Desiree Akhavan’s “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” about a group of Christian teens wrestling with gay conversion therapy, has taken the top honor of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize (Drama) at this year’s Sundance Film Festival.
“Kailash,” about a Nobel Prize winner’s crusade to end child slavery in his native India, took home the same honor in the U.S. documentary category, while the audience awards went to the Garrett Hedlund-led “Burden” about a KKK member who renounces his hatred and the prison documentary “The Sentence” which HBO has acquired.
On the World Cinema side it was Turkish director Tolga Karacelik’s bittersweet road movie “Butterflies” which scored the Grand Jury Prize (Drama), the radical Islamist family drama “Of Fathers and Sons” which won the Grand Jury Prize (Documentary), and audience awards for the Syrian refugee documentary “This Is Home” and the ‘entirely set within an emergency call center’ Danish noir thriller “The Guilty”.
On the directing front awards went out to Sara Colangelo for directing the Maggie Gyllenhaal-led stalker teacher drama “The Kindergarten Teacher,” Isold Uggadottir for helming the social-realist drama “Breathe Normally,” Sandi Tan for directing the Singapore love letter doco “Shirkers,” and Alexandria Bombach for helming “On Her Shoulders” about ISIS survivor Nadia Murad.
Further awards went to Christina Choe for her script for “Nancy” and Julio Chavezmontes & Sebastián Hofmann for their script for “Time Share,” Benjamin Dickey for his performance in “Blaze” and Valeria Bertucecelli for her role in “The Queen of Fear,” an ensemble acting award for “Dead Pigs”.
The likes of “Three Identical Strangers” (which NEON has acquired) “I Think We’re Alone Now,” “Minding the Gap,” “Crime + Punishment,” “Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.,” “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” and “Monsters and Men” also scored special jury awards for excellence. “Search”, which takes place entirely on computer screens and followed John Cho as a dad searching for his missing daughter, won the NEXT audience award and the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize.
The awards come after a quiet Sundance in which reportedly nothing generated potential awards heat and only a handful scored buzz with plenty of actress performances getting lauded including Toni Collette for the horror film “Hereditary,” Laura Dern for “The Tale” which has been sold to HBO, Kelly MacDonald for her turn in “Puzzle” which Sony Classics has picked up, and the duos of Kiersey Clemons and Sasha Lane in “Hearts Beat Loud” and Chloe Sevigny with Kristen Stewart in “Lizzie” which Saban Films has taken.
Quite a few films were also fairly well liked including “Blindspotting,” “Eighth Grade,” “Sorry to Bother You,” “Colettte” and “Assassination Nation”.