The 2018 Sundance Film Festival Awards winners were announced on Saturday, January 27th after 123 feature films had screened over 10 days. Among this year’s major winners were The Miseducation of Cameron Post, which took home the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic award, and Kailash, winner of the U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary.
“From the beginning, the purpose of the Sundance Film Festival has been to support artists and their stories and this year, our mission seemed especially relevant,” stated Sundance Institute President and Founder Robert Redford. “Supporting independent voices, and listening to the stories they tell, has never been more necessary.”
“The scope and scale of this year’s Festival — films, events, conversations — were invigorating,” added Keri Putnam, the Institute’s Executive Director. “I can’t wait to see how our incredible community will leverage these ten days of connection and inspiration to make art and change in the coming year.”
The 2018 Sundance Film Festival Awards ceremony was hosted by Jason Mantzoukas and honored films in 28 different categories. The 2018 jurors included Barbara Chai, Simon Chinn, Chaz Ebert, Ezra Edelman, Matt Holzman, Rachel Morrison, Jada Pinkett Smith, Octavia Spencer, Michael Stuhlbarg, Joe Swanberg, Hanaa Issa, Ruben Östlund, Michael J. Werner, Joslyn Barnes, Billy Luther, Paulina Suarez, and Ru Paul Charles.
2018 Sundance Film Festival Winners:
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to:
Kailash / U.S.A. (Director: Derek Doneen, Producers: Davis Guggenheim, Sarah Anthony) — As a young man, Kailash Satyarthi promised himself that he would end child slavery in his lifetime. In the decades since, he has rescued more than eighty thousand children and built a global movement. This intimate and suspenseful film follows one man’s journey to do what many believed was impossible.
The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to:
The Miseducation of Cameron Post / U.S.A. (Director: Desiree Akhavan, Screenwriters: Desiree Akhavan, Cecilia Frugiuele, Producers: Cecilia Frugiuele, Jonathan Montepare, Michael B. Clark, Alex Turtletaub) — 1993: after being caught having sex with the prom queen, a girl is forced into a gay conversion therapy center. Based on Emily Danforth’s acclaimed and controversial coming-of-age novel. Cast: Chloë Grace Moretz, Sasha Lane, Forrest Goodluck, John Gallagher Jr., Jennifer Ehle.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to:
Of Fathers and Sons / Germany, Syria, Lebanon, Qatar (Director: Talal Derki, Producers: Ansgar Frerich, Eva Kemme, Tobias N. Siebert, Hans Robert Eisenhauer) — Talal Derki returns to his homeland where he gains the trust of a radical Islamist family, sharing their daily life for over two years. His camera focuses on Osama and his younger brother Ayman, providing an extremely rare insight into what it means to grow up in an Islamic Caliphate.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to:
Butterflies / Turkey (Director and screenwriter: Tolga Karaçelik, Producers: Tolga Karaçelik, Diloy Gülün, Metin Anter) — In the Turkish village of Hasanlar, three siblings who neither know each other nor anything about their late father, wait to bury his body. As they start to find out more about their father and about each other, they also start to know more about themselves.
The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to:
The Sentence / U.S.A. (Director: Rudy Valdez, Producers: Sam Bisbee, Jackie Kelman Bisbee) — Cindy Shank, mother of three, is serving a 15-year sentence in federal prison for her tangential involvement with a Michigan drug ring years earlier. This intimate portrait of mandatory minimum drug sentencing’s devastating consequences, captured by Cindy’s brother, follows her and her family over the course of ten years.
The Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to:
Burden / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Andrew Heckler, Producers: Robbie Brenner, Jincheng, Bill Kenwright) — After opening a KKK shop, Klansman Michael Burden falls in love with a single mom who forces him to confront his senseless hatred. After leaving the Klan and with nowhere to turn, Burden is taken in by an African-American reverend, and learns tolerance through their combined love and faith. Cast: Garrett Hedlund, Forest Whitaker, Andrea Riseborough, Tom Wilkinson, Usher Raymond.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to:
This Is Home / U.S.A., Jordan (Director: Alexandra Shiva, Producers: Lindsey Megrue, Alexandra Shiva) — This is an intimate portrait of four Syrian families arriving in Baltimore, Maryland and struggling to find their footing. With eight months to become self-sufficient, they must forge ahead to rebuild their lives. When the travel ban adds further complications, their strength and resilience are put to the test.
The Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to:
The Guilty / Denmark (Director: Gustav Möller, Screenwriters: Gustav Möller, Emil Nygaard Albertsen, Producer: Lina Flint) — Alarm dispatcher Asger Holm answers an emergency call from a kidnapped woman; after a sudden disconnection, the search for the woman and her kidnapper begins. With the phone as his only tool, Asger enters a race against time to solve a crime that is far bigger than he first thought. Cast: Jakob Cedergren, Jessica Dinnage, Johan Olsen, Omar Shargawi.
The Audience Award: NEXT was presented to:
Search / U.S.A. (Director: Aneesh Chaganty, Screenwriters: Aneesh Chaganty, Sev Ohanian, Producers: Timur Bekmambetov, Sev Ohanian, Adam Sidman, Natalie Qasabian) — After his 16-year-old daughter goes missing, a desperate father breaks into her laptop to look for clues to find her. A thriller that unfolds entirely on computer screens. Cast: John Cho, Debra Messing.
The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary was presented to:
Alexandria Bombach for her film On Her Shoulders / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandria Bombach, Producers: Hayley Pappas, Brock Williams) — Nadia Murad, a 23-year-old Yazidi, survived genocide and sexual slavery committed by ISIS. Repeating her story to the world, this ordinary girl finds herself thrust onto the international stage as the voice of her people. Away from the podium, she must navigate bureaucracy, fame and people’s good intentions.
The Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to:
Sara Colangelo for her film The Kindergarten Teacher / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sara Colangelo, Producers: Talia Kleinhendler, Osnat Handelsman-Keren, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Celine Rattray, Trudie Styler) — When a Staten Island kindergarten teacher discovers what may be a gifted five year-old student in her class, she becomes fascinated and obsessed with the child– spiraling downward on a dangerous and desperate path in order to nurture his talent. Cast: Maggie Gyllenhaal, Parker Sevak, Rosa Salazar, Anna Barynishikov, Michael Chernus, Gael Garcia Bernal.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary was presented to:
Sandi Tan for her film Shirkers / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Sandi Tan, Producers: Sandi Tan, Jessica Levin, Maya Rudolph) — In 1992, teenager Sandi Tan shot Singapore’s first indie road movie with her enigmatic American mentor Georges – who then vanished with all the footage. Twenty years later, the 16mm film is recovered, sending Tan, now a novelist in Los Angeles, on a personal odyssey in search of Georges’ vanishing footprints.
The Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic was presented to:
Ísold Uggadóttir for her film And Breathe Normally / Iceland, Sweden, Belgium (Director and screenwriter: Ísold Uggadóttir, Producers: Skúli Malmquist, Diana Elbaum, Annika Hellström, Lilja Ósk Snorradóttir, Inga Lind Karlsdóttir) — At the edge of Iceland’s Reykjanes peninsula, two women’s lives will intersect – for a brief moment – while trapped in circumstances unforeseen. Between a struggling Icelandic mother and an asylum seeker from Guinea-Bissau, a delicate bond will form as both strategize to get their lives back on track. Cast: Kristín Thóra Haraldsdóttir, Babetida Sadjo, Patrik Nökkvi Pétursson.
The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: U.S. Dramatic was presented to:
Christina Choe for her film NANCY / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Christina Choe, Producers: Amy Lo, Michelle Cameron, Andrea Riseborough) — Blurring lines between fact and fiction, Nancy becomes increasingly convinced she was kidnapped as a child. When she meets a couple whose daughter went missing thirty years ago, reasonable doubts give way to willful belief – and the power of emotion threatens to overcome all rationality. Cast: Andrea Riseborough, J. Smith-Cameron, Steve Buscemi, Ann Dowd, John Leguizamo.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Vision was presented to:
Hale County This Morning, This Evening / U.S.A. (Director: RaMell Ross, Screenwriter: Maya Krinsky, Producers: Joslyn Barnes, RaMell Ross, Su Kim) — Composed of intimate and unencumbered moments of people in a community, this film is constructed in a form that allows the viewer an emotive impression of the Historic South – trumpeting the beauty of life and consequences of the social construction of race, while simultaneously a testament to dreaming.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact was presented to:
Crime + Punishment / U.S.A. (Director: Stephen Maing) — Over four years of unprecedented access, the story of a brave group of black and Latino whistleblower cops and one unrelenting private investigator who, amidst a landmark lawsuit, risk everything to expose illegal quota practices and their impact on young minorities.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Storytelling was presented to:
Three Identical Strangers / U.S.A. (Director: Tim Wardle, Producer: Becky Read) — New York,1980: three complete strangers accidentally discover that they’re identical triplets, separated at birth. The 19-year-olds’ joyous reunion catapults them to international fame, but also unlocks an extraordinary and disturbing secret that goes beyond their own lives – and could transform our understanding of human nature forever.
A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking was presented to:
Minding the Gap / U.S.A. (Director: Bing Liu, Producer: Diane Quon) — Three young men bond together to escape volatile families in their Rust Belt hometown. As they face adult responsibilities, unexpected revelations threaten their decade-long friendship.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Outstanding First Feature was presented to:
Monsters and Men / U.S.A. (Director and screenwriter: Reinaldo Marcus Green, Producers: Elizabeth Lodge Stepp, Josh Penn, Eddie Vaisman, Julia Lebedev, Luca Borghese) — This interwoven narrative explores the aftermath of a police killing of a black man. The film is told through the eyes of the bystander who filmed the act, an African-American police officer and a high-school baseball phenom inspired to take a stand. Cast: John David Washington, Anthony Ramos, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Chanté Adams, Nicole Beharie, Rob Morgan.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Excellence in Filmmaking was presented to:
I Think We’re Alone Now / U.S.A. (Director: Reed Morano, Screenwriter: Mike Makowsky, Producers: Fred Berger, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, Fernando Loureiro, Roberto Vasconcellos, Peter Dinklage, Mike Makowsky) — The apocalypse proves a blessing in disguise for one lucky recluse – until a second survivor arrives with the threat of companionship. Cast: Peter Dinklage, Elle Fanning.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Achievement in Acting was presented to:
Benjamin Dickey for BLAZE / U.S.A. (Director: Ethan Hawke, Screenwriters: Ethan Hawke, Sybil Rosen, Producers: Jake Seal, John Sloss, Ryan Hawke, Ethan Hawke) — A reimagining of the life and times of Blaze Foley, the unsung songwriting legend of the Texas Outlaw Music movement; he gave up paradise for the sake of a song. Cast: Benjamin Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Josh Hamilton, Charlie Sexton.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award was presented to:
Stephen Loveridge and M.I.A. for MATANGI / MAYA / M.I.A. / Sri Lanka, United Kingdom, U.S.A. (Director: Stephen Loveridge, Producers: Lori Cheatle, Andrew Goldman, Paul Mezey) — Drawn from a never before seen cache of personal footage spanning decades, this is an intimate portrait of the Sri Lankan artist and musician who continues to shatter conventions.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing was presented to:
Editors Maxim Pozdorovkin and Matvey Kulakov for Our New President / Russia, U.S.A. (Director: Maxim Pozdorovkin, Producers: Maxim Pozdorovkin, Joe Bender, Charlotte Cook) — The story of Donald Trump’s election told entirely through Russian propaganda. By turns horrifying and hilarious, the film is a satirical portrait of Russian media that reveals an empire of fake news and the tactics of modern-day information warfare.
A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented to:
Cinematographers Maxim Arbugaev and Peter Indergand for Genesis 2.0 / Switzerland (Directors: Christian Frei, Maxim Arbugaev, Producer: Christian Frei) — On the remote New Siberian Islands in the Arctic Ocean, hunters search for tusks of extinct mammoths. When they discover a surprisingly well-preserved mammoth carcass, its resurrection will be the first manifestation of the next great technological revolution: genetics. It may well turn our world upside down.
A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Screenwriting was presented to:
Screenwriters Julio Chavezmontes and Sebastián Hofmann for Time Share (Tiempo Compartido) / Mexico, Netherlands (Director: Sebastián Hofmann, Screenwriters: Julio Chavezmontes, Sebastián Hofmann, Producer: Julio Chavezmontes) — Two haunted family men join forces in a destructive crusade to rescue their families from a tropical paradise, after becoming convinced that an American timeshare conglomerate has a sinister plan to take their loved ones away.
A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting was presented to:
Valeria Bertuccelli for The Queen of Fear / Argentina, Denmark (Directors: Valeria Bertuccelli, Fabiana Tiscornia, Screenwriter: Valeria Bertuccelli, Producers: Benjamin Domenech, Santiago Gallelli, Matias Roveda, Juan Vera, Juan Pablo Galli, Christian Faillace) — Only one month left until the premiere of The Golden Time, the long-awaited solo show by acclaimed actress Robertina. Far from focused on the preparations for this new production, Robertina lives in a state of continuous anxiety that turns her privileged life into an absurd and tumultuous landscape. Cast: Valeria Bertuccelli, Diego Velázquez, Gabriel Eduardo “Puma” Goity, Darío Grandinetti.
A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Ensemble Acting was presented to:
Dead Pigs / China (Director and screenwriter: Cathy Yan, Producers: Clarissa Zhang, Jane Zheng, Zhangke Jia, Mick Aniceto, Amy Aniceto) — A bumbling pig farmer, a feisty salon owner, a sensitive busboy, an expat architect and a disenchanted rich girl converge and collide as thousands of dead pigs float down the river towards a rapidly-modernizing Shanghai, China. Based on true events. Cast: Vivian Wu, Haoyu Yang, Mason Lee, Meng Li, David Rysdahl.
The NEXT Innovator Prize was announced as a tie, and was presented to two films:
Night Comes On / U.S.A. (Director: Jordana Spiro, Screenwriters: Jordana Spiro, Angelica Nwandu, Producers: Jonathan Montepare, Alvaro R. Valente, Danielle Renfrew Behrens) — Angel LaMere is released from juvenile detention on the eve of her 18th birthday. Haunted by her past, she embarks on a journey with her 10 year-old sister that could destroy their future. Cast: Dominique Fishback, Tatum Hall, John Earl Jelks, Max Casella, James McDaniel.
We the Animals / U.S.A. (Director: Jeremiah Zagar, Screenwriters: Daniel Kitrosser, Jeremiah Zagar, Producers: Jeremy Yaches, Christina D. King, Andrew Goldman, Paul Mezey) — Us three, us brothers, us kings. Manny, Joel and Jonah tear their way through childhood and push against the volatile love of their parents. As Manny and Joel grow into versions of their father and Ma dreams of escape, Jonah, the youngest, embraces an imagined world all his own. Cast: Raul Castillo, Sheila Vand, Evan Rosado, Isaiah Kristian, Josiah Gabriel.