Park City • A musical battle of wills and real-life stories about poverty and old age were the big award winners at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival.
Damien Chazelle’s musical drama "Whiplash," which focused on an ambitious young jazz drummer (actor Miles Teller) and a ruthless band conductor (J.K. Simmons), was a double winner at a ceremony Saturday night in Park City. It won both the Grand Jury Prize and the Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic competition.
"This was not an easy movie to make, and not an easy movie to convince people to make," Chazelle said in one of his two acceptance speeches. "Nobody wants to make a movie about a jazz drummer."
Chazelle gained attention for his semi-autobiographical script by making a short film of one intense scene. The short played at Sundance a year ago, won a prize, and got the attention of financiers.
Winning the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Documentary competition was "Rich Hill," an on-the-ground look at poverty through the lives of three teens living in a rural Missouri town.
"I didn’t think anybody saw her film," said Tracey Dros Tragos, who co-directed "Rich Hill" with her cousin, Andrew Droz Palermo. "We’ve got a small film, but it’s got a big heart."
"Rich Hill" came through the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Editing and Story Lab this summer.
Michael Rossato-Bennett’s "Alive Inside" won the Audience Award for U.S. Documentary. The film spotlights a program to give iPods to nursing-home residents suffering from Alzheimer’s, who light up when they hear the music of their youth.
"Alive Inside" received standing ovations in Park City, with audience members eager to offer ways to contribute to the music program.
"I am so grateful we are going to be able to bring joy and beauty and music to people who wouldn’t have gotten it," Rossato-Bennett said.
Among the people Rossato-Bennett thanked was Geralyn White Dreyfous, founder of the Utah Film Center and one of the creators of Impact Partners, which gives finishing funds to movies about pressing social issues.
The Grand Jury prizes in the World Cinema categories went to the Chilean drama "To Kill a Man," about a man seeking revenge on the thug who shot his son, and the Syrian documentary "Return to Homs," which follows two friends whose city is put under siege by the Assad regime.Next Page »