NEW YORK >> The Korean-American family drama “Minari,” Lee Isaac Chung’s tender autobiographical tale about his upbringing in rural Arkansas, won two top honors at the Sundance Film Festival.
Awards for the annual festival for independent film were handed out Saturday night in Park City, Utah. “Minari,” starring Steven Yeun, had arguably been the biggest critical sensation at Sundance, earning raves for the immigrant drama set in 1980s Arkansas. It’s produced by Plan B Productions, with Brad Pitt as an executive producer; A24 will release it later this year.
The film snagged the U.S. dramatic grand jury prize and the dramatic audience award, voted on by festival audiences, at Sundance.
The top documentary prize went to Jesse Moss and Amanda McBaine’s “Boys State,” a portrait of the annual mock-government competition held in Texas with politically ambitious 17-year-old boys. The film reportedly fetched a record acquisition price for a documentary at Sundance, with A24 and Apple picking up “Boys State” for $12 million.
“Crip Camp,” a history of the disability rights movement as emanating from a summer camp in upstate New York, took the audience award for documentary. Nicole Newnham and Jim Lebrecht’s film, is a Netflix release backed by Barack and Michelle Obama’s Higher Ground Productions.
The juried awards are chosen by small panels of filmmakers and critics.
In stark contrast to Hollywood’s Oscars season, many of the directing awards went to women. Radha Blank won best director in the dramatic competition for her breakthrough debut “The 40-Year-Old Version.” The film, produced by Lena Waithe, is a black-and-white, semi-autobiographical tale about a New York playwright who turns to rapping.
The jury also gave special awards to Josephine Decker for her Shirley Jackson drama “Shirley,” for auteur filmmaking; and Eliza Hittman for her teen abortion drama “Never Rarely Sometimes Always,” for neorealism.
The award for documentary directing went to Garrett Bradley for “Time,” about a Louisiana activist’ years-long effort to get her husband released from a 60-year prison sentence.
During the awards, Sundance also announced Tabitha Jackson as its new director.