Sundance 2017: Special Jury Awards for Cinematography

This year’s winners included three special jury prizes for the work of cinematographers.

David E. Williams

The jurors of the recently concluded 2017 Sundance Film Festival (SFF) in Park City, Utah, presented 27 prizes for feature filmmaking. The winners — listed in total here — included three special jury prizes for the work of cinematographers.

The SFF awards ceremony marked the culmination of the 2017 event, where 119 feature-length and 68 short films — selected from 13,782 submissions — were showcased.

This year’s jurors were director Diego Buñuel, actress Julie Goldman, documentarian Robert Greene, producer Susan Lacy, writer-producer Larry Wilmore, actor Gael García Bernal, actor Peter Dinklage, director Jody Hill, festival director Jacqueline Lyanga, production designer Jeannine Oppewall, producer Nai An, actress Sonia Braga, actress Athina Rachel Tsangari, festival director Carl Spence, screenwriter-festival director Marina Stavenhagen and filmmaker-artist Lynette Wallworth.

Of special note were these three awards for feature films:

A U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Cinematography was presented by Gael Garcia Bernal to:

Director of photography Daniel Landin, BSC for The Yellow Birds / U.S.A. (Director: Alexandre Moors, Screenwriters: David Lowery, R.F.I. Porto) — Two young men enlist in the army and are deployed to fight in the Iraq War. After an unthinkable tragedy, the returning soldier struggles to balance his promise of silence with the truth and a mourning mother’s search for peace. Cast: Tye Sheridan, Jack Huston, Alden Ehrenreich, Jason Patric, Toni Collette, Jennifer Aniston.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Excellence in Cinematography was presented by Marina Stavenhagen to:

Cinematographer Rodrigo Trejo Villanueva for Machines / India, Germany, Finland (Director: Rahul Jain) — This intimate, observant portrayal of the rhythm of life and work in a gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India, moves through the corridors and bowels of the enormously disorienting structure — taking the viewer on a journey of dehumanizing physical labor and intense hardship.

A World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Cinematography was presented by Athina Tsangari to:

Cinematographer Manu Dacosse for Axolotl Overkill / Germany (Director and screenwriter: Helene Hegemann) — Mifti, age 16, lives in Berlin with a cast of characters including her half-siblings; their rich, self-involved father; and her junkie friend Ophelia. As she mourns her recently deceased mother, she begins to develop an obsession with Alice, an enigmatic, and much older, white-collar criminal. Cast: Jasna Fritzi Bauer, Arly Jover, Mavie Hörbiger, Laura Tonke, Hans Löw, Bernhard Schütz.

In addition, a Short Film Special Jury Award for Cinematography was given to director of photography Chintan Rajbhandari for the Nepal, France production Dadyaa — The Woodpeckers of Rotha, directed and written by Pooja Gurung, Bibhusan Basnet).

The SFF awards ceremony was live-streamed; video is available at youtube.com/sff.

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