The 2023 Sundance Film Festival jurors and audiences have voted and today the festival announced the 2023 award winners during an event at The Ray Theatre in Park City. Among the films that came out ahead in the 2023 Sundance awards is Radical, the based-on-a-true-story film about a new teacher at an underprivileged school in Mexico picked up the Festival Favorite Award. The Persian Version— film that follows multiple generations of a large Iranian-American family with a secret—received both an audience award and an award for screenwriting. As far as the films that we might soon see on streaming services or get wide release in movie theaters, films in the horror genre still seem to steal the show at Sundance.
Some 2023 Sundance films have already won big with industry deals for distribution. Some of the most lucrative deals include Netflix acquiring Fair Play and Apple TV picking up Flora and Son for about $20 million apiece. Fair Play has generated a lot of excitement at this year’s festival, writes Salt Lake’s Michael Mejia, “in part for the solid performances of its leads, Phoebe Dynevor and Alden Ehrenreich, as well as for its timely depiction of gender politics in a high-pressure corporate environment, where dominating everyone is the only path to success.” (Read his full review of Fair Play.)
Searchlight picked up the mockumentary Theater Camp for about $8 million, which also won a Festival award for its stellar ensemble cast. Theater Camp is an underdog story about an eponymous theater camp struggling to stay afloat, and inspire the misfit campers, after their beloved founder is hospitalized and management of the camp is transferred to her himbo son who knows nothing about theater. According to Salt Lake contributor Phillip Sevy, “what follows is a silly, heart-warming movie that succeeds on the strength and charm of its ensemble,” including Molly Gordon, Ben Platt, Noah Galvin, Jimmy Tatro, Patti Harrison and Ayo Edebiri. (Check out his full review of Theater Camp.)
Netflix also picked up Run Rabbit Run and Amazon Prime Video acquired In My Mother’s Skin, two horror standouts at this year’s festival. Director Brandon Cronenburg’s horror film Infinity Pool arrived at the festival with a distribution deal from Neon and Topic in hand, and birth/rebirth will appear on Shudder (read Salt Lake’s reviews of Infinity Pool and birth/rebirth).Talk to Me will be distributed by horror powerhouse A24. “You can sum up Danny and Michael Philippou’sTalk to Me in two words: ‘gripping horror,’” writes Salt Lake contributor Jaime Winston, alluding to a ceramic hand in the film that allows a group of teenagers to interact with, and get possessed by, a ghost. (Read his full review of Talk to Me.) A24 also made a deal prior to the festival to distribute You Hurt My Feelings starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus, which is decidedly outside of the horror genre (here’s our review of You Hurt My Feelings).
The Eternal Memory picked up a Grand Jury award and was picked up by MTV Documentary Films. Other distribution deals include: A Little Prayer (Sony Pictures Classics), Passages (Mubi), Little Richard: I Am Everything (Magnolia/CNN Films) and Kokomo City (Magnolia Pictures).
2023 Sundance Grand Jury Prizes
The jury and audience-awarded prizes amplify the fearless and dynamic stories across sections, with Grand Jury Prizes awarded to A Thousand and One (U.S. Dramatic), Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project (U.S. Documentary), Scrapper (World Cinema Dramatic) and The Eternal Memory (World Cinema Documentary), and the NEXT Innovator Award went to KOKOMO CITY. Check out Salt Lake magazine’s review of The Eternal Memory. The documentary, directed by Academy Award nominee Maite Alberdi, is a deep dive into the lives of Paulina Urrutia Fernández, an actress, activist and former Minister of the National Council of Culture and the Arts of Chile, and her husband Augusto Góngora, a Chilean journalist who reported on corruption and violence during Augusto Pinochet’s presidency, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
2023 Sundance Audience Awards
Voted on by the audience, Radical was granted the Festival Favorite Award. The Persian Version (U.S. Dramatic) and Beyond Utopia (U.S. Documentary) and Shayda (World Cinema Dramatic) and 20 Days in Mariupol (World Cinema Documentary also received audience awards. Salt Lake magazine’s Jaime Winston reviews Radical, voted the Festival Favorite, based on a true story of a new sixth-grade teacher at José Urbina López Elementary in Matamoros, Mexico, one of the most underfunded and poor performing schools in the country.
2023 Sundance Awards for directing, screenwriting and editing
The Directing Award for the U.S. Documentary category was presented to Luke Lorentzen for A Still Small Voice. The Directing Award in the U.S. Dramatic competition goes to Sing J. Lee for The Accidental Getaway Driver. The Directing Award in World Cinema Documentary was presented to Anna Hints for Smoke Sauna Sisterhood. The Directing Award in the World Cinema Dramatic competition was presented to Marija Kavtaradze for Slow. The Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award was presented to Maryam Keshavarz for The Persian Version. The Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award was presented to Daniela I. Quiroz for Going Varsity in Mariachi (U.S. Documentary).
2023 Sundance Special Jury Awards
A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Creative Vision was presented to Sofia Alaoui for Animalia, her feature film debut. The film follows Itto, a pregnant woman in Morocco from humble beginnings, who first adjusts to a new life among the wealthy and then a world invaded by aliens. Salt Lake magazine contributor Michael Mejia says, rather than a pure sci-fi or horror film, “Animalia reveals itself as a thoughtful, politically and ethically engaged imagining of the erasure of human dominance, of human motives, of the corrupt, or corrupted, nature of humanity.” Read his full review of Animalia.
A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for best Ensemble was presented to the cast of Theater Camp. A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Creative Vision was presented to the creative team of Magazine Dreams. A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting was presented to Lio Mehiel for Mutt. A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Clarity of Vision was presented to The Stroll. A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Freedom of Expression was presented to Bad Press. A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Vision was presented to Fantastic Machine. A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Verite Filmmaking was presented to Against the Tide. A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented to Lílis Soares for Mami Wata. A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Performance was presented to Rosa Marchant for When It Melts.
The award-winning films will screen in-person and online on Saturday, January 28, and Sunday, January 29. Tickets for award-screening films are available.