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Beasts of the Southern Wild wins Sundance top prize

Beasts of the Southern Wild

Story by Jack Foley

BEASTS of the Southern Wild, a film about one young girl’s attempt to save her ailing father and sinking home, has won the grand jury prize for drama at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival.

Directed by Benh Zeitlin, the film follows a father and daughter (named Hushpuppy) in impoverished Louisiana, and exists in its own alternative universe that includes prehistoric creatures called aurochs.

It was the subject of a furious bidding war earlier in the week, with Fox Searchlight winning US distribution rights.

Another big Sundance winner also acquired by Fox Searchlight, which has previously championed the likes of Little Miss Sunshine and Slumdog Millionaire, was The Surrogate, which won two awards: the audience award and a special jury prize for its ensemble cast, which includes Helen Hunt, William H Macy and John Hawkes (in the lead role).

The film, directed by Ben Lewin, is based on the true story of a paralysed 38-year-old man who sets out to lose his virginity. It routinely won standing ovations at the festival.

Commenting after the awards ceremony, Lewin told the BBC that he felt its success was in part down to the fact that few people had seen the story on the screen before.

Other awards went to The House I Live In, a critique of America’s war on drugs, which won the grand jury documentary prize.

And The Invisible War, a film about rape in the US military, won the US documentary audience award.

Searching for Sugar Man, a Swedish and British collaboration, was the audience pick for World documentary, as well as picking up a special jury prize, and Britain’s David Raedeker won the world cinema cinematographer award for My Brother The Devil.

Next awards story: John Hurt to receive lifetime BAFTA