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
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
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
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 (http://institute.sundance.org).
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