“Nanny” was the big winner at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival, picking up the Grand Jury Prize in the U.S. Dramatic Competition in a virtual awards ceremony Friday.
Cooper Raiff’s “Cha Cha Real Smooth” was also a winner, nabbing the Audience Award in the U.S. Dramatic category, while “Navalny,” a late addition to the festival, won the U.S. Documentary Audience Award. The Sundance jury also recognized “The Exiles” in the documentary category and “Utama” in the World Cinematic category.
This year’s Best of the Fest announcement caps off the second year in a row in which the festival was forced to go virtual amid the pandemic.
Although the awards were announced virtually, the emotion was palpable when juror Chelsea Bernard announced that “Nanny” director and screenwriter Nikyatu Jusu had won for her harrowing story of an undocumented nanny working for a privileged couple in New York City while also dealing with the pending arrival of the son she left behind in Senegal.
Jusu burst into tears as she heard the news. “You guys shouldn’t have done it to me like this!” she exclaimed, smiling through her tears. She said she knew she had won because her recently-deceased father was “pulling strings in on my behalf” from the other side.
Over 80 feature films played at this year’s Sundance, as well as six indie episodic projects, 15 New Frontier projects and 59 short films that were drawn from the festival’s largest submission pool ever.
Last year, “CODA” and “Summer of Soul” swept the top prizes at Sundance, winning both the Grand Jury Prizes in their respective categories and the audience awards. It was only the third time that a dramatic film and a documentary have won the top audience and jury awards in the same year. It was also the first time that two films won the top three awards in their categories, with “CODA” and “Hive” winning the Grand Jury Prize, the Audience Award and the Directing Award.
“This year’s entire program has proven that no matter the context, independent storytelling remains a pivotal tool in expanding critical dialogues, and these stories will and must be shared,” Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente said upon introducing the awards ceremony.
“This year’s festival expressed a powerful convergence; we were present, together, as a community connected through the work. And it is work that has already changed those who experienced it,” festival director Tabitha Jackson added.
This year’s jurors were: Chelsea Barnard, Marielle Heller, and Payman Maadi for U.S. Dramatic Competition; Garrett Bradley, Joan Churchill and Peter Nicks for U.S. Documentary Competition; Andrew Haigh, Mohamed Hefzy and La Frances Hui for World Cinema Dramatic Competition; and Emilie Bujès, Patrick Gaspard and Dawn Porter for World Cinema Documentary Competition. Joey Soloway was the juror for the NEXT competition section. Penelope Bartlett, Kevin Jerome Everson and Blackhorse Lowe juried the Short Film Program Competition.
This year’s festival has seen some healthy sales for a variety of titles, including Apple’s reported $15 million acquisition of Cooper Raiff’s “Cha Cha Real Smooth” and other 7-figure deals for the documentary “Fire of Love,” Riley Stearns’ “Dual” and the Rebecca Hall thriller “Resurrection,” the Bill Nighy drama “Living” and the Emma Thompson comedy “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande.”
Below is the full list of award winners, which we’ll update live as they come in. Links for certain awards include video introductions and statements from jurors and acceptance speeches via Sundance’s Twitter.
U.S Grand Jury Prize – Dramatic: “Nanny,” Nikyatu Jusu
U.S. Grand Jury Prize – Documentary: “The Exiles,” Directors Ben Klein, Violet Columbus
Directing Award – U.S. Dramatic: “Palm Trees and Power Lines” Director/Screenwriter Jamie Dack
Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: “Emergency” K.D. Davila
Directing Award – U.S. Documentary: “I Didn’t See You There” Reid Davenport
Jonathan Oppenheim Editing Award – U.S. Documentary: “Fire of Love” Erin Casper and Jocelyne Chaput
U.S. Dramatic Special Jury Award for Best Ensemble: “892” Director/screenwriter Abi Damaris Corbin
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Artistic Vision: “blood” Bradley Rust Gray
U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change: “Aftershock” Director/producers Paula Eiselt, Tonya Lewis Lee
Audience Award for U.S. Dramatic: “Cha Cha Real Smooth:” Cooper Raiff
Audience Award for U.S. Documentary: “Navalny,” Daniel Roher
Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic: “Girl Picture” Alli Haapasalo
Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary: “The Territory” Alex Pritz
World Cinematic Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic: “Utama” Alejandro Loayza Grisi
Directing Award: World Cinematic Dramatic: “Klondike” Maryna Er Gorbach
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Creative Vision: “The Descendant” Margaret Brown
World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award: Acting: “Dos Estaciones” Teresa Sanchez
World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary: “All That Breathes”/India, U.K
Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary: “A House Made of Splinters” Simon Lereng Wilmont
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Impact for Change: “Aftershock” Director/producers Paula Eiselt, Tonya Lewis Lee
World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award: Verité Filmmaking: “Midwives” Snow Hnin Ei Hlaing
The NEXT Innovator Award: “Framing Agnes,” Chase Joynt director
Short Film Grand Jury Prize: “The Headhunter’s Daughter”
Short Film Jury Award: U.S. Fiction: Walter Thompson-Hernández, “If I Go Will They Miss Me”
Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction: Danai Bdeir, “Warsha”
Short Film Jury Award: Nonfiction: Samir Karahoda, “Displaced”
Short Film Special Jury Award: Ensemble Cast: Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro, and Lorre Motta for “A wild patience has taken me here”
Short Film Special Jury Award: Screenwriting: Sara Driver, “Stranger Than Rotterdam with Sara Driver”
Short Film Special Jury Award: Animation: Joe Hsieh, “Night Bus”
Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Feature Film Prize: “After Yang,” The filmmakers received a $20,000 cash award from Sundance Institute with support from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation.
Sundance Institute/Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Fiction: Dody Dorn
Sundance Institute/Adobe Mentorship Award for Editing Nonfiction: Toby Shimin
Sundance Institute Amazon Studios Producers Award Fiction: Amanda Marshall, “God’s Country”
Sundance Institute Amazon Studios Producers Award Nonfiction: Su Kim, “Free Chol Soo Lee” (U.S. Documentary Competition).
Sundance Institute NHK Award: “The President’s Cake”
Gayle Stevens Volunteer Award: Brenda “BJ” Berliner