Sundance 2005:

'Hustle & Flow'
Sets Sundance Record

By Kelisha Osborne & Liisa Kyle


Kelisha Osborne

For ten days in January, industry professionals, critics, screenwriters, artists, composers, filmmakers and countless A-list celebs assembled for an impressive coterie of highly anticipated showings at the 2005 Sundance Film Festival. Events culminated with an awards ceremony on closing night, brimming with glitterati and percolating indie-film deals.

Paramount Pictures and MTV Films acquired Hustle & Flow as part of a three-film $16 million package, setting a new Sundance Film Festival record.

Terrence Howard with co-star Taryn Manning

Written and directed by Craig Brewer and produced by John Singleton and Stephanie Allain, Hustle & Flow also won the Sundance Audience Award, as well as the American Cinematography Award. It also promises to launch lead actor Terrence Howard into a new stratosphere, given his break-out performance as a pimp undergoing a mid-life crisis. Paramount is planning to release the film later this summer.

A new feature
of this year’s festival: Award winners were screened for audiences scattered across Park City, just minutes after they were announced. This made for much excitement as eager audiences queued for “Award Winner” tickets without knowing which films they’d be viewing.

When the winners were revealed, writer/director Noah Baumbach received both the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award and the American Directing Award for The Squid And The Whale – the portrait of a dysfunctional family that generated as much festival buzz as Hustle & Flow.

While it certainly didn’t appeal to audiences as much as the jury, Top Dramatic Honors went to former Park City resident, director Ira Sachs, for Forty Shades Of Blue – a glacially-paced love triangle tale.

Additional awards presented during the evening included the Grand Jury Prize Documentary going to director and screenwriter Eugene Jarecki for Why We Fight – a powerful examination of the current “military industrial complex” foretold by Dwight D. Eisenhower half a century ago. In a completely different vein, Murderball -- the heart-pumping chronicle of quadriplegic athletes embroiled in a furious nationalistic rivalry -- received the American Documentary Audience Award, as well as Geoffrey Richman and Conor O'Neill receiving a Special Jury Prize for editing.

Directed by Peter Raymont, Shake Hands With The Devil: The Journey of Roméo Dallaire received the World Cinema Documentary Audience Award. Anyone touched by Hotel Rwanda will be fascinated by this portrait of the real-life commander of the U.N. Peacekeeping force deployed at the time of the genocide.

The World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize went to Shape of The Moon. Directed by Leonard Retel Helmrich, this verité film follows three generations of a Christian family in Muslim Indonesia.

Award winner Amy Adams (center) with fellow cast members of Junebug. Clockwise, Diector, Phil Morrison, Screenwriter Angus MacLachlan, actors Benjamin McKenzie, Embeth Davidz and Celia Weston
(Photo: Jeff Vespa/

Patricia Riggen's film Family Portrait received the Special Jury Award in Short Filmmaking, as well as an honorable recognition of the Special Jury Award in Short Filmmaking going to Bullets In The Hood: A Bed-Stuy Story for its grassroots political filmmaking, directed by Terrence Fisher and Daniel Howard. Grizzly Man a documentary film directed by Werner Herzog was awarded the 2005 Alfred P Sloan Prize. Lastly, Amy Adams received the American Cinema Special Jury Prize for her portrayal as Ashley in director Phil Morrison’s Junebug.

The critically acclaimed Sundance Film Festival, now in its 24th year, shines the spotlight on some of the finest national and international independent films that may otherwise escape audience appreciation. From its modest beginnings in 1981, Sundance has grown into one of the most significant venues in the world for the presentation of independent film as a result, bringing world wide consciousness to the support and the fostering of independent filmmakers.

Sundance 2005 featured 120 feature-length documentary and dramatic films as well as special screenings and a myriad of shorts. For a complete list of this year’s festival awards log on to Sundance Online (

Kelisha Osborne is a writer and artist based out of Park City, Utah. She can be reached via email,

© 2005 All Rights Reserved. Reproduction of this article, in whole or in part, without the written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited.

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