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Sundance 2006 Wraps with awards to Quincenara

The 25th Sundance Film Festival wrapped here Sunday with screening of the award winning films. For the first time in the festivals history two films took both the audience and jury prizes in the narrative and documentary categories. “Quincenara”, which offers insight into Hispanic family culture through the eyes of teenagers living in Los Angeles, earned the best dramatic film honor from the Sundance jury of five film industry veterans as well as the top drama prize from audience members. Male lead Jesse Garcia (pictured right with red scarf) completely inhabits the role of a close knit families ‘black sheep’ at the center of this engaging drama. Jesse and his fellow cast were chosen before the script was written and helped shape the final story.

Likewise "God Grew Tired of Us," is a chronicle of three Sudanese refugees emigrating to the United States, was named best documentary by the Sundance jury and by audiences. Director Chris Quinn (pictured right) chose three boys to follow as they left their community to resettle in the U.S. Before they leave, their cultural fears are amusing but not in a condescending way. These people have great dignity even as they worry about the difficulty of using electricity and whether they will have to bring water from the river to bathe.

Maggie Gyllenhaal delivers an engaging and graphic portrayal of a troubled mother in Laurie Collyers’ “Sherrybaby” The writer director (pictured right) returns to Sundance after premiering “Nuyorican Dream” at the festival in 1997. Other notable features include “Wristcutters; a love story” and “Man Push Cart”

“Wristcutters: a love story” was developed in the Sundance writing labs and featured a cast that included Shannon Sossamon, Patrick Fugit and musician Tom Waits. According to director Goran Dukic (pictured right with Shannon Sossamon) music was a central part of the stories development and several of the films musical collaborators performed at the main street Music Café during the closing weekend.

“Man Push Cart” was inspired by director Rahmin Bahrani’s interpretation of the work of Iranian poet Rumi and his observations of life in a post 9-11 New York City. The quiet study of an immigrant push cart vendor was one of several sales during the festival. The frenzy of feature sales has made Sundance a destination for Artists and Industry that has created one of the most anticipated film markets of the year. “Little Miss Sunshine:” sold for a rumored 10 million to Fox Searchlight opening weekend and opened a floodgate of sales for smaller films including: “Half Nelson”, “Factotum”, and Michel Gondry’s “The Science of Sleep”.

With submissions of short films topping a record 4300 it really is an accolade for a short film director just to be programmed at the festival. This year two short films tied for the top prize : “Bug Crush” and “The Wraith of Cobble Hill”. Carter Smiths “Bug Crush” is probably one of the most disturbing short films screened this year and at 35 minutes breaks most of the rules of short filmmaking. Adam Parrish Smiths’ stop motion black and white short takes a vintage look and tells a contemporary urban story in a completely original animated film. Another notable short was created by an entire animation class (pictured right) as UC San Jose: “Fumi and the bad luck foot” features a unique and original character style and masterful comedic timing.

Blogging was more prevalent than ever this year and has become more relevant and less vulnerable to censorship than traditional media. Several screenings were being reviewed as they unspooled by bloggers on laptops from the theater. As an alternative festival Sundance has long played host to innovations that have spread elsewhere. If the proliferation of Sundance blogs is any indication this trend is here to stay. Film featured live coverage of the festival including video, stills and text via our blog at

The weather contributed to the unique experience and almost as if it was heralding the end of the event, the continuous snowfall subsided as the filmmakers headed home and park City returned to normal. This years focus on smaller less star driven fare was a critical and financial success befitting the 25th anniversary of the most important independent film festival of all.

The Jurors
The 2006 Documentary Competition Jurors were Joe Bini, Zana Briski, Andrew Jarecki, Alexander Payne and Heather Rae, while the 2006 Dramatic Competition Jurors are Miguel Arteta, Terrence Howard, Alan Rudolph, Nancy Schreiber, and Audrey Wells. World Cinema Documentary Competition Jurors included Kate Amend, Jean-Xavier de Lestrade and Rachel Perkins, and World Cinema Dramatic Competition Jurors are Irene Bignardi, Lu Chuan and Thomas Vinterberg. The 2006 Shorts Jurors were Georgia Lee, Sydney Neter and John Vanco.

Complete list of winners:
Grand Jury Prize: Documentary
God Grew Tired of Us, directed by Christopher Quinn
Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic
Quinceanera, written and directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer
World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary
In the Pit (Mexico), written and directed by Juan Carlos Rulfo
World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic
13 Tzameti (France), written and directed by Gela Babluani
Audience Award: Documentary
God Grew Tired of Us, a film directed by Christopher Quinn
Audience Award: Dramatic
Quinceanera, written and directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer
World Cinema Audience Award
De Nadie (Mexico), directed by Tin Dirdamal
World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic
No. 2 (New Zealand), written and directed by Toa Fraser
Documentary Directing Award
James Longley, director of Iraq in Fragments
Dramatic Directing Award
Dito Montiel for A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints
Excellence in Cinematography Award
James Longley for Iraq In Fragments (Documentary Competition)
Tom Richmond for Right At Your Door (Dramatic Competition)
Documentary Film Editing
Billy McMillin, Fiona Otway and James Longley, editors of Iraq in Fragments
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award
Hilary Brougher for Stephanie Daley
Special Jury Prize (Documentary)
American Blackout, directed by Ian Inaba
TV Junkie, directed by Michael Cain and Matt Radecki
Special Jury Prizes (Dramatic)
Best Ensemble Performance for A Guide To Recognizing Your Saints, directed by Dito Montiel and starring Robert Downey, Jr., Shia La Boeuf, Rosario Dawson, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest and Channing Tatum
Special Jury Prizes (Dramatic) for Independent Vision
In Between Days directed by So Yong Kim and written by So Yong Kim and Bradley Rust Gray
Special Jury Prizes (World Cinema Documentary)
Into Great Silence, written and directed by Philip Groening
Dear Pyongyang, written and directed by Yonghi Yang
Special Jury Prize (World Cinema Dramatic)
Eve & The Fire Horse, written and directed by Julia Kwan
Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking (tie)
Bugcrush, directed by Carter Smith
The Wraith Of Cobble Hill, directed by Adam Parrish King
Jury Prize in International Short Filmmaking
The Natural Route (Spain), directed by Alex Pastor
Honorable Mentions in Short Filmmaking
Before Dawn (Hungary), directed by Balint Kenyeres
Preacher With An Unknown God, directed by Rob VanAlkemade
Undressing My Mother (Ireland), directed by Ken Wardrop

|Dane Allan Smith


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