The narrative feature “CODA” and the documentary “Summer of Soul” swept the top categories at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, winning the Grand Jury Prizes and also taking the audience awards in the U.S. dramatic and documentary competitions.
“CODA,” director Sian Heder’s coming-of-age story in which Emilia Jones plays the only hearing member of a deaf family, also won an award for its ensemble, many of them deaf actors who performed in ASL. Its wins come three days after the film set a record for the largest sale in Sundance history, a $25 million deal with Apple.
“Summer of Soul (…Or, When the Revolution Could Not Be Televised),” which like “CODA” screened on the festival’s opening night, is a documentary by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson built around long-unseen concert footage from the 1969 Harlem Cultural Festival, a six-weekend event that first-time director Questlove uses as a launching pad to explore race relations and Black culture in that tumultuous time.
This is the third time that a dramatic film and a documentary have won the top audience and jury awards in the same year: it happened in 2006 with the narrative feature “Quinceanera” and the documentary “God Grew Tired of Us,” and in 2013 with the narrative feature “Fruitvale” (later retitled “Fruitvale Station”) and the documentary “Blood Brothers.”
Sundance believes this is the first time that two films have won the top three awards in their categories: the Grand Jury Prize, the Audience Award and the Directing Award. Both “CODA” and the international feature “Hive” did so this year, and both directors — Heder and Blerta Basholli — are women.
The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in the documentary category went to “Flee,” while the audience award went to went to “Writing With Fire.”
Clifton Collins Jr. won a special acting award for his performance as a battered and aging rider in “Jockey.”
The awards ceremony took place virtually, with Patton Oswalt hosting and an array of presenters that included Alison Brie, Shira Haas, Diego Luna and assorted Sundance jurors.
The full list of awards:
U.S. Grand Jury Prize – Dramatic: “CODA,” Sian Heder
U.S. Grand Jury Prize – Documentary: “Summer of Soul,” Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson
Directing Award – U.S. Dramatic: Sian Heder, “CODA”
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Ari Katcher and Ryan Welch, “On the Count of Three”
Directing Award – U.S. Documentary: “Users,” Natalia Almada
Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award – U.S. Documentary: Kristina Motwani and Rebecca Adorno, “Homeroom”
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble: the cast of “CODA”
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award, Best Actor: Clifton Collins Jr., “Jockey”
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Nonfiction Experimentation: Theo Anthony, “All Light, Everywhere”
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmakers: Parker Hill and Isabel Bethencourt, “Cusp”
Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic: “CODA,” Sian Heder
Audience Award for U.S. Documentary: “Summer of Soul,” Ahmir “Questove” Thompson
Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic: “Hive,” Blerta Basholli
Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary: “Writing With Fire,” Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh
World Cinematic Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic: “Hive,” Blerta Basholli
Directing Award: World Cinematic Dramatic: Blerta Basholli, “Hive”
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Vision: “One for the Road,” Baz Poonpiriya
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting: Jesmark Sciculna, “Luzzo,”
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary: “Flee,” Jonas Poher Rasmussen
Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary: Hogir Hirori, “Sabaya”
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change: “Writing With Fire,” Rintu Thomas and Sushmit Ghosh
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Verité Filmmaking: “President,” Camilla Nielsson
The NEXT Innovator Award: “Cryptozoo,” Dash Shaw
The NEXT Audience Award: “Ma Belle, My Beauty,” Marion Hill
Short Film Grand Jury Prize: “Lizard,” Akinola Davies Jr.
Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction: “The Touch of the Master’s Hand,” Gregory Barnes
Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction: Zamarin Wahdat
Short Film Jury Award: Nonfiction: “Don’t Go Tellin’ Your Momma,” Topaz Jones and Rubberband.
Short Film Special Jury Award: Acting: Deanna Gibson, “Wiggle Room”
Short Film Special Jury Award: Screenwriting: Serhat Karaaslan, “The Criminals”
Short Film Special Jury Award: Animation: “Souvenir Souvenir,” Bastien Dubois
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize: Alexis Gambis, “Son of Monarchs”
Sundance Institute/Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Fiction: Terilyn Shoropshire
Sundance Institute/Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Nonfiction: Juli Vizza
Sundance Institute Amazon Studios Producers Award Fiction: Natalie Qasabian, “Run”
Sundance Institute Amazon Studios Producers Award Nonfiction: Nicole Salazar, “Philly D.A.”
Sundance Institute NHK Award: Meryam Joobeur, “Motherhood”
Gayle Stevens Volunteer Award: Rebecca Stover