“Dina” takes Sundance, “Made in America” at PGA

Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini’s Dina and Feras Fayyad’s Last Men in Aleppo were among the top factual winners at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. Picking up the U.S. Grand Jury Prize ...
January 30, 2017

Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini’s Dina and Feras Fayyad’s Last Men in Aleppo were among the top factual winners at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival.

Picking up the U.S. Grand Jury Prize for Documentary at the Park City, Utah-based film festival was Sickles and Santini’s Dina, which follows a Philadelphia-based autistic couple as they prepare for their wedding.

Last Men in Aleppo, meanwhile, was feted with the Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema Documentary. The doc focuses on the White Helmet’s in the war-torn city of Aleppo, Syria attempting to aid their fellow citizens who are under siege.

Elsewhere, the Audience Award in the U.S. Documentary category went to Chasing Coral from director Jeff Orlowski, which examines the loss of the world’s coral reefs, while the Audience Award in World Cinema Documentary was presented to Joe Piscatella’s Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower, which chronicles the story of teenager Joshua Wong who became one of China’s most notorious dissidents.

The full list of non-fiction winners, with synopses provided by Sundance, follows below:

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary

Dina / U.S.A. (Directors: Dan Sickles, Antonio Santini

An eccentric suburban woman and a Walmart door-greeter navigate their evolving relationship in this unconventional love story.

The World Cinema Grand Jury Prize: Documentary 

Last Men in Aleppo / Denmark, Syria (Director: Feras Fayyad)

After five years of war in Syria, Aleppo’s remaining residents prepare themselves for a siege. Khalid, Subhi and Mahmoud, founding members of The White Helmets, have remained in the city to help their fellow citizens—and experience daily life, death, struggle and triumph in a city under fire.

The Audience Award: U.S. Documentary

Chasing Coral / U.S.A. (Director: Jeff Orlowski)

Coral reefs around the world are vanishing at an unprecedented rate. A team of divers, photographers and scientists set out on a thrilling ocean adventure to discover why and to reveal the underwater mystery to the world.

The Audience Award: World Cinema Documentary 

Joshua: Teenager vs. Superpower / U.S.A. (Director: Joe Piscatella)

When the Chinese Communist Party backtracks on its promise of autonomy to Hong Kong, teenager Joshua Wong decides to save his city. Rallying thousands of kids to skip school and occupy the streets, Joshua becomes an unlikely leader in Hong Kong and one of China’s most notorious dissidents.

The Directing Award: U.S. Documentary 

Peter Nicks for his film The Force / U.S.A. (Director: Peter Nicks)

This cinema verité look at the long-troubled Oakland Police Department goes deep inside their struggles to confront federal demands for reform, a popular uprising following events in Ferguson and an explosive scandal.

The Directing Award: World Cinema Documentary 

Pascale Lamche, for her film WINNIE / France (Director: Pascale Lamche)

While her husband served a life sentence, paradoxically kept safe and morally uncontaminated, Winnie Mandela rode the raw violence of apartheid, fighting on the front line and underground. This is the untold story of the mysterious forces that combined to take her down, labeling him a saint, her, a sinner.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking 

STEP / U.S.A. (Director: Amanda Lipitz)

With dreams of becoming the first in their families to attend college, a group of seniors from an inner-city Baltimore girls high school strives to make their step dance team a success against a backdrop of social unrest in a troubled city.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Storytelling 

Strong Island / U.S.A., Denmark (Director: Yance Ford)

Examining the violent death of the filmmaker’s brother and the judicial system that allowed his killer to go free, this documentary interrogates murderous fear and racialized perception, and re-imagines the wreckage in catastrophe’s wake, challenging us to change.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Editing 

Editors Kim Roberts and Emiliano Battista for Unrest / U.S.A. (Director: Jennifer Brea)

When Harvard PhD student Jennifer Brea is struck down at 28 by a fever that leaves her bedridden, doctors tell her it’s “all in her head.” Determined to live, she sets out on a virtual journey to document her story—and four other families’ stories—fighting a disease medicine forgot.

A U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award

ICARUS / U.S.A. (Director: Bryan Fogel)

When Bryan Fogel sets out to uncover the truth about doping in sports, a chance meeting with a Russian scientist transforms his story from a personal experiment into a geopolitical thriller involving dirty urine, unexplained death and Olympic Gold—exposing the biggest scandal in sports history.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Excellence in Cinematography 

Cinematographer Rodrigo Trejo Villanueva for Machines / India, Germany, Finland (Director: Rahul Jain)

This intimate, observant portrayal of the rhythm of life and work in a gigantic textile factory in Gujarat, India, moves through the corridors and bowels of the enormously disorienting structure—taking the viewer on a journey of dehumanizing physical labor and intense hardship.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Commanding Vision 

Motherland / U.S.A., Philippines (Director: Ramona S. Diaz)

Taking us into the heart of the planet’s busiest maternity hospital, the viewer is dropped like an unseen outsider into the hospital’s stream of activity. At first, the people are strangers. As the film continues, it’s absorbingly intimate, rendering the women at the heart of the story increasingly familiar.

A World Cinema Documentary Special Jury Award for Masterful Storytelling 

Rumble: The Indians Who Rocked the World / Canada (Directors: Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana)

This powerful documentary about the role of Native Americans in contemporary music history—featuring some of the greatest music stars of our time—exposes a critical missing chapter, revealing how indigenous musicians helped shape the soundtracks of our lives and, through their contributions, influenced popular culture. Cast: Robbie Robertson, Buffy Sainte-Marie, Martin Scorsese, Tony Bennett, Steven Tyler, Iggy Pop.

Producer Guild of America Awards

This past weekend (Jan.28), the Producer’s Guild of America named its 2017 winners, with Laura Ricciardi and Moira Demos taking home the Outstanding Producer of Non-Fiction Television award for the December 2015 Netflix hit Making a Murderer 

Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow’s Oscar-nominated ESPN docuseries O.J.: Made in America (pictured), meanwhile, took home hardware for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures.

Finally, The Voice from John de Mol’s Talpa Media took home the award for Outstanding Producer of Competition Television. Producers behind NBC’s acclaimed singing competition include Audrey Morrissey, Jay Bienstock, Mark Burnett, John de Mol, Chad Hines, Lee Metzger, Kyra Thompson, Mike Yurchuk, Amanda Zucker and Carson Daly.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.