Awards for documentary and dramatic films in independent film and world cinema competitions

By Gregg Schwenk

The winners of the 2006 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prizes, World Cinema Jury Prizes, and Audience Awards were announced at the closing award ceremony in Park City, Utah. For the first time in the Festival’s history, both the Grand Jury Prizes and Audience Awards for Documentary and Dramatic Competitions were presented to the same two films. The award-winning films were selected by distinguished jurors for the Independent Film Competition: Documentary; Independent Film Competition: Dramatic; World Cinema Competition: Documentary; and World Cinema Competition: Dramatic. Audience Awards were also bestowed on films within each of these categories based on the results of ballots cast by Festival filmgoers. Additionally, the Shorts Jury awarded the Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking to an American short and the Jury Prize in International Short Filmmaking to an international short film. The Festival is the premier showcase for American independent film, and an important new platform for international independent film, screening films that embody risk-taking, diversity, and aesthetic innovation.

“On the occasion of the 25th anniversary of Sundance Institute and the close of the 22nd Sundance Film Festival, we celebrate the winning artists and their films, and have been fortunate to share their stories, diverse voices, and original aesthetics with our Sundance audiences,” said Geoffrey Gilmore, Director of the Sundance Film Festival. “This year we’ve seen a number of films that deal sensitively with the timely and complex issues of cultural assimilation and community. Clearly, these compelling stories along with the quality of filmmaking have resonated with audiences and jury members alike.”

The Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was given to GOD GREW TIRED OF US, directed by Christopher Quinn. In the late 1980’s, 27,000 Sudanese lost boys marched barefoot over thousands of miles of barren desert, seeking safe haven from the brutal civil war in their homeland. The film chronicles the experiences of three of these boys who seek refuge in the U.S. as they work to adjust to a strange new world.

The Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to QUINCEAÑERA, written and directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer. Disaffected Latino teenagers come of age in a gentrifying community in the Echo Park district of Los Angeles. Westmoreland and Glatzer have molded their mostly unknown ensemble into a tender portrait of a changing world and in doing so, have illuminated modern realities of family and hope.

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary was given to IN THE PIT (Mexico), written and directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo. According to Mexican legend, whenever a bridge is built the devil asks for one soul, in exchange for keeping the bridge standing. This film chronicles the daily lives of the workers building a second deck to Mexico City’s Periferico freeway – their hopes, dreams and struggle for survival.

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to 13 TZAMETI (France), written and directed by Géla Babluani. When the protagonist decides to follow instructions intended for someone else, he finds himself at the brink of human decency, a place whose only inhabitants are the underbelly of society. In his feature debut, Babluani expertly combines story and style.

The Audience Award: Documentary was presented to GOD GREW TIRED OF US, a film directed by Christopher Quinn. The Audience Award: Dramatic winner is QUINCEAÑERA, written and directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer. The Audience Awards are sponsored by Volkswagen of America, and are given to a documentary and a dramatic film screening in competition, as voted by Film Festival audiences.

The World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary was presented to DE NADIE (Mexico), directed by Tin Dirdamal. Maria, a Central American immigrant who is forced to leave her family in search of a better life embarks on the dangerous 1300-mile journey through Mexico to the U.S. Without taking a political stance, the film provides a deeper understanding of the United States’ border crisis and intolerance in Mexican society.

The World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic was presented to NO. 2 (New Zealand), written and directed by Toa Fraser. Nanna Maria’s family has forgotten how to party. She’s going to change all that, and make them come alive with the heat and passion of the South Pacific.

The World Cinema Audience Awards are given to both an international documentary and dramatic film in the World Cinema Competition as voted by Film Festival audiences.

The 32 American films in the Independent Film Competition are also eligible for a range of other awards.

The Directing Award recognizes excellence in directing for American documentary and dramatic features in the Independent Film Competition. The Documentary Directing Award went to James Longley, director of IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS. The Dramatic Directing Award was presented to Dito Montiel for A GUIDE TO RECOGNIZING YOUR SAINTS.

The Excellence in Cinematography Award honors exceptional photography in both a dramatic and documentary film in the Independent Film Competition. James Longley for IRAQ IN FRAGMENTS from the Documentary Competition and Tom Richmond for RIGHT AT YOUR DOOR from the Dramatic Competition received the 2006 Cinematography Awards.