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War on Drugs & Military Rape Top Sundance + Aki Kaurismäki Booed in Rotterdam

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The Law in These Parts documentary Palestinian Occupied Territories
Ra’anan Alexandrovicz’s The Law in These Parts
Ramon Novarro Beyond Paradise

Benh Zeitlin’s Beasts of the Southern Wild, the story of a young girl growing up in Louisiana (to be released by Fox Searchlight) was the top U.S. narrative feature at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Eugene Jarecki’s The House I Live In, a documentary about the United States’ inane, costly, deadly, and corruptive war on drugs (good for cops and prison profiteers; bad for everybody else, especially the poor and the disenfranchised), was the winner in the U.S. documentary category.

Considering the recent changes made to the voting rules of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Documentary Branch, expect The House I Live In to be shortlisted for Oscar 2013. By the way, Jarecki’s 2005 documentary Why We Fight, about the reasons for the United States getting into one war after another, also received top honors at Sundance.

The 2012 World Cinema grand jury prize for a narrative film went to Andres Wood’s biopic of Chilean singer Violeta Parra, Violeta Went to Heaven, starring Francisca Gavilán. Ra’anan Alexandrovicz’s The Law in These Parts, about Israel’s oppressive and corrupt military legal system in the occupied Palestinian territories, was the World Cinema documentary winner.

Kirby Dick’s The Invisible War, which explores the little-discussed issue of systematic and widespread sexual assault in the U.S. military, was the Audience winner for best U.S. documentary. The story of man-in-the-iron-lung poet and journalist Mark O’Brien’s attempts at losing his virginity, Ben Lewin’s The Surrogate was the Audience winner for best U.S. narrative feature. John Hawkes (Winter’s Bone, Martha Marcy May Marlene) plays O’Brien; Helen Hunt is the sex “surrogate” (and married soccer mom); and William H. Macy is O’Brien’s priest.

Musa Syeed’s Kashmir-set drama Valley of Saints was the World Cinema: Dramatic Audience winner, while Malik Bendjelloul’s Searching for Sugar Man, about two South Africans trying to discover the fate of ’70s rocker Rodriguez, won for best documentary.

John Cooper is hosting the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Awards ceremony, as originally announced host(ess) Parker Posey fell ill. A highly emotional Cooper has just finished reading a message dedicated to film executive Bingham Ray, who died Monday, January 23, after suffering a stroke at the festival. Ray, credited for supporting American and international independent productions such Terry George’s Hotel Rwanda and Michael Moore’s Bowling for Columbine, was 57.

Regarding long speeches, John Cooper is advising Sundance winners to thank only those in the room and then hit the bar later. The science-oriented (in movies) Alfred P. Sloan Award winners were Musa Syeed’s Valley of Saints and Jake Schreier’s Robot and Frank (written by Christopher D. Ford). The latter stars James Marsden, Frank Langella, Susan Sarandon, Liv Tyler, Peter Sarsgaard, and Jeremy Strong.

The Law in These Parts photo: Sundance Film Festival.

World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic: Violeta Went to Heaven

World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary: The Law in These Parts

U.S. Dramatic: Grand Jury Prize: Beasts of the Southern Wild

U.S. Documentary: Grand Jury Prize: The House I Live In

World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic: Valley of Saints

World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary: Searching for Sugar Man

Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic: The Surrogate

Audience Award: U.S. Documentary: The Invisible War

World Cinema Directing Award: Dramatic: Mads Matthiesen, Teddy Bear

World Cinema Directing Award: Documentary: Emad Burnat and Guy Davidi, 5 Broken Cameras

U.S. Directing Award: Dramatic: Ava DuVernay, Middle of Nowhere

U.S. Directing Award: Documentary: Lauren Greenfield, The Queen of Versailles

World Cinema Screenwriting Award: Marialy Rivas, Camila Gutiérrez, Pedro Peirano, Sebastián Sepúlveda, Young & Wild

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Derek Connolly, Safety Not Guaranteed

World Cinema Cinematography Award: Dramatic: My Brother the Devil

World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary: Putin’s Kiss

Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Dramatic: Beasts of the Southern Wild

Excellence in Cinematography Award: U.S. Documentary: Chasing Ice

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting: The Surrogate

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Prize Excellence in Independent Producing: Andrea Sperling, Jonathan Schwartz, Smashed and Nobody Walks

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize “For spirit of defiance”: Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize “An agent of change”: Love Free or Die

World Cinema Documentary Editing Award: Indie Game: The Movie

U.S. Documentary Editing Award: Enat Sidi, Detropia

World Cinema: Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Artistic Vision: Can

World Cinema: Documentary Special Jury Prize “For its celebration of artistic spirit and integrity of life”: Searching for Sugar Man

Best of NEXT Audience Award: Sleepwalk with Me

Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Award: Robot & Frank and Valley of Saints

Shorts Audience Award: The Debutante Hunters

Jury Prize in Short Film, U.S. Fiction: Benny and Josh Safdie for The Black Balloon

Jury Prize in Short Film, International Fiction: The Return (Kthimi), directed by Blerta Zeqiri

Jury Prize in Short Film, Non-Fiction: Lucy Walker’s The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom

Jury Prize in Animated Short Film: Grant Orchard’s A Morning Stroll

Special Jury Award “for Comedic Storytelling”: Brie Larson, Sarah Ramos, Jessie Ennis’ The Arm

Special Jury Award for Animation Direction: Kibwe Tavares’ Robots of Brixton

Raoul Ruiz Homage + Aki Kaurismäki Booed: Rotterdam Film Festival

The International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) will be paying tribute to Chilean filmmaker Raoul Ruiz (a.k.a. Raúl Ruiz), who died in August at age 70, with a screening of his first film, La Maleta (1963) and one of his last, Ballet Aquatique (2011), at 8 p.m. tomorrow, Jan. 31. Among those expected to reminisce about Ruiz are actor Melvil Poupaud, producer François Margolin, Australian journalist and “Ruiz expert” Adrian Martin, and former IFFR director Simon Field.

Ruiz’s widow, film editor Valeria Sarmiento, was invited to the Rotterdam film festival, but she had to decline because she is currently directing Lines of Wellington, which was to have been her deceased husband’s next project. Much like Ruiz’s Mysteries of Lisbon, the historical drama is to be released both as a feature and as a television miniseries.

Set at the time of one of the various Napoleonic Wars, when French forces tried to invade Portugal, Lines of Wellington – somewhat ironically – features a mostly French cast playing mostly Portuguese characters: Catherine Deneuve, Isabelle Huppert, Mathieu Amalric, Marisa Paredes, Chiara Mastroianni, Michel Piccoli, Elsa Zylberstein, Vincent Lindon, the aforementioned Melvil Poupaud, and John Malkovich as General Wellington. Carlos Saboga penned the screenplay. (Note: the film’s Portuguese title is As Linhas de Torres, or Lines of Torres – the actual Portuguese name for the lines of defense against foreign invaders.)

Also worth mentioning, according to Screen International, Aki Kaurismäki was booed by some festival attendants “when he turned up late and disheveled at the Q&A before his film Le Havre.” Kaurismäki remarked that he’ll be joining forces with Manoel de Oliveira, Jean-Luc Godard, Pedro Costa, and Victor Erice Basque on a film to celebrate northern Portugal’s town of Guimarães as the European Capital of Culture 2012. (Online rumors has Peter Greenaway as another possible contributor.)

Michel Hazanavicius Tom Hooper DGA Awards
Michel Hazanavicius, 2011 DGA winner Tom Hooper (The King’s Speech), DGA Awards

DGA Award winners

* Michel Hazanavicius, The Artist
Woody Allen, Midnight in Paris
David Fincher, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Alexander Payne, The Descendants
Martin Scorsese, Hugo

* James Marsh, Project Nim
Joe Berlinger & Bruce Sinofsky, Paradise Lost 3: Purgatory
Steve James,The Interrupters
Richard Press, Bill Cunningham New York
Martin Scorsese, George Harrison: Living in the Material World

* Jon Cassar, The Kennedys (Reelz Channel)
Jeff Bleckner, Hallmark Hall of Fame, Beyond the Blackboard (CBS)
Stephen Gyllenhaal, Girl Fight (Lifetime)
Demi Moore, Jennifer Aniston, Penelope Spheeris, Alicia Keys, Patty Jenkins, Five (Lifetime)
Michael Stevens, Thurgood (HBO)

* Patty Jenkins, The Killing, “Pilot” (AMC)
Michael Cuesta, Homeland, “Pilot” (Showtime)
Vince Gilligan, Breaking Bad, “Face Off” (AMC)
Tim Van Patten, Game of Thrones, “Winter is Coming” (Pilot) (HBO)
Michael Waxman, Friday Night Lights, “Always” (NBC)

* Robert B. Weide, Curb Your Enthusiasm, “Palestinian Chicken” (HBO)
Fred Savage, Modern Family, “After the Fire” (ABC)
Don Scardino, 30 Rock, “Double-Edged Sword” (NBC)
Michael Spiller, Modern Family, “Express Christmas” (ABC)
David Steinberg, Curb Your Enthusiasm, “The Divorce” (HBO)

* Glenn Weiss, 65th Annual Tony Awards (CBS)
Louis J. Horvitz, The Kennedy Center Honors (CBS)
Don Roy King, Saturday Night Live With Host Justin Timberlake (NBC)
Don Mischer, 83rd Annual Academy Awards (ABC)
Chuck O’Neil, The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (Comedy Central)

* Neil P. Degroot, Biggest Loser, “Episode #1115” (NBC)
Eytan Keller, The Next Iron Chef: Super Chefs, “Next Iron Chef Episode” (Food Network)
Brian Smith, Master Chef, “Episode #201” (FOX)
J. Rupert Thompson, Fear Factor 2.0, “Scorpion Tales” (NBC)
Bertram Van Munster, The Amazing Race, “You Don’t Get Paid Unless You Win?” (CBS)

Michel Hazanavicius/Tom Hooper photo: Directors Guild of America

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