"Fruitvale," "Blood Brothers" win top awards at Sundance

Sat Jan 26, 2013 11:40pm EST
 

By Piya Sinha-Roy

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - Drama film "Fruitvale" and documentary "Blood Brothers" won the top awards at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, giving them a big boost to reach independent movie audiences this year.

"Fruitvale," starring Octavia Spencer and Michael B. Jordan and directed by 26-year-old, first-time filmmaker Ryan Coogler," picked up the U.S. drama jury and audience awards for its "moral and social urgency."

The film is based on the true story of 22-year-old Oscar Grant, who was killed by police in Oakland, California, on New Year's Eve in 2008 and whose death sparked riots against police brutality. Movie studio The Weinstein Company purchased distribution rights for the film.

"This film had a profound impact on the audience that saw it ... this award goes out to my home in the Bay Area where Oscar Grant breathed, slept, loved, had fun and survived for 22 years," Coogler said in his acceptance speech.

Oscar-winning documentarian Davis Guggenheim awarded the U.S. documentary jury prize to "Blood Brothers," saying it shook the voting panel to their core.

The documentary follows an American man who moves to Africa and works with children suffering from HIV at an orphanage, and through his work, the children gain a voice.

"It is so encouraging for the kids ... their lives are so encouraging, and they die and no one remembers their name ... To take their story so that everyone sees it, it's so awesome," director Steve Hoover said."

Young actress Shailene Woodley, praised for her performance in "The Descendants" last year, and her co-star Miles Teller won the Special Jury acting prize in "The Spectacular Now."   Continued...

 
Octavia Spencer arrives for the gala presentation of the film "Smashed" at the 37th Toronto International Film Festival, September 12, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch