Sundance Film Festival 2008 – the winners

The main prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival went to Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River, a drama starring Melissa Leo about a trailer-home white woman and a young Mohawk Indian who smuggle immigrants across the border between the U.S. and Canada.

The Wackness, a comedy about a young drug dealer, directed by Jonathan Levine, was the audience’s favourite.

Tia Lessin and Carl Deal’s Trouble the Water, a story about survival during Hurricane Katrina, took the award for best documentary, while the audience opted for Josh Tickell’s environment friendly documentary film Fields of Fuel.

Lance Hammer won the prize for best director for his dramatic feature Ballast and Nancy Burstein was voted best documentary director for her film American Teen.

The grand jury prize for best drama in the World Cinema Competition was awarded to Swedish filmmaker Jens Jonsson for his film King of Ping Pong. In the same category, the audience’s vote went to Captain Abu Raed, a drama that centres on a airport janitor who gets mistaken for a pilot.

The jury and the audience were unanimous in the category of best international documentary: both awards went to British director James Marsh’s Man on Wire, a film that documents French high wire artist Philippe Petit’s attempt to walk on a wire between the World Trade Center twin towers for a full hour back in the early 1970s, shortly after the towers had been built.

Directing prizes in international competition went to Russian filmmaker Anna Melikyan for her feature Mermaid and Nino Kirtadze for his documentary Durakovo: A Village of Fools.

Alex Rivera and David Riker won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and the Alfred P. Sloan Prize for their SF flavoured feature Sleep Dealer. French writer Samuel Benchetrit won the award for the best international screenplay for his crime comedy I Always Wanted to Be A Gangster.

Other notable awards went to:

  • Joe Bini – best editing in a documentary for Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired
  • Irena Dol – best editing in a documentary (international competition) for The Art Star and the Sudanese Twins
  • Lol Crawley – best cinematography in a U.S. dramatic feature for Ballast
    Phillip Hunt and Steven Sebring – best cinematography in a U.S. documentary for Patti Smith: Dream of Life
  • Askild Vik Edvardsen – best cinematography in an international dramatic feature for King of Ping Pong
  • Al Massad – best cinematography in an international documentary for Recycle
  • Daniel Robin’s My Olympic Summer and Andrew Okpeaha MacLean’s Sikumi (On the Ice) – best short films (U.S.)
  • Simon Ellis’s Soft – best short film (international)

Special jury prizes:

  • Chusy Haney-Jardine for directing the feature Anywhere, USA
  • Sam Rockwell, Anjelica Huston, Kelly Macdonald, Brad Henke for ensemble performance in Choke
  • Lisa F. Jackson for directing the documentary The Greatest Silence: Rape in the Congo
  • Ernesto Contreras for directing the drama Blue Eyelids

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