Sundance 2011 Documentary Awards

So this year’s Sundance has come to an end. It now seems to be a yearly tradition that I’ll fly home the day of the awards and jetlag will allow me to stay awake and watch the ceremony that runs until 4am UK time. We tried to predict the winners this year during the festival but, as always, the majority that win are the films I didn’t get a chance to see. Next year I’ll make my predictions solely on that basis.

Sundance 2011 was an amazing year for documentaries, and an extremely eclectic one when it came to subject matter. The new Documentary Premieres section took the big name directors out of the competition and allowed less-seasoned filmmakers a chance at the awards. This proved to be a great idea as the diversity of viewpoint really came through in the programming. It would be great to have an award for this section though, as the Premieres category standard was understandably high.

Danfung Dennis’ film Hell and Back Again was undeniably the shining star of the documentary awards, being the only film to take home two, with the World Cinema Cinematography Award for Documentary Filmmaking and World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in Documentary. We posted a brief description of how the film was made here, and the review will be online soon. Of those that I had a chance to see, I was absolutely thrilled that first-time filmmaker Jon Foy’s Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles won the U.S. Documentary Competition Directing Award, Marshall Curry’s If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front won the U.S. Documentary Editing Award, and The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 took home the World Cinema Documentary Editing Award (review here).

We still have many reviews on their way and they should be posted throughout the next few weeks, and also look out for a special Sundance podcast that we recorded during the festival. Podcast host Josh spent the majority of his time at the festival chasing down filmmakers to take part, so it will definitely be worth listening to.

The full list of documentary awards are below the jump.


Winner of the World Cinema Special Jury Prize for Documentary Film:
Position Among the Stars (Stand van de Sterren), directed by Leonard Retel Helmrich (Netherlands)

Winner of the World Cinema Cinematography Award for Documentary Filmmaking:
Hell and Back Again, cinematography by Danfung Dennis (U.S.A./U.K.)

Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Editing Award:
The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975, edited by Goran Hugo Olsson and Hanna Lejonqvist, and directed by Goran Hugo Olsson. (Sweden/U.S.A.)

Winner of the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award:
Project Nim, directed by James Marsh (U.K.)

Winner of the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in Documentary:
Hell and Back Again, directed by Danfung Dennis (U.K./U.S.A.)

Winner of the World Cinema Audience Award for Documentary Film:
Senna, directed by Asif Kapadia (U.K.)

Winner of the U.S. Documentary Competition Audience Award, presented by Acura:
Buck, directed by Cindy Meehl.

Winner of the Special Jury Prize, U.S. Documentary Competition:
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey, directed by Constance Marks

Winner of the Excellence in Cinematography Award, U.S. Documentary Competition:
The Redemption of General Butt Naked, cinematography by Eric Strauss, Ryan Hill and Peter Hutchens.

Winner of the U.S. Documentary Editing Award:
If a Tree Falls: A Story of the Earth Liberation Front, edited by Matthew Hamachek and Marshall Curry.

Winner of the U.S. Documentary Competition Directing Award:
Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles, directed by Jon Foy

Winner of the U.S. Documentary Competition Grand Jury Prize:
How to Die in Oregon, directed by Peter D. Richardson

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