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Sundance Film Festival is a stage for American and international filmmakers to tell inspired reflective and diverse stories. The annual event hosted by the Sundance Institute is one of the industry’s most influential festivals. Although the annual winter fest is a way from the glaring lights of Hollywood, the stars shine bright in Salt Lake City. Some of the entertainment industry’s biggest celebrities and decision makers emerge to screen films, participate in panel discussions, party and check out the competition. One festival attendee describes the event as a “place for the story tellers to hear and be motivated by the story of others.” The film competition categories include Grand Jury Prizes, Festival Favorite Award, Audience Awards, Jury Awards for Directing, Editing, and Screenwriting, Special Jury Awards, NEXT Innovator Award and Short Film Awards. Past award winners’ success continued on to Oscar wins in varying categories-2021 Sundance Grand Jury and Audience Award went to “CODA” fast forward a year the movie wins Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Supporting Actor and Best Picture at the Academy Awards .

This year’s most distinguished Grand Jury Prize was awarded to “A Thousand and One”. A Focus Feature written and directed by A.V. Rockwell. The film set in the 90s in a tumultuous Harlem chronicles the story of an unhoused struggling mother that kidnaps her son from foster care to forge a new beginning. However, past decisions threaten their new life, stability and bond. The movie stars Teyana Taylor, Will Catlett, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney and Aaron Kingsley Adetola. Hillman Grad’s Lena Waithe and Rishi Rajani, Makeready’s Brad Weston, and Sight Unseen’s Eddie Vaisman and Julia Lebedev are producers. Makeready’s Negin Salmasi and Sight Unseen’s Oren Moverman and Rachel Jacobs serve as executive producers.

Jeremy O. Harris, a member of the three-person U.S. dramatic jury at Sundance, "Never have I seen a life so similar to my own rendered with such nuance and tenderness. I walked out of the theatre and wept in front of people I barely know because this film reached into my gut and pulled from it every emotion I've learned to mask in these spaces. As a jury we know how impossible it is to make work that is real, full of pain, and fearless in its rigorous commitment to emotional truth born of oppressive circumstances."

“Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project,” directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson, won U.S. Documentary Jury Prize. It examines the labor, life and legend of the iconic poet Nikki Giovanni. The film contains live readings from the poet and celebrates some of her most renowned work. “Kokomo City” won both prizes in Sundance’s NEXT section. The transformative film directed by singer-songwriter D. Smith explores the story of Trans sex workers. The no subject is off limits conversation provides the viewer with their POV on their sexual identity, safety on and off the clock, their clients, media/social commentary and lifestyle.

The 2023 Sundance Winners

Grand Jury Prizes

U.S. Dramatic Grand Jury Prize: A Thousand and One, directed by A.V. Rockwell

U.S. Documentary Grand Jury Prize: Going to Mars: The Nikki Giovanni Project, directed by Joe Brewster and Michèle Stephenson

World Cinema Dramatic Grand Jury Prize: Scrapper, directed by Charlotte Regan

World Cinema Documentary Grand Jury Prize: The Eternal Memory, directed by Maite Alberdi

Festival Favorite Award

Radical, directed by Christopher Zalla

Audience Awards

U.S. Dramatic Audience Award: The Persian Version, directed by Maryam Keshavarz

U.S. Documentary Audience Award: Beyond Utopia, directed by Madeleine Gavin

World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award: Shayda, directed by Noora Niasari

World Cinema Documentary Audience Award: 20 Days in Mariupol, directed by Mstyslav Chernov

NEXT Audience Award: KOKOMO CITY, directed by D. Smith

NEXT Innovator Award

KOKOMO CITY, directed by D. Smith

Jury Awards for Directing, Editing, and Screenwriting

U.S. Dramatic Directing Award: Sing J. Lee for The Accidental Getaway Driver

U.S. Documentary Directing Award: Luke Lorentzen for A Still Small Voice

World Cinema Dramatic Directing Award: Marija Kavtaradze for Slow

World Cinema Documentary Directing Award: Anna Hints for Smoke Sauna Sisterhood

U.S. Dramatic Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Maryam Keshavarz for The Persian Version

U.S. Documentary Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award: Daniela I. Quiroz for Going Varsity in Mariachi

Special Jury Awards

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Ensemble: The cast of Theater Camp

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Creative Vision: The creative team of Magazine Dreams

U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting: Lio Mehiel for Mutt

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Clarity of Vision: The Stroll, directed by Kristen Lovell & Zackary Drucker

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Freedom of Expression: Bad Press, directed by Rebecca Landsberry-Baker & Joe Peeler

World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Creative Vision: Fantastic Machine, directed by Axel Danielson and Maximilien Van Aertryck

World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Vérité Filmmaking: Against the Tide, directed by Sarvnik Kaur

World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Creative Vision: Animalia, directed by Sofia Alaoui

World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematography: Lílis Soares for Mami Wata

World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Performance: Rosa Marchant for When It Melts

Short Film Awards

Short Film Grand Jury Prize: When You Left Me on That Boulevard, directed by Kayla Abuda Galang

U.S. Fiction Short Film Jury Award: Rest Stop, directed by Crystal Kayiza

International Fiction Short Film Jury Award: The Kidnapping of the Bride, directed by Sophia Mocorrea

Animation Short Film Jury Award: The Flying Sailor, directed by Wendy Tilby and Amanda Forbis)

Nonfiction Short Film Jury Award: Will You Look at Me, directed by Shuli Huang

U.S Short Film Special Jury Award for Directing: The Vacation, directed by Jarreau Carrillo

International Short Film Special Jury Award for Directing: AliEN0089, directed by Valeria Hofmann

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