Sundance 2017. Awards

I don’t feel at home in this world anymore
Grand Jury Prize
I don’t feel at home in this world anymore. (Macon Blair)
Directing Award
Beach Rats (Eliza Hittman)
Special Jury Award Cinematography
Daniel Landin, The Yellow Birds
Special Jury Award – Breakthrough Performance
Chanté Adams (Roxanne Roxanne)
Special Jury Award – Breakthrough Director
Novitiate (Maggie Betts)
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award
Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith, Ingrid Goes West
Audience Award
Crown Heights (Matt Ruskin)
Gook (Justin Chon)
Grand Jury Prize
Dina (Dan Sickles, Antonio Santini)
Directing Award
The Force (Peter Nicks)
Special Jury Award for Editing
Kim Roberts and Emiliano Battista, Unrest
Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking
STEP (Amanda Lipitz)
Special Jury Award for Storytelling
Strong Island (Yance Force)
The Orwell Award
ICARUS (Bryan Fogel)
Audience Award
Chasing Coral (Jeff Orlowski)
The Nile Hilton Incident
Grand Jury Prize
The Nile Hilton Incident (Tarik Saleh)
Directing Award
God’s Own Country (Francis Lee)
Special Jury Award for Cinematography
Manu Dacosse, Axolotl Overkill
Special Jury Award for Cinematic Vision
Free and Easy (Jun Geng)
Special Jury Award for Screenplay
Kirsten Tan, Pop Aye
Audience Award
I Dream in Another Language (Ernesto Contreras)
Grand Jury Prize
Last Men in Aleppo (Feras Fayyad)
Directing Award
WINNIE (Pascale Lamche)
Special Jury Award for Commanding Vision
Motherland (Ramona S. Diaz)
Special Jury Award for Excellence in Cinematography
Rodrigo Trejo Villanueva, Machines
Special Jury Award for Masterful Storytelling
RUMBLE: The Indians Who Rocked the World (Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana)
Audience Award
Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower (Joe Piscatella)
Marjorie Prime (Michael Almereyeda)

Sundance 2017: ‘Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower’ Doc is Invigorating

Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower

The power of people. But who is the leader that can inspire people to actually get out and protest? Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower is a documentary about the Umbrella Movement in Hong Kong in 2014, as well as the story of Joshua Wong, the young activist who lead the movement. I’ve been excited to see a documentary about this specific moment in Hong Kong’s history, and this film covers that event and much more. This really shook up something deep inside of me. Joshua Wong is now my idol, I’m totally inspired and invigorated by him and his endless passion for democracy through peaceful protest – power in numbers. I admire this kid so much, and this doc is a fantastic introduction to who he is and what he helped achieve.

Directed by Joe Piscatella, Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower tells the story of Joshua Wong – a student who founded a group called Scholarism and began protesting against the National Education curriculum in Hong Kong at the age of 14. After successfully convincing the government of Hong Kong to give up on their plan, he regrouped two years later to help lead the Umbrella Movement. Wong and other activists lead a 79-day protest on the streets of Hong Kong, fighting for democracy and universal suffrage – the ability to vote for and choose the Chief Executive without interference from the Chinese Communist Party. While the protest was not successful, it became a seminal moment in Hong Kong’s history, and helped cement Wong’s legacy.

The film successfully introduces us to Joshua, and his cohorts at Scholarism, as well as covers (in minimal detail) the concept behind the Umbrella Movement. Joshua is a born leader, calmly yet passionately fighting for freedom and equality and democracy. It’s invigorating to watch him – he won’t give up, he knows what to say, he knows how to rally people to fight for change. The subtitle for the film is accurate – it’s the story of a teenager battling a superpower: the Hong Kong government, backed (or perhaps controlled) by the Chinese government. The doc moves fast, explaining quickly the context behind why Hong Kong is fighting for its independence from mainland China, and how activists like Joshua are much different than Chinese citizens.

After learning about his very successful protest against the National Education curriculum, which brought out 100,000 people, it jumps to 2014 and follows Joshua specifically as he helps organize the next series of protests. This is the point where I got really emotional during the film, totally in awe of what he was pulling off and the footage they had of the thousands of people camping out on the highways. They were all there because they were fighting for true democracy, and were emboldened by charismatic leaders like Joshua. While I wish the film would’ve spent a bit more time explaining the cultural context of the Umbrella Movement (and its greater relevance to Hong Kong politics), and how it became as iconic as it did, I was so enamored by Joshua that I didn’t mind that they kept the focus on him more than the protests themselves.

Until another major documentary is made about the Umbrella Movement and/or the life of Joshua Wong, this is the definitive documentary on both. I really loved this film and felt deeply connected to it, inspired by his activism and his intelligence. I am also extremely motivated by his ability to galvanize and organize, and I hope other people are influenced by him. He is the definition of a leader, and we need more leaders like him. Director Joe Piscatella works hard to answer some of the big questions about who exactly this kid is by choosing excellent footage to show, and covering important moments in his life. What he shows us allows us to learn a lot about him if you watch carefully. It’s an inspiring story of a teen making history in Hong Kong.

Alex’s Sundance 2017 Rating: 9 out of 10
Follow Alex on Twitter – @firstshowing

Watch: Video of The Silhouettes of Cinematographer Roger Deakins

The Silhouettes of Roger Deakins

The use of silhouettes in cinematography can be powerful and evocative. One of the masters of silhouettes is cinematographer Roger Deakins, who has earned 13 Academy Award nominations over three decades (but never actually won one yet). One Perfect Shot video editor H. Perry Horton put together this compilation titled "Paint it Black: The Silhouettes of Roger Deakins" profiling some of his best silhouette shots. There’s footage from Skyfall, True Grit, Sicario, Assassination of Jesse James, The Hurricane, Jarhead, Prisoners, The Shawshank Redemption, and even the new Blade Runner (because why not?). Watch below.

Description from YouTube: "Roger Deakins is quite simply the most accomplished cinematographer of his time, responsible for some of the most breathtaking imagery of the last 30+ years. In particular his acumen with using figures in silhouette to evoke an array of emotional atmospheres is unparalleled. Here are his best." This video was edited by H. Perry Horton, made for One Perfect Shot, read the full article here. For a list of all the different films included in this, visit YouTube. Deakins has already finished shooting Blade Runner 2049, and also worked with the Coen Bros on Hail, Caesar last year. Excited for whatever he does.

Watch Spotting: Roger Federer Wins The 2017 Australian Open And Celebrates With A Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR On His Wrist

Earlier today, Roger Federer won the men’s singles championship at the 2017 Australian Open after a five-set battle with Rafael Nadal. He maintained his record as the winningest man in tennis, despite having missed six months of competition earlier this year. And, as usual, he was rocking a pretty great watch when he hoisted the trophy over his head. Federer, a long-time Rolex ambassador, sported a Rolex GMT-Master II BLNR, a classic that perfectly suited the occasion (and the bright blue tennis courts of Melbourne Park).

Yesterday we told you about Serena Williams’s latest victory, which made her the winningest female player in the modern Open era of tennis, and how she achieved this with a solid rose gold Audemars Piguet Millenary on her wrist. Federer wasn’t wearing his Rolex during the actual match today (not all of us can be as badass as Serena), but at 35 years old he was the oldest major championship finalist in 43 years and with this win increases his record to 18 major titles.

roger federer australian open

The Rolex in question was the much-buzzed-about GMT-Master II BLNR, otherwise known as the "Batman" GMT. The watch was first released at Baselworld 2013 and its blue and black 24-hour bezel made it the very first Rolex to feature a two-tone Cerachrome bezel (quickly followed by the white gold GMT-Master II with a blue and red bezel). I have to say, I’m a bit surprised Federer wasn’t rocking the new ceramic-bezel Daytona that we’ve seen him wearing a lot this year, but maybe this watch has some personal significance or he wanted to shake things up.

rafael nada 27-02 richard mille australian open

On the opposite side of the court though, there was another awesome timekeeper. Rafael Nadal was wearing his signature Richard Mille RM 27-02 tourbillon, which is instantly recognizable by the bright orange-red strap (that was originally meant to recall the clay tennis courts of Roland Garros at the French Open). Sure, Rafa ends up in second place at the Australian Open, but with a watch like that on his wrist, we think he’ll be ok.

Sundance 2017. Correspondences #8

My Happy Family
Dear Josh,
With a festival like Sundance, where critics and distributors alike are clamoring to find the next big thing, certain types of films are bound to get lost in the shuffle. Such is the case with Ramona Diaz’s fine, unassuming documentary Motherland. Centering on the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Metro Manila, one of the busiest maternity wards in the Philippines, the film has a wealth of fascinating material. A nurse tallies the number of women and children in the ward; a young mother learns of “Kangaroo Mother Care” (widely used because of a lack of incubators); a nurse attempts to convince various mothers to use an IUD; the ward doctor drones over the PA system in a strict, motherly tone (the way one would speak to a summer camp group). There’s a great documentary to be made here, so it’s somewhat frustrating that Motherland is merely quite good. A brief look at the health insurance mechanisms provided by the Philippine Charity Sweepstakes Office (PCSO) hints at a more ambitious Wiseman-like institutional documentation. Occasional bursts of playfulness between the mothers make one wish that Diaz had pursued the bonds between the women. But the final scene, which follows a mother and her newborn twins as they leave the hospital—a decisive break from the relative comfort of the maternity ward—hits a perfect note of unease and uncertainty; the larger world seeps back into the frame.
Equally attuned to the world at large, though in an entirely different way, is Dina, Dan Sickle and Antonio Santini’s simple, moving documentary—a love story between Dina Buno and Scott Levin, two individuals with Asperger’s Syndrome (apart from other related autism spectrum diagnoses). The directors simply observe the couple as they get engaged, interact with friends and family, and with each other. (Scott’s sexual inexperience is a recurring issue for the couple.) What elevates the film is its directness, which bypasses both irony and cynicism in a way that’s not overly treacly. (A montage leading up to the wedding, set to Yaz’s “Only You” is a highlight.) Dina is also frequently, surprisingly hilarious, but never at the expense of those on-screen; its honesty (and unabashed embrace of what would normally be considered kitsch) obviates any such issues. (Particularly memorable: a rowdy bachelorette party; Dina and Scott discussing The Joys of Sex as two kids walk by.) Elegant, too, is the way Sickle and Santini sometimes film the couple from a distance, so their expressions are obscured, but their voices fully audible. The film’s best scene observes the couple in long shot, taking a stroll during their honeymoon—just two silhouettes, backed by the sunset—having the most bracingly honest of conversations. Precisely because of its intense focus on the couple—this is decidedly not an “issue doc”—the film manages to so eloquently and obliquely address their place in the world, as it were. A major reservation (not a deal-breaker, but close) is the way a traumatic event in Dina’s past is revealed, which was the only moment that struck me as baldly manipulative—it’s even hinted at throughout. But otherwise, it’s nigh-impossible to not be moved. Amidst all the slick Sundance movies reverse-engineered for maximum audience reaction, it’s a pleasure to spend time with a film that just is.
You say you’re ready to go home (and so am I), but Manana (Ia Shugliashvili), the middle-aged woman at the center of My Happy Family, Nana Ekvtimishvili and Simon Gross’s perceptive Georgian drama, just wants to leave hers. When the film opens, we see her buy an advertising newspaper, look at an apartment, and then have dinner with her family—her husband Soso, her elderly parents, her two children, and a son-in-law. A few days later—just after her birthday, no less—she packs up and leaves. There’s no inciting quarrel, no lengthy explanation; she just can’t live with her family anymore. If Alex Ross Perry’s Golden Exits saw two families unwilling or unable to sever their roots, My Happy Family observes what happens when those ties are, if not entirely severed, then stretched to their breaking point.
Co-director Nana Ekvtimishvili, who wrote the screenplay, has a knack for casual, lived-in detail: the difference between dill and fennel, a cherry juice stain, a slice of strawberry cake on a sunny afternoon. Even more impressive are the film’s many, sharply modulated arguments, all perfectly attuned to how emotions flare up and die down within seconds, oscillating with every offhand comment, every minor irritation. Filmed in long, handheld takes (apparently not the sole purview of the Romanian New Wave), these scenes are at once coherent and chaotic, the camera roving and restless, attempting to find some foothold in “this whirl of life.” There’s palpable discontent, but also joy and profound beauty. (If this film is anything to go by, apparently all Georgians are marvelous singers.) “I survived the Communists… I survived so many shitty governments,” says Otar, Manana’s taciturn father. But family is something else altogether. This is a film that both understands that, and communicates it well. 
Although it may not initially seem like it, that’s also true of The Big Sick, Michael Showalter’s hit romantic comedy, which recently sold to Amazon for a staggering $12 million. As you pointed out with Patti Cake$ (not to mention last year’s Birth of a Nation), a big deal at Sundance doesn’t always mean a great film, let alone a good one. So I’m pleased to report that The Big Sick is, in fact, a commendable film. Based on the real life relationship between Kumail Nanjiani (playing himself) and Emily Gordon (played by Zoe Kazan), both credited as screenwriters, the film starts out as a tentative romance (complete with the requisite meet-cute during Kumail’s first stand-up comedy routine). But The Big Sick takes a sharp-left once it reaches the title event: Emily’s subsequent hospitalization, during which she was induced into a coma for treatment. With half of the romance out of the equation for a good part of its runtime, the film becomes something quite different. Race, particularly Kumail’s Pakistani ethnicity, is a major thread. (Kumail’s parents set him up with Pakistani women, and expect him to continue practicing Islam; a man shouts a racial slur at him during his stand-up routine.) In concept, a lot of the material could be played for rather cutesy humor or a quick punchline—and there is some of that. But there’s a groundedness to the film (particularly in its generosity towards its characters) that both charms and moves, even as it maintains its punchy, jokey rhythms. The structure can seem somewhat shambling and some beats a touch overdetermined; but it’s the kind of personal story that actually feels personal. And with that, my first Sundance experience comes to a close. But the year—and the year’s cinematic offerings—are only just beginning. 
Until next time!

6 Ways to Tune Up Your Listening

Gossip Human Eavesdropping With Hand To Ear.We all want to be heard, right? We have a human desire to be seen and understood. But how skilled are we at extending listening to others?

Here are six ways to sharpen your listening skills.

Be Present

Listening requires being in the moment. When someone is expressing a feeling or thought, try to stay present in your body and heart. This makes it easier to register their feelings and grasp their meanings. Empathy means noticing how another person is experiencing something.

Notice if you’re distracted by one of the following:

  • Are you in your head preparing your response?
  • Are you eager to show that they’re wrong or that you disagree?
  • Are you emotionally activated by what they’re saying, which makes it harder to listen calmly and openly?

These distractions are a natural part of being human. But we can practice being aware of when our attention is hijacked. This gentle awareness can lead us back to being present to listen to someone’s cares and concerns.


Amidst the pressures and demands of modern life, our caring for friends and loved ones may slip into the background. Relationships thrive when we truly care about each other’s feelings.

Felt caring erodes when accumulated resentment and hurt have created a wall of distance. Caring about others goes hand in hand with taking care of ourselves emotionally. We create a climate for mutual caring when we’re willing to process and communicate our important feelings. This enables us to clear the air and revive our active caring for a person.

Listening is easier as we hear each other’s feelings before an emotional build-up disrupts trust and connection. Couples therapy may help couples hear each other in deeper ways.

Listening with a caring heart is perhaps the most precious gift we can offer another person.


It’s easy to forget to breathe deeply and freely when we feel agitated or stressed. Breathing often calms our nervous system so that we become more present — and better able to listen.

There is good reason to remind ourselves to practice conscious breathing even when we’re not agitated. Mindful breathing gets us out of our head and into our body, which is a good place to reside when listening. When we’re distracted by thoughts about the past or future, we’re no longer present — no longer able to listen deeply and empathically.

Soothe Yourself

When we’re calm and quiet inside, we have more space to hear each other — we have a greater capacity to care. Breathing is one way to soothe ourselves. Another way is to attend to what we’re feeling as we listen.

Are we feeling sad as we hear about another’s pain or struggle? Can we make room for that sadness and be with it in a gentle way? Are we getting defensive? Are we imposing a demand on ourselves to offer good advice or fix someone’s problem? We’re better able to listen as we find ways to soothe ourselves as we attend to another’s inner world.

Soothing ourselves might also mean reminding ourselves of the power of listening. Our job isn’t to fix their problem, but rather to extend our heart and caring. When people feel heard, they feel less alone. They then feel more inner resources to find the way forward.

Convey Your Understanding

Let people know that you’re hearing and understanding them. You can do this non-verbally through your kind eyes, nodding your head, or uttering some affirmative sounds. Or, you can verbally tell them that you understand and that you appreciate them trusting you with their vulnerable feelings.

More than our words, people register our presence. If we’re listening with a caring, non-shaming, non-judgmental heart, people often feel this — and appreciate our gift of listening.

Listen to Yourself

Listen to yourself as you listen to others. Be mindful about what arises inside as you attend to them. Being gentle and kind toward yourself deepens your ability to offer the precious gift of listening to others. Noticing and holding your own feelings in a gentle, caring way provides a foundation for connection and intimacy.

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Cat Dances on Keyboard, Author Gets Last Word

The perp. Goes by the moniker Moonlight.

I’m sure every writer has either had this happen, or had nightmares of it happening: You finish up a nice bit of work and walk away from the computer. Do you think about the havoc your cat can wreak on your work? No, you do not. And when you return, hours later, having forgotten all about it, you find gibberish on the screen in place of your finely turned prose.

Yeah, it happened to me. Look at Moonlight. Doesn’t she look innocent and cuddly? Well, cuddly she is, but innocent she is not. No, this kitty tried to rewrite my chapter for me. Bad kitty! Seriously, she’s a terrible writer. Here’s a sample: [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[… What kind of writing is that?

Yes, of course I had saved my work. (How stupid do you think I am? No, on second thought…) I saved, and furthermore, it was backed up automatically to Dropbox. What I failed to do, though, was to close Scrivener before I walked away. Scrivener auto-saves anything you write. So your cat dances on your keyboard (or parks her fuzzy butt on it for warmth), and Scrivener obligingly saves all her new work for you. And the new work gets saved to Dropbox!

That’s what I found when I came back to my laptop, hours later.

What to do? Dropbox’s “deleted versions” to the rescue! I went online to my Dropbox account and looked for the mostly recently changed file in my Scrivener folder. (That took a little while, owing to the spaghettified file structure of my book, but never mind that.) Scrivener saves each chapter as a little rtf file, and sure enough, the last-saved file was time-stamped half an hour after I left the house! Caught you, you little scalawag!

Dropbox saves a number of older versions. It’s not even remotely obvious how to find them, but I eventually discovered if you click on the file you want, then click the little icon with three dots at the top, it offers to show you the version history. And there’s where you find your pre-cat-dancing version, and restore it to its rightful place.

Hah! Show you, you little furball!


How to Live with Purpose, Even if You Don’t Have a Clue

“The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.” Dostoyevsky

If I were to ask you to define your purpose in one sentence, could you?

Congratulations if you can. You are in the minority.

Most of us understand that living a fulfilled life requires this mysterious quality of having purpose.

I think the concept is confusing to most people. I never really understood it. I got it, but I didn’t.

I knew that it meant having a reason to live; something that drove me to live enthusiastically.

I knew that ‘purpose’ was a motivator that was supposed to go beyond life’s simple pleasures, like eating a cream-filled doughnut or a cheeky nap in the park.

Was that even true?

Being self-employed, staying driven is something I think about every day. It feels precarious to have no one tell me what to do next.

I could never figure out how to define what purpose is. If I captured the idea in a motivating sentence, this would be transient, as I would change it soon after.


As even the genius Dostoyevsky showed, finding a reason to live, beyond surviving, is not easy.

“Your purpose in life is to find your purpose and give your whole heart and soul to it” -Gautama Buddha

The concept of purpose sounds heavy. That’s why it’s so hard to define. It’s like the idea that we have a ‘calling’, and there is some greater, ethereal plan for us — that we are guided by fate.

But I don’t think we are.

There is one thing I think is more exciting than the idea of fate, which is that we design our own fates.

We can choose to live passively, or we can create something that makes us come alive.

We can allow life to choose what to do with us, or we can place a bet on ourselves. We can slip by unnoticed, or we can choose to exert our own unique energy.

We have the freedom to choose.

Nobody will notice the first time we make something and nervously hit send. But when we decide to create something, over and over again and we do it with dignity, eventually someone will turn their head.

In Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, a central idea in the book is this:

“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”


This is true. And I like to take the idea even further. When you choose to do something and you want it, and you commit to it and you own it like it’s already yours, the universe will respond.

Have you ever had a moment where you said something weird, but rather than apologise or hide in shame, you just owned it. You held your ground with a hidden grimace. You showed confidence, even if it was awkward.

Then what happened?

People laughed with you. People respected your ownership of what you said, even if it wasn’t ‘appropriate’.

The universe responds to boldness in your decisions like this, even if it feels weird. 

You shape reality by deciding and being, not by trying and waiting.

“If you have a strong purpose in life, you don’t have to be pushed. Your passion will drive you there.” Roy T. Bennett

Put out the crackling energy of creativity, and it will start knocking into other molecules. If you ignite enough of it, you will start heating up a scratch, which will open up into a stream, and then a river.

But you have to create that energy in the first place. You need to decide what you want and how you want your life to be.

This requires a vision as clear as you can make it. And the visions worth creating are never going to come easily.

You design this vision and then you start moving to bring it into existence.


The way I do this is by writing out the things I’m committed to every day.

I write everything in the present, as though I am already living those visions and I speak them after I physically write them.

For example:

5000 people buy and read my books each month who love them and share them with their friends.

By writing them on a notepad, I’m not just thinking, but committing physiologically. By saying them in the present, there is no disconnect between who I am now and who I want to become. I live it today.

Each day, I move closer to aligning more closely to those visions.

I re-write a list of about seven individual ‘visions’ twice a day if I can. I usually look forward to doing this, because I like to reinforce my desired vision daily.

I include visions for money, how many books I sell a month, what my dream house looks like, and the number of people that are helped by my art and writing.

I don’t go nuts because one vision will trickle down to improving other things, and fewer means focus. I also remind myself to have patience; to not get too attached to seeing results immediately. I have faith they will show up because I keep my visions front of mind.

By writing them down constantly, I absorb the ideas. It is the repetition that is most important here.

“What am I living for and what am I dying for are the same question.” — Margaret Atwood

Jim Carey became a famous actor not because he wrote that cheque to himself, but because he saw it every time he opened his wallet and used the reminder to take another step forward.

Each day I live those realities with a little more colour.

And this is what gives me purpose.

There is no single definition of purpose I am living for right now. I don’t doubt that some people have found that one thing that makes them unstoppable, but this is where it can start.

My visions generally stay constant but there is room for ideas to evolve, and new visions to be exchanged for old ones.

I sometimes change my mind, as is expected, but the general sense of purpose remains.

This is how I live with purpose, without really having a clue.

Sundance 2017 Awards: ‘Dina’ & ‘Chasing Coral’ Are Big Doc Winners

Sundance Film Festival

The official awards for the 2017 Sundance Film Festival were announced tonight at a ceremony in Park City. We’ve been patiently waiting to see who won the awards at Sundance this year, and now we know – it’s a solid mix of winners across the board, and no double Audience Award & Grand Jury winners (as has been the case the past few years). The big Audience Award winners are: Chasing Coral, the documentary about coral bleaching from Jeff Orlowski; and Crown Heights from Matt Ruskin, the feature film telling the true story of an innocent man being locked up for 20 years for a murder he did not commit. The documentary Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower also won an Audience Award. Read on for the full list from 2017.

Here’s the full release of winners with synopsis info next to each. The 2017 festival wraps up this weekend.


The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: I don’t feel at home in this world anymore. (Director & Screenwriter: Macon Blair) — When a depressed woman is burglarized, she finds a new sense of purpose by tracking down the thieves, alongside her obnoxious neighbor. But they soon find themselves dangerously out of their depth against a pack of degenerate criminals. Cast: Melanie Lynskey, Elijah Wood, David Yow, Jane Levy, Devon Graye.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: Dina (Directors: Dan Sickles, Antonio Santini) — An eccentric suburban woman and a Walmart door-greeter navigate their evolving relationship in this unconventional love story.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to: The Nile Hilton Incident / Sweden, Germany, Denmark (Director & Screenwriter: Tarik Saleh) — In Cairo, weeks before the 2011 revolution, Police Detective Noredin is working in the infamous Kasr el-Nil Police Station when he is handed the case of a murdered singer. He soon realizes that the investigation concerns the power elite, close to the President’s inner circle. Cast: Fares Fares, Mari Malek, Mohamed Yousry, Yasser Ali Maher, Ahmed Selim, Hania Amar.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to: Last Men in Aleppo / Denmark, Syria (Director: Feras Fayyad) — After five years of war in Syria, Aleppo’s remaining residents prepare themselves for a siege. Khalid, Subhi and Mahmoud, founding members of The White Helmets, have remained in the city to help their fellow citizens—and experience daily life, death, struggle and triumph in a city under fire.

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to: Peter Nicks for his film The Force — This cinema verité look at the long-troubled Oakland Police Department goes deep inside their struggles to confront federal demands for reform, a popular uprising following events in Ferguson and an explosive scandal.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Eliza Hittman for her film Beach Rats — An aimless teenager on the outer edges of Brooklyn struggles to escape his bleak home life and navigate questions of self-identity, as he balances his time between his delinquent friends, a potential new girlfriend, and older men he meets online. Cast: Harris Dickinson, Madeline Weinstein, Kate Hodge.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Pascale Lamche for her film Winnie / France — While her husband served a life sentence, paradoxically kept safe and morally uncontaminated, Winnie Mandela rode the raw violence of apartheid, fighting on the front line and underground. This is the untold story of the mysterious forces that combined to take her down, labeling him a saint, her, a sinner.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Francis Lee for his film God’s Own Country / United Kingdom — Springtime in Yorkshire: isolated young sheep farmer Johnny Saxby numbs his daily frustrations with binge drinking and casual sex, until the arrival of a Romanian migrant worker, employed for the lambing season, ignites an intense relationship that sets Johnny on a new path. Cast: Josh O’Connor, Alec Secareanu, Ian Hart, Gemma Jones.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to: Matt Spicer and David Branson Smith for their film Ingrid Goes West — A young woman becomes obsessed with an Instagram “influencer” and moves to Los Angeles to try and befriend her in real life. Cast: Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Wyatt Russell, Billy Magnussen.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking was presented to: STEP (Director: Amanda Lipitz) — With dreams of becoming the first in their families to attend college, a group of seniors from an inner-city Baltimore girls high school strives to make their step dance team a success against a backdrop of social unrest in a troubled city.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Storytelling was presented to: Strong Island (Director: Yance Ford) — Examining the violent death of the filmmaker’s brother and the judicial system that allowed his killer to go free, this documentary interrogates murderous fear and racialized perception, and re-imagines the wreckage in catastrophe’s wake, challenging us to change.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was to: Editors Kim Roberts and Emiliano Battista for Unrest (Director: Jennifer Brea) — When Harvard PhD student Jennifer Brea is struck down at 28 by a fever that leaves her bedridden, doctors tell her it’s "all in her head." Determined to live, she sets out on a virtual journey to document her story—and four other families’ stories—fighting a disease medicine forgot.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: The Orwell Award was presented to: Icarus (Director: Bryan Fogel) — When Bryan Fogel sets out to uncover the truth about doping in sports, a chance meeting with a Russian scientist transforms his story from a personal experiment into a geopolitical thriller involving dirty urine, unexplained death and Olympic Gold—exposing the biggest scandal in sports history.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Cinematography was presented to: Director of Photography Daniel Landin for The Yellow Birds (Director: Alexandre Moors, Screenwriters: David Lowery, R.F.I. Porto) — Two young men enlist in the army and are deployed to fight in the Iraq War. After an unthinkable tragedy, the returning soldier struggles to balance his promise of silence with the truth and a mourning mother’s search for peace. Cast: Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston, Alden Ehrenreich, Jason Patric, Toni Collette, Jennifer Aniston.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance was presented to: Chanté Adams, in Roxanne Roxanne (Director & Screenwriter: Michael Larnell) — The most feared battle MC in early-’80s NYC was a fierce teenager from the Queensbridge projects with the weight of the world on her shoulders. At age 14, hustling the streets to provide for her family, Roxanne Shanté was well on her way to becoming a hip-hop legend. Cast: Chanté Adams, Mahershala Ali, Nia Long, Elvis Nolasco, Kevin Phillips, Shenell Edmonds.

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Director was presented to: Maggie Betts, for her film Novitiate — In the early 1960s, during the Vatican II era, a young woman training to become a nun struggles with issues of faith, sexuality and the changing church. Cast: Margaret Qualley, Melissa Leo, Julianne Nicholson, Dianna Agron, Morgan Saylor.


The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was presented to: Crown Heights (Director & Screenwriter: Matt Ruskin) — When Colin Warner is wrongfully convicted of murder, his best friend, Carl King, devotes his life to proving Colin’s innocence. Adapted from This American Life, this is the incredible true story of their harrowing quest for justice. Cast: Lakeith Stanfield, Nnamdi Asomugha, Natalie Paul, Bill Camp, Nestor Carbonell, Amari Cheatom.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was presented to: Chasing Coral (Director: Jeff Orlowski) — Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to: Sueño en otro idioma (I Dream in Another Language) / Mexico, Netherlands (Director: Ernesto Contreras, Screenwriter: Carlos Contreras) — The last two speakers of a millennia-old language haven’t spoken in 50 years, when a young linguist tries to bring them together. Yet hidden in the past, in the heart of the jungle, lies a secret concerning the fate of the Zikril language. Cast: Fernando Álvarez Rebeil, Eligio Meléndez, Manuel Poncelis, Fátima Molina, Juan Pablo de Santiago, Hoze Meléndez.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to: Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower (Director: Joe Piscatella) — When the Chinese Communist Party backtracks on its promise of autonomy to Hong Kong, teenager Joshua Wong decides to save his city. Rallying thousands of kids to skip school and occupy the streets, Joshua becomes an unlikely leader in Hong Kong and one of China’s most notorious dissidents.

The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was presented to: Gook (Director & Screenwriter: Justin Chon) — Eli and Daniel, two Korean American brothers who own a struggling women’s shoe store, have an unlikely friendship with 11-year-old Kamilla. On the first day of the 1992 L.A. riots, the trio must defend their store—and contemplate the meaning of family, their personal dreams and the future. Cast: Justin Chon, Simone Baker, David So, Curtiss Cook Jr., Sang Chon, Ben Munoz.

Congrats to all of 2017’s winners! It’s another great year at Sundance, with a bunch of outstanding films that deserve all the recognition. I’ve seen most of the winners this year, including three of the Audience Award winners: Chasing Coral, Crown Heights, and Joshua: Teenager vs Superpower. I was expecting Step to win the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary (because it’s so inspiring and exciting), but I’m very happy to see Chasing Coral win because it’s such a wonderful doc (read my review). I highly recommend seeking out any film mentioned above – they’re worth seeing. As always, these are only Sundance awards and not the only good films to see from the fest. Review last year’s winners here. Recap all of our Sundance 2017 coverage.