Austrian filmmaker Hubert Sauper picked up the top gong at Sundance for Epicentro, his intensely cinematic portrait of Cuba 100 years after the attack on USS Maine in Havana.
Commented producer Martin Marquet: “Epicentro being honored at Sundance is a meaningful event that goes beyond just Hubert, myself and our filmmaking team. It means that this kind of movie still has a lot of currency in today’s entertainment landscape of rapidly-produced content. There is still care to celebrate and promote films by filmmakers who work in the nonfiction space depicting raw realities and creating immersive and memorable cinematic experiences.”
Jerry Rothwell’s The Reason I Jump, based on Naoki Higashida’s book about his experiences as a non-speaking autistic person, written when he was just 13, picked up the section’s Audience Award, while Benjamin Ree’s The Painter and the Thief, about a painter who befriends a thief who stole her painting, won the Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling.
Speaking to Business Doc Europe in January 2020 Jerry Rothwell stressed his hopes for The Reason I Jump. “I guess what I would like the film to do is to enable us to rethink the way that non-speakers are seen – in the autism trade they call this ‘assuming confidence’, ie assuming that people understand you. If we do that, it potentially opens up many more opportunities for people in terms of education and employment. That would be my hope.”
Director Ree commented of The Painter and the Thief before Sundance: “Robbers are kind of low culture in all their aspects, and paintings and art are high culture, so there is a contrast here that fascinated me.”
The Directing Award went to Iryna Tsilyk for The Earth is Blue as an Orange. In the documentary, to cope with the daily trauma of living in a war zone, Anna and her children make a film together about their life among surreal surroundings.
Micrea Topoleanu, Radu Ciorniciuc won the Special Jury Award for Cinematography for Acasa, My Home. In the wilderness of the Bucharest Delta, nine children and their parents lived in perfect harmony with nature for 20 years–until they are chased out and forced to adapt to life in the big city.
The Special Jury Award for Editing was won by Mila Aung Thwin, Sam Soko, Ryan Mullins for Softie. In the doc, Boniface Mwangi is daring and audacious, and recognized as Kenya’s most provocative photojournalist. But as a father of three young children, these qualities create tremendous turmoil between him and his wife Njeri. When he wants to run for political office, he is forced to choose: country or family?