‘Clemency’ & Documentary ‘One Child Nation’ Take Top Sundance Film Festival Awards

Sundance Film Festival
Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP/REX/Shutterstock

“When everybody was saying ‘No’ this story does not have an audience, you, Sundance and the people who have seen this film have proven that there is an audience for this film, and I thank you!” beamed Clemency director Chinonye Chukwu after accepting the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize for her death penalty drama Clemency about a female prison warden who has a crisis of consciousness.


Starring Alfre Woodard in the lead role, and Aldis Hodge as the prisoner she ponders mercy for, Chukwu said “I wrote this because I wanted audiences, ,I wanted us, I wanted myself to connect with the ecosystem of humanity’s connected to incarceration, so we as a society can stop defining people by their worst possible acts, that we can end mass incarceration, and dismantle the mass prison industrial complex, and root our societies in true justice and mercy and freedom, which is all tied to our joy inside, that nobody can ever incarcerate or execute.”

Overall, it was a big win for diversity and female filmmakers at this year’s Sundance awards, which was one of four kudos shows that Hollywood is celebrating tonight in addition to the Directors Guild Awards, the Annie Awards, and the Art Directors Guild Awards. In the U.S. Dramatic section, not only Clemency, but Joe Talbot’s The Last Black Man in San Francisco was a huge win for African American-made features.

In the U.S. Documentary section, Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang’s One Child Nation nonfiction film about China’s controversial one-child policy took top honors.

While some will say that Sundance has strayed from its indie roots as Hollywood continues to mine the festival in the snow of its indie feature treasures, the fact of the matter is that the Sundance juries typically vote with their hearts, and this year it was clear their efforts were about giving a voice to the globe, especially during these times when the standing U.S. President possesses an inflammatory rhetoric. Moral and message typically outweigh any title that’s in vogue in the Sundance marketplace (in some years both collide, i.e. 2016 when Nate Parker’s The Birth of a Nation sold to Fox Searchlight for$17.5M in 2016 won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award). Of the 28 prizes awarded tonight to 23 films – comprising the work of 27 filmmakers – 13 (56.5%) were directed by one or more women; eight (34.8%) were directed by one or more people of color; and one (4.3%) was directed by a person who identifies as LGBTQI+.

Multi-hyphenate and Glow actress Marianna Palka whose feature Good Dick played Sundance in 2008 hosted tonight’s show. Before she stepped onstage, the audience was treated to a performance by the Jambo African Drummers.

The Scottish-born Palka tried to liven the crowd up with a few bawdy jokes: “The Dalai Lama said the world will be solved by Western women, and she was talking about men too…There’s an overused male story structure you might be familiar with. It has one great climax, a beginning and an end. Then there’s a female story structure which has many great climaxes and never ends. Kind of like the female orgasm itself.” Palka continued to pepper her monologue with blue material, i.e. “Oral sex is the same as justified camera movement…If you don’t win an award, at least you’ll be able to give oral sex to someone you love. If you do win, the same is true.” Most of all, Palka waved a flag for female filmmakers, encouraging that their share of Sundance selections in the future rises to 100%.


Heading into the festival, many thought streaming would prevail in vacuuming up all the product, but theatrical prevailed: Amazon Studios shelled out close to $50M for four titles — Late Night ($13M), The Report ($14M), Brittany Runs a Marathon ($14M) — which took the Audience Award for U.S. drama tonight– and Honey Boy ($5M). New Line scooped up Gurinder Chadha’s Blinded by the Light for $15M. Compare this to the streamers which took their pics for undisclosed amounts this year, down from 2017 when Netflix shelled out close to $37M for ten titles: Apple with Minhal Baig’s Hala, Netflix’s acquisition of Richie Mehta’s Delhi Crime Story and Hulu’s pick-up of Ryan White’s doc Ask Dr. Ruth. 

Of the 112 feature-length pics that played this year’s festival, 53% of the directors in this year’s U.S. Dramatic Competition were women; 41% people of color; and 18% identified as LGBTQIA+. In addition, 44% of the directors in this year’s U.S. Documentary Competition were women; 22% people of color; and 5% identified as LGBTQIA+. Of the 61 directors in all four competition categories, which comprised 56 films, 42% were women, 39% people of color, and 23% identified as LGBTQIA. Of the 112 features, 33 countries were repped and 45 were from first-time filmmakers. Palka said when she at the fest with Good Dick in 2008, she was the only female filmmaker.

However, if we are to remember one major element from this year’s Sundance: It’s the year that the festival’s founder, Robert Redford, retired.

Below you can watch the whole webcast of the show:

The winners are as follows:

Jury: Desiree Akhavan, Damien Chazelle, Dennis Lim, Phyllis Nagy and Tessa Thompson

Grand Jury Prize
Clemency, director: Chinonye Chukwu

The Last Black Man in San Francisco

The Last Black Man in San Francisco, director: Joe Talbot

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award
Share, Pippa Bianco

Special Jury Award – Vision and Craft
Honey Boy, director Alma Har’el

Special Jury Award – Creator Collaboration
The Last Black Man in San Francisco, director: Joe Talbot

Special Jury Award – Acting
Rhianne Barreto, Share

Jury: Yance Ford, Rachel Grady,  Jeff Orlowski, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Alissa Wilkinson

One Child Nation PBS

Grand Jury Prize
One Child Nation, dir. Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang

American Factory, director: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert

Special Jury Award – Emerging Filmmaker
Jawline, director Liza Mandelup

Special Jury Award – Moral Urgency
Always in Season, director Jacqueline Olive

Special Jury Award – Editing
Apollo 11, director: Todd Douglas Miller

Special Jury Award – Cinematography
Midnight Family, Luke Lorentzen


Brittany Runs A Marathon

U.S. Dramatic
Brittany Runs a Marathon, director: Paul Downs Colaizzo

U.S. Documentary
Knock Down the House, director: Rachel Lears

World Cinema Dramatic
Queen of Hearts, director: May el-Toukhy

World Cinema Documentary
Sea of Shadows, director: Richard Ladkani

Audience Award: NEXT
The Infiltrators, Directors: Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera


The jury here includes Jane Campion, Charles Gillbert and Ciro Guerra

The Souvenir A24

Grand Jury Prize
The Souvenir, director: Joanna Hogg
“A unanimous decision for the jury,” said Campion about the win here. A24 acquired the pic which stars Honor Swinton Byrne, Tilda Swinton, Ariane Labed, and Richard Ayoade just as Sundance got underway this year.

The Sharks, director: Lucia Garibaldi

Dramatic – Special Jury Award
Monos, director Alejandro Landes

Special Jury Award for Originality
We Are Little Zombies, director Makoto Nagahisa

Special Jury Prize – Acting
Krystyna Janda, Dolce Fine Giornata


Honeyland sundance

Jury: Maite Alberdi, Nico Marzano and Verena Paravel

Grand Jury Prize
Honeyland, directors:  Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov

Cold Case Hammarskjold, director: Mads Brugger

Special Jury Award – No Borders
Midnight Traveler, directors:  Hassan Fazili

Special Jury Prize – Impact for Change
Honeyland, directors:  Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov

Special Jury Award – Cinematography
Honeyland, Fejmi Daut, Samir Ljuma


NEXT  Jury: Laurie Anderson

NEXT Innovator Prize
The Infiltrators, directors: Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera

Previously Announced Awards:

Sundance Institute/NHK Award
Planet Korsakov, director: Taro Aoshima

Amazon Studios Producers Awards:
Documentary Feature Producer: Lori Cheatle

Narrative Feature Producer: Carly Hugo, Matt Parker


Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Jury: Young Jean Lee, Sheila Vand,  Carter Smith

Aziza, director Soudade Kaadan

Fast Horse, director: Alexandra Lazarowich
The Minors, director: Robert Machoian

Ghosts of Sugar Land, director: Bassam Tariq

Reneepoptosis, director: Renee Zhan

Dunya’s Day, director: Raed Alsemari

Green, director: Suzanne Andrews Correa

This article was printed from https://deadline.com/2019/02/sundance-film-festival-awards-2019-live-stream-winners-list-1202548287/