Monday, 28 January 2013

2013 SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL: Fruitvale, Blood Brother take coveted grand jury prizes

STUNNED: Writer-director Ryan Coogler is at a loss as he accepts his award. Below: Michael B. Jordan in a scene from the film.

Fruitvale, written and directed by first-time filmmaker Ryan Coogler, was the big dramatic winner at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, which drew to a close on the weekend in Park City, Utah. The film, starring Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights) and Oscar winner Octavia Spencer, and produced by Forest Whitaker, claimed the grand jury prize for dramatic film as well as the drama category's audience award at a ceremony Saturday night. 

Fruitvale is based on the real-life story of Oscar Grant, a black 22-year-old Bay Area resident fatally shot by a white cop at the Fruitvale subway stop in the early hours of New Year’s Day, 2009. The killing drew immense community outrage. “When I first made this project, it was about humanity, and how we treat the people we love most and the people we don't know,” said Coogler, 26, accepting the award. “To get this means that this film made a powerful impact. This goes back to my home, the Bay Area, where Oscar Grant lived for 22 years. I can't wait to see you all when this is said and done and I'm more articulate and not so emotional.” 

Jury member Tom Rothman praised the film for “its skillful realization, its devastating emotional impact and its moral and social urgency” and said it was destined for future greatness. As it happens, last year’s dramatic grand jury prize winner, Beasts of the Southern Wild, is currently nominated for four Academy Awards. 

Blood Brother, directed by Steve Hoover, was the big documentary winner, sweeping the grand jury prize for documentary and the audience award. The film follows a young American who moves to India to work with kids infected with HIV.

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