Whiplash, the tale of an obsessed drummer and his even more obsessive instructor at a New York college won top honors at this year's Sundance film festival, disproving the curse associated with the opening night premiere slot.
Often, big acquisition execs skip the festival's opening night on Thursday-- traditionally reserved for the artiest, non-commercial films-- preferring to arrive on Friday.
But Sundance programmers pulled a bait and switch this year, selectingWhiplash--which proved to be an audience and critical favorite--to kick off the fest. Sundance director John Cooper thanked the filmmakers for their "bravery to take this slot."
The film stars
Writer-director Damien Chazelle, who had won an award for his short version of the film at last year's festival, said the story was loosely based on an experience he had in high school. It was, however, tough to finance, he said, because "no one wants to make a film about a jazz drummer."
He credited the film festival's selection of the short for paving the way to the feature being embraced as it was.Whiplashwas bought by
It's the second year in a row in which one film nabbed the top U.S. dramatic prizes. Last year the honors went to
Another award winner wasDear White People, whose director Justin Simien was given a Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent. The story of a quartet of African-American students who attend an
The Skeleton Twins,won the Waldo Salt Screenwriting award for writer-director Craig Johnson and co-writer Mark Heyman. The film starred
"We have seen your movies and we have found them arousing," said Offerman. "We were just crazy about
But seriously, folks, Offerman praised the filmmakers whose films played at the festival, celebrating its 30thyear.
"Be very proud of yourselves, you made it here," said Offerman, who later donned a fur coat saying it was "a bit chilly." "It's an astonishing accomplishment."
A theme for the night's filmmakers was fertility and new babies, since many of the filmmakers who won awards had infants . Director Mike Cahill, the winner of the
Other winners this year included:
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: DocumentaryReturn to Homs, about 2 young Syrian men who become involved in their nation's fight for freedom.
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: DramaticTo Kill a Man, about a hard-working family man who gets mugged by a neighborhood delinquent.
Audience Award: World Cinema DocumentaryThe Green Princeabout one of
Audience Award: World Cinema DramaticDifret, about a young Ethiopian lawyer who operates under the government radar to help women and children.
Audience Award: Best of NextImperial Dreams, about a 21- year-old reformed gangster who is released from jail and tries to get his life back on track.
Directing Award: U.S. Documentary-- Ben Cotner and
Directing Award: U.S. DramaticCutter Hodierne for
Directing Award: World Cinema DocumentaryIain Forsyth and
Directing Award: World Cinema DramaticSophie Hyde for52 Tuesdays, about a 16 year-old girl whose mother reveals her plans for gender transition.
Screenwriting Award: World Cinema DramaticEskil Vogt forBlind,about a woman who recently lost her sight and who becomes consumed by her deepest fears and fantasies.
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Ensemble PerformanceGod Help the Girl, a musical from Stuart Murdoch of indie band
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