Last night Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute for filmmaking announced the Jury, Audience and other special awards of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival at the awards ceremony in Park City, Utah. DocGeeks gives you an overview of this year’s winners, of whom we no doubt will hear a lot more in the year ahead.
It was up to Charles Ferguson last night to present the most prestigious documentary award of the festival, the Grand Jury Prize. The director of Oscar winning documentary ‘Inside Job’ and Oscar nominee ‘No End In Sight’, awarded fellow director Eugene Jarecki with the prize for his film ‘The House I live in’ – a portrayal of America’s long war on drugs and critiques of U.S. drug policies, its court system, prisons and their impact on minorities. The documentary was shot over the course of four years and covers a wide spectrum of interviewees, from judges and journalists to addicts and lawyers.
Jarecki is not a new face at Sundance, in 2005 he won the Grand Jury Prize for his documentary ‘Why we Fight’ and in 2011 he entered the festival with the film ‘Reagan’.
Jury member and Storyville editor Nick Fraser handed out the World Cinema Jury Prize. The award went to ‘The Law in These Parts’ by director Ra’anan Alexandrowicz. The documentary shows how Israel’s 43-year military legal system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories unfolds through provocative interviews with the system’s architects and historical footage showing the enactment of these laws upon the Palestinian population.
The audience chose for ‘The Invisible War’ as the winner of in the U.S. category. This powerful and emotional documentary by director Kirby Dick’s investigates the epidemic of rape of soldiers within the U.S. military, the institutions that cover up its existence and the personal and social consequences that arise from it.
In the world cinema section the audience picked the Swedish documentary ‘Searching for Sugar Man’ – a film by Malik Bendjelloul in which two South Africans set out to discover what happened to their unlikely musical hero, the mysterious 70s rock ‘n’ roller, Rodriguez. Hailed as the greatest recording artist of his generation he disappeared into oblivion – rising again from the ashes in a completely different context many miles away. The film also won the Special Jury Prize for its Celebration of the Artistic Spirit.
Filmmaker Fenton Bailey awarded director Lauren Greenfield with the U.S. Directing Award at the festival. Greenfield received the award for her controversial documentary ‘The Queen of Versailles’. The film follows Jackie and David who were triumphantly constructing ‘the biggest house in America’ – a sprawling, 90,000-square-foot palace inspired by Versailles – when their timeshare empire falters due to the economic crisis. This typical riches-to-rags story highlights the innate virtues and flaws of the much chased after American Dream.
IDFA’s Special Jury and Audience Award winner ’5 Broken Cameras’, about a Palestinian journalist who chronicles his village’s resistance to a separation barrier being erected on their land also won at Sundance; directors Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi were awarded at the festival with the World Cinema Directing Award.
‘DETROPIA’ by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady won the U.S. Documentary Editing Award. The documentary shows the woes of Detroit are emblematic of the collapse of the U.S. manufacturing base.
The World Cinema Documentary Editing Award went to ‘Indie Game: The Movie’ by directors Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky. As the title suggests, the film follow the dramatic journeys of indie game developers as they create games and release them to the world.
Other awards handed out last night at Sundance are the Excellence in Cinematography Award for U.S. Documentary, which went to Jeff Orlowski’s film ‘Chasing Ice’ and the World Cinema Cinematography Award, which went to the Danish film ‘Putin’s Kiss’, by director Lise Birk Pedersen.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize for an Agent of Change was presented by the director of Sheffield Doc/Fest, Heather Croall to ‘Love Free or Die’ by director Macky Alston. The documentary shows the struggles of an openly gay bishop who refuses to leave the church or the man he loves. Croall also awarded the documentary about the famous Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, ‘Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry’ with the Special Jury Prize for Spirit of Defiance