Sundance juror awards are untrustworthy in that every year there’s always one or two “huh?” calls. This is partly due to a long-established tendency of Sundance jurors to select recipients for inside-the-beltway political reasons, and partly due to the film festival aesthetic that tends to honor films that are nourishing (in the same way that boiled squash is nourishing) but not necessarily riveting or transcendent.
This isn’t to say the 2007 Sundance Film Festival Award Winners are neces- sarily suspect; only that the Grand Jury awards rarely deliver ground-truth appraisals like the Audience Awards do.
Hence, the two Sundance award winners most likely to enjoy good relations with the outside world (i.e., actually play in theatres with paying, popcorn-eating customers) are James C. Strouse‘s Grace is Gone, which won the Dramatic Audience Award, and John Carney‘s Once, which took the Dramatic World Cinema Audience Award.
Less likely to encounter Average Joe audiences are Irene Taylor‘s Hear and Now, which won the Audience Award: Documentary, and David Sington‘s In The Shadow of the Moon, although I heard excellent things about the latter. Something tells me I won’t be seeing until it it hits DVD; I’d love to somehow see it sooner.
The winners of the Grand Jury prizes, selected by courtly elites with culturally ingrown tastes, are the least likely of all to reach any kind of marginal, much less sizable, audience. Sounds hard, but that’s how it usually shakes down.
The Grand Jury Prize: Documentary was given to Jason Kohn‘s Manda Balat (Send A Bullet), which two people told me to see during the festival. (In one ear, out the other.) The Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic went to Christopher Zalla‘s Padre Nuestro. Eva Mulvad and Anja Al Erhayem‘s Enemies of Happiness won the World Cinema Jury Prize: Documentary. And Dror Shaul’s Sweet Mud was given the World Cinema Jury Prize: Dramatic.