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Clemency, One Child Nation Top a Packed 2019 Sundance Film Festival Awards

Clemency (Photo: Eric Branco)

Clemency, Chinonye Chukwo’s somber and bracing examination of the corrosive effects of capital punishment — on a woman, a marriage, and a society — won the U.S. Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize tonight at the Sundance Film Festival’s Closing Night Ceremony in Park City Utah. One Child Nation, Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhangze’s disturbing 36-year chronicle of the effects of China’s “one-child policy,” took the top prize in the U.S. Documentary Competition. And then there was great diversity among the remainder of the awards, with many of the most well-received films at the festival scooping up recognition. These included Joe Talbot’s Last Black Man in San Francisco (Directing as well as a Special Award for Creative Collaboration); Alma Har’el’s Honeyboy (Special Jury Award, Vision and Craft); Rachel Lears’s rousing Knock Down the House (U.S. Documentary Audience Award); Joanna Hogg’s The Souvenir (World Cinema Dramatic Competition Grand Jury Prize); and Honeyland, by Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov (World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize, Special Jury Prize for Impact for Change, Special Jury Prize, Cinematography).

Cristina Ibarra and Alex Rivera’s immigration-themed thriller, The Infiltrators, about a group of activist Dreamers breaking into detention facilities to save immigrants from deportation, also won two prize — the NEXT Innovator Award and the NEXT Innovator Prize.

From the press release:

“Supporting artists and their stories has been at the core of Sundance Institute’s mission from the very beginning,” said Sundance Institute President and Founder Robert Redford. “At this critical moment, it’s more necessary than ever to support independent voices, to watch and listen to the stories they tell.”

“This year’s expansive Festival celebrated and championed risk-taking artists,” said Keri Putnam, the Institute’s Executive Director. “As the Festival comes to a close, we look forward to watching the stories and conversations that started here as they shape and define our culture in the year to come.”

“These past ten days have been extraordinary,” said John Cooper, Sundance Film Festival Director. “It’s been an honor to stand with these artists, and to see their work challenge, enlighten and charm its first audiences.”

This year’s jurors across the various categories were: Desiree Akhavan, Damien Chazelle, Dennis Lim, Phyllis Nagy, Tessa Thompson, Lucien Castaing-Taylor, Yance Ford, Rachel Grady, Jeff Orlowski, Alissa Wilkinson, Jane Campion, Charles Gillibert, Ciro Guerra, Maite Alberdi, Nico Marzano, Véréna Paravel, Young Jean Lee, Carter Smith, Sheila Vand, and Laurie Anderson.

The complete list of awards follows. For all of Filmmaker‘s coverage, which includes reviews and write-ups of many of the winning films plus contributions from the filmmakers, visit our Sundance ’19 page.


Grand Jury Prize
Clemency, director: Chinonye Chukwo

The Last Black Man in San Francisco, director: Joe Talbot

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award
Share, Pippa Bianco

Special Jury Award – Vision and Craft
Honeyboy, director Alma Har’el

Special Jury Award – Creator Collaboration
The Last Black Man in San Francisco, director: Joe Talbot

Special Jury Award – Acting
Rhianne Barreto, Share


Grand Jury Prize
One Child Nation, dir. Nanfu Wang, Jialing Zhangze

American Factory, director: Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert

Special Jury Award
Jawline, director Liza Mandelup

Special Jury Award – Moral Urgency
Always in Season, director Jacqueline Olive

Special Jury Award – Editing
Apollo 11, director: Todd Douglas Miller

Special Jury Award – Cinematography
Midnight Family, Luke Lorentzen


U.S. Dramatic
Brittany Runs a Marathon, director: Paul Downs Colaizzo

U.S. Documentary
Knock Down the House, director: Rachel Lears

World Cinema Dramatic
Queen of Hearts, director: May El-Toukhy

World Cinema Documentary
Sea of Shadows, director: Richard Ladkani



Grand Jury Prize
The Souvenir, director: Joanna Hogg

The Sharks, director: Lucia Garibaldi

Special Jury Award
Monos, director Alejandro Landes

Special Jury Award for Originality
We Are Little Zombies, director Makoto Nagahisa

Special Jury Prize – Acting
Krystyna Janda, Dolce Fine Giornata


Grand Jury Prize
Directors:  Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov

Cold Case Hammarskjold
Director: Mads Brugger

Special Jury Award for No Borders
Midnight Traveler
Directors:  Hassan Fazili

Special Jury Prize for Impact for Change
Directors:  Tamara Kotevska, Ljubomir Stefanov

Special Jury Award – Cinematography
Honeyland, Fejmi Daut, Samir Ljuma

NEXT Innovator Award
The Infiltrators, Directors Cristina Ibarra, Alex River

Previously Announced Awards:

Sundance Institute NHK Award
Planet Korsakov, director: Taro Aoshima

Amazon Studios Producers Awards:
Documentary Feature Producer: Lori Cheatle

Narrative Feature Producer: Carlo Hugo, Matt Parker

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind, Director: Chiwetel Ejiofor

Short Film Special Jury Award – Grand Jury Prize
Aziza, director Soudade Kaadan

Short Film Jury Award – Directing
Fast Horse, director: Alexandra Lazarowich
The Minors, director: Robert Machoian

Short Film Jury Award, Non-Fiction
Ghosts of Sugar Land, director: Bassim Tariq

Short Film Special Jury Award, Animation
Reneepopiosis, director: Renee Zhan

Short Film Jury Award, International Non-fiction
Dunya’s Day, director: Raed Alsemari

Short Film Jury Award, U.S. Non-fiction
Green, director: Suzanne Andrews Correa

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