Sundance 2017 Awards: 'Dina' & 'Chasing Coral' Are Big Doc Winners
The official awards for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival were announced tonight at a ceremony in Park City. We've been patiently waiting to see who won the awards at Sundance this year, and now we know - it's a solid mix of winners across the board, and no double Audience Award & Grand Jury winners (as has been the case the past few years). The big Audience Award winners are: Chasing Coral, the documentary about coral bleaching from Jeff Orlowski; and Crown Heights from Matt Ruskin, the feature film telling the true story of an innocent man being locked up for 20 years for a murder he did not commit. The documentary Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower also won an Audience Award. Read on for the full list from 2017.
Here's the full release of winners with synopsis info next to each. The 2017 festival wraps up this weekend.
2017 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL JURY AWARDS:
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: I don't feel at home in this world anymore. (Director & Screenwriter: Macon Blair) — When a depressed woman is burglarized, she finds a new sense of purpose by tracking down the thieves, alongside her obnoxious neighbor. But they soon find themselves dangerously out of their depth against a pack of degenerate criminals. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, David Yow, Jane Levy, Devon Graye.
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: Dina (Directors: Dan Sickles, Antonio Santini) — An eccentric suburban woman and a Walmart door-greeter navigate their evolving relationship in this unconventional love story.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: The Nile Hilton Incident / Sweden, Germany, Denmark (Director & Screenwriter: Tarik Saleh) — In Cairo, weeks before the 2011 revolution, Police Detective Noredin is working in the infamous Kasr el-Nil Police Station when he is handed the case of a murdered singer. He soon realizes that the investigation concerns the power elite, close to the President’s inner circle. Cast: Fares Fares, Mari Malek, Mohamed Yousry, Yasser Ali Maher, Ahmed Selim, Hania Amar.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: Last Men in Aleppo / Denmark, Syria (Director: Feras Fayyad) — After five years of war in Syria, Aleppo’s remaining residents prepare themselves for a siege. Khalid, Subhi and Mahmoud, founding members of The White Helmets, have remained in the city to help their fellow citizens—and experience daily life, death, struggle and triumph in a city under fire.
The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to: Peter Nicks for his film The Force — This cinema verité look at the long-troubled Oakland Police Department goes deep inside their struggles to confront federal demands for reform, a popular uprising following events in Ferguson and an explosive scandal.
The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Eliza Hittman for her film Beach Rats — An aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn struggles to escape his bleak home life and navigate questions of self-identity, as he balances his time between his delinquent friends, a potential new girlfriend, and older men he meets online. Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Pascale Lamche for her film Winnie / France — While her husband served a life sentence, paradoxically kept safe and morally uncontaminated, Winnie Mandela rode the raw violence of apartheid, fighting on the front line and underground. This is the untold story of the mysterious forces that combined to take her down, labeling him a saint, her, a sinner.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Francis Lee for his film God's Own Country / United Kingdom — Springtime in Yorkshire: isolated young sheep farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker, employed for the lambing season, ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path. Cast: Josh O'Connor, Alec Secareanu, Ian Hart, Gemma Jones.
The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith for their film Ingrid Goes West — A young woman becomes obsessed with an Instagram “influencer” and moves to Los Angeles to try and befriend her in real life. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking was presented to: Step (Director: Amanda Lipitz) — With dreams of becoming the first in their families to attend college, a group of seniors from an inner-city Baltimore girls high school strives to make their step dance team a success against a backdrop of social unrest in a troubled city.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Storytelling was presented to: Strong Island (Director: Yance Ford) — Examining the violent death of the filmmaker’s brother and the judicial system that allowed his killer to go free, this documentary interrogates murderous fear and racialized perception, and re-imagines the wreckage in catastrophe’s wake, challenging us to change.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was to: Editors Kim Roberts and Emiliano Battista for Unrest (Director: Jennifer Brea) — When Harvard PhD student Jennifer Brea is struck down at 28 by a fever that leaves her bedridden, doctors tell her it’s "all in her head." Determined to live, she sets out on a virtual journey to document her story—and four other families' stories—fighting a disease medicine forgot.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: The Orwell Award was presented to: Icarus (Director: Bryan Fogel) — When Bryan Fogel sets out to uncover the truth about doping in sports, a chance meeting with a Russian scientist transforms his story from a personal experiment into a geopolitical thriller involving dirty urine, unexplained death and Olympic Gold—exposing the biggest scandal in sports history.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Cinematography was presented to: Director of Photography Daniel Landin for The Yellow Birds (Director: Alexandre Moors, Screenwriters: David Lowery, R.F.I. Porto) — Two young men enlist in the army and are deployed to fight in the Iraq War. After an unthinkable tragedy, the returning soldier struggles to balance his promise of silence with the truth and a mourning mother's search for peace. Cast: Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston, Alden Ehrenreich, Jason Patric, Toni Collette, Jennifer Aniston.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance was presented to: Chanté Adams, in Roxanne Roxanne (Director & Screenwriter: Michael Larnell) — The most feared battle MC in early-'80s NYC was a fierce teenager from the Queensbridge projects with the weight of the world on her shoulders. At age 14, hustling the streets to provide for her family, Roxanne Shanté was well on her way to becoming a hip-hop legend. Cast: Chanté Adams, Mahershala Ali, Nia Long, Elvis Nolasco, Kevin Phillips, Shenell Edmonds.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Director was presented to: Maggie Betts, for her film Novitiate — In the early 1960s, during the Vatican II era, a young woman training to become a nun struggles with issues of faith, sexuality and the changing church. Cast: Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Julianne Nicholson, Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor.
2017 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL AUDIENCE AWARDS:
The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was presented to: Crown Heights (Director & Screenwriter: Matt Ruskin) — When Colin Warner is wrongfully convicted of murder, his best friend, Carl King, devotes his life to proving Colin's innocence. Adapted from This American Life, this is the incredible true story of their harrowing quest for justice. Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, Natalie Paul, Bill Camp, Nestor Carbonell, Amari Cheatom.
The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was presented to: Chasing Coral (Director: Jeff Orlowski) — Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Sueño en otro idioma (I Dream in Another Language) / Mexico, Netherlands (Director: Ernesto Contreras, Screenwriter: Carlos Contreras) — The last two speakers of a millennia-old language haven’t spoken in 50 years, when a young linguist tries to bring them together. Yet hidden in the past, in the heart of the jungle, lies a secret concerning the fate of the Zikril language. Cast: Fernando Álvarez Rebeil, Eligio Meléndez, Manuel Poncelis, Fátima Molina, Juan Pablo de Santiago, Hoze Meléndez.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower (Director: Joe Piscatella) — When the Chinese Communist Party backtracks on its promise of autonomy to Hong Kong, teenager Joshua Wong decides to save his city. Rallying thousands of kids to skip school and occupy the streets, Joshua becomes an unlikely leader in Hong Kong and one of China's most notorious dissidents.
The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was presented to: Gook (Director & Screenwriter: Justin Chon) — Eli and Daniel, two Korean American brothers who own a struggling women's shoe store, have an unlikely friendship with 11-year-old Kamilla. On the first day of the 1992 L.A. riots, the trio must defend their store—and contemplate the meaning of family, their personal dreams and the future. Cast: Justin Chon, Simone Baker, David So, Curtiss Cook Jr., Sang Chon, Ben Munoz.
Congrats to all of 2017's winners! It's another great year at Sundance, with a bunch of outstanding films that deserve all the recognition. I've seen most of the winners this year, including three of the Audience Award winners: Chasing Coral, Crown Heights, and Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower. I was expecting Step to win the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary (because it's so inspiring and exciting), but I'm very happy to see Chasing Coral win because it's such a wonderful doc (read my review). I highly recommend seeking out any film mentioned above - they're worth seeing. As always, these are only Sundance awards and not the only good films to see from the fest. Review last year's winners here. Recap all of our Sundance 2017 coverage.