Two films examining immigrant life in America, the Hispanic teen drama "Quinceanera" and the Sudanese refugee documentary "God Grew Tired of Us," won top honors Saturday at the Sundance Film Festival.
"Quinceanera," written and directed by Wash Westmoreland and Richard Glatzer and featuring a cast loaded with newcomers and unknowns, won both the festival's jury prize and the audience award for U.S. dramatic films, the latter chosen in voting by Sundance movie-goers.
Starring Emily Rios in a striking film debut as a girl ostracized by her family after she becomes pregnant shortly before her 15th birthday, "Quinceanera" offers a culture-clash portrait of Los Angeles' Echo Park area, traditionally a Hispanic neighborhood that has become a trendy enclave.
Christopher Quinn's "God Grew Tired of Us," which follows three Sudanese boys adjusting to life in the United States after the bloody civil war in their homeland, received both the jury prize and audience award for U.S. documentaries.
Another immigrant story, the Mexican film "De Nadie," won the audience award for world-cinema documentary. Directed by Tin Dirdamal, the film traces a Central American woman's 1,300-mile journey north in search of a new life in the United States.
A special jury prize for independent vision was awarded to director So Yong Kim's "In Between Days," about a newly arrived Korean girl trying to find her place in America.
"Iraq in Fragments," offering candid observations of Iraqis' lives under U.S. occupation, won three documentary prizes: The directing and cinematography awards for James Longley and the editing honor for Longley, Billy McMillin and Fiona Otway.
The dramatic directing award went to Dito Montiel for "A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints," which also received a special jury prize for best ensemble performance. The film features Robert Downey Jr., Rosario Dawson, Dianne Wiest, Chazz Palminteri, Shia La Boeuf and Channing Tatum in a drama based on Montiel's youth on the mean streets of Astoria in Queens during the mid-1980s.
The Waldo Salt screenwriting award was given to writer-director Hilary Brougher for "Stephanie Daley," starring Tilda Swinton and Amber Tamblyn in a drama about a teen accused of killing her newborn baby.
The French thriller "13 Tzameti," written and directed by Gela Babluani and following a young man whose spur-of-the-moment journey turns perilous, earned the dramatic jury prize for world cinema.
The world-cinema audience prize for dramatic films went to the New Zealand's "No. 2," writer-director Toa Fraser's drama about a Fijian matriarch (Ruby Dee) struggling to bring her alienated family together again.
Mexican director Juan Carlos Rulfo's "In the Pit," chronicling the lives of workers building a new layer on top of a busy Mexico City freeway, won the documentary jury prize for world cinema.
Prize-winning films were to screen one last time Sunday as the festival ended its 11-day run.
Members of the various Sundance juries included Terrence Howard, star of last year's dramatic audience-award winner "Hustle & Flow," and filmmakers Alexander Payne, Andrew Jarecki, Alan Rudolph and Miguel Arteta.
Among other Sundance winners:
- Tom Richmond received the cinematography award for dramatic films for "Right at Your Door," director Chris Gorak's drama about a couple (Mary McCormack and Rory Cochrane) separated when a terrorist attack unleashes deadly toxins in Los Angeles.
- Special jury prizes were presented to the documentaries "American Blackout," director Ian Inaba's look at the disenfranchisement of black voters; "TV Junkie," filmmakers Michael Cain and Matt Radecki's portrait of one man's obsession with the power of video; Philip Groening's "Into Great Silence," a glimpse of devotees' lives at the Grande Chartreuse monastery in the French Alps; and "Dear Pyongyang," Japan-raised director Yonghi Yang's exploration of her father's allegiance to North Korea.
- Writer-director Julia Kwan's "Eve & the Fire Horse," about two Chinese sisters seeking to reverse their family's run of bad luck, received a special dramatic jury prize for world cinema.