Wins Over the Festival Crowd
The official awards for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival were announced this weekend at a ceremony in Park City, Utah. We've all been curious to see who's taking home awards at Sundance this year, and now we know - it's not many of the films most people have been buzzing about. Like last year. These are unexpected but nonetheless worthy picks from audiences and each jury. The big Audience Award winners are: Brittany Runs a Marathon, about an overweight young woman who pushes herself to train for the NYC Marathon, starring Jillian Bell; Knock Down the House, a documentary about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and other underdog politicians; and The Infiltrators, a doc-feature hybrid about children detention centers. Other winners include filmmakers Joanna Hogg, Chinonye Chukwu, and Nanfu Wang. View all the winners below.
Here's the full release of winners with synopsis info next to each. The 2019 festival wraps up this weekend.
2019 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL JURY AWARDS:
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: Chinonye Chukwu, for Clemency (Director & Screenwriter: Chinonye Chukwu, Producers: Bronwyn Cornelius, Julian Cautherley, Peter Wong, Timur Bekbosunov) — Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. Cast: Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks.
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, for One Child Nation / China, U.S.A. (Directors: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Producers: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christoph Jörg, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn) — After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: Joanna Hogg, for The Souvenir / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Joanna Hogg, Producers: Luke Schiller, Joanna Hogg) — A shy film student begins finding her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man. She defies her protective mother and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship which comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams. Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, for Honeyland / Macedonia (Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer: Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland's basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.
The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Joe Talbot, for The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Director: Joe Talbot, Screenwriters: Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Producers: Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh) — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.
The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to: Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, for American Factory (Directors: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Producers: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, Julie Parker Benello) — In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Lucía Garibaldi, for The Sharks / Uruguay, Argentina, Spain (Director & Screenwriter: Lucía Garibaldi, Producers: Pancho Magnou Arnábal, Isabel García) — While a rumor about the presence of sharks in a small beach town distracts residents, 15-year-old Rosina begins to feel an instinct to shorten the distance between her body and Joselo's. Cast: Romina Bentancur, Federico Morosini, Fabián Arenillas, Valeria Lois, Antonella Aquistapache.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Mads Brügger, for Cold Case Hammarskjöld / Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium (Director: Mads Brügger, Producers: Peter Engel, Andreas Rocksén, Bjarte M. Tveit) — Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Bjorkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjold. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime far worse than killing the Secretary-General of the United Nations.
The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Pippa Bianco, for Share (Director and screenwriter: Pippa Bianco, Producers: Carly Hugo, Tyler Byrne, Matt Parker) — After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast: Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Vision and Craft was presented to: Alma Har'el for her film Honey Boy (Director: Alma Har'el, Screenwriter: Shia LaBeouf, Producers: Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Anita Gou, Christopher Leggett, Alma Har'el) — A child TV star and his ex-rodeo clown father face their stormy past through time and cinema. Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Creative Collaboration was presented to: Director Joe Talbot for his film The Last Black Man in San Francisco (Director: Joe Talbot, Screenwriters: Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Producers: Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh) — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. Cast: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, Danny Glover.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Achievement in Acting was presented to: Rhianne Barreto, for Share (Director & Screenwriter: Pippa Bianco, Producers: Carly Hugo, Tyler Byrne, Matt Parker) — After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast: Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency was presented to: Jacqueline Olive, for the film Always in Season (Director: Jacqueline Olive, Producers: Jacqueline Olive, Jessica Devaney) — When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Emerging Filmmaker was presented to: Liza Mandelup, for the film Jawline (Director: Liza Mandelup, Producers: Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Hannah Reyer) — The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was presented to: Todd Douglas Miller, for the film Apollo 11 (Director: Todd Douglas Miller, Producers: Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen, Evan Krauss) — A purely archival reconstruction of humanity’s first trip to another world, featuring never-before-seen 70mm footage and never-before-heard audio from the mission.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented to: Luke Lorentzen, for the film Midnight Family (Director: Luke Lorentzen, Producers: Kellen Quinn, Daniela Alatorre, Elena Fortes, Luke Lorentzen) — In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.
The NEXT Innovator Prize was presented to: Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra, for The Infiltrators (Directors: Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra, Screenwriters: Alex Rivera, Aldo Velasco, Producers: Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera, Darren Dean) — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center. Cast: Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay.
2019 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AUDIENCE AWARDS:
The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was presented to: Brittany Runs a Marathon (Director & Screenwriter: Paul Downs Colaizzo, Producers: Matthew Plouffe, Tobey Maguire, Margot Hand) — A woman living in New York takes control of her life – one city block at a time. Cast: Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock, Alice Lee.
The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was presented to: Knock Down the House (Director: Rachel Lears, Producers: Sarah Olson, Robin Blotnick, Rachel Lears) — A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates challenging powerful incumbents in Congress. One of their races will become the most shocking political upset in recent American history. Cast: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Queen of Hearts / Denmark (Director: May el-Toukhy, Screenwriters: Maren Louise Käehne, May el-Toukhy, Producers: Caroline Blanco, René Ezra) — A woman jeopardizes both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences. Cast: Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh, Magnus Krepper.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Sea of Shadows / Austria (Director: Richard Ladkani, Producers: Walter Koehler, Wolfgang Knoepfler) —The vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, is near extinction as its habitat is destroyed by Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia, who harvest the swim bladder of the totoaba fish, the "cocaine of the sea." Environmental activists, Mexican navy and undercover investigators are fighting back against this illegal multimillion-dollar business.
The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was presented to: The Infiltrators (Directors: Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra, Screenwriters: Alex Rivera, Aldo Velasco, Producers: Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera, Darren Dean) — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center. Cast: Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay.
Congrats to all of 2019's winners! Keep an eye on these films. As usual, there seem to be a few odd picks - especially the Grand Jury winners in both US categories. But the rest of the winners include some of the best films at the fest (I love love love The Last Black Man in San Francisco, and The Souvenir is the favorite of most critics this year). I've heard excellent things about Sea of Shadows and The Infiltrators and Queen of Hearts as well. I'm a bit sad to see that two of my other favorites - The Farewell and Luce - didn't get any awards love, but they'll break out big out of the fest anyway. As always, these are only Sundance awards and not the only good films to see from the fest. Everything playing this year is worth your attention. For more info, visit Sundance.org. Go back and see last year's winners here. Recap all of our Sundance 2019 coverage.