LOS ANGELES – “The Miseducation of Cameron Post,” a powerful drama about the real-life controversial practice of gay conversion therapy, came away with the top prize as the Sundance Film Festival wrapped Saturday.
Starring Chloe Grace Moretz, it delighted and shocked audiences at its world premiere in the Utah mountains with its story of a teenage girl forced into therapy after being caught having a sexual encounter with the prom queen.
“On behalf of the entire ‘Cameron Post’ team we want to dedicate this to the LGBTQ survivors of sexual conversion therapy,” said Moretz.
“We just wanted to make this movie to shine a light onto the fact that it is only illegal in nine states out of the 50 states in this country to practice sexual conversion therapy.”
Its director, Desiree Akhavan, had pre-recorded an acceptance speech for the grand jury prize in Sundance’s “U.S. dramatic competition” section but it could not be played on a night beset by technical difficulties.
“Kailash,” about one man’s crusade to end child slavery, won best U.S. documentary while the U.S. dramatic audience award — the second prize to the grand jury award — went to Andrew Heckler’s “Burden.”
The U.S. documentary directing prize went to Alexandria Bombach for “On Her Shoulders,” — a portrait of a Yazidi girl who survived sexual slavery at the hands of the Islamic State group — while the U.S. documentary audience award went to “The Sentence.”
“Butterflies” came away with the grand jury prize for world drama while “Of Fathers and Sons,” a study of jihadi radicalization in the home, from celebrated Syrian filmmaker Talal Derki, won the world cinema documentary competition.
The Sundance Film Festival, founded by actor Robert Redford, is considered a showcase for independent and documentary films, and festival winners often go on to receive critical acclaim and Hollywood awards season glory.
Among the titles from the 2017 edition of the festival picking up trophies at Hollywood’s various ceremonies are Jordan Peele’s “Get Out,” which played out of competition as a midnight screening.
The dark comedy has four Oscar nominations, including best film, director and screenplay.
“Call Me by Your Name,” which director Luca Guadagnino took to last year’s Sundance, also has four Oscar nominations, including best picture.
Dee Rees’s “Mudbound,” picked up by Netflix for a considerable $12.5 million at last year’s festival, has Academy nods for adapted screenplay, supporting actress, cinematography and original song.
“I love really how the entire community here at the festival is curious, adventurous and so eager to engage with one another in the dialogue,” said Sundance Institute executive Keri Putnam.
“But it all starts with the work. It’s the work we see on the screens coming from such fresh, creative and independent perspectives.”
The full list of prizewinners:
Grand Jury Prize: “The Miseducation of Cameron Post”
Audience Award: “Burden”
Directing: Sara Colangelo, “The Kindergarten Teacher”
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Christina Choe, “Nancy”
Special Jury Award for Outstanding First Feature: Reinaldo Marcus Green, “Monsters and Men”
Special Jury Award for Excellence in Filmmaking: Reed Morano, “I Think We’re Alone Now”
Special Jury Award for Acting: Benjamin Dickey, “Blaze”
Grand Jury Prize: “Kailash”
Audience Award: “The Sentence”
Directing: Alexandria Bombach, “On Her Shoulders”
Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking: “Crime + Punishment”
Special Jury Award for Creative Vision: “Hale County This Morning, This Evening”
Special Jury Award for Storytelling: “Three Identical Strangers”
Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Filmmaking: “Minding the Gap”
World cinema drama
Grand Jury Prize: “Butterflies”
Audience Award: “The Guilty”
Directing Award: Isold Uggadottir, “And Breathe Normally”
Special Jury Award for Acting: Valeria Bertuccelli, “The Queen of Fear”
Special Jury Award for Screenwriting: Julio Chavezmontes and Sebastian Hofmann, “Time Share”
Special Jury Award for Ensemble Acting: “Dead Pigs”
World cinema documentary
Grand Jury Prize: “Of Fathers and Sons”
Audience Award: “This is Home”
Directing Award: Sandi Tan, “Shirkers”
Special Jury Award for Masterful Storytelling: Steven Loveridge, “M.I.A.”
Special Jury Award for Editing: “Our New President”
Special Jury Award for Cinematography: Maxim Arbugaev, Peter Indergand “Genesis 2.0”