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As the 2009 Sundance Film Festival comes to a close, it is time as always for the Juries and Audiences to recognize the best of this year’s festival. It’s not as exciting as my forthcoming ‘Best of Sundance’ article, but it is apparently more prestigious. This evening at the Racquet Club in Park City, the directors of the Sundance Institute welcomed attendees to the 25th annual awards. According to IndieWire, Sundance Institute Exec. Director Ken Brechar began the festival with comments about one of the most buzzed events at the festival, one that happened thousands of miles away. “When we began this festival, George Bush was the President of the United States and we ended it with Barack Obama,” Brecher said, eliciting cheers from the crowd. He then held up a special festival badge recognizing President Obama as the honorary head of this year’s jury.

Political talk aside — and who can blame them, the inauguration was sort of a big thing — the festival awards recognized a very diverse range of films. Taking home the U.S. Dramatic Audience Award went to Lee Daniels’ Push: Based on a novel by Sapphire, a courageous story about a young impoverished woman trapped in a world of ignorance and depression. In a surprising turn, the film also won this year’s Dramatic Grand Jury Prize. This one has been receiving crazy buzz all festival long — personally I’m excited to see it tomorrow during the awards screenings. Lone Scherfig’s An Education won the World Cinema Audience Award. While my own review is still in the works, I will give you a quick preview: it is more than deserving of its award.

Also among the big winners was Louie Psihoyos’ dolphin documentary The Cove, which took home the U.S. Documentary Audience Award, as well as Ondi Timoner’s We Live in Public, which took home the Documentary Grand Jury Prize by telling the story of internet pioneer Josh Harris. I’ve been told that it is a must see for anyone who spends time on the web.

The complete list of winners:

Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic:
Push: Based on a novel by Sapphire,” Lee Daniels.

Grand Jury Prize, Documentary:
We Live In Public,” directed by Ondi Timoner

World Cinema Jury Prize, Dramatic:
The Maid,” directed by Sebastian Silva

World Cinema Jury Prize, Documentary:
Rough Aunties,” directed by Kim Longinotto

Audience Award, Dramatic:
Push: Based on the novel by Sapphire,” directed by Lee Daniels.

Audience Award, Documentary:
The Cove,” directed by Louise Psihoyos

World Cinema Audience Award, Dramatic:
An Education,” directed by Lone Scherfig-

World Cinema Audience Award, Documentary:
Afghan Star,” directed by Havana Marking

U.S. Special Jury Prize, Dramatic:
Mo’Nique, for acting in “Push: Based in a novel by Sapphire”

U.S. Special Jury Prize, Dramatic:
Humpday,” directed by Lynn Shelton, “for its independent spirit.”

U.S. Documentary Special Jury Prize, Documentary:
Good Hair,” directed by Jeff Stilson

World Cinema Special Jury Prize, Dramatic:
Catalina Saavedra for her performance in “The Maid”

World Cinema Special Jury Prize, Dramatic:
Louise-Michel,” directed by Benoit Delepine and Gustave de Kervern, for its “originality”

World Cinema Special Jury Prize, Documentary:
Tibet in Song,” directed by Ngawang Choephel

Excellence in Directing, U.S. Dramatic:
Cary Joji Fukunaga, “Sin Nombre”

Excellence in Directing, U.S. Documentary:
-Natalia Almada, “El General”

Excellence in Directing, World Dramatic:
Oliver Hirschbiegel, “Five Minutes of Heaven”

Excellence in Directing, World Documentary:
Havana Marking, “Afghan Star”

Excellence in Cinematography, U.S. Dramatic:
Adriano Goldman, “Sin Nombre”

Excellence in Cinematography, U.S. Documentary:
Bob Richman, “The September Issue”

Excellence in Cinematography, World Dramatic:
John De Borman, “An Education”

Excellence in Cinematography, World Documentary:
John Maringouin, “Big River Man”

Excellence in Editing, U.S. Documentary:
-Karen Schmeer, “Sergio”

Excellence in Editing, World Documentary:
Janus Billeskov, “Big River Man”

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award:
Nicholas Jasenovec and Charlyne Yi for “Paper Heart”

World Cinema Screenwriting Award:
Guy Hibbert, “Five Minutes of Heaven”

The Alfred P. Sloan Prize For a Feature Film:
Adam,” directed by Max Mayer.

Sundance/NHK International Filmmakers Awards
Diego Lerman, “Ciencias Morales” (Moral Sciences)
David Riker, “The Girl”
Qurata Kenji, “Speed Girl”
Lucile Hadzihalilovic, “Evolution”

Jury Prize in International Short Filmmaking:
Lies,” directed by Jonas Odell.

Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking:
Short Term 12,” directed by Destin Daniel Cretton.


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