The Golden Globes may have been in Beverly Hills, but over in Utah, the 2004 Sundance Film Festival (backed by its golden boy, Robert Redford) wrapped up its 10 days premieres and parties with a blizzard of surprise award winners.
Saturday night’s awards ceremony, broadcast live on the Sundance Channel, was hosted by Zooey Deschanel and Jake Gyllenhaal and kicked off with a rousing song parody of “That’s Entertainment!,” called “That’s Independence.” So dazzling was Gyllenhall’s delivery that The New York Times suggested that he be cast in “The Producers.”
As for the awards, the two top honorees were writer-director Shane Carruth’s minuscule-budgeted “Primer,” about two guys who invent a time machine that alters their lives (Grand Jury Prize for best film drama), and director Ondi Timoner’s “DIG!,” about the rivalry of two rock band musicians (Grand Jury Prize for best documentary), reports Reuters.
How minuscule was the budget for “Primer”? A mere $7,000. Carruth reportedly was so surprised at his victory that words failed him. “I don’t know what to do,” he told Reuters after Saturday’s awards ceremony. “I’m glad they liked it.”
Timoner said she took seven years to make her film, “DIG!” “The moral of this story is to finish what you start,” she told the news service.
Film professionals select the top jury awards, while festival-goers decide the Audience Awards. The latter went to writer-director Joshua Marston’s drama “Maria Full of Grace” (about a Colombian woman who escapes the poverty of home by smuggling cocaine into the U.S.) and directors Ross Kauffman’s and Zana Briski’s documentary “Born into Brothels” (about the sufferings of children in Calcutta’s red-light district).
Deborah Granik claimed best director honors for “Down to the Bone,” about a working-class mother’s battle with drug addiction. Newcomer Vera Farmiga accepted a special acting award for her leading role in the drama. Another director’s award went to Morgan Spurlock, who spent 30 days (and generated a lot of publicity) eating only food from McDonalds and then chronicling its negative health impact on his body, for his documentary, “Super Size Me.”
Cinematography awards went to Nancy Schreiber for the digitally filmed drama “November,” starring Courteney Cox (whose character deals with the murder of her boyfriend), and to Fearne Pearlstein, whose “Imelda” examines the life of the former first lady of the Philippines.
Screenwriting honors went to Larry Gross for his drama “We Don’t Live Here Anymore,” about two couples in troubled marriages.