Wed. Oct 21st, 2020

‘Minari,’ ’40-Year Old Version,’ ‘Boys State’ top 2020 Sundance Film Festival winners

Minari, Lee Isaac Chung’s semi-autobiographical tale of his upbringing in rural Arkansas, has won the 2020 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize, it was announced this evening. The film also received the festival’s Audience Award for US Dramatic films. Minari is a Plan B production with distribution from A24. (Read our review of Minari here)

The directing prize went to Radha Blank for her film The 40-Year-Old Version. In her speech, which spoke directly to being a down-on-her-luck New York playwright who decides to reinvent herself and salvage her artistic voice the only way she knows how: by becoming a rapper at age 40, Blank said, “Anybody who feels there’s an expiration on a passion, fuck that shit. If it’s in you to be a rapper, a parent, a director in your 40s, do that shit.”

The US Grand Prize for Documentary went to Boys State, which detailed an unusual experiment in which a thousand 17-year-old boys from Texas join together to build a representative government from the ground up.

The documentary Crip Camp, which details a summer camp for people with disabilities and how they grew into becoming activists, won the US Documentary Audience Award. This is the second Obama-produced doc to hit Sundance (after last year’s American Factory) and win a top prize.

The gay, Mexican immigrant story I Carry You With Me, from Heidi Ewing, won two awards from the NEXT section, the Innovator Award and the Audience Award. It was picked up by Sony Classics for distribution later this year.

Earlier this week, Michael Almereyda’s Tesla received the $20,000 Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize, presented annually to a film focusing on science or technology as a theme.

Four special jury awards were given by Ethan Hawke and his fellow U.S. dramatic competition jurors Wash Westmoreland and Rodrigo Garcia. Ensemble Cast went to Charm City Kings, about stunt dirt-bike riders in Baltimore city; director Eliza Hittman, for the Neorealism of her abortion-themed Never Rarely Sometimes Always (review). Josephine Decker won an auteur award for Shirley, (review) and in sharing the prize with her cast and crew — and subject Shirley Jackson, remarked that she is “is the true auteur of this film.”

Also previously announced, the Sundance Institute NHK Award went to Higher director Kirsten Tan; the Sundance Institute/Amazon Studios Producers Awards went to Diane Becker and Melanie Miller (producers of Whirlybird) and Huriyyah Muhammad for Farewell Amor; and Carla Gutierrez and Affonso Gonçalves won Sundance Institute Adobe Mentorship Awards for Editing.

Sundance Institute head Keri Putnam announced outgoing festival director John Cooper’s replacement: Tabitha Jackson, the former director of the Sundance Institute’s Documentary Film program.

“As a Brit, going through Brexit yesterday, I felt something a little like grief, like I’d lost a whole continent,” said Jackson. But today, I feel like I’ve gained a whole world.”

Feature film award winners in previous years include: ClemencyOne Child Nation, Honeyland, The SouvenirThe Miseducation of Cameron PostI don’t feel at home in this world anymore., WeinerWhiplash, Fruitvale Station, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Twenty Feet from Stardom, Searching for Sugarman, The Square, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, Cartel Land, The Wolf Pack, The Diary of a Teenage Girl, Dope, Dear White People, The Cove and Man on Wire.

Of the 28 prizes awarded tonight to 25 films – comprising the work of 29 filmmakers – 12 (48%) were directed by one or more women; 10 (40%) were directed by one or more people of color; and 2 (8%) were directed by a person who identifies as LGBTQ+.

Here is the full list of winners for the 2020 Sundance Film Festival.


Grand Jury Prize: “Minari”

Audience Award: “Minari”

Directing: Radha Blank, “The 40-Year-Old Version”

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Edson Oda, “Nine Days.”

Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast: “Charm City Kings”

Special Jury Auteur Award: Josephine Decker, “Shirley”

Special Jury Award for Neorealism: Eliza Hittman, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”


Grand Jury Prize: “Boys State”

Audience Award: “Crip Camp”

Directing: Garrett Bradley, “Time”

Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker: Arthur Jones, “Feels Good Man”

Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, Eli Despres, “The Fight”

Special Jury Award for Editing: Tyler H. Walk, “Welcome to Chechnya”

Special Jury Award for Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling: Kirsten Johnson, “Dick Johnson Is Dead”


Grand Jury Prize: “Yalda, a Night for Forgiveness”

Audience Award: “Identifying Features”

Directing Award: Maïmouna Doucouré, “Cuties”

Special Jury Award for Acting: Ben Whishaw, “Surge”

Special Jury Award for Visionary Filmmaking: Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, “This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection”

Special Jury Award for Best Screenplay: Fernanda Valadez & Astrid Rondero. “Identifying Features”


Grand Jury Prize: “Epicentro”

Audience Award: “The Reason I Jump”

Directing Award: Iryna Tsilyk, “The Earth is Blue as an Orange”

Special Jury Award for Editing: Mila Aung Thwin, Sam Soko, Ryan Mullins, “Softie”

Special Jury Award for Cinematography: Micrea Topoleanu, Radu Ciorniciuc, “Acasa, My Home”

Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling: Benjamin Ree, “The Painter and the Thief”


NEXT Audience Award: “I Carry You With Me”

NEXT Innovator Award: “I Carry You With Me”

Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize: “Tesla”

Sundance Institute NHK Award: Kirsten Tan, “Higher”

Sundance Institute/Amazon Studios Producers Award for Narrative Features: Huriyyah Muhammad, “Farewell Amor”

Sundance Institute/Amazon Studios Producers Award for Documentary Features: Diane Becker & Melanie Miller of Fishbowl Films, “Whirlybird”

Sundance Institute/Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Documentary: Carla Gutierrez

Sundance Institute/Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Narrative: Affonso Gonçalves

Sundance Open Borders Fellowship Presented by Netflix:

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