Sundance 2017: revenge comedy snatches surprise victory

I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore took the top prize, while the film festival’s director spoke out against Donald Trump’s immigration ban

The presciently titled I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore pulled off a surprise victory at the 2017 Sundance film festival awards ceremony on Saturday (28 January), taking the grand jury prize for US dramatic feature. Often a pointer to future awards and commercial success – having been won in recent years by Whiplash, Fruitvale Station and Me and Earl and the Dying Girl – the prize went to the comedy thriller directed by Macon Blair about a woman (Melanie Lynskey) out for revenge on the burglars who have stolen her computer.

However the equally influential audience award for the same category went to Crown Heights, a drama about a real-life miscarriage of justice: that of Colin Warner, who was mistakenly identified as the killer in a 1980 murder case, and spent nearly 19 years in jail before being released in 2001. Crown Heights is directed by Matt Ruskin and stars Keith Stanfield as Warner.

In the US documentary categories, Dina – described as an “unconventional romance between a quirky suburbanite and a door-greeter at Walmart” – took the grand jury prize, while the audience voted for Chasing Coral, about the global crisis facing coral reefs and part of Sundance’s The New Climate sidebar.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, current events dominated the ceremony, with award recipients lining up to criticise actions by president Trump. In the wake of the executive order banning travel from seven countries, Sundance Institute executive director Keri Putnam said: “I want to take a moment to acknowledge artists and documentary subjects from Muslim-majority countries who joined us at this year’s festival to share their work … We stand with you, and we stand with all people risking their lives for their values, or seeking refuge from violence or persecution who are now denied entry to our country.”

Syrian director Firas Fayyad, whose film Last Men in Aleppo won the world cinema documentary grand jury prize, said: “We are Syrian. We are not ashamed of this word. We do our best to fight for freedom of speech and for humanity and for justice. We do all this to change for the best, and I hope that people in the US can change. That they can fight like [we] fight.”

Full list of winners

US grand jury prize (dramatic) I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore
Directing (US dramatic) Beach Rats
Screenwriting (US dramatic) Ingrid Goes West
US dramatic breakthrough director Maggie Betts, Novitiate
US dramatic best cinematography The Yellow Birds
US dramatic breakthrough performance Chanté Adams, Roxanne Roxanne
US grand jury prize (documentary) Dina
Directing (US documentary) The Force
US documentary Orwell award Icarus
US documentary inspirational filmmaking Step
US documentary editing Unrest
US documentary storytelling Strong Island
Alfred P Sloan feature film prize Marjorie Prime
World cinema grand jury prize (dramatic) The Nile Hilton Incident
Directing (world cinema dramatic) God’s Own Country
World cinema dramatic screenwriting Pop Aye
World cinema dramatic vision Free and Easy
World cinema dramatic cinematography Axolotl Overkill
World cinema grand jury prize (documentary) Last Men in Aleppo
Directing (world cinema documentary) Winnie
World cinema documentary vision Motherland
World cinema documentary cinematography Machines
World cinema documentary storytelling Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked The World
Audience award (US dramatic) Crown Heights
Audience award (US documentary) Chasing Coral
Audience award (world cinema dramatic) Sueño en Otro Idioma (I Dream in Another Language)
Audience award (world cinema documentary) Joshua: Teenager V Superpower
Audience Award (Next) Gook
Short film grand jury prize And So We Put Goldfish in the Pool
Short film jury award (US fiction) Lucia, Before and After
Short film jury award (international fiction) And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye
Short film jury award (non-fiction) Alone
Short film jury award (animation) Broken – The Women’s Prison at Hoheneck
Short film cinematography Dadyaa – The Woodpeckers of Rotha
Short film editing Laps


Andrew Pulver

The GuardianTramp

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