Saturday night’s award ceremony (hosted by Joseph Gordon-Levitt) marked the end of this year’s Sundance Film Festival and when the smoke cleared, dramatic film Fruitvale and U.S. documentary Blood Brother took home top honors by winning both the jury and audience awards in their respective categories.
Written and directed by first-time filmmaker Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale is based on the tragically true story of 22-year-old Oakland native Oscar Grant who was shot and killed at the Fruitvale BART station on New Year’s Day by BART officer Johannes Mehserle in front of a crowd of passengers (some of who recorded the tragic shooting with cell phones). With Forest Whittaker as co-producer, Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights, Gears of War 3) as Oscar Grant and last year’s Academy Award winner Octavia Spencer (The Help, Halfway Home) as his mother, the actual word “Oscar” has been buzzing since the film’s screening and was picked up by The Weinstein Co. for (roughly) $2.5 million.
In this clip, Coogler explains why he was inspired to make Fruitvale:
U.S. Documentary Jury and Audience Award winner Blood Brother follows Rocky Braat, an American who gave up everything and moved to India to work with HIV-positive orphans. As director Steve Hoover accepted his award, he said that “This means so much to so many kids.”
MY short film pick, Catnip: Egress to Oblivion? took home the Audience Award in the short film category!
Other surprises included Childrens Hospital and How To Make It In America star Lake Bell taking home the Waldo Scott Screenwriting Award for In A World…(which she also wrote, directed and starred in) and Jill Soloway picking up the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award for her first feature-film outing, Afternoon Delight, starring Kathryn Hahn as a bored housewife who sets out to make her life a little less boring.
Lake Bell taking the stage to accept her Waldo Scott Screenwriting Award.
I would be amiss if I didn’t mention the notable standout World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Punk Spirit winner Pussy Riot – A Punk Prayer, about radical-feminist punk rockers Pussy Riot. Founded in 2011 by a group of 11 women who don tights, summer dresses and colored balaclavas while singing punk anthems about feminism, LGBT rights and their extreme distaste for President Putin guerilla-style throughout the streets (and public places) of Moscow.
A Punk Prayer highlights the events of 2011 that stemmed from five members of Pussy Riot entering Moscow’s Cathedral of Christ the Savior (above) and sang Mother Mary, Banish Putin (in protest of Putin’s controversial re-election as president of Russia) and the three women who were imprisoned for the charge of “hooliganism”. Expect to see this amazing film on HBO sometime this year, as they’ve bought the television rights.
Congrats to all the winners and as 2013’s gonna be MY year (I can feel it)…I’ll see you in Park City next year!
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