UK and Ireland celebrate at Sundance

Slow West, The Russian Woodpecker, Dreamcatcher and Glassland among winners

by Amber Wilkinson

It was a good night for UK and Irish film at the Sundance Film Festival, as Slow West, Dark Horse, The Russian Woodpecker, Dreamcatcher, Glassland and How To Change The World won awards.

Scottish director John Maclean took home the World Cinema Dramatic Competition Grand Jury prize for his buddy western Slow West, starring Michael Fassbender and Kodi Smit-McPhee, while the World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize went to Chad Gracia for The Russian Woodpecker, which tracks a Ukranian victim of the Chernobyl disaster.

The Dark Horse, Louise Osmond's documentary about a group of pals who decided to breed themselves a racehorse, won the Audience Award in the World Cinema Competition, while Kim Longinotto's story of a former prostitute who has dedicated her life to stop human trafficking, Dreamcatcher, won the World Cinema Directing Award.

The World Cinema editing award was presented to Jim Scott for his work on Greenpeace documentary How To Change The World, while Jack Reynor won an acting award for his work in Gerar Barret's story of a taxi driver who becomes embroiled in the criminal underworld, Glassland.

The US Dramatic Competition prize went to Alfonso Gomez-Rejon's Me And Earl And The Dying Girl - which also won the Audience Award - while the NEXT prize went to Josh Mond for his claustrophobic study of (pre-)grief James White. The full list of winners is below:

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Gordon Quinn to: The Wolfpack / U.S.A. (Director: Crystal Moselle) — Six bright teenage brothers have spent their entire lives locked away from society in a Manhattan housing project. All they know of the outside is gleaned from the movies they watch obsessively (and re-create meticulously). Yet as adolescence looms, they dream of escape, ever more urgently, into the beckoning world.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Edgar Wright to: Me And Earl And The Dying Girl / U.S.A. (Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Screenwriter: Jesse Andrews) — Greg is coasting through senior year of high school as anonymously as possible, avoiding social interactions like the plague while secretly making spirited, bizarre films with Earl, his only friend. But both his anonymity and friendship threaten to unravel when his mother forces him to befriend a classmate with leukemia. Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Mark Cousins to: The Russian Woodpecker / United Kingdom (Director: Chad Gracia) — A Ukrainian victim of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster discovers a dark secret and must decide whether to risk his life by revealing it, amid growing clouds of revolution and war.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Col Needham to: Slow West / United Kingdom, New Zealand (Director and screenwriter: John Maclean) — Set at the end of the nineteenth century, 16-year-old Jay Cavendish journeys across the American frontier in search of the woman he loves. He is joined by Silas, a mysterious traveler, and hotly pursued by an outlaw along the way. Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Michael Fassbender, Ben Mendelsohn, Caren Pistorius, Rory McCann.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was presented by Adam Scott to: Meru / U.S.A. (Directors: Jimmy Chin, E. Chai Vasarhelyi) — Three elite mountain climbers sacrifice everything but their friendship as they struggle through heartbreaking loss and nature’s harshest elements to attempt the never-before-completed Shark’s Fin on Mount Meru, the most coveted first ascent in the dangerous game of Himalayan big wall climbing.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was presented by Kevin Pollak to: Me And Earl And The Dying Girl / U.S.A. (Director: Alfonso Gomez-Rejon, Screenwriter: Jesse Andrews) — Greg is coasting through senior year of high school as anonymously as possible, avoiding social interactions like the plague while secretly making spirited, bizarre films with Earl, his only friend. But both his anonymity and friendship threaten to unravel when his mother forces him to befriend a classmate with leukemia. Cast: Thomas Mann, RJ Cyler, Olivia Cooke, Nick Offerman, Connie Britton, Molly Shannon.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented by Patrick Fugit to: Dark Horse / United Kingdom (Director: Louise Osmond) — Dark Horse is the inspirational true story of a group of friends from a workingman's club who decide to take on the elite "sport of kings" and breed themselves a racehorse.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented by Patrick Fugit to: Umrika / India (Director and screenwriter: Prashant Nair) — When a young village boy discovers that his brother, long believed to be in America, has actually gone missing, he begins to invent letters on his behalf to save their mother from heartbreak, all the while searching for him. Cast: Suraj Sharma, Tony Revolori, Smita Tambe, Adil Hussain, Rajesh Tailang, Prateik Babbar.

The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was presented by Kevin Corrigan to: James White / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Josh Mond) — A young New Yorker struggles to take control of his reckless, self-destructive behavior in the face of momentous family challenges. Cast: Chris Abbott, Cynthia Nixon, Scott Mescudi, Makenzie Leigh, David Call.

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented by Roger Ross Williams to: Matthew Heineman for Cartel Land / U.S.A., Mexico (Director: Matthew Heineman) — In this classic western set in the twenty-first century, vigilantes on both sides of the border fight the vicious Mexican drug cartels. With unprecedented access, this character-driven film provokes deep questions about lawlessness, the breakdown of order, and whether citizens should fight violence with violence.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented by Cary Fukunaga to: Robert Eggers for The Witch / U.S.A., Canada (Director and screenwriter: Robert Eggers) — New England in the 1630s: William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life with five children, homesteading on the edge of an impassable wilderness. When their newborn son vanishes and crops fail, the family turns on one another. Beyond their worst fears, a supernatural evil lurks in the nearby wood. Cast: Anya Taylor Joy, Ralph Ineson, Kate Dickie, Harvey Scrimshaw, Lucas Dawson, Ellie Grainger.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented by Elena Fortes to: Kim Longinotto for Dreamcatcher / United Kingdom (Director: Kim Longinotto) — Dreamcatcher takes us into a hidden world seen through the eyes of one of its survivors, Brenda Myers-Powell. A former teenage prostitute, Brenda defied the odds to become a powerful advocate for change in her community. With warmth and humor, Brenda gives hope to those who have none.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented by Taika Waititi to: Alanté Kavaïté for The Summer of Sangaile / Lithuania, France, The Netherlands (Director and screenwriter: Alanté Kavaïté) — Seventeen-year-old Sangaile is fascinated by stunt planes. She meets a girl her age at the summer aeronautical show, near her parents’ lakeside villa. Sangaile allows Auste to discover her most intimate secret and, in the process, finds in her teenage love, the only person that truly encourages her to fly. Cast: Julija Steponaitytė, Aistė Diržiūtė.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented by Winona Ryder to: Tim Talbott for The Stanford Prison Experiment / U.S.A. (Director: Kyle Patrick Alvarez, Screenwriter: Tim Talbott) — Based on the actual events that took place in 1971, when Stanford professor Dr. Philip Zimbardo created what became one of the most shocking and famous social experiments of all time. Cast: Billy Crudup, Ezra Miller, Michael Angarano, Tye Sheridan, Johnny Simmons, Olivia Thirlby.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact was presented by Michele Norris to: Marc Silver for 3½ Minutes / U.S.A. (Director: Marc Silver) — On November 23, 2012, unarmed 17-year-old Jordan Russell Davis was shot at a Jacksonville gas station by Michael David Dunn. 3½ Minutes explores the aftermath of Jordan's tragic death, the latent and often unseen effects of racism, and the contradictions of the American criminal justice system.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking was presented by Eugene Hernandez to: Bill Ross and Turner Ross for Western / U.S.A., Mexico (Directors: Bill Ross, Turner Ross) — For generations, all that distinguished Eagle Pass, Texas, from Piedras Negras, Mexico, was the Rio Grande. But when darkness descends upon these harmonious border towns, a cowboy and lawman face a new reality that threatens their way of life. Western portrays timeless American figures in the grip of unforgiving change.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Break Out First Feature was presented by Eugene Hernandez to: Lyric R. Cabral and David Felix Sutcliffe for (T)ERROR / U.S.A. (Directors: Lyric R. Cabral, David Felix Sutcliffe) — With unprecedented access to a covert counterterrorism sting, (T)ERROR develops in real time, documenting the action as it unfolds on the ground. Viewers get an unfettered glimpse of the government's counterterrorism tactics and the murky justifications behind them through the perspective of *******, a 63-year-old Black revolutionary turned FBI informant.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented by Kristen Johnson to: Matthew Heineman for Cartel Land / U.S.A., Mexico (Director: Matthew Heineman) — In this classic western set in the twenty-first century, vigilantes on both sides of the border fight the vicious Mexican drug cartels. With unprecedented access, this character-driven film provokes deep questions about lawlessness, the breakdown of order, and whether citizens should fight violence with violence.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Cinematography was presented by Lance Acord to: Brandon Trost for The Diary Of A Teenage Girl / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Marielle Heller) — Minnie Goetze is a 15-year-old aspiring comic-book artist, coming of age in the haze of the 1970s in San Francisco. Insatiably curious about the world around her, Minnie is a pretty typical teenage girl. Oh, except that she's sleeping with her mother's boyfriend. Cast: Bel Powley, Alexander Skarsgård, Christopher Meloni, Kristen Wiig.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Editing was presented by Sarah Flack to: Lee Haugen for Dope / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Rick Famuyiwa) — Malcolm is carefully surviving life in a tough neighborhood in Los Angeles while juggling college applications, academic interviews, and the SAT. A chance invitation to an underground party leads him into an adventure that could allow him to go from being a geek, to being dope, to ultimately being himself. Cast: Shameik Moore, Tony Revolori, Kiersey Clemons, Blake Anderson, Zoë Kravitz, A$AP Rocky.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Collaborative Vision was presented by Winona Ryder to: Advantageous / U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Phang, Screenwriters: Jacqueline Kim, Jennifer Phang) — In a near-future city where soaring opulence overshadows economic hardship, Gwen and her daughter, Jules, do all they can to hold on to their joy, despite the instability surfacing in their world. Cast: Jacqueline Kim, James Urbaniak, Freya Adams, Ken Jeong, Jennifer Ehle, Samantha Kim.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Unparalleled Access was presented by Elena Fortes to: The Chinese Mayor / China (Director: Hao Zhou) — Mayor Geng Yanbo is determined to transform the coal-mining center of Datong, in China’s Shanxi province, into a tourism haven showcasing clean energy. In order to achieve that, however, he has to relocate 500,000 residences to make way for the restoration of the ancient city.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact was presented by Mark Cousins to: Pervert Park / Sweden, Denmark (Directors: Frida Barkfors, Lasse Barkfors) — Pervert Park follows the everyday lives of sex offenders in a Florida trailer park as they struggle to reintegrate into society, and try to understand who they are and how to break the cycle of sex crimes being committed.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was presented by Ingrid Kopp to: Jim Scott for How To Change The World / United Kingdom, Canada (Director: Jerry Rothwell) — In 1971, a group of friends sails into a nuclear test zone, and their protest captures the world’s imagination. Using rare, archival footage that brings their extraordinary world to life, How to Change the World is the story of the pioneers who founded Greenpeace and defined the modern green movement.

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented by Taika Waititi to: Germain McMicking for Partisan / Australia (Director: Ariel Kleiman, Screenwriters: Ariel Kleiman, Sarah Cyngler) — Alexander is like any other kid: playful, curious and naive. He is also a trained assassin. Raised in a hidden paradise, Alexander has grown up seeing the world filtered through his father, Gregori. As Alexander begins to think for himself, creeping fears take shape, and Gregori's idyllic world unravels. Cast: Vincent Cassel, Jeremy Chabriel, Florence Mezzara.

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting was presented by Col Needham to: Jack Reynor for Glassland / Ireland (Director and screenwriter: Gerard Barrett) — In a desperate attempt to reunite his broken family, a young taxi driver becomes entangled in the criminal underworld. Cast: Jack Reynor, Toni Collette, Will Poulter, Michael Smiley.

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting was presented by Mia Hanson-Løve to: Regina Casé and Camila Márdila for The Second Mother / Brazil (Director and screenwriter: Anna Muylaert) — Having left her daughter, Jessica, to be raised by relatives in the north of Brazil, Val works as a loving nanny in São Paulo. When Jessica arrives for a visit 13 years later, she confronts her mother's slave-like attitude and everyone in the house is affected by her unexpected behavior. Cast: Regina Casé, Michel Joelsas, Camila Márdila, Karine Teles, Lourenço Mutarelli.

The following awards were presented at separate ceremonies at the Festival:

Jury prizes and honorable mentions in short filmmaking were presented at a ceremony in Park City, Utah on January 27. The Short Film Grand Jury Prize was awarded to World of Tomorrow / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Don Hertzfeldt). The Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction was presented to SMILF / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Frankie Shaw). The Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction was presented to Oh Lucy! / Japan, Singapore, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Atsuko Hirayanagi). The Short Film Jury Award: Non-fiction was presented to The Face of Ukraine: Casting Oksana Baiul / Australia (Director: Kitty Green). The Short Film Jury Award: Animation was presented to Storm hits jacket / France (Director and screenwriter: Paul Cabon). A Short Film Special Jury Award for Acting was presented to Laure Calamy for Back Alley / France (Director and screenwriter: Cécile Ducrocq). A Short Film Special Jury Award for Visual Poetry was presented to Object / Poland (Director: Paulina Skibińska). This year’s Short Film jurors were K.K. Barrett, Alia Shawkat and Autumn de Wilde. The Short Film program is presented by YouTube.

The 2015 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, presented to outstanding feature films focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer or mathematician as a major character, was presented to The Stanford Prison Experiment, directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez. The film received a $20,000 cash award from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

The winning directors and projects of the 2015 Sundance Institute Global Filmmaking Awards presented by AJ+ in recognition and support of emerging independent filmmakers from around the world, are: Haifaa Al Mansour, Be Safe I Love You (Saudi Arabia); K’naan, The Poet (Somalia); Myroslav Slaboshpytskiy, Luxembourg (Ukraine); and Oskar Sulowski, Rosebuds(Poland/Germany). Each filmmaker received a cash award of $10,000.

The Sundance Institute/NHK Award, honoring and supporting emerging filmmakers, was presented to Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre, writer-director of the upcoming debut feature film, Mustang.

The 2015 Sundance Institute

Red Crown Producer’s Award and $10,000 grant was presented to Stephanie Langhoff, producer of The Bronze.

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