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Sundance Film Festival Awards: 'Beasts of the Southern Wild,' 'The Surrogate' honored


Image Credit: Ben Richards

Beasts of the Southern Wild

, director Benh Zeitlin’s surreal tale of a six-year old girl living with her father in the flooded basins near the southern delta, was awarded the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic film. The House I Live In, Eugene Jarecki’s documentary about the impact of America’s War on Drugs on poor communities, won for best documentary. The Surrogate, a movie about a man in an iron lung (John Hawkes) who decides to lose his virginity with the assistance of professional sex surrogate (Helen Hunt), was honored with an Audience Award and a prize for Best Ensemble.

The Law in These Parts and Violeta Went to Heaven won the World Jury Prizes for documentary and drama, respectively.

Katie Aselton, who directed and starred in Black Rock, co-emceed the event with Sundance Film Festival’s director, John Cooper, replacing Parker Posey, who was sick. At the very beginning of the show, Cooper read a eulogy for indie producer Bingham Ray, who passed away last week at 57, composed by Ray’s poker buddies. “Anyone who truly loved film could not really dislike Bingham. His knowledge was encyclopedic, fueled purely by enthusiasm, not some nerdy desire to impress and he could talk about directors or quote dialogue for hours,” read Cooper, who paused twice during the three-minute tribute to compose himself. “The world lost some of its luster this week when Bingham passed away. His laughter still echoes and we are laughing with him. A stupid thing like death cannot take that away from us.”

The first award of the night was the inaugural Short Film Audience Award, which went to director Maria White – a former Sundance volunteer – for The Debutante Hunters.

Tim Heidecker, who stars in The Comedy and the polarizing Tim and Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie, received a standing ovation when he came on stage to present the award for The Best of NEXT. To be fair, Heidecker did trick the audience into it, but at least there weren’t any angry walkouts this time.

Director Ben Lewin of The Surrogate accepted the Audience Award for Best Drama, and imparted some wisdom to aspiring filmmakers in the audience. “A word of advice to independent filmmakers,” said Lewin, standing next to his wife, producer Judi Levine. “Don’t sleep with the leading lady. Sleep with the producer.”

Grand Jury Prize – Dramatic
Beasts of the Southern Wild

Grand Jury Prize – Documentary
The House I Live In

U.S. Directing Award – Dramatic
Ava DuVernay, Middle of Nowhere

U.S. Directing Award – Documentary
Lauren Greenfield, The Queen of Versailles

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award
Derek Connolly, Safety Not Guaranteed

U.S. Editing Award – Documentary
Enat Sidi, Detropia

U.S. Excellence in Cinematography Award – Dramatic
Ben Richardson, Beasts of the Southern Wild

U.S. Excellence in Cinematography Award – Documentary
Jeff Orlowski, Chasing Ice

U.S. Special Jury Prize for Ensemble Acting – Dramatic
The Surrogate

U.S. Special Jury Prize for Producing – Dramatic
Jonathan Schwartz and Andrea Sperling, Smashed and Nobody Walks

U.S. Special Jury Prize – Documentary
Love Free or Die
Al Weiwei: Never Sorry

U.S. Audience Award – Dramatic
The Surrogate

U.S. Audience Award – Documentary
The Invisible War

World Cinema Audience Award – Dramatic
Valley of Saints

World Cinema Audience Award – Documentary
Searching for Sugarman

Best of NEXT Audience Award
Sleepwalk With Me

World Cinema Jury Prize – Dramatic
Violeta Went to Heaven

World Cinema Directing Award – Dramatic
Mads Matthiesen, Teddy Bear

World Cinema Screenwriting Award – Dramatic
Marialy Rivas, Camila Gutierrez, Pedro Periano, Sebastian Sepulveda, Young & Wild

World Cinema Cinematography Award – Dramatic
David Raedeker, My Brother the Devil

World Cinema Special Jury Prize – Dramatic

World Cinema Jury Prize – Documentary
The Law in These Parts

World Cinema Directing Award – Documentary
Emad Burnet and Guy Davidi, 5 Broken Cameras

World Cinema Editing Award – Documentary
Lisanne Pajot and James Swirsky, Indie Game: The Movie

World Cinema Special Jury Prize Documentary
Searching for Sugarman

World Cinema – Documentary Cinematography Award
Putin’s Kiss, Lars Skree

Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize
Robot and Frank
Valley of Saints

Shorts Audience Award
The Debutante Hunters, Maria White

Read more:
Sundance deal report
EW Special Coverage: Sundance 2012
Gallery: Sundance Star Portraits