Happy, Happy, Hell and Back Again, How to Die in Oregonand Like Crazy Earn Grand Jury Prizes Audience Favorites Include Buck, Circumstance, KinyawarandaandSenna to.get.her Awarded Best of NEXT! Audience Award
The Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to How to Die in Oregon, directed by Peter D. Richardson. In 1994 Oregon became the first state to legalize physician-assisted suicide. How to Die in Oregon gently enters the lives of terminally ill Oregonians to illuminate the power of death with dignity.
The Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to Like Crazy, directed by Drake Doremus; written by Drake Doremus and Ben York Jones. A young American guy and a young British girl meet in college and fall in love. Their love is tested when she is required to leave the country and they must face the challenges of a long-distance relationship.
The World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to Hell and Back Again, directed by Danfung Dennis. Told through the eyes of one Marine from the start of his 2009 Afghanistan tour to his distressing return and rehabilitation in the U.S., we witness what modern "unconventional" warfare really means to the men who are fighting it. U.S.A./United Kingdom
The World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to Happy, Happy (Sykt Lykkelig), directed by Anne Sewitsky; written by Ragnhild Tronvoll. A perfect housewife, who just happens to be sex-starved, struggles to keep her emotions in check when an attractive family moves in next door. Norway
The Audience Award: Documentary was presented to Buck, directed by Cindy Meehl, for her story about the power of non-violence and master horse trainer Buck Brannaman, who uses principles of respect and trust to tame horses and inspire their human counterparts.
The Audience Award: Dramatic was presented to Circumstance, directed and written by Maryam Keshavarz,in which a wealthy Iranian family struggles to contain a teenager's growing sexual rebellion and her brother's dangerous obsession.
The World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary was presented to Senna, directed by Asif Kapadia; written by Manish Pandey, about legendary racing driver and Brazilian hero Ayrton Senna, taking us on the ultimate journey of what it means to become the greatest when faced with the constant possibility of death. United Kingdom
The World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic was presented to Kinyarwanda, directed and written by Alrick Brown, which tells the story of Rwandans who crossed the lines of hatred during the 1994 genocide, turning mosques into places of refuge for Muslims and Christians, Hutus and Tutsis. U.S.A./Rwanda
On a similar note, and with great admiration, Marlon Brando refused to accept his 1972 Academy Award for Best Actor in The Godfather as a statement on Native American rights - with a written rejection delivered by a young Native American activist that stated disapproval of the depiction of their culture in Hollywood cinema.
Unfortunately, it seems like every year more of these endless televised events seem to pop up, one after another - the Golden Globes (the worst of the bunch), SAG Awards, and of course the Academy Awards - I can't even remember the rest. I truly have very little time for any of them, and sadly (and perhaps partially unfair) I tend to throw Sundance Film Fest into this mix as the sweet "indie" darling of the market - though it actually hasn't been "indie" since the 90's when the word actually meant something - just another red carpet affair. Now, good films do come out of Sundance and old Redford seems to be making attempts to bring it back to credibility, but the industry grasp is tough to break.
So, to compensate on some level, and with all respect to the many valid independent artists that receive notoriety and opportunity from the event, I have at least posted the awards from the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and encourage all to delve further to find a few gems. There are always some impressive works that come to light due to the festival, so perhaps I shouldn't be so harsh on the event. Follow the Links below for more information and, please, don't ever misperceive the mainstream awards ceremonies as a comprehensive collection of the year's best and most innovative cinema - they get a few right, but we must dig a little deeper to find many of the innovators and ground-breakers. If you are just catching that cinephile bug, Sundance isn't the worst place to begin. Above is a list of the awards.
2011 Sundance Film Festival Awards