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Fruitvale nabs audience and grand jury prize at Sundance (2013)


Story by Jack Foley

FRUITVALE, a film based on the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant by police in Oakland, has won both the audience and grand jury prize at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival.

Directed by 26-year-old Ryan Coogler and produced by Oscar-winning actor Forest Whitaker, the film stars Michael B. Jordan and follows the 22-year-old Bay Area resident as he crosses paths with friends, enemies, family and strangers on the last day of 2008.

Welcoming the prize, Coogler said of the film: “It’s about how we treat people we love the most, and how we treat the people we don’t know.”

Of the prize, he added: “To get this award means it had a profound impact on the audiences who saw it.”

Other notable winners at this year’s Sundance included Steve Hoover’s Blood Brother, which also scored a double success by picking up the audience award and grand jury prize prize for a documentary.

The documentary follows a young man named Rocky Braat as he assists HIV-positive children in India. It was directed by Steve Hoover.

Jill Soloway took the directing award in the drama category for her Silverlake-set marriage drama Afternoon Delight.

And a special jury award for acting was given jointly to Shailene Woodley and Miles Teller for The Spectacular Now.

Two special jury awards were given to two more documentaries. The first was Jacob Kornbluth’s Inequality for All, which examines the wealth gap in America and features former Secretary of Labor Robert Reich, while the second was Joe Brewster and Michele Stephenson’s American Promise, which follows two African American boys over 12 years as they attend very different schools.

The World Cinema Jury Prize (dramatic) went to Muel O’s Jiseul, which examines the Jeju Island massacre in Korea in 1948, while the audience award went to Sean Ellis’ futuristic drama Metro Manila, which follows a man who finds dubious work in the Philippine city.

This year’s awards ceremonytook place just north of Park City at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse at Kimball Junction and was hosted by actor Joseph Gordon-Levitt, whose own directorial debut, Don Jon’s Addiction, received its premiere at the festival.

Opening the ceremony, he spoke about the importance of Sundance to his awareness of independent film as a young man.

“This isn’t basketball. This is the movies. There are no winners and losers,” he said.

Film fans in the UK – and London in particular – will be able to see some of the films featured at this year’s festival when Sundance London returns to the O2 Arena between April 25-28, 2013. Tickets are now available from the Sundance London website.