Sundance Film Festival Awards: ‘Navalny’, ‘Cha Cha Real Smooth’ Among Top Winners; ‘The Nanny’ And ‘The Exiles’ Take Grand Jury Prizes

Sundance Film Festival
AP Photo/Rick Bowmer

The Sundance Film Festival revealed award winners for its 2022 edition Friday. Like the rest of this year’s festival, which was forced to go all-virtual because of the recent Omicron surge, the awards ceremony played out on Twitter, with honors spread around across the diverse lineup unlike last year, when CODA swept the top honors.

Nikyatu Jusu’s Nanny won the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition, while the U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize went to The Exiles directed by Ben Klein and Violet Columbus. Marquee Audience Awards wins went to Apple’s big sales pickup Cha Cha Real Smooth, and the surprise secrent-screening documentary Navalny, which won both the Audience Award in the U.S. Doc section as well as the omnibus Festival Favorite Award.

Winners were announced in the U.S. Dramatic, U.S. Documentary, World Dramatic and World Documentary competitions as well as the Next and the Short Film sidebars. Audience Awards, Grand Jury and Special Jury Prizes were bestowed. See the complete winners list below.

Top U.S. winner Nanny, a horror-thriller, centers on Aisha (Anna Diop), an immigrant piecing together a new life in New York City while caring for the child of an Upper East Side family. She is forced to confront a concealed truth that threatens to shatter her precarious American Dream. Michelle Monaghan and Sinqua Walls also star.

“For this Grand Jury Prize we celebrate a movie that flooded us with its compassionate and horrifying portrayal of a mother being separated from her child,” Sundance juror Chelsea Bernard said during the virtual ceremony. “This film cannot be contained by any one genre —it’s visually stunning, masterfully acted, impeccably designed from sound to visual effects, and the overall vision, expertly guided by Nikyatu Jusu, comes together offering its audience an electrifying experience.”

The Exiles revolves around activist and documentary filmmaker Christine Choy, who filmed the leaders of the Tiananmen Square democracy movement during the 1989 massacre. Midway through production, the project was abandoned and the footage was all but forgotten. In Exiles, she returns to the never before seen archive, and the stories of three key figures during the protests, who remain political exiles to this day.

Navalny, meanwhile, is a documentary thriller directed by Daniel Roher hailing from CNN Films and HBO Max. It focuses on Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny, who gave Roher unparalleled access to him and his inner circle as he was recovering from being poisoned and decides to return home.

Among other notable winners tonight: a Grand Jury Prize in the World Dramatic competition going to Alejandro Loayza Grisi’s Utama from Bolivia, one of the festival raves from Deadline’s Todd McCarthy (read his review here). Finland’s Girl Picture won the Audience Award in that section.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award in the U.S. Dramatic section went to K.D. Dávila for her comedic thriller Emergency, while Jamie Dack took the Director prize in that section for Palm Trees and Power Lines.

Last year’s awards solidified the bona fides of CODA, which played in the U.S. Dramatic Competition and was swept up by Apple in a fest-record $25 million deal. That pic, directed by Siân Heder, also swept on the fest’s awards night, taking four trophies in all including the Audience Award, Directing award, the Grand Jury Prize and a Special Jury Prize for the ensemble. It’s now an Oscar frontrunner.

This year, the real-life drama 892 took the U.S. ensemble prize in the lineup for a cast led by John Boyega, Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, London Covington and the late Michael K Williams.

Overall, this year’s class has been tougher to gauge, with acquisition activity somewhat muted and in-person reactions to Park City screenings not a factor. Still, Deadline broke big deals led again by Apple, which paid $15 million for world rights to Raiff’s Cha Cha Real Smooth.

In other spotlight deals in the market, Searchlight Pictures closed a deal for around $7.5 million for U.S. rights to Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, starring Emma Thompson and Daryl McCormack, while Sony Pictures Classics paid about $5 million for North American and some international territory rights to the Bill Nighy-starrer Living.

On the documentary side, National Geographic picked up Fire of Love in a mid-seven-figure world rights deal, then followed that by acquiring The Territory. The latter pic, scored an Audience Award win tonight in the World Documentary lineup as well as a Special Jury Award for documentary craft going to director Alex Pritz.

Here’s the full list of winners. Click on the title to read Deadline’s review if available.


Director: Daniel Roher


Audience Award

Cha Cha Real Smooth
Director-Writer: Cooper Raiff

Grand Jury Award

Director-Writer: Nikyatu Jusu


Jamie Dack
Palm Trees and Power Lines

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award

K.D. Dávila

Special Jury Award: Ensemble Cast

John Boyega, Nicole Beharie, Selenis Leyva, Connie Britton, Olivia Washington, London Covington and Michael K Williams

Special Jury Award: Uncompromising Artistic Vision

Bradley Rust Gray


Audience Award

Director: Daniel Roher

Grand Jury Prize

The Exiles (U.S.)
Directors: Ben Klein, Violet Columbus


Reid Davenport
I Didn’t See You There

Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award

Erin Casper and Jocelyne Chaput
Fire Of Love

Special Jury Award: Impact for Change

Directors: Paula Eiselt, Tonya Lewis Lee

Special Jury Award: Creative Vision

Director: Margaret Brown


Audience Award

The Territory (Brazil/Denmark/U.S.)

Grand Jury Prize

All That Breathes (India/UK)
Director: Shaunak Sen


Simon Lereng Wilmont
A House Made Of Splinters (Denmark)

Special Jury Award: Documentary Craft

The Territory (Brazil/Denmark/U.S.)
Director: Alex Pritz

Special Jury Award: Excellence In Verité Filmmaking

Midwives (Myanmar)
Director: Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing


Audience Award

Girl Picture (Finland)
Director: Alli Haapasalo

Grand Jury Prize

Utama (Bolvia/Uruguay/France)
Director-Writer: Alejandro Loayza Grisi


Maryna Er Gorbach
Klondike (Ukraine/Turkey)

Special Jury Award: Innovative Spirit

Leonor Will Never Die (Philippines)
Director-Writer: Martika Ramirez Escobar

Special Jury Award: Acting

Teresa Sánchez
Dos Estaciones (Mexico)


Audience Award

Framing Agnes (Canada/U.S.)
Director: Chase Joynt


Grand Jury Prize

The Headhunter’s Daughter (Philippines)
Director-Writer: Don Josephus Raphael Eblahan

Jury Award: U.S. Fiction

If I Go Will They Miss Me (U.S.)
Director-writer: Walter Thompson-Hernández

Jury Award: International Fiction

Warsha (France/Lebanon)
Director-writer: Dania Bdeir

Jury Award: Nonfiction

Displaced (Kosovo)
Director-writer: Samir Karahoda

Jury Award: Animation

Night Bus (Taiwan)
Director-writer: Joe Hsieh

Special Jury Award: Ensemble Cast

Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro and Lorre Motta
A wild patience has taken me here (Brazil)
Director-writer: Érica Sarmet

Special Jury Award: Screenwriting

Sara Driver
Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver (U.S.)
Directors: Lewie Kloster, Noah Kloster; Writer: Sara Driver


Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize

After Yang

Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Nonfiction

Su Kim, Free Chol Soo Lee (U.S. Documentary Competition)

Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Fiction

Amanda Marshall, God’s Country (Premieres)

Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Nonfiction

Toby Shimin

Sundance Institute | Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Fiction

Dody Dorn

Sundance Institute | NHK Award

Hasan Hadi, The President’s Cake

This article was printed from