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Sundance Winners: Human Trafficking & Brazil Violence

Sangre de Mi Sangre by Christopher Zalla

Enemies of Happiness by Eva Mulvad and Anja Al ErhayemThe 2007 Sundance Film Festival winners have been announced.

The best U.S. narrative feature was Christopher Zalla's Padre Nuestro / Sangre de Mi Sangre (top photo), about a young Mexican who hops on a truck transporting illegal immigrants from Mexico to New York City, where the young man's father supposedly resides.

The best U.S. documentary, Jason Kohn's Manda Bala / Send a Bullet, also won the best documentary cinematography prize for Heloísa Passos' camera work.

The World Cinema prize for documentaries was given to Eva Mulvad and Anja Al Erhayem's Enemies of Happiness, which revolves around 28-year-old female politician Malalai Joya's parliamentary victory in rabidly patriarchal Afghanistan.

The World Cinema Grand Jury prize for narrative films went to Dror Shaul's Sweet Mud, which is set on a kibbutz in southern Israel in the 1970s. In this coming-of-age drama, a boy must cope with social and cultural hypocrisy as his mother falls prey to mental illness. Sweet Mud was Israel's submission for the 2007 best foreign language film Oscar and it shared the Israeli Academy's Ophir Award for best film.

Irene Taylor Brodsky's Hear and Now, the story of two deaf 65-year-olds who undergo cochlear implant surgery in an attempt to gain the ability to hear, took the audience award for best U.S. documentary.

Two performers received special awards for acting: Jess Weixler for Mitchell Lichtenstein's horror-comedy Teeth, and Tamara Podemski for Sterlin Harjo's Four Sheets to the Wind.

John Cusack in Grace Is Gone by James C. Strouse
© Jon Farmer / Plum Pictures

James C. Strouse's Grace Is Gone (above), described as a “tearjerker,” won the audience award for independent U.S. narrative films. The family drama stars John Cusack as a man who goes on a trip with his daughters while trying to muster enough courage to tell them that their mother has died while serving in Iraq. Strouse also won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award.

In the Shadow of the Moon by David Sington

John Carney's Irish musical Once was the Sundance audience's choice for best foreign narrative film, while David Sington's British-made In the Shadow of the Moon (above), about NASA's Apollo Space Program, was the best foreign documentary.

CNN's Tom Charity was mostly unimpressed with the downbeat films he saw at this year's Sundance, including the much ballyhooed Dakota Fanning vehicle Hounddog. “What was lacking, almost across the board,” Charity writes, “was something to shape and define this vague malaise. Visually nondescript and overwhelmingly conventional in its language and address, American independent cinema has fallen significantly behind series TV for edge and originality.”

Joe Strummre: The Future Is Unwritten by Julien TempleKenneth Turan admired the documentaries. “This year proved to be such a strong one for documentaries that several excellent works came away empty-handed,” Turan explains in the Los Angeles Times. “One such was Julien Temple's Joe Strummer: The Future Is Unwritten (right). An engrossing biopic about the self-described 'punk rock warlord' and legendary front man for the Clash, Unwritten reveals Strummer to have been thoughtful, charismatic and something of a visionary.”

“Also richly deserving but unrewarded,” Turan continues, “was Steven Okazaki's White Light/Black Rain, a dispassionate but emotionally devastating account of the effects of the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, two bombs that ended up eventually killing more than 350,000 people. Alternating grim footage of the human damage and current interviews with those who survived, White Light/Black Rain conveys the horror of those events in unflinching detail. One hopes it is not too late for the world to listen and learn.”


2007 Sundance Film Festival Awards

2007 Sundance Film Festival: Park City, Utah, January 18-28, 2007

Padre Nuestro by Christopher Zalla


The Grand Jury Prize - Dramatic: PADRE NUESTRO / SANGRE DE MI SANGRE, directed by Christopher Zalla

The Grand Jury Prize - Documentary: MANDA BALA (SEND A BULLET), directed by Jason Kohn

Special Jury Prize - Documentary: NO END IN SIGHT, directed by Charles Ferguson

The World Cinema Jury Prize - Dramatic: ADAMA MESHUGAAT / SWEET MUD, Israel, directed by Dror Shaul

The World Cinema Jury Prize - Documentary: VORES LYKKES FJENDER / ENEMIES OF HAPPINESS, Denmark, directed by Eva Mulvad and Anja Al Erhayem

The Audience Award - Dramatic: GRACE IS GONE, directed by James C. Strouse

The Audience Award - Documentary: HEAR AND NOW, directed by Irene Taylor Brodsky

The World Cinema Audience Award - Dramatic: ONCE, Ireland, directed by John Carney

The World Cinema Audience Award - Documentary: IN THE SHADOW OF THE MOON, United Kingdom, directed by David Sington

The Directing Award - Dramatic: Jeffrey Blitz, ROCKET SCIENCE

The Directing Award - Documentary: Sean Fine and Andrea Nix Fine, WAR/DANCE

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: James C. Strouse, GRACE IS GONE

Cinematography Award - Documentary: Heloísa Passos, MANDA BALA/ SEND A BULLET

Cinematography Award - Dramatic: Benoit Debie, JOSHUA

Documentary Editing Award: Hibah Sherif Frisina, Charlton McMillian, and Michael Schweitzer, NANKING

Special Jury Prizes for Acting: Jess Weixler, TEETH “for a juicy and jaw-dropping performance,” and Tamara Podemski, FOUR SHEETS TO THE WIND “for a fully realized physical and emotional turn"

Special Jury Prize - Dramatic - for Singularity of Vision: Chris Smith, THE POOL

Special World Jury Prize - Documentary: HOT HOUSE, Israel, Shimon Dotan

Special World Jury Prize - Dramatic: L'HERITAGE / THE LEGACY, France, directed by Géla Babluani and Temur Babluani

Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking: EVERYTHING WILL BE OK, directed by Don Hertzfeldt

Jury Prize in International Short Filmmaking: THE TUBE WITH A HAT, Romania, directed by Radu Jude

Special Jury Prize: FREEHELD, directed by Cynthia Wade

Honorable Mentions in Short Filmmaking: DEATH TO THE TINMAN, directed by Ray Tintori; THE FIGHTING CHOLITAS, directed by Mariam Jobrani; MARDHA HAMDIGAR RA BEHTAR MIFAHMAND / MEN UNDERSTAND EACH OTHER BETTER, Iran, directed by Marjan Alizadeh; MOTODROM, Germany, directed by Joerg Wagner; SPITFIRE 944, directed by William Lorton; and t.o.m., United Kingdom, directed by Tom Brown and Daniel Gray

Alfred P. Sloan Prize: (for independent feature filmmakers tackling compelling ideas and issues in science and technology) DARK MATTER, directed by Chen Shi-Zhen

Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Award: (to support emerging filmmakers with their next screenplays–one each from the United States, Japan, Europe, and Latin America) Lucía Cedrón, AGNUS DEI from Argentina; Caran Hartsfield, BURY ME STANDING from the United States; Tomoko Kana, TWO BY THE RIVER from Japan; and Dagur Kári, THE GOOD HEART from Iceland


Jury, Independent Film Competition - Documentary: Alan Berliner, Lewis Erskine, Lauren Greenfield, Julia Reichert, and Carlos Sandoval

Jury, Independent Film Competition - Dramatic: Catherine Hardwicke, Dawn Hudson, Pamela Martin, Elvis Mitchell, and Sarah Polley

Jury, World Cinema Competition - Documentary: Raoul Peck, Juan Carlos Rulfo, and Elizabeth Weatherford

Jury, World Cinema Competition - Dramatic: Carlos Bolado, Lynne Ramsay, and U-Wei Bin Haji Saari

Jury, Shorts Competition: Jared Hess, Daniela Michel, and Mark Elijah Rosenberg

Jury, Alfred P. Sloan Feature Prize: Darren Aronofsky, Ann Druyan, Brian Greene, Howard Suber, and John Underkoffler

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1 Comment to Sundance Winners: Human Trafficking & Brazil Violence

  1. amanda

    I saw a film about a man, his son, and his daughter inheriting an uncle's farm. One night the brother and sister get carried away and are punished by their uncle's spirit.

    What was it called? Who was it by?