The Sundance Film Festival concluded its run over the weekend, announcing awards in a cermony on January 27.
However, today, festival organizers announced the winner of the first-ever Festival Favorite Award. Separate from the audience and jury awards, the Festival Favorite is not specific to any particular category. Any feature, from World Documentary to US Narrative is eligible to win the Festival Favorite.
“Science Fair” won the first Festival Favorite Award. This documentary had its world premiere at Sundance. It follows nine high school students participating in an international science fair. It was directed by Cristina Costantini and Darren Foster, who also produced along with Jeffrey Plunkett and Fusion.
John Cooper, Sundance Film Festival Director described the reaction to this quirky documentary:
“Audiences responded to the hope in this film, and how it thoughtfully depicted a rising generation of innovators. The film was so engaging and inspiring that we felt it would delight audiences and be a strong contender for this award.”
Two runners-up were also named:
“Believer” / U.S.A. (Director: Don Argott, Producers: Heather Parry, Sheena M. Joyce, Robert Reynolds) — Imagine Dragons’ Mormon frontman Dan Reynolds is taking on a new mission to explore how the church treats its LGBTQ members. With the rising suicide rate amongst teens in the state of Utah, his concern with the church’s policies sends him on an unexpected path for acceptance and change. World Premiere
“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?“ / U.S.A. (Director: Morgan Neville, Producers: Caryn Capotosto, Nicholas Ma) — Fred Rogers used puppets and play to explore complex social issues: race, disability, equality and tragedy, helping form the American concept of childhood. He spoke directly to children and they responded enthusiastically. Yet today, his impact is unclear. Have we lived up to Fred’s ideal of good neighbors? World Premiere. SALT LAKE CITY OPENING NIGHT FILM
While the Festival Favorite and runners up were all documentaries, some narrative films also had broad audience appeal, including “Assassination Nation,” “Hearts Beat Loud,” “Juliet, Naked,” and “What They Had.”