Sundance Film Festival Award Winners 2016: Proof The Birth of a Nation Is a Next Must-See Movie

Sundance Film Festival Award Winners 2016: Proof <em>The Birth of a Nation</em> Is a Next Must-See Movie
Kim Raff
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The SAG Awards weren’t the only award show happening last night (Jan. 30). Just a few hours east of Hollywood in Park City, Utah, the Sundance Film Festival announced its list of 2016 winners after 10 days of screenings, events, premieres, and panels. Nate Parker’s drama about Nat Turner’s 19th-century slave rebellion, The Birth of a Nation, emerged as the fest’s biggest champion, taking home both the U.S. Dramatic Competition’s Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award.

This is the fourth year in a row that the winner of the Grand Jury Prize also took the Audience Award, which is indicative of the kind of success it will have in the market— 2015 was Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, 2014 was Whiplash, and 2013 was Fruitvale.

But this win is a record-setter, too. Just several days before the winners were even announced, The Birth of a Nation scored a $17.5 million-dollar deal for distribution rights with Fox Searchlight, the highest deal ever made in Sundance history. That means there is some real box office power and award season potential that could be behind this film. It hasn’t even hit theaters yet, and it’s already a bonafide must-see.

Elliot Davis

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No one is more thrilled about its early success than Parker himself, who both directed, co-wrote and starred in the film. “I’ve seen first-hand that people are open to the idea of change, and the fact that this is happening means everything to me,” he said while accepting his honors. Later, on his Instagram, he called the wins “surreal.” With this kind of early buzz, expect to see lots more about The Birth of a Nation throughout 2016 and into the 2017 awards season.

Scroll down to see the complete list of winners from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

U.S. DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Grand Jury Prize
“The Birth of a Nation”

Audience Award
“The Birth of a Nation”

Directing
Daniel Scheinart and Daniel Kwan, “Swiss Army Man”

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award
Chad Hartigan, “Morris From America”

Special Jury Award
Miles Joris-Peyrafitte, “As You Are”

Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Performance
Joe Seo, “Spa Night”

Special Jury Award for Individual Performance
Markees Christmas, “Morris From America”

Special Jury Award for Individual Performance
Melanie Lynskey, “The Intervention”

U.S. DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Grand Jury Prize
“Weiner” (airs on Showtime this fall after its theatrical release through IFC Sundance Selects on May 20)

Audience Award
“Jim: The James Foley Story”

Directing Award
Roger Ross Williams, “Life, Animated”

Special Jury Award for Editing
Penny Lane and Thom Stylinski, “NUTS!”

Special Jury Award for Social Impact
Dawn Porter, “Trapped”

Special Jury Award for Writing
Robert Greene, “Kate Plays Christine”

Special Jury Award for Verite Filmmaking
Keith Fulton and Lou Pepe, “The Bad Kids”

WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Grand Jury Prize
“Sand Storm”

Audience Award
“Between Sea and Land”

Directing Award
Felix van Groeningen, “Belgica”

Screenwriting
Ana Katz and Ines Bortagaray, “Mi amiga del parque”

Special Jury Award for Acting
Vicky Hernandez and Manolo Cruz, “Between Sea and Land”

Special Jury Award for Unique Vision and Design
Agnieszka Smoczynska, “The Lure”

WORLD CINEMA DOCUMENTARY COMPETITION

Grand Jury Prize
“Sonita”

Audience Award
“Sonita”

Directing Award
Michal Marczak, “All These Sleepless Nights”

Special Jury Award for Editing
Mako Kamitsuna and John Maringouin, “We Are X”

Special Jury Award for Cinematography
Pieter-Jan De Pue, “The Land of the Enlightened”

Special Jury Award for Debut Feature
Heidi Brandenburg and Mathew Orzel, “When Two Worlds Collide”

OTHER AWARDS

Next Audience Award
“First Girl I Loved”

Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize
“Embrace of the Serpent”

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