'The Believer' Wins at Sundance
By David Germain
AP Movie Writer
Saturday, Jan. 27, 2001; 11:30 p.m. EST PARK CITY, Utah "The Believer," a grimly intense tale of a Jewish neo-Nazi skinhead, won the grand jury prize, the top honor for dramas at the Sundance Film Festival.
Sundance jurors gave the documentary grand jury prize to "Southern Comfort," an intimate portrait of a dying female-to-male transsexual and his romance with a male-to-female transsexual.
Awards were presented Saturday night, with top winners screening one last time on Sunday as the 11-day independent-cinema showcase closed.
"Hedwig and the Angry Inch," a raucous musical adapted from the off-Broadway play about a rock singer struggling with her botched sex-change operation, won the dramatic audience award, chosen in balloting by Sundance movie-goers. "Hedwig" also won the dramatic directing award for John Cameron Mitchell, who stars in the title role.
The documentary audience award was split by two films: "Dogtown and Z-Boys," the story of a band of misfit skateboarders in Santa Monica, Calif., who pioneered extreme sports in the 1970s; and "Scout's Honor," director Tom Shepard's study of anti-gay policies in the Boy Scouts.
"Dogtown and Z-Boys" also won the documentary directing award for Stacy Peralta, a member of the original "Z-Boys." "Scout's Honor" also received Sundance's freedom of expression award.
Drama jurors at Sundance gave a special acting prize to Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson for their gripping performances in "In the Bedroom." Spacek and Wilkinson play parents struck by family tragedy, whose grief gives way to a desire for vengeance.
"The Believer," written and directed by Henry Bean, stars Ryan Gosling as a youth who militantly argues against conservative Jewish teachings as a boy and grows up hiding his heritage as he falls in with latter-day, anti-Semitic fascists. Even as he commits hate crimes and becomes an anti-Jewish rabble-rouser, the youth is torn between contempt for Jewish passivity during the Holocaust and reverence for the traditions of Judaism.
"Southern Comfort," directed by Kate Davis, traces the last year in the life of Robert Eads, a transsexual who died of ovarian cancer toward the end of the film shoot in 1999. The movie, much of which was shot by Davis working on her own with a handheld digital camera, chronicles Eads' budding romance with a transsexual named Lola Cola.
Among other Sundance awards:
The jury prize for short films was given to "Gina, An Actress, Age 29," a 20-minute movie directed by Paul Harrill.
The screenwriting prize went to Christopher Nolan for "Memento," a convoluted tale of a man unable to form new memories who is bent on revenge for the death of his wife. Guy Pearce, Carrie-Anne Moss and Joe Pantoliano star in the film, which also was directed by Nolan.
A special jury prize was awarded to "Children Underground," a documentary about children living in a Romanian subway station.
"The Road Home," a Chinese film from director Zhang Yimou, won the world-cinema audience award. The movie centers on a man's musings over his parents' courtship as he returns home for his father's funeral.
The Latin America cinema prize was shared by "Without a Trace," a Mexican road movie about a single mother and a smuggler of ancient art, and "Possible Loves," a Brazilian entry that tracks three alternate destinies for a man and woman. Sundance's Latin American panel also gave a special jury mention to "Coffin Joe: The Strange World of Jose Mojica Marins," a documentary about the obscure Brazilian horror director.
The documentary cinematography award was given to Albert Maysles for "Lalee's Kin: The Legacy of Cotton," a passionate examination of Deep South poverty. Giles Nuttgens won the dramatic cinematography award for "The Deep End," starring Tilda Swinton as a mother who goes to terrifying extremes to protect her son after he falls in with seedy characters.
© Copyright 2001 The Associated Press