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The Maze Runner

What’s intriguing about “The Maze Runner”–for a long time, at least–is the way it tells us a story we think we’ve heard countless times before…

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20,000 Days on Earth

In his music, he routinely celebrates/deconstructs his public persona: brutalizer, coward, agnostic, and wannabe deity. "20,000 Days on Earth" is accordingly not a biography, but…

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Ballad of Narayama

"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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Monsieur Hire

Patrice Leconte's "Monsieur Hire" is a tragedy about loneliness and erotomania, told about two solitary people who have nothing else in common. It involves a…

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Top prizes awarded at Sundance

The four top jury prizes at Sundance 2010 were awarded Saturday night to Debra Granik's "Winter's Bone" for best U. S. drama, Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's “Restrepo” for U. S. documentary, David Michôd's “Animal Kingdom” for world drama, and Mads Brügger's “The Red Chapel" for world documentary. A special jury prize went to Mark Ruffalo's “Sympathy For Delicious.”

The Honda Audience Awards in those four categories went to Josh Radnor's “happythankyoumoreplease," Davis Guggenheim's "Waiting for Superman," Javier Fuentes-Leon's “Contracorriente” and Lucy Walker's “Wasteland." It was somewhat unusual for none of the winners to score in both categories.

The awards are considered meaningful for indie films seeking distributors and audiences. They were given out in a festive ceremony which was streamed live on the web, in keeping with the festivals new policy of multimedia outreach.

There was a solemn note, with silence in honor of film editor Karen Schmeer, who was struck and killed Friday night in New York by robbers in a getaway car. She edited many of Errol Morris's documentaries, and won the Sundance editing award last year for "Sergio," whose director Greg Barker told the audience, "I just don't know what the meaning is. We have lost a great talent and a very dear friend.”

A new category at Sundance this year was titled NEXT, and reserved for indie productions with budgets under $500,000 -- sometimes far under. The winner was “Homewrecker,” directed by Todd Barnes and Brad Barnes.

The directing awards went to Directing Award, Eric Mendelsohn's "3 Backyards," for U. S. drama; Leon Gast's "Smash His Camera," for U.S. documentary, Juan Carlos Valdivia's "Southern District," for world drama, and Christian Frei's "Space Tourists," for documentary. It's notable that "Smash his Camera" is about the famous paparazzi Ron Galella, who had a long troubled history with Sundance founder Robert Redford.

The Waldo Salt screenwriting award went to "Winter's Bone," by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini. The World Cinema Screenwriting Award was won by Valdivia's "Southern District."

The World Cinema Documentary Editing Award went to "A Film Unfinished," edited by Joëlle Alexis, which was an especially noble editing achievement because it began with a Nazi propaganda film about Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto and incorporated outtakes revealing the inhuman conditions there.

The World Cinema Cinematography Awards went to "The Man Next Door" in drama, and "His and Hers" in documentary.

In addition to Ruffalo's film, Special Jury Prizes went to Josh Fox's "Gasland" for world documentary, and Rob Lemkin and Thet Sambath's "Enemies of the People," for world documentary.

The best U. S. short was "Drunk History: Douglass & Lincoln," directed by Jeremy Konner. Best world short was "The Six Dollar Fifty Man," by Mark Albiston and Louis Sutherland.

And World Cinema Special Jury Prize for Breakout Performance went to Tatiana Maslany, for “Grown Up Movie Star.”

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