PARK CITY, Utah - The dramatic story of a drummer who pursues excellence at all costs won top honors at the Sundance Film Festival "Whiplash" collected both audience and jury prizes for American dramatic films Saturday at the festival's awards ceremony. The musical drama by writer-director Damien Chazelle opened the independent film showcase last week and rode a wave of positive buzz throughout the 10-day event.
Chazelle made his Sundance debut last year with a short version of "Whiplash" intended to gain financial support for the feature-length film. The feature stars 26-year-old Miles Teller as an aspiring jazz drummer and veteran actor J.K. Simmons as his unforgiving instructor.
Chazelle thanked his actors "who really made this movie work." The 28-year-old filmmaker drew on his personal experiences as a member of a high school jazz band as inspiration for the film.
The documentary "Rich Hill," a coming-of-age story about the inhabitants of a tiny town in Missouri, won the jury award for U.S. documentary. The American documentary about music's healing effects on dementia, "Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory," won the audience award.
Actors Nick Offerman and Megan Mullally hosted the ceremony at the Basin Recreation Fieldhouse in Park City, Utah. The married couple opened with a racy, comedic introduction about how they enjoy the film festival.
"Our frenzied coitus is the stuff of legend," Mullally said, "but really there's no place we'd rather get our swerve on than right here in Park City."
The 30th Sundance Film Festival wraps on Sunday.
Other winners Saturday:
- U.S. documentary directing: "The Case Against 8."
- U.S. drama directing; "Fishing Without Nets."
- U.S. documentary cinematography: "E-Team."
- U.S. drama cinematography: "Low Down."
- U.S. documentary editing: "Watchers of the Sky."
- U.S. documentary, special jury award for use of animation: "Watchers of the Sky."
- U.S. drama special jury award for intuitive filmmaking: "The Overnighters."
- U.S. drama special jury award for musical score: "Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter."
- U.S. drama special jury award for breakthrough talent: "Dear White People."
- Waldo Salt screenwriting award: "The Skeleton Twins."
- World cinema grand jury prize, documentary: "Return to Homs," Syria.
- World cinema grand jury prize, drama: "To Kill A Man," Chile.
- World cinema audience award, documentary: "The Green Prince," Germany, Israel.
- World cinema audience award, drama: "Difret," Ethiopia.
- World cinema documentary directing: "20,000 Days on Earth," United Kingdom.
- World cinema drama directing: "52 Tuesdays," Australia.
- World cinema documentary cinematography: "Happiness," France, Finland.
- World cinema drama cinematography: "Lilting," United Kingdom.
- World cinema documentary editing: "20,000 Days on Earth," United Kingdom.
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