Lee Isaac Chung’s “Minari,” starring former “The Walking Dead” actor Steven Yeun, has taken both top prizes at this year’s Sundance Film Festival – winning both the U.S. Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award.
The semi-autobiographical film is basically a Korean melodrama unfolding in rural Arkansas in the 1980s. It follows David, a seven-year-old Korean American boy, is faced with new surroundings and a different way of life when his father (Yeun) moves them to mobile home in the middle of nowhere intent on creating a farm on untapped soil.
Other U.S. drama winners this year include Radha Blank winning best director for “The 40-Year-Old Version,” Edson Oda won best script for “Nine Days,” and special jury prize awards were handed out to “Charm City Kings,” “Shirley,” and “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”.
In the world cinema category, Massoud Bakhshi’s single-location Iranian drama “Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness” won the Grand Jury Prize while the Audience Award went to Fernanda Valadez’s cryptic Mexican immigration drama “Identifying Features” which also scored an award for its script. Maimouna Doucoure’s “Cuties” won a best directing award, while actor Ben Whishaw scored a special jury prize for his work in “Surge”.
On the documentary front, “Boys State” and “Epicentro” won the Grand Jury Prizes while “Crip Camp” and “The Reason I Jump” took the audience awards, and “Time” and “The Earth is Blue as an Orange” took directing awards. Special Jury prizes went to the likes of “Feels Good Man,” “The Fight,” “Welcome to Chechnya,” “Dick Johnson Is Dead,” “Softie,” “Acasa, My Home” and “The Painter and the Thief”.
Finally, “I Carry You With Me” won the two NEXT Awards, “Tesla” scored the Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, and “Higher,” “Farewell Amor” and “Whirlybird” won the Sundance Institute Awards.