"Beasts," "The House I Live In" win top awards at Sundance

Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:17am EST
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By Christine Kearney

PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - "Beasts of the Southern Wild" and "The House I Live In" won the top awards at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday, making them likely favorites for independent movie audiences in 2012.

Directed by Benh Zeitlin and set in impoverished Louisiana, "Beasts of the Southern Wild" picked up the jury prize for best drama as well as best cinematography with its poetic tale of the bond between a father and a daughter.

The documentary winner, "The House I Live In," was one of many documentaries at Sundance 2012 that looked at a struggling America at Sundance 2012. It is an examination of America's long war on drugs and critiques of U.S. drug policies, its court system, prisons and their impact on minorities.

"The war on drugs is a terrible scar on America," said director Eugene Jarecki.

Special juries of industry professionals vote on winners, and those are considered the top prizes but audiences also vote for their favorites.

"The Surrogate," which stars Helen Hunt and John Hawkes and is about a man's quest to lose his virginity while mostly confined to an iron lung, won the Audience Award for best drama.

The film, based on the life of poet and journalist Mark O'Brien, fetched one of the highest selling prices at the festival -- a reported $6 million -- and with its mix of comedy and drama could turn out to be one of the bigger U.S. indie hits in cinemas to come out of the festival.

"Love is a journey, that's it," said director Ben Lewin when accepting his trophy, quoting a line from the film.   Continued...

<p>A general view of Main Street during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah January 23, 2012. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni</p>