Sundance 2012: “Cherry Blossom” grabs non-fiction short prize

The Oscar-nominated effort from Lucy Walker (pictured), billed as a "visual haiku about the ephemeral nature of life," received Sundance's jury prize for short film, non-fiction, yesterday during a ceremony in Park City.
January 25, 2012

Lucy Walker’s short doc The Tsunami and the Cherry Blossom has received the jury prize for best short film, non-fiction, at the Sundance Film Festival.

The short, billed as a “visual haiku about the ephemeral nature of life,” follows survivors in the areas of Japan hardest hit by last March’s tsunami as they prepare for the beginning of cherry blossom season.

The 39-minute doc made its world premiere last September at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF). Yesterday, it was named as one of the nominees for this year’s Academy Awards, in the best documentary, short subject category. The nomination is the second for the director (pictured above) in two years.

Elsewhere at the festival, Jon Shenk’s The Island President was one of two films picking up a sustainability award from the Sundance Institute. The film, which also premiered at TIFF and won the Canadian festival’s audience award for best documentary, follows Mohamed Nasheed, the president of the Maldives, as he comes to power after leading a 20-year pro-democracy movement against the brutal regime of dictator Maumoon Abdul Gayoom.

The film received the inaugural Hilton Worldwide LightStay Sustainability Award from the Sundance Institute, honoring documentaries that showcase “the connection between sustainability, economic growth and community development.”

The Island President took the award in the feature category, while Jehane Noujaim and Mona Eldaief’s Solar Mamas (formerly known as Solar Grandmothers) picked up the prize in the ‘in-process feature film’ category, with both docs taking a US$25,000 prize.

Award recipients from last night’s ceremony in Park City will also be honored at the Festival’s awards ceremony, to be hosted by Parker Posey on Saturday, January 28.

Additional files by Adam Benzine

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Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.