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'Sunday' takes top honors at Utah festival

PARK CITY, Utah -- "Sunday," the story of a homeless man who is mistaken for a movie director by a failing British actress who courts him for a day, won the Sundance Film Festival and the Waldo Salt screenwriting award.

The film, directed by Jonathan Nossitor, stars David Suchet and Lisa Harrow.

In other Sundance honors Saturday, the grand jury award in the documentary category went to "Girls Like Us" by Jane Wagner and Tina DiFeliciatonio. The film traces the evolution of four girls from South Philadelphia between the ages of 14 and 18.

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The Audience Awards, voted on by the filmgoers, produced a tie in the feature film category between Theodore Witcher's "Love Jones" and Morgan J. Freeman's "Hurricane." In the documentary section, the audience chose Monte Bramer's "Paul Monette: The Brink of Summer's End," the story of the life and death of a writer who made AIDS his central subject.

"Love Jones," filmed in Chicago, stars Larenz Tate and Nia Long in a love story between two young black professionals: She a photographer, he a writer. "Hurricane" is about a close-knit group of young teenage outsiders in Manhattan; it also won the jury's directing and cinematography awards.

The Filmmakers' Trophy awards were won by Neil Labute's drama "In the Company of Men," a shocking black comedy about two corporate managers who team up to play a cruel trick on a deaf woman, and Arthur Dong's "Licensed to Kill," which focuses on convicted murderers who felt it was their right to kill homosexual men.

The Freedom of Expression award was shared by two documentaries, MacKy Alston's "Family Name" and Laura Angelica Simon's "Fear and Learning at Hoover Elementary."

Alston's film is about his search through fading memories and crumbing records for the history of his own old Southern family name, shared by many of the whites and blacks in the area where he was born. It ends with a family reunion between Alstons of both races.

"Fear and Learning" was photographed and directed by Simon, a fourth-grade teacher at an inner-city Los Angeles grade school, who documents the results of new laws to bar education for the children of undocumented immigrants.

Jury Special Recognition awards went to:

Kirby Dick's documentary, "Sick: The Life & Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist." It tells the story of a performance artist who suffered from cystic fibrosis, and incorporated pain into his work.

Actress Parker Posey, who plays a mentally ill young woman who identifies with Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis in "House Of Yes," a bizarre comedy by Mark Waters.

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Production designer Therese DePrez, for "Going All The Way."

Jose Araujo's "Landscapes of Memory," set in an isolated area of Brazil.

Honorable mention went to Arturo Ripstein's "Deep Crimson," about a con artist who exploits lonely women, and the woman "victim" who comes to control his life. And Christine Choy won for documentary cinematography, for "My America . . . or Honk if You Love Buddha," a light-hearted look at a cross-section of Asian Americans.

The Sundance Festival has recently emerged as the most influential film festival in America. Film makers, buyers, distributors, agents and critics descend on this ski resort to attend screenings of some 125 films, setting the stage for the coming year among non-mainstream movies.

This year's major winners join such past Sundance discoveries as "Shine"and "Hoop Dreams."

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