Sundance Film Festival Awards: ‘Birth Of A Nation’ Pulls Off Double Win, Gassy ‘Swiss Army Man’ Takes Directing Prize

By Dominic Patten, Patrick Hipes

UPDATE with more details: Nate Parker’s slave rebellion drama The Birth Of A Nation swept the Grand Jury and Audience Award prizes in the U.S. Dramatic competition Saturday night at the Sundance Film Festival awards. The ceremony wrapped the 1o-day fest which was stamped for good by Parker’s debut feature film, which bowed to excitement midway through the annual indie gathering and soon after scored a fest-record $17.5 million rights deal with Fox Searchlight.

Birth Of A Nation“Thank you Lord, thank you Sundance,” Parker said onstage at the Basin Recreation Field House in Park City. “I’ve seen first-hand that people are open to the idea of change, and the fact that this is happening means everything to me.”

It marks the fourth consecutive year a film has swept the fest’s marquee awards, joining Me And Earl And The Dying Girl (2015), Whiplash (2014) and Fruitvale (2013).

Other winners revealed tonight included the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize to Weiner, the political pic about disgraced former Rep. Anthony Weiner. The audience award in that category went to Jim: The James Foley Story.

The most eyebrow-raising award of the night went to Daniel Scheinert and Daniel Kwan, who took U.S. Dramatic directing honors for Swiss Army Man. The fest’s most polarizing film stars Paul Dano and Daniel Radcliffe — the latter playing a corpse that farts among other things. There were plenty of walkouts during the premiere screening, but that didn’t deter A24 for acquiring rights later in the festival.

“This is the best way to end that roller-coaster,” said Kwan while accepting the award. “Yes, we are the film that has the dead farting corpse, and yet we still won this award.”

Between Sea And LandIn the World Cinema Dramatic competition, Manolo Cruz and Carlos del Castillo’s Between Sea And Land from Colombia took the Audience Award and a Special Jury Award for acting for Cruz and Vicky Hernandéz. Israel’s Sand Storm from writer-direct Elite Zexer won the Grand Jury Prize. In the World Documentary section, the Grand Jury Prize went to the female Iranian rapper docu Sonita from Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami.

Other double winners tonight included Morris From America. It took a Special Jury acting award for Craig Robinson, and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award for writer-director Chad Hartigan. That pic was also scooped up by A24 during the fest.

The other Audience Award of the night in the NEXT section, went to Karem Sanga’s coming-of-age tale First Girl I Loved.

Here’s the full list of winners:


Audience Award
Birth Of A Nation
Nate Parker

Grand Jury Prize
Birth Of A Nation
Nate Parker

Daniel Scheinert, Daniel Kwan
Swiss Army Man

morrisWaldo Salt Screenwriting Award
Chad Hartigan
Morris From America

Special Jury Award – Individual Performance
Melanie Lynskey
The Intervention

Special Jury Award – Individual Performance
Craig Robinson
Morris from America

Special Jury Award – Breakthrough Performance
Joe Seo
Spa Night

Special Jury Award
As You Are
Miles Joris-Peyrafitte


weiner docu sundanceGrand Jury Prize
Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman

Audience Award
Jim: The James Foley Story
Brian Oakes

Roger Ross Williams
Life, Animated

Special Jury Award – Vérité Filmmaking
The Bad Kids
Keith Fulton, Lou Pepe

Special Jury Award – Writing
Kate Plays Christine
Robert Greene

Special Jury Award – Social Impact Filmmaking
Dawn Porter

NEXT Audience Award
First Girl I Loved
Kerem Sanga


Audience Award
Between Sea and Land / Colombia
Directors: Manolo Cruz, Carlos del Castillo

Sand StormGrand Jury Prize
Sand Storm / Israel
Director: Elite Zexer

Directing Award
Belgica / Belgium-France-Netherlands
Felix van Groeningen

Special Jury Award – Unique Vision and Design
The Lure / Poland
Director: Agnieszka Smoczyńska

Special Jury Award – Screenwriting
Mi Amiga Del Parque / Argentina-Uruguay
Screenwriters: Inés Bortagaray, Ana Katz

Special Jury Award – Acting
Vicky Hernandéz, Manolo Cruz
Between Sea and Land / Colombia


Grand Jury Prize
Sonita / Germany-Iran-Swizerland
Rokhsareh Ghaem Maghami

All These Sleepless Nights / Poland
Michal Marczak

Special Jury Award – Best Editing
We Are X / UK-U.S.-Japan
Editors: Mako Kamitsuna, John Maringouin

Special Jury Award – Best Cinematography
The Land Of The Enlightened / Belgium
DP: Pieter-Jan De Pue

Special Jury Award – Best Debut Feature
When Two Worlds Collide / Peru
Directors: Mathew Orzel, Heidi Brandenburg

Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize
(announced Wednesday)

Embrace of the Serpent
Directed by Ciro Guerra

(announced Wednesday)

Short Film Grand Jury Prize
Thunder Road / U.S.
Director and screenwriter: Jim Cummings

Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction
The Procedure / U.S.
Director and screenwriter: Calvin Lee Reeder

Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction
Maman(s) / France
Director and screenwriter: Maïmouna Doucouré

Short Film Jury Award: Non-fiction
Bacon & God’s Wrath / Canada
Director: Sol Friedman

Short Film Jury Award: Animation
Edmond / UK
Director and screenwriter: Nina Gantz

Short Film Special Jury Award for Outstanding Performance
Grace Glowicki
Her Friend Adam

Short Film Special Jury Award for Best Direction
Peacock / Czech Republic
Director: Ondřej Hudeček, Screenwriters: Jan Smutny, Ondřej Hudeček

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