2019 Sundance Film Festival Awards: ‘Clemency’ and ‘The Souvenir’ Among Winners

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Park City, Utah — After 10 days and 121 feature films, the 2019 Sundance Film Festival’s Awards Ceremony took place tonight, with host Marianna Palka emceeing and jurors presenting 28 prizes for feature filmmaking. Honorees, named in total below, represent new achievements in global independent storytelling. Bold, intimate, and humanizing stories prevailed across categories, with Grand Jury Prizes awarded to Clemency (U.S. Dramatic), One Child Nation (U.S. Documentary), Honeyland(World Cinema Documentary) and The Souvenir (World Cinema Dramatic).

“Supporting artists and their stories has been at the core of Sundance Institute’s mission from the very beginning,” said Sundance Institute President and Founder Robert Redford. “At this critical moment, it’s more necessary than ever to support independent voices, to watch and listen to the stories they tell.”

“This year’s expansive Festival celebrated and championed risk-taking artists,” said Keri Putnam, the Institute’s Executive Director. “As the Festival comes to a close, we look forward to watching the stories and conversations that started here as they shape and define our culture in the year to come.”

“These past ten days have been extraordinary,” said John Cooper, Sundance Film Festival Director. “It’s been an honor to stand with these artists, and to see their work challenge, enlighten and charm its first audiences.”

The awards ceremony marked the culmination of the 2019 Festival, where 121 feature-length and 73 short films — selected from 14,259 submissions — were showcased in Park City, Salt Lake City and Sundance, Utah, alongside work in the new Indie Episodic category, panels, music and New Frontier. The ceremony was live-streamed; video is available at youtube.com/sff.

This year’s jurors, invited in recognition of their accomplishments in the arts, technical craft and visionary storytelling, deliberated extensively before presenting awards from the stage; this year’s jurors were Desiree Akhavan, Damien Chazelle, Dennis Lim, Phyllis Nagy, Tessa Thompson, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Yance Ford, Rachel Grady, Jeff Orlowski, Alissa Wilkinson, Jane Campion, Charles Gillibert, Ciro Guerra, Maite Alberdi, Nico Marzano, Véréna Paravel, Young Jean Lee, Carter Smith, Sheila Vand, and Laurie Anderson. Festival Favorite, an award voted on by audiences, will be announced in the coming days.

Feature film award winners in previous years include: The Miseducation of Cameron PostI don’t feel at home in this world anymore., WeinerWhiplash, Fruitvale Station, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Twenty Feet from Stardom, Searching for Sugarman, The Square, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Cartel Land, The Wolf Pack, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Dope, Dear White People, The Cove and Man on Wire.

Of the 28 prizes awarded tonight to 23 films – comprising the work of 27 filmmakers – 13 (56.5%) were directed by one or more women; eight (34.8%) were directed by one or more people of color; and one (4.3%) was directed by a person who identifies as LGBTQI+.

2019 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL FEATURE FILM AWARDS

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Rachel Grady to: Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang, for One Child Nation / China, U.S.A. (Directors: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Producers: Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhang, Julie Goldman, Christoph Jörg, Christopher Clements, Carolyn Hepburn) — After becoming a mother, a filmmaker uncovers the untold history of China’s one-child policy and the generations of parents and children forever shaped by this social experiment.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Damien Chazelle to: Chinonye Chukwu, for Clemency / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Chinonye Chukwu, Producers: Bronwyn Cornelius, Julian Cautherley, Peter Wong, Timur Bekbosunov) — Years of carrying out death row executions have taken a toll on prison warden Bernadine Williams. As she prepares to execute another inmate, Bernadine must confront the psychological and emotional demons her job creates, ultimately connecting her to the man she is sanctioned to kill. Cast: Alfre Woodard, Aldis Hodge, Richard Schiff, Wendell Pierce, Richard Gunn, Danielle Brooks. 

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented by Verena Paravel to: Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, for Honeyland / Macedonia (Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer: Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented by Jane Campion to: Joanna Hogg, for The Souvenir / United Kingdom (Director and screenwriter: Joanna Hogg, Producers: Luke Schiller, Joanna Hogg) — A shy film student begins finding her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man. She defies her protective mother and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship which comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams. Cast: Honor Swinton Byrne, Tom Burke, Tilda Swinton.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary, Presented by Acura was presented by Mark Duplass to: Knock Down the House / U.S.A. (Director: Rachel Lears, Producers: Sarah Olson, Robin Blotnick, Rachel Lears) — A young bartender in the Bronx, a coal miner’s daughter in West Virginia, a grieving mother in Nevada and a registered nurse in Missouri build a movement of insurgent candidates challenging powerful incumbents in Congress. One of their races will become the most shocking political upset in recent American history. Cast: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic, Presented by Acura was presented by Paul Downs Colaizzo to: Brittany Runs A Marathon / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Paul Downs Colaizzo, Producers: Matthew Plouffe, Tobey Maguire, Margot Hand) — A woman living in New York takes control of her life – one city block at a time. Cast:Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, Utkarsh Ambudkar, Lil Rel Howery, Micah Stock, Alice Lee. 

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented by Ray Romano to: Sea of Shadows / Austria (Director: Richard Ladkani, Producers: Walter Koehler, Wolfgang Knoepfler) —The vaquita, the world’s smallest whale, is near extinction as its habitat is destroyed by Mexican cartels and Chinese mafia, who harvest the swim bladder of the totoaba fish, the “cocaine of the sea.” Environmental activists, Mexican navy and undercover investigators are fighting back against this illegal multimillion-dollar business.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented by Mark Duplass to: Queen of Hearts / Denmark (Director: May el-Toukhy, Screenwriters: Maren Louise Käehne, May el-Toukhy, Producers: Caroline Blanco, René Ezra) — A woman jeopardizes both her career and her family when she seduces her teenage stepson and is forced to make an irreversible decision with fatal consequences. Cast: Trine Dyrholm, Gustav Lindh, Magnus Krepper. 

The Audience Award: NEXT, Presented by Adobe was presented by Danielle Macdonald to: The Infiltrators / U.S.A. (Directors: Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra, Screenwriters: Alex Rivera, Aldo Velasco, Producers: Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera, Darren Dean) — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center. Cast: Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay. 

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented by Yance Ford to: Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert, for American Factory / U.S.A. (Directors: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Producers: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert, Jeff Reichert, Julie Parker Benello) — In post-industrial Ohio, a Chinese billionaire opens a new factory in the husk of an abandoned General Motors plant, hiring two thousand blue-collar Americans. Early days of hope and optimism give way to setbacks as high-tech China clashes with working-class America.

The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented by Desiree Akhavan to: Joe Talbot, for The Last Black Man in San Francisco / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Talbot, Screenwriters: Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Producers: Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh) — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented by Maite Alberdi to: Mads Brügger, for Cold Case Hammarskjöld / Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Belgium (Director: Mads Brügger, Producers: Peter Engel, Andreas Rocksén, Bjarte M. Tveit) — Danish director Mads Brügger and Swedish private investigator Göran Bjorkdahl are trying to solve the mysterious death of Dag Hammarskjold. As their investigation closes in, they discover a crime far worse than killing the Secretary-General of the United Nations.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented by Ciro Guerra to: Lucía Garibaldi, for The Sharks / Uruguay, Argentina, Spain (Director and screenwriter: Lucía Garibaldi, Producers: Pancho Magnou Arnábal, Isabel García) — While a rumor about the presence of sharks in a small beach town distracts residents, 15-year-old Rosina begins to feel an instinct to shorten the distance between her body and Joselo’s. Cast: Romina Bentancur, Federico Morosini, Fabián Arenillas, Valeria Lois, Antonella Aquistapache.

The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented by Phyllis Nagy to: Pippa Bianco, for Share / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Pippa Bianco, Producers: Carly Hugo, Tyler Byrne, Matt Parker) — After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast: Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Moral Urgency was presented by Alissa Wilkinson to: Jacqueline Olive, for Always in Season / U.S.A. (Director: Jacqueline Olive, Producers: Jacqueline Olive, Jessica Devaney) — When 17-year-old Lennon Lacy is found hanging from a swing set in rural North Carolina in 2014, his mother’s search for justice and reconciliation begins as the trauma of more than a century of lynching African Americans bleeds into the present.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Emerging Filmmaker was presented by Jeff Orlowski to: Liza Mandelup, for Jawline / U.S.A. (Director: Liza Mandelup, Producers: Bert Hamelinck, Sacha Ben Harroche, Hannah Reyer) — The film follows 16-year-old Austyn Tester, a rising star in the live-broadcast ecosystem who built his following on wide-eyed optimism and teen girl lust, as he tries to escape a dead-end life in rural Tennessee.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was presented by Alissa Wilkinson to: Todd Douglas Miller, for APOLLO 11 / U.S.A. (Director: Todd Douglas Miller, Producers: Todd Douglas Miller, Thomas Petersen, Evan Krauss) — A purely archival reconstruction of humanity’s first trip to another world, featuring never-before-seen 70mm footage and never-before-heard audio from the mission.

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented by Jeff Orlowski to: Luke Lorentzen, Midnight Family / Mexico, U.S.A. (Director: Luke Lorentzen, Producers: Kellen Quinn, Daniela Alatorre, Elena Fortes, Luke Lorentzen) — In Mexico City’s wealthiest neighborhoods, the Ochoa family runs a private ambulance, competing with other for-profit EMTs for patients in need of urgent help. As they try to make a living in this cutthroat industry, they struggle to keep their financial needs from compromising the people in their care.

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Vision and Craft was presented by Tessa Thompson to: Alma Har’el for her film Honey Boy / U.S.A. (Director: Alma Har’el, Screenwriter: Shia LaBeouf, Producers: Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Daniela Taplin Lundberg, Anita Gou, Christopher Leggett, Alma Har’el) — A child TV star and his ex-rodeo clown father face their stormy past through time and cinema. Cast: Shia LaBeouf, Lucas Hedges, Noah Jupe. 

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Creative Collaboration was presented by Dennis Lim to: Director Joe Talbot for his film The Last Black Man in San Francisco / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Talbot, Screenwriters: Joe Talbot, Rob Richert, Producers: Khaliah Neal, Joe Talbot, Dede Gardner, Jeremy Kleiner, Christina Oh) — Jimmie Fails dreams of reclaiming the Victorian home his grandfather built in the heart of San Francisco. Joined on his quest by his best friend Mont, Jimmie searches for belonging in a rapidly changing city that seems to have left them behind. Cast: Jimmie Fails, Jonathan Majors, Rob Morgan, Tichina Arnold, Danny Glover.

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Achievement in Acting was presented by Tessa Thompson to: Rhianne Barreto, for Share / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Pippa Bianco, Producers: Carly Hugo, Tyler Byrne, Matt Parker) — After discovering a disturbing video from a night she doesn’t remember, sixteen-year-old Mandy must try to figure out what happened and how to navigate the escalating fallout. Cast: Rhianne Barreto, Charlie Plummer, Poorna Jagannathan, J.C. MacKenzie, Nick Galitzine, Lovie Simone.

World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for No Borders was presented by Maite Alberdi to: Hassan Fazzili, for Midnight Traveler / U.S.A., Qatar, United Kingdom, Canada (Director: Hassan Fazili, Screenwriter: Emelie Mahdavian, Producers: Emelie Mahdavian, Su Kim) — When the Taliban puts a bounty on Afghan director Hassan Fazili’s head, he is forced to flee with his wife and two young daughters. Capturing their uncertain journey, Fazili shows firsthand the dangers facing refugees seeking asylum and the love shared between a family on the run.

World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Impact for Change was presented by Nico Marzano to: Tamara Kotevska and Ljubomir Stefanov, for Honeyland / Macedonia (Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer: Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.

World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented by Nico Marzano to: Fejmi Daut and Samir Ljuma, for Honeyland / Macedonia (Directors: Ljubomir Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska, Producer: Atanas Georgiev) — When nomadic beekeepers break Honeyland’s basic rule (take half of the honey, but leave half to the bees), the last female beehunter in Europe must save the bees and restore natural balance.

World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Originality was presented by Ciro Guerra to: Makoto Nagahisa, for WE ARE LITTLE ZOMBIES / Japan (Director and screenwriter: Makoto Nagahisa, Producers: Taihei Yamanishi, Shinichi Takahashi, Haruki Yokoyama, Haruhiko Hasegawa) — Their parents are dead. They should be sad, but they can’t cry. So they form a kick-ass band. This is the story of four 13-year-olds in search of their emotions. Cast: Keita Ninomiya, Satoshi Mizuno, Mondo Okumura, Sena Nakajima. 

World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award was presented by Charles Gillbert to: Alejandro Landes, for Monos / Colombia, Argentina, Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Uruguay (Director: Alejandro Landes, Screenwriters: Alejandro Landes, Alexis Dos Santos, Producers: Alejandro Landes, Fernando Epstein, Santiago Zapata, Cristina Landes) — On a faraway mountaintop, eight kids with guns watch over a hostage and a conscripted milk cow. Cast: Julianne Nicholson, Moisés Arias, Sofia Buenaventura, Deiby Rueda, Karen Quintero, Laura Castrillón.

World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting was presented by Charles Gillbert to: Krystyna Janda, for Dolce Fine Giornata / Poland (Director: Jacek Borcuch, Screenwriters: Jacek Borcuch, Szczepan Twardoch, Producer: Marta Habior) — In Tuscany, Maria’s stable family life begins to erode as her relationship with a young immigrant develops against a backdrop of terrorism and eroding democracy.

The NEXT Innovator Prize was presented by juror Laurie Anderson to: Alex Rivera and Cristina Ibarra, for The Infiltrators / U.S.A. (Directors: Alex Rivera, Cristina Ibarra, Screenwriters: Alex Rivera, Aldo Velasco, Producers: Cristina Ibarra, Alex Rivera, Darren Dean) — A rag-tag group of undocumented youth – Dreamers – deliberately get detained by Border Patrol in order to infiltrate a shadowy, for-profit detention center. Cast: Maynor Alvarado, Manuel Uriza, Chelsea Rendon, Juan Gabriel Pareja, Vik Sahay. 

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

SHORT FILM AWARDS:
Jury prizes and honorable mentions in short filmmaking were presented at a ceremony in Park City on January 29. The Short Film Grand Jury Prize was awarded to: Aziza / Syria, Lebanon (Director: Soudade Kaadan, Screenwriters: Soudade Kaadan, May Hayek). The Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction was presented to: Green / U.S.A. (Director: Suzanne Andrews Correa, Screenwriters: Suzanne Andrews Correa, Mustafa Kaymak). The Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction was presented to: Dunya’s Day / Saudi Arabia, U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Raed Alsemari). The Short Film Jury Award: Nonfiction was presented to: Ghosts of Sugar Land / U.S.A. (Director: Bassam Tariq). The Short Film Jury Award: Animation was presented to: Reneepoptosis / U.S.A., Japan (Director and screenwriter: Renee Zhan). Two Special Jury Awards for Directing werepresented to:  FAST HORSE / Canada (Director and screenwriter: Alexandra Lazarowich) and The MINORS / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Robert Machoian). The Short Film jurors were Young Jean Lee, Carter Smith and Sheila Vand. The Short Film program is presented by YouTube.

SUNDANCE INSTITUTE | ALFRED P. SLOAN FEATURE FILM PRIZE
The 2019 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, presented to an outstanding feature film about science or technology, was presented to The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. The filmmakers received a $20,000 cash award from Sundance Institute with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

SUNDANCE INSTITUTE | AMAZON STUDIOS PRODUCERS AWARDS
Carly Hugo and Matt Parker received the 2019 Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Awards for Feature Film. Lori Cheatle received the 2019 Sundance Institute | Amazon Studios Producers Award for Documentary Film. The award recognizes bold vision and a commitment to continuing work as a creative producer in the independent space, and grants money (via the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program and Documentary Film Program) to emerging producers of films at the Sundance Film Festival.

The Sundance Institute / NHK Award was presented to Planet Korsakov (Japan) / Taro Aoshima.

The Sundance Film Festival®
The Sundance Film Festival has introduced global audiences to some of the most groundbreaking films of the past three decades, including Sorry to Bother YouWon’t You Be My Neighbor?Eighth GradeGet OutThe Big SickMudboundBeasts of the Southern WildFruitvale StationWhiplashBrooklynPreciousThe CoveLittle Miss SunshineAn Inconvenient TruthNapoleon DynamiteHedwig and the Angry InchReservoir Dogs and sex, lies, and videotape. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. The Festival is a program of the non-profit Sundance Institute®. 2019 Festival sponsors include: Presenting Sponsors – Acura, SundanceTV, Chase Sapphire, YouTube; Leadership Sponsors – Adobe, Amazon Studios, AT&T, DIRECTV, Dropbox, Netflix, Omnicom, Stella Artois; Sustaining Sponsors – Ancestry, Canada Goose, Canon, Dell, Francis Ford Coppola Winery, GEICO, High West Distillery, IMDbPro, Lyft, RIMOWA, Unity Technologies, University of Utah Health; Media Sponsors – The Atlantic, IndieWire, Los Angeles Times, The New York Times, VARIETY, The Wall Street Journal. Sundance Institute recognizes critical support from the Utah Governor’s Office of Economic Development, and the State of Utah as Festival Host State. The support of these organizations helps offset the Festival’s costs and sustain the Institute’s year-round programs for independent artists. Look for the Official Partner seal at their venues at the Festival. sundance.org/festival

Sundance Institute
Founded in 1981 by Robert Redford, Sundance Institute is a nonprofit organization that provides and preserves the space for artists in film, theatre, and media to create and thrive. The Institute’s signature Labs, granting, and mentorship programs, dedicated to developing new work, take place throughout the year in the U.S. and internationally. The Sundance Film Festival and other public programs connect audiences to artists in igniting new ideas, discovering original voices, and building a community dedicated to independent storytelling. Sundance Institute has supported such projects as Sorry to Bother You, Eighth Grade, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Hereditary, RBG, Call Me By Your Name, Get Out, The Big Sick, Top of the Lake, Winter’s Bone, Dear White People, Brooklyn, Little Miss Sunshine, 20 Feet From Stardom, Beasts of the Southern WildFruitvale Station, I’m Poppy, America to Me, Leimert Park, Spring AwakeningA Gentleman’s Guide to Love and Murder and Fun Home. Join Sundance Institute on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.