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2 New Oscar Nominees Win Sundance Shorts Awards

Lucy Walker’s ”The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom“ and Grant Orchard’s ”A Morning Stroll“ awarded by Sundance jury

Lucy Walker's short documentary "The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom" (photo below) and Grant Orchard's animated short "A Morning Stroll" began Tuesday as new Oscar nominees, and they ended it as winners in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival's juried shorts competition.

The two films, which were nominated for Academy Awards in the Documentary Short and Animated Short categories, were among the seven films singled out by the Sundance jury, which was made up of "Beavis and Butthead" creator Mike Judge, "Pariah" writer-director Dee Rees, and the Toronto International Film Festival's director of public programmes Shane Smith.

The Tsunami and the Cherry BlossomThe big winner among the Sundance shorts was "Fishing Without Nets," a film about Somalian pirates. “By approaching a story of epic scope with an intimate perspective, this visually stunning film creates a rare, inside point of view that humanizes a global story,” said the jury in its citation.

The winners were chosen from among 64 shorts that screened at Sundance; those shorts were drawn from a record 7,675 submissions.

The awards were handed out at a Tuesday evening ceremony in Park City. The winners will also be recognized at Sundance's closing-day awards ceremony on Saturday.

The awards, with a description from the Sundance press release:

Jury Prize in Short Filmmaking:
"Fishing Without Nets"/ U.S.A. (Director: Cutter Hodierne, Screenwriters: Cutter Hodierne, John Hibey) — A story of pirates in Somalia, told from the perspective of the pirates themselves.

Jury Prize in Short Film, U.S. Fiction:
"The Black Balloon"/ U.S.A. (Directors: Benny Safdie, Josh Safdie) — The Black Balloon strays from the herd and experiences what life as an individual is like. He explores New York City in the deepest way, seeing all of its characters.

Jury Prize in Short Film, International Fiction:
"The Return (Kthimi)"/ Kosovo (Director: Blerta Zeqiri, Screenwriter: Shefqet Gjocaj) — A man comes back from a Serb prison to his wife and son. Much has changed since he was declared missing and continuing where they left off four years ago may not be as easy as it seems.

Jury Prize in Short Film, Non-Fiction:
"The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom"/ U.S.A. (Director: Lucy Walker) — Survivors in the areas hardest hit by Japan's recent tsunami find the courage to revive and rebuild as cherry blossom season begins. A visual haiku about the ephemeral nature of life and the healing power of Japan's most beloved flower.

Jury Prize in Animated Short Film:
"A Morning Stroll" /United Kingdom (Director: Grant Orchard) — When a New Yorker walks past a chicken on his morning stroll, we are left to wonder which one is the real city slicker.

Special Jury Award for Comedic Storytelling:
"The Arm"/ U.S.A. (Directors and screenwriters: Brie Larson, Sarah Ramos, Jessie Ennis) — In an attempt to keep up with social pressure in a technologically advanced world, Chance starts a texting relationship with Genevieve, a girl he meets at a yogurt shop.

Special Jury Award for Animation Direction:
"Robots of Brixton"/ United Kingdom (Director: Kibwe Tavares) — The trials and tribulations of young robots surviving at the sharp end of inner city life, living the predictable existence of a populous hemmed in by poverty, disillusionment and mass unemployment.