Sundance Film Festival • Dark comedy and an inspirational love story lead the slate of award winners.
Park City • Stories of a victim getting back her self-respect, a woman finding love against the odds, a 20-year fight for justice and a desperate attempt to save the oceans were all winners at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival’s Awards Night.
The dark comedy “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” starring Melanie Lynskey as a woman who fights to get back the stuff burglarized from her home, won the Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Dramatic films.
“This is startling and surreal,” said Macon Blair, the film’s writer and director, at Saturday night’s award ceremony at Park City’s Basin Recreation Fieldhouse.
Blair was one of several award winners and presenters to talk about President Donald Trump’s inauguration, and his order Friday to ban refugees and visitors from Muslim nations from entering the United States.
Blair said his parents went to the Women’s March on Washington last weekend, and seeing that and a related march in Park City “made me feel very good in the face of this craven, regressive, cruel bulls— that’s going on.”
Director Tarik Saleh, whose Cairo murder mystery “The Nile Hilton Incident” won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Cinema Dramatic competition, related a story about arriving at the Los Angeles airport Saturday, on his way back to Utah, without his passport.
“I’m always kept in the room when I come to the airport in the United States,” said Saleh, who is Swedish and of Egyptian descent. “I told the security guy that I was going to Sundance and there was an award show tonight. He said, ‘I’m gonna make sure you get on that plane.’”
The Grand Jury Prize for U.S. Documentary films went to “Dina,” directed by Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini, a slice-of-life profile of a suburban Philadelphia woman on the autism spectrum trying to find happiness.
“There is so much love in this film,” Sickles said, fighting back tears. “The greatness hides in the crevices we don’t pay attention to, and the people walking amongst us who we don’t see.”
The true-life crime story “Crown Heights” won the Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic films. It tells the true story of Colin Warner (played by Lakeith Stanfield), a Trinidad-born Brooklyn man who spent more than 20 years in prison for a murder he did not commit.
The Audience Award winner for U.S. Documentary was given to “Chasing Coral,” which follows scientists trying to demonstrate how the world’s coral reefs are rapidly dying from global climate change.
“This issue should not be politicized,” said director Jeff Orlowski, who won the Cinematography Award at Sundance in 2012 for “Chasing Ice.” “If you know anybody who’s skeptical of climate change, show them this film. … We don’t want to make these films. This isn’t something we’re choosing to do. This is something we have to do.”
In the World Cinema Documentary competition, the Grand Jury Prize went to the documentary “Last Men in Aleppo,” which follows The White Helmets, people who risk their lives helping the last residents of the besieged Syrian city.
In somewhat broken English, director Feras Fayyad said that, in spite of Trump’s ban on Syrian refugees, “I trust in the people of the United States. They can fight like our fight.”
The winners from Saturday night’s ceremony will show their films one more time in Park City on Sunday, the festival’s final day.