‘In the Summers’ and ‘Porcelain War’ win top prizes at Sundance Film Festival

Jan 26, 2024, 1:17 PM | Updated: 1:26 pm

A still from "In The Summers" by Alessandra Lacorazza, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic C...

A still from "In The Summers" by Alessandra Lacorazza, an official selection of the U.S. Dramatic Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival and winner of the Grand Jury prize. (Sundance Institute)

(Sundance Institute)

“In the Summers,” an affecting, years-spanning drama about a complicated parent-children relationship, nabbed the Grand Jury prize at the 40th Sundance Film Festival, while the top honor for documentary went to “Porcelain War,” about a Ukrainian couple who craft fragile, intricately painted ceramics while war rages around them.

Those two awards, announced Friday in Park City, Utah, both honored directorial debuts. “In the Summers,” written and directed by Alessandra Lacorazza, poetically follows an imperfect father and his daughters over nearly two decades. Lacorazza also won for directing.

“Porcelain War” is a documentary film about two Ukrainian artists living in the midst of an invasion of their nation. (Sundance Institute)

“To the queers, to the Latin, to the immigrants, this is for you,” said Lacorazza, a Colombian American filmmaker whose film is set in Las Cruces, New Mexico.

“Porcelain War,” which follows last year’s “20 Days in Mariupol” as a Sundance documentary prize-winner that captures the war in Ukraine, was made by Brendan Bellomo and Slava Leontyev.

“This award is because of the bravery of the people of Ukraine,” said Bellomo. “And this award is for the beauty of the people of Ukraine.”

“Sujo,” about an orphaned boy trying to escape the grip of Mexican cartel violence, took the Grand Jury prize for world dramatic cinema. “A New Kind of Wilderness,” about a Norwegian family living off the grid, won the jury award for world documentary.

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The Festival Award, voted on by Sundance audiences, went to “Daughters,” Natalie Rae and Angela Patton’s moving documentary following four girls as they prepare for a special daddy-daughter dance with their imprisoned fathers. “Daughters” also won the audience award for U.S. documentary.

Sean Wang’s “Dìdi,” a coming-of-age film about a 13-year-old Taiwanese American boy, took the audience award for U.S. dramatic film. “Dìdi” also won a juried award for its ensemble.

Mats Steen appears in “Ibelin” by Benjamin Ree, an official selection of the World Documentary Competition at the 2024 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute. (Bjørg Engdahl)

“Ibelin,” which was acquired by Netflix out of Sundance, won the audience award for world cinema documentary and a juried award for Benjamin Ree’s direction. The film follows the story of Mats Steen, a Norwegian who died of a degenerative muscular disease at the age of 25. Only after his death did his parents discover how widely known and celebrated Steen was online for his personal blog and via World of Warcraft.

“Girls Will Be Girls,” about a Himalayan boarding school, won the audience award for world cinema drama. The Darren Aronofsky-produced “Little Death,” starring David Schwimmer as a TV writer, won the NEXT Innovator award. The NEXT audience award winner was the Irish drama “Kneecap,” about a Belfast rap trio, co-starring Michael Fassbender.

Award winners are available to stream on the festival’s website through the close of Sundance on Sunday.

With an opening weekend loaded with celebrities, Utah’s Sundance fest moves toward second half

Sundance winners often go on to be some of the most acclaimed films of the year. Last year’s festival produced Celine Song’s “Past Lives,” nominated for best picture and best screenplay on Tuesday by the Academy Awards. Other Sundance titles to reach the Oscars include 2022 best picture-winner “CODA,””Summer Of Soul (…Or, When The Revolution Could Not Be Televised)” and “Minari.”

The 40th edition brought high-profile films including Jesse Eisenberg’s well-received “A Real Pain,” starring him and Kieran Culkin; the Will Ferrell, Harper Steele road trip “Will & Harper”; and the emotional documentary “Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story.”

This year, “A Real Pain,” which also picked up a screenwriting award for Eisenberg, was among the top sales, selling for $10 million to Searchlight Pictures. Neon acquired Steven Soderbergh’s ghost story “Presence.” And the buzzy horror thriller “It’s What’s Inside” sold to Netflix for $17 million.

Sundance Film Festival names top 10 films from its 40-year Utah history

For more coverage of the 2024 Sundance Film Festival, visit https://apnews.com/hub/sundance-film-festival

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‘In the Summers’ and ‘Porcelain War’ win top prizes at Sundance Film Festival