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Celebration at Sundance!

Women's films have done wonderfully well in the Sundance Awards. Ava DuVernay has just won the Directing Award for United States Film: Dramatic, with her second feature in two years, Middle of Nowhere. She's the first African-American woman ever to win this award.  Lauren Greenwood won the Directing Award for United States Film: Documentary, with The Queen of Versailles. Alison Klayman's Ai Wewei: Never Sorry won a Special Jury Prize. Maria White won the Short Film Audience Award with The Debutante Hunters. The Finally, the World Cinema Screenwriting Award went to Young and Wild, available on MUBI and directed by Marialy Rivas (Chile), who co-wrote the screenplay with Camila Gutierrez and two men.

Lucy Walker had already won the Jury Prize in Short Film Non-Fiction The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom (and is also an Oscar nominee). Blerta Zeqiri's The Return/Kthimi won the Jury Prize in Short Film, International Fiction, and Brie Larson, Sarah Ramos, Jessie Ennis won a Special Jury Award for Comedic Story-Telling with The Arm. (Thanks to Kyna Morgan at HerFilm for the info re this group of awards.)

Warm congratulations to all these women storytellers! (I know there are also women producers of other award-winners, but storytellers are the usual focus here: I hope I haven't missed any of the directors/screenwriters, and that you'll tell me if I have!)

Here's the Middle of Nowhere trailer, and a Sundance interview with Ava DuVernay, one of my heroes, who also founded the African-American Film Festival Releasing Movement (AFFRM), which will distribute Middle of Nowhere in the United States, with Participant Media.*

And here's an interview with Lauren Greenfield, couldn't find a trailer. Magnolia Pictures will distribute The Queen of Versailles in North America.

The Ai Weiwei: Never Sorry trailer:

The Young and Wild trailer:

Finally, The Debutante Hunters trailer is on Facebook, but I can't embed it here.

In my excitement I missed some, but Kyna didn't! Here are the others, from her post. Thanks, Kyna! (Kyna will continue to update her Sundance series re distribution announcements.)

Luci Alibar co-wrote Beasts of the Southern Wild which won the Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic, & Excellence in Cinematography: United States Dramatic. Heidi Ewing & Rachel Grady directed Detropia, which won the United States Documentary Editing Award. Lisanne Pajot co-directed and co-edited Indie Game: the Movie, which won the World Cinema Documentary Editing Award. The World Cinema Cinematography Award went to My Brother the Devil, writer/director Sally El Hosaini (thanks also to CampbellX for alerting me to this) and the World Cinema Cinematography Award: Documentary went to Putin's Kiss, directed by Lise Birk Pedersen. And Nobody Walks, which director Ry Russo-Young co-wrote with Lena Dunham, won one United States Dramatic Special Jury Prize for Excellence in Independent Film Producing, and Smashed, which Susan Burke co-wrote, won another. That's an impressive line-up.

I loved Lena Dunham's Tiny Furniture, so here's Ry Russo-Young, talking about Nobody Walks:


*Participant Media, like AFFRM, is pretty amazing. Here's their mission statement:
Participant believes that a good story well told can truly make a difference in how one sees the world. Whether it is a feature film, documentary or other form of media, Participant exists to tell compelling, entertaining stories that also create awareness of the real issues that shape our lives.

The company seeks to entertain audiences first, then to invite them to participate in making a difference. To facilitate this, Participant creates specific social action campaigns for each film and documentary designed to give a voice to issues that resonate in the films. Participant teams with social sector organizations, non-profits and corporations who are committed to creating an open forum for discussion, education and who can, with Participant, offer specific ways for audience members to get involved. These include action kits, screening programs, educational curriculums and classes, house parties, seminars, panels and other activities and are ongoing 'legacy' programs that are updated and revised to continue beyond the film's domestic and international theatrical, DVD and television windows. To date, Participant has developed active, working relationships with 600 non-profits which collectively have the potential of reaching over 75 million people.

Its women-directed films include Maryam Keshavarz's Circumstance and Kristi Jacobson and Lori Silverbush's Finding North, about hunger in the United States, which also premiered at this Sundance. Here they are talking about it:

Participant Media's films also include New Zealander Niki Caro's North Country.


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