Sundance Short Film Awards

Prior to the Saturday evening Awards Gala to be hosted by actress Parker Posey, the Sundance Film Festival held a special awards event to honor jury prizes and honorable mentions in the short film competition categories at this year’s Festival. Winners will also be honored at Saturday’s gala, which will be streamed live on www.sundance.org/live.

Sixty five films from around the world were presented in this year’s program from over 7500 submissions, in curated packages and as stand-alone short films presented before feature screenings. They represent the new generation of filmmaking talent who will undoubtedly return to Sundance in future years with feature length films in competition. The Short Film jurors are Mike Judge, creator of Beavis and Butt-Head for MTV and King of the Hill for FOX TV; Dee Rees, Sundance Institute Directing Lab Fellow and writer/director of the award-winning short film PARIAH, and Shane Smith, Director of Public Programmes at TIFF Bell Lightbox. The Short Film program at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival is presented by Yahoo! As part of the sponsorship, a selection of nine short films that premiered at the Festival are currently featured on Yahoo! Screen. Through January 27, film buffs can watch the films and vote for their favorite. Yahoo! will present the winning filmmaker with the inaugural Yahoo! Audience Award and $5,000 at the Festival’s closing Awards Ceremony.

This year’s Short Film winners include:

The 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.

The 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.

The Jury Prize in Short Film, International Fiction: THE RETURN (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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 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.

The 2012 Sundance Film Festival runs through January 29 in Park City, Salt Lake City, Ogden and Sundance, Utah. A complete list of films and events is available at www.sundance.org/festival.

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