‘Robot & Frank,’ Lucy Walker, International Directors Win Sundance Awards

Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, Women in Film, NHK International and Mahindra Global all give awards at film festival

The Sundance Film Festival will announce its main awards on Saturday night – but in the meantime, the festival has given awards to several other films, from the new Sony Pictures Worldwide Acquisitions/Samuel Goldwyn Films acquisition "Robot & Frank" to a number of international and short films.

A roundup:

The Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prizes, which go to films that "explore science and technology themes or that depict scientists, engineers and mathematicians in engaging and innovative ways," were awarded to "Robot & Frank" and "Valley of Saints." The two films will split a $20,000 cash award, which is funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.

Robot & Frank"Robot & Frank," directed by Jake Schreier, stars Frank Langella as a grumpy old man whose children install a robot as his caretaker.

"Valley of Saints," written and directed by Musa Syeed, is set is Kashmir and deals with the relationship between a local determined to flee his ravaged village and a young scientist investigating the area's ecology.

Past winners of the award include Mike Cahill's and Brit Marling's "Another Earth" and Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man."

The Sundance Institute/Alfred P. Sloan Commissioning Grant, which is presented through the Sundance Institute Feature Film Program, went to "Flood," in which writer/director Katy Scoggin deals with a daughter's attempts to "bring her creationist dad down to earth," in the words of the Sundance press release.

The Sundance Institute/Alfred P. Sloan Lab Fellowship went to "Operator," director Logan Kibens' so-called existential comedy about "a programmer … hired to create the ideal personality for an automated call center."

In other Sundance awards, the 2012 Sundance/NHK International Filmmaker Award went to Jens Assur, a director whose upcoming film is entitled "Close Far Away."  The award is designed to support a filmmaker for his or her next film; among the projects previously supported by the award are this year's Sundance breakout, "Beasts of the Southern Wild."

Assur has a short film, "Killing the Chickens to Save the Monkeys," screening at this year's Sundance.

Another internationally-oriented prize, the Sundance Institute/Mahindra Global Filmmaking Award, went to four filmmakers from South Africa, Australia, Chile and India. A collaboration between the India-based Mahindra Group and the Sundance Institute, the awards are designed to support emerging filmmakers from around the world.

The winners, who will receive $10,000 cash awards and mentoring and support from the Sundance Institute, were Etienne Kallos for "Vrystaat" ("Free State") from South Africa, Ariel Kleiman for "Partisan" from Australia, Dominga Sotomayor for "Too Late to Die Young" from Chile, and Shonali Bose for "Margarita. With a Straw" from India.

And Lucy Walker, who won a jury prize for her short documentary "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom," was also given the Women in Film/National Geographic All Roads Film Grant, a $5,000 grant that also brings with it scheduling and budgeting software. The award goes to a female documentary filmmaker at Sundance.

A second $5,000 award for a female director, the Women in Film/CalmDown Productions Grant, went to Anna Musso, the director of "L Train." The award also includes 5,000 feet of film stock from Eastman Kodak, software and budgeting software from Entertainment Partners and HD film telecine dailies from Technicolor.