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The 2021 Sundance Film Festival runs from Jan. 28 - Feb.3, in Park City, Utah

Sundance and other Park City Festivals news, past and future.   #sundance @sundancefest


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THE SURROGATE (Ben Lewin, USA)

Perhaps even
more of an indicator of a film’s eventual commercial career is the Audience Awards given at the Sundance Film Festival because they point to an
enthusiasm by the public. Distributors who may be wary of taking on certain
titles can look to these prize winners for an early indication of how they will
be received by audiences.

In the U.S.
Documentary Competition
, the audience favorite announced at Saturday’s
closing awards ceremony, was THE
INVISIBLE WAR
, an uncompromising look at the explosion of rape and sexual
assault cases in the American military. The film, by veteran documentarian Kirby
Dick
, was produced by public television sources but may secure a short
theatrical window prior to its PBS broadcast. “This is amazing”, a delighted Dick
expressed from the stage, “I never expect my films to be the kind that
audiences will take to because they usually are about such ugly subjects, but I
am encouraged that this award will lead to an examination of this horrible
stain on our military and to bringing about justice for the victims of this
abuse.”

In the U.S. Dramatic Competition,
the Audience Award was given to THE SURROGATE, an instant audience
pleaser with a terrific ensemble cast that includes John Hawkes, Helen Hunt
and William
H. Macy
(who also won the Special
Jury Prize For Ensemble Acting
award). The film is a dramatization of the
true story of journalist and poet Mark O’Brien, whose bout with
childhood polio has left in a vegetative state inside an iron lung. While he
has a positive attitude and a lust for life and learning, he longs for the one
thing he has not experienced……sex and intimacy with a woman. His quest to lose
his virginity at age 40 brings him into the orbit of an uninhibited sex
therapist (Helen Hunt, in a career capping performance) who guides him through
the mechanics and the pleasures of sexual encounter and release. The film,
which was picked up by distributor Fox Searchlight for the highest acquisition
price of the Festival at $6 million, is bound to be one of the most
talked-about films of the year and a definite player in the end-of-year awards
season for its actors (with Oscar nominee John Hawkes, already an Oscar nominee for his performance in the
Sundance fave WINTER’S BONE, already being buzzed about for Best Actor honors next year) and for the talented writer/director
of this sensitive and sensational film, Ben Lewin.

Sandy Mandelberger


 


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About Sundance

The editorial team
(fest21.com)

Ambiance from Park City Sundance film Festival January 19-29, 2012.

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