04 February, 2009

Sundance FF Fetes International Cinema

by Sandy Mandelberger, North American Editor

While American indies remain the focus of much of the deal making at Sundance this year, a number of international films have emerged as prize winners, maximizing their chances of distribution not only in North America but internationally. The Festival, which concluded last weekend, has become a major showcase for international cinema. The World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary was presented to ROUGH AUNTIES, directed by Kim Longinotto (United Kingdom). The film showcases the 'Rough Aunties' protect, which cares for abused, neglected and forgotten children of Durban, South Africa.

The World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic was presented to THE MAID (Chile), directed by Sebasti├ín Silva. In this comedic thriller, a bitter and introverted maid wreaks havoc on a household where the mistress has brought on another servant to help with the chores. Chilean cinema has been having a great run at international film festivals, and is the current “Latin American cinema” du jour.

The World Cinema Audience Award: Documentary was presented to AFGHAN STAR (Afghanistan/UK), directed by Havana Marking (who also won a Best Director prize). The story chronicles the popularity of “Pop Idol”, a television singing competition that has been embraced by millions of Afghans who are still in the midst of an ever-increasing war zone. The World Cinema Audience Award: Dramatic was presented to AN EDUCATION, the latest film from Danish director Lone Scherfig. With a script by Nick Hornby, the crowd-pleasing film is set in the early 1960s and tells the tale of a sharp 16-year-old whose hook up with a handsome older man sidetracks both her and her parents.

The World Cinema Screenwriting Award was presented to FIVE MINUTES OF HEAVEN (United Kingdom/Ireland), directed by Oliver Hirschbiegel from a screenplay by Guy Hibbert.

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