The Sundance Film Festival came to a close yesterday, amid whispers that it was a “quieter” fest than usual, both in terms of buzz and sales. Your film editor isn’t so sure about the latter – I saw plenty of great movies there (and you can read all about them here and here) – but there are certainly fewer buys to report. The WTF $10 million purchase of Assassination Nation aside (that feels like one that could end up on this list), there weren’t a lot of big purchases, and unlike the last couple of streaming-dominated festivals, there have been (thus far) no notable buys by Netflix or Amazon (which we most recently heard was re-strategizing away from indies anyway).
But a few noteworthy transactions took place: Megan Ellison’s Annapurna picked up Boots Riley’s nutty Sorry to Bother You, Saban Films acquired the Chloe Sevigny-fronted Lizzie, Magnolia grabbed the foreign thriller The Guilty and the documentary RBG, NEON nabbed Revenge, Three Identical Strangers, and the aforementioned Assassination Nation, Lionsgate got festival opener Blindspotting, The Orchard and MoviePass Ventures (its inaugural purchase) got American Animals, and Bleeker Street grabbed domestic rights to Collette with international distribution going to Sony.
Sony, in fact, ended up the big buyer of the festival, with deals for full or partial distribution of not only Collette but Puzzle, Search, Hearts Beat Loud, and Leave No Trace. And HBO shocked observers by scooping up arguably the buzziest title of the festival, Jennifer Fox’s The Tale, which it will not release to theaters but instead take straight to cable. (They’re also airing several festival documentaries.)
The festival’s awards were also handed out Saturday night, and while they’re notoriously inaccurate predictors of a film’s eventual commercial and critical success, they did laud several of our favorites. Here’s the full list:
U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION Grand Jury Prize: “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” Audience Award: “Burden” Directing: Sara Colangelo, “The Kindergarten Teacher” Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Christina Choe, “Nancy” Special Jury Award for Outstanding First Feature: Reinaldo Marcus Green, “Monsters and Men” Special Jury Award for Excellence in Filmmaking: “I Think We’re Alone Now” Special Jury Award for Achievement in Acting: Benjamin Dickey, “Blaze”
U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION Grand Jury Prize: “Kailash” Directing: Alexandria Bombach, “On Her Shoulders” Audience Award: “The Sentence” Special Jury Award for Social Impact: “Crime + Punishment” Special Jury Award for Creative Vision: “Hale County This Morning, This Evening” Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking: “Minding the Gap” Special Jury Award for Storytelling: “Three Identical Strangers”
WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION Grand Jury Prize: “Butterflies” Audience Award: “The Guilty” Directing Award: Ísold Uggadóttir, “And Breathe Normally” Special Jury Award for Acting: Valeria Bertucecelli, “The Queen of Fear,” Special Jury Award for Screenwriting: Julio Chavezmontes & Sebastián Hofmann, “Time Share” Special Jury Award for Ensemble Acting: “Dead Pigs”
WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION Grand Jury Prize: “Of Fathers and Sons” Audience Award: “This Is Home” Directing Award: Sandi Tan, “Shirkers” Special Jury Award: Steven Loveridge, “Matangi/Maya/M.I.A.” Special Jury Award for Cinematography: Maxim Arbugaev, Peter Indergand “Genesis 2.0” Special Jury Award for Editing: Maxim Pozdorovkin & Matvey Kulakov, “Our New President”
OTHER AWARDS NEXT Audience Award: “Search” NEXT Innovator Award: “Night Comes On” AND “We the Animals” Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize: “Search” Sundance Institute NHK Award: Remi Weekes, “His House” Sundance Institute/Amazon Studios Producers Awards: Katy Chevingy & Marilyn Ness (“Dark Money”) AND Sev Ohanian (“Search”) Sundance Open Borders Fellowship Presented by Netflix: Talal Derki (“Of Fathers and Sons”) AND Chaitanya Tamhane AND Tatiana Huezo (“Night on Fire”)