'Winter's Bone' tops Sundance

'Restrepo' takes home U.S. doc grand jury prize

Debra Granik's "Winter's Bone" was the big winner in Park City Saturday night, as it won both the dramatic competition grand jury prize and the Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Earlier in the day, the gritty drama secured North American distribution through Roadside Attractions for release later this year.

The film, about an unflinching Ozark Mountain girl trudging through dangerous social terrain as she hunts down her missing father, was adapted from the Daniel Woodrell novel by Granik and Anne Rosellini. Granik's previous film, the 2004 Sundance entry "Down to the Bone," won her a dramatic directing award.

The rest of the awards were fairly well spread around at the Saturday night ceremony hosted by David Hyde Pierce, who starred in the Park City at Midnight entry "The Perfect Host" this year.
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To kick off the evening, Pierce came on stage in knit cap rapping to the Black Eyed Peas' "Boom Boom Pow," before fest director John Cooper joined him for some mic time.

"It was Redford's idea," cracked Pierce after the performance, during which he name-checked juror Parker Posey and fest entry "Douchebag." "That was three and a half minutes of your life you'll never get back."

Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's documentary "Restrepo," about their year embedded with the Second Platoon fighting the Taliban in a deadly Afghanistan valley, took home the U.S. documentary grand jury prize. Mads Brugger's "The Red Chapel (Det Rode Kapel)," about a journalist, a self-proclaimed spastic and a comedian sneaking into North Korea, won the world cinema documentary grand jury prize.

The world cinema dramatic award was presented to writer-director David Michod's "Animal Kingdom," about a 17-year-old boy trying to navigate the Melbourne criminal underworld.

Though no guarantee of theatrical success, the Sundance prizes can elevate a
picture's visibility and prospects. Last year's grand jury prize winner, "Precious," has gone on to exceptional boxoffice ($45 million domestic to date) and a strong awards-season run for supporting actor Mo'Nique.

The dramatic audience award was voted to writer-director Josh Radnor's ensemble dramedy "HappyThankYouMorePlease," while the documentary audience award was presented to Davis Guggenheim's examination of the failing public education system, "Waiting for Superman." Early in the fest, Paramount picked up the doc for theatrical distribution through its Paramount Vantage label, which also released Guggenheim's Oscar-winning "An Inconvenient Truth."

Lucy Walker's examination of international art star Vik Muniz, "Waste Land," won the audience award for world cinema, documentary, while writer-director Javier Fuentes-Leon's gay-themed ghost story "Contracorriente (Undertow)" took home the audience kudos for world cinema dramatic.

Todd Barnes, Brad Barnes and Sophie Goodhart's "Homewrecker," about a romantic ex-con locksmith on work release in New York City, was awarded the new Best of NEXT award, for an American-made low-budget film. The filmmakers of the eight selected NEXT films cast ballots for the prize.

Special jury prizes were awarded to Tatiana Maslany for Breakout Performance
for her role in the drama "Grown Up Movie Star"; Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath's Cambodia documentary "Enemies of the People"; Josh Fox's natural gas doc "GASLAND"; and the drama "Sympathy for Delicious," directed by Mark Ruffalo and written by and starring Christopher Thornton.

The directing awards were presented to Leon Gast for his documentary "Smash His Camera"; writer-director Eric Mendelsohn for "3 Backyards"; Christian Frei for his doc "Space Tourists"; and writer-director Juan Carlos Valdivia for his drama "Southern District," which also nabbed the world cinema screenwriting award.

Excellence in cinematography awards went to Laura Poitras' "The Oath," shot by Kirsten Johnson and Poitras; Diane Bell's "Obselidia," shot by Zak Mulligan; Ken Wardrop's "His & Hers," shot by Kate McCullough and Michael Lavelle; and "The Man Next Door (El Hombre de al Lado)," directed and shot by Mariano Cohn and Gaston Duprat.

"Obselidia" also took home this year's Alfred P. Sloan Prize, a $20,000 cash award presented to an outstanding feature film focusing on science or technology as a theme, or depicting a scientist, engineer, or mathematician as a major character.

The documentary editing award was given to Penelope Falk, for her work on Ricki Stern and Annie Sundberg's "Joan Rivers -- A Piece Of Work." The world cinema documentary editing award was presented to Joelle Alexis for editing "A Film Unfinished," written and directed by Yael Hersonski.

Greg Barker, Dayna Goldfine, Nancy Miller, Morgan Spurlock and Ondi Timoner comprised the U.S. documentary competition jury; Russell Banks, Jason Kliot, Karyn Kusama, Parker Posey and Robert Yeoman the U.S. dramatic; Jennifer Baichwal, Jeffrey Brown and Asako Fujioka the world cinema docs; Alison Maclean, Lisa Schwarzbaum and Sigurjon "Joni" Sighvatsson the world cinema dramatic; Sterlin Harjo, Brent Hoff and Christine Vachon the shorts; and Peter Galison, Darcy Kelley, Joe Palca, Paul Sereno and Marianna Palka the Alfred P. Sloan Award.

Sunday marks the end of the festival's 26th edition.