Sundown at Sundance 2005

Topical doc Why We Fight and Forty Shades of Blue win Grand Jury Prizes; Sundance Awards Party and winners.

by Amber Wilkinson

Ira Sachs' Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning Forty Shades Of Blue

Ira Sachs' Sundance Grand Jury Prize-winning Forty Shades Of Blue

The last day of my Sundance 2005 dawned bright and clear and it was time for me to watch my last film of the fest - Matando Cabos (Killing Cabos). A slick comedy thriller in the spirit of British gangster flicks like Lock, Stock... only better. It tells the tale of the kidnapping of gangland chief Oscar Cabos which spirals out of control in a mix up of bodies and coincidence. It's inventive and fresh and, importantly, doesn't outstay its welcome.

Return the screening disk to the press HQ and manage to score two tickets for the Awards Party tonight. The press screenings are finished now, so we mill about for a bit before heading back to the ranch. On the way, spot one of those great American business names that no-one ever believes really exist. A car dealership called Menlove. In itself this wouldn't be so bad but can't believe the owner has failed to see the irony of his slogan: 'The last of the little guys'. The name doesn't quite top the Surprise Funeral Home which we passed on the way here (in the town of Surprise, naturally) - but it's a close second.

The Awards Party is held in the Racquet Club - a barn-like building with a central bar and three huge screens at both ends. The DJ is in full swing when we get there and we receive a goody bag with a flashing necklace, straw and sweeties in it. There are plenty of directors in evidence including Eugene Jarecki, who's film Why We Fight was a deserving winner of the American Documentary Grand Jury Prize.

My favourite films of the festival were Why We Fight, Lackawanna Blues, Grizzly Man and Thumbsucker. Here is how the jury awards stacked up.

Hope you've enjoyed the diaries, I've certainly enjoyed writing them and as the sun sets on my first Sundance I hope I'll be back next year.

2005 Sundance Awards

Director of the festival Geoffrey Gilmore said: "We have been really pleased with how the broad spectrum of dramatic and documentary films have played this year and these rewards recognise that range. The introduction of World Cinema competition this year not only significantly enhanced the richness and diversity of the programme, but it brought to the Feestival filmmakers from around hte world, thereby nurturing a truly international cultural exchange among artists that is at the heart of Sundance."

American Dramatic Grand Jury Prize: Forty Shades Of Blue, director Ira Sachs - typically, despite having watched 19 feature length films and a barrel load of shorts this wasn't one of them. For the record, the programme says it is "the story of Laura, a Russian woman living in Memphis with Alan, a legendary music producer twice her age...When Alan's estranged adult son comes for a visit a bond develops between them that destabilises her ordered world."

American Documentary Grand Jury Prize: Why We Fight, director Eugene Jarecki - My favourite documentary of the festival, too, this examination of how America's arms industry has come to be an economic necessity for the country is immaculately researched and presented. It's funded by Auntie Beeb, too, so UK audiences will doubtless get to see it on TV.

World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize: Shape of The Moon, director Leonard Retel Helmrich. Another one I missed, this is a follow up film to 2001 film The Eye Of The Day. It is an examination of the largest Muslim country in the world, Indonesia, focusing on three generations of a Christian family on the outskirts of Jakarta.

World Cinema Dramatic Jury Prize: The Hero, director Zeze Gamboa. Almost got to see this one, except the screening disk didn't work. The film concerns Angola in the period following the end of the 30-year civil war there.

Squid And The WhaleAmerican Documentary Audience Award: Murderball, Henry-Alex Rubin and Dana Adam Shapiro. By now you must be thinking I haven't watched anything this week. This documentary is about the game of Murderball (also termed quad rugby) about quadriplegic athletes aiming to win a gold medal at the Paralympics.

American Dramatic Audience Award: Hustle & Flow, Craig Brewer - Already snapped up by a distributor, I have, and you can probably see this coming, not seen this one. The programme says: "Djay is a pimp suffering a dlife crisis... he yearns to record his flow and become a respected raper. Galvanised by a gospel song, he sets his dream in motion - recruiting his motley crew and building a studio in his home. And though he succeeds in putting his rap onto tape, the barriers to fame and fortune are many, and getting there becomes an elusive goal."

World Cinema Dcumentary Audience Award: Shake Hands With The Devil: The Journey Of Romeo Dallaire, Peter Raymont. At last, one I've seen. Another excellent documentary about a Canadian general's return to the site of the Rwandan genocide he tried to prevent.

American Directing Awards: Documentary: Jeff Feuerzeig for The Devil And Daniel Johnston. Dramatic: Noah Baumbach for The Squid And The Whale, pictured above left.

American Cinematography Award: Documentary: Gary Griffin, The Education Of Shelby Knox. Dramatic: Amiela Vincent, Hustle & Flow.

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Noah Baumbach for The Squid and The Whale.

Special Jury Prize for Editing: Murderball, edited by Geoffrey Richman and Conor O'Neill.

Special Jury Prize: After Innocence, directed by Jessica Sanders.

Special Jury Prize for acting: Amy Adams in Junebug and Lou Pucci in Thumbsucker - both well-deserving recipients, particularly Amy Adams, I'm sure we'll be seeing a lot more of her.

Special Jury Prize for Originality of Vision to Miranda July for Me And You And Everyone We Know and to Rian Johnson for Brick.

Other special jury prize winners: The Liberace Of Baghdad, dir Sean McAllister, Wall, dir Simone Biton, Live-In Maid Jorge Gaggero.

Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking: Family Portrait, dir Patricia Riggen. International award: WASP a UK film directed by Andrea Arnold.

2005 Alfred P Sloan Prize: Grizzly Man, dir Werner Herzog.

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