The Sundance Film Festival has officially closed for the year and the awards have been announced. This incredible film festival draws people from all over the world to celebrate the past, present and future of cinema, and this year they have truly pushed the boundaries. Nearly 13,500 films were submitted to Sundance but only 123 feature films and 69 short films were selected for viewing. Of those few, only a special handful won.
This year’s sundance winners reflect both the political climate and current issues. Films were shot all over the world and some categories, like the emerging filmmakers, were dominated by countries other than the U.S. This year’s emerging Filmmakers are:
Of Fathers and Sons (Syria) Directed by Talal Derki
Untitled (India) Directed by Chaitanya Tamhane
Night On Fire (Mexico) Directed by Tatiana Huezo
The short film Grand Jury winner Matria reminds us of what is really important in a piece about the importance of family relationships in rough times. Directed and written by Alvaro Gago.
As for the feature film winners they span the map on political and ethical issues. One tells the story of Trump’s Presidential Campaign through Russian Propaganda. Another looks at the harsh reality of minimum drug sentencing. Some even deal with gay conversion and what it is to be Islamic. The prizes are as follows:
The Grand Jury U.S. documentary pick is Kailash. This is the true story of a man trying to end child slavery. Presented to Simon Chin this film depicts the journey of a man who has rescued more than eighty thousand children and, in the process, built an empire.
The World Cinema Documentary goes to Of Fathers and Sons. This is a depiction of what it is to grow up in an islamic caliphate. Talal Derki films the lives of a radical islamist family over the course of two years.
For those who aren’t the documentary type the U.S. dramatic award goes to The Miseducation of Cameron Post. Based on a controversial novel by Emily Danforth this the story of a girl forced into gay conversion therapy after sleeping with the prom queen.
The World Cinema Dramatic winner is Butterflies. It’s about three Turkish siblings who don’t know eachother or, apparently, their father. But they will learn when they go to bury him.
Art is either a reflection of or a reaction to life. These films depict both the greatest issues we struggle with today as well as the simplest facts of our existence. Relationships are invaluable, and we are all people no matter our identity, religion or circumstance. Perhaps that is the most beautiful artistic realization of all.