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2 Films Win Double Prizes at Sundance

Dramatic feature 'Quinceanera' and documentary 'God Grew Tired of Us' get grand jury and audience honors as festival closes.

January 29, 2006|Kenneth Turan | Times Staff Writer

The twain finally met at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. For the first time, the same two films won both the grand jury prize and the audience award in both the dramatic and documentary competitions at Saturday night's closing ceremony of the Park City, Utah, event.

Taking the dramatic prize and the dramatic audience award was the very L.A. "Quinceanera," a coming-of-age story set in an increasingly gentrifying Echo Park and written and directed by Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland.

Winning both the documentary prize and the documentary audience award was Christopher Quinn's "God Grew Tired of Us," the story of how three of Sudan's "lost boys," refugees displaced by their country's civil war, come to grips with living in the U.S.A.

Though it did not receive the top doc prize, James Longley's "Iraq in Fragments," a beautifully made film that takes a ground-level look inside today's Iraq, was the festival's biggest winner, with three separate awards.

Filmmaker Longley, who lived and filmed in Iraq for two years, won the documentary directing award and the excellence in cinematography award. The excellence in editing award, given for the first time this year, went to Longley and the film's other two editors, Billy McMillin and Fiona Otway.

On the dramatic side, the prestigious Waldo Salt screenwriting award went to writer-director Hilary Brougher for "Stephanie Daley." This delicate and involving character study is defined by excellent acting from Amber Tamblyn as a high school student accused of killing her premature baby and Tilda Swinton as a forensic psychologist investigating the case.

The dramatic cinematography award went to Tom Richmond for Chris Gorak's "Right at Your Door," which does a convincing visual job of creating a Los Angeles that has been devastated by the detonation of multiple dirty bombs.

In the world documentary category, both the jury prize and the audience award were taken by films coming out of Mexico. The world documentary jury prize went to Juan Carlos Rulfo's "In the Pit," a look at the lives of workers putting a second level on a major Mexico City freeway. The audience award went to Tin Dirdamal's "DeNADIE," which examines the journey South and Central American refugees make across Mexico to the United States.

Taking the world dramatic jury prize was the French thriller "13 Tzameti," written and directed by Gela Babluani. The audience award in that category went to Toa Fraser's New Zealand family drama "No. 2," starring Ruby Dee.

The dramatic directing award went to Dito Montiel for "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints," which also received a special jury prize for best ensemble performance -- earned by a cast that includes Robert Downey Jr., Shia La Boeuf, Rosario Dawson, Chazz Palminteri, Dianne Wiest and Channing Tatum. That was one of seven special jury prizes that Sundance's various juries dispensed.

On the dramatic side, So Young Kim's "In Between Days," set in the Korean American community, got a special jury prize for independent vision. Another film with an Asian immigrant theme, Julia Kwan's "Eve & The Fire Horse," set in a Chinese community in Canada, received a special jury prize from the world dramatic jury.

Special jury prizes for documentaries went to Ian Inaba's "American Blackout," a muckraking indictment of what the film sees as the systematic disenfranchisement of African American voters, and "TV Junkie," directed by Michael Cain and Matt Radecki, about a TV journalist's descent into drug abuse.

The world documentary jury also gave out a pair of special prizes: Yonghi Yang's "Dear Pyongyang," about one family's relationship to North Korea and Japan, and Philip Groening's luminous "Into Great Silence," which takes viewers into a monastery in the French Alps where silence is the rule.

The last feature to receive an award was Brazilian Andrucha Waddington's "The House of Sand," which won the Alfred P. Sloan Prize for "tackling compelling topics in science."

Sundance's crosstown rival, the Slamdance Film Festival, gave its awards Friday. Its grand jury prize for narrative feature went to Lynn Shelton's "We Go Back," and the grand jury prize for documentary feature went to "The Empire in Africa," Philippe Diaz's provocative documentary on the civil war in Sierra Leone.

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