Somewhere, in a carefully segregated cemetery, D.W. Griffith is rolling around in his grave. Nate Parker’s plan to totally stick it to that long-dead racist continues unabated, as the former’s pointedly titled The Birth Of A Nation—about Nat Turner and his slave rebellion, not about the “heroic” exploits of the KKK—just won both the U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize and the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award at Sundance. It’s the fourth year in a row that a film has managed to score both of those top honors in Park City, with Birth following in the footsteps of Fruitvale Station, Whiplash, and Me And Earl And The Dying Girl. Like those previous winners, Parker’s directorial debut emerged as the frontrunner upon its first screening, when audiences rose to their feet to applaud the film before it had even started. Nothing says “sure thing” like a preemptive standing ovation.
Elsewhere, audiences and juries at Sundance continued to agree: Sonita, about a female rapper in Iran, was the dual winner in the World Documentary competition. As for the homegrown docs, the jury went for Weiner, an account of the disgraced politician’s comeback campaign in New York, while the popular vote went to Jim: The James Foley Story, concerning the execution of the American photojournalist by ISIS. Meanwhile, crowd-pleasing coming-of-age story Morris From America took home two awards—one for its screenplay, the other a special prize for supporting actor Craig Robinson, who’s quite good in the film. And lest one think they forgot to salute the most talked-about movie of the festival, Swiss Army Man (a.k.a. Farty Boner Corpse) scored the U.S. Dramatic Directing Award, because convincingly transforming Daniel Radcliffe into a talking, flatulent cadaver takes some filmmaking prowess, does it not?
Indiewire has a full list of Sundance winners. Note: The magnificent Manchester By The Sea is not among them, as it screened as part of the non-competitive Premieres program. No awards aside, just take our word that it’s one to get pumped about.
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