2000 Sundance Film Festival Update #7: "Final Thoughts"

Commentary by James Berardinelli
January 30, 2000

Another January over, another Sundance Film Festival behind me. In what hopefully is not a trend for the year in movies, there was too little to cheer about at the festival, and the generally limp roster of titles available in Park City represents the weakest group in years. Both the high points and the low points were lower than usual, and the single word that best describes the 2000 edition of Sundance is "mediocre." The dramatic competition was weak, and, although I didn't see everything playing in that category, only one title, Girlfight, struck me as award-worthy, and there was no buzz to speak of about any of the 16 entries. And some of the shorts paired with the features on the program were simply awful.

In brief, here are some thoughts on a few other films:

As far as my final assessments go: Finally, for anyone who hasn't seen them elsewhere, here's the list of the winners:

Grand Jury Prize, Dramatic Film: (TIE) Girlfight, directed by Karyn Kusama; You Can Count On Me, directed by Kenneth Lonergan
Grand Jury Prize, Documentary: Long Night's Journey Into Day, Frances Reid and Deborah Hoffmann
Audience Award, Dramatic Film: Two Family House, directed by Raymond DeFelitta
Audience Award, Documentary: Dark Days, directed by Marc Singer
Audience Award, World Cinema: Saving Grace, directed by Nigel Cole
Directing Award, Dramatic Film: Girlfight, directed by Karyn Kusama
Directing Award, Documentary: Paragraph 175, directed by Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman
Filmmakers Trophy, Dramatic Film: Smoke Signals, directed by Chris Eyre
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: You Can Count on Me, screenplay by Kenneth Lonergan
Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Ensemble Performance: Songcatcher, featuring Janet McTeer, Aidan Quinn, Pat Carroll, Jane Adams, Gregory Cook, Iris Dement
Special Jury Prize for Outstanding Performance: The Tao of Steve, featuring Donal Logue
Cinematography Award, Dramatic Film: Committed, cinematography by Tom Krueger
Cinematography Award, Documentary: (TIE) Americanos: Latino Life in the United States, cinematography by Andrew Young; Dark Days, cinematography by Marc Singer
Freedom of Expression Award: Dark Days, directed by Marc Singer
Special Jury Prize for Artistic Achievement, Documentary: The Ballad of Ramblin' Jack, directed by Aiyana Elliott
Special Jury Prize for Writing for Documentary: George Wallace: Settin' the Woods on Fire, written by Daniel McCabe, Paul Stekler, and Steve Fayer
Jury Prize in Latin America Cinema Award: (TIE) Herod's Law, directed by Luis Estrada; No One Writes to the Colonel, directed by Arturo Ripstein
Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking: Five Feet High and Rising, directed by Peter Sollett
[Honorable mention: G., directed by Rolf Gibbs; Titler, directed by Jonathan Bekemeier; The Drowning Room, directed by Reynold Reynolds and Patrick Jolley; This Is for Betsy Hall, directed by Hope Hall; Ice Fishing, directed by Alexandra Kondracke; Darling International, directed by Jennifer Todd Reeves and M. M. Serra; Friday, directed by directed by Jodi Gibson; hitch, directed by Bradley Rust Gray; The Bats, directed by Jim Trainor]

© 2000 James Berardinelli

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