As the 2012 Sundance Film Festival came to its final day, winners of the special honors at the festival were announced. Benh Zeitlin's most buzzed-about surreal drama "Beasts of the Southern Wild" grabbed the Grand Jury Prize for dramatic film, while Ben Lewin's real-life film "The Surrogate" won the Audience Award at the annual prestigious movie fest.
Bringing along the 8-year-old star of the film, Quvenzhane Wallis, upon receiving the award, "Beasts" director, Zeitlin, said, "I hope with this movie there is a flag that goes up to allow directors to explore the world." Aside from the Grand Jury, the well-reviewed film also won a cinematography prize.
As for "The Surrogate", the controversial movie about an iron-lunged man who wants to lose his virginity with the help from a professional sex surrogate, won the prize for Best Ensemble. Along with "Beasts", the John Hawkes and Helen Hunt-starring film was acquired by Fox Searchlight at the festival and is expected to be released in the U.S. theaters sometime this year.
In addition to "Beasts" and "Surrogate", other special awards winners at this year's Sundance included "The House I Live In" which won the Grand Jury Prize for documentary pic, "The Queen of Versailles" which bagged U.S. Directing Award for documentary film, "Searching for Sugar Man" which nabbed the World Cinema Audience Award for documentary movie, and others.
This year's Sundance Film Festival was held from Thursday, January 19 to Sunday, January 29 in Park City, Utah. Around 181 qualified independent movies have been chosen to have their special screenings at the event. The closing awards ceremony was hosted by Parker Posey.
Of the prize-giving show, Sundance director John Cooper said, "Every year the Sundance Film Festival brings to light exciting new direction and fresh voices in independent film, and this year is no different."
"While these awards further distinguish those that have had the most impact on audiences and our jury, the level of talent showcased across the board at the Festival was really impressive, and all are to be congratulated and thanked for sharing their work with us," he added.
The 2012 Sundance Film Festival Winners: