PH’s busiest maternity hospital wins Sundance prize

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  • A documentary about the Philippines’ busiest maternity hospital bagged a prize at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday.

    “Motherland,” a verite portrait of the Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila, took the Special Jury Award for Editing. The film is the latest work of Filipino-American filmmaker Ramona S. Diaz, best known for the award-winning documentaries “Imelda” and “Don’t Stop Believin’: Everyman’s Journey.”

    “I Don’t Feel at Home in This World Anymore,” a movie long on ambition and longer in title, came away with the top award, the Grand Jury Prize.

    Starring Elijah Wood, it was announced at its world premiere in the Utah mountains last week as the only festival entrant with a grammatical sentence as its title.

    “Green Room” actor Macon Blair’s directorial debut is a bloody crime comedy with an escalating body count in the best traditions of Quentin Tarantino, Guy Ritchie, the Coen brothers and Paul Thomas Anderson.

    The Netflix financed movie co-stars Melanie Lynskey (“Heavenly Creatures”) as a nursing assistant worn down by people’s unkindness who eventually snaps when her house is burglarized.

    It won the grand jury prize in Sundance’s “US dramatic competition” section.

    Dan Sickles and Antonio Santini’s “Dina,” described by critics as a “non-fiction rom-com” won best US documentary.

    The film follows an eccentric suburban woman and a Walmart door-greeter as they navigate their evolving relationship in an unconventional love story.

    Many critics have pointed out that this year’s festival was more overtly political than in previous years.

    Fittingly, Sundance’s awards show opened with a sideways dig at President Donald Trump’s order suspending the arrival of refugees and tough new controls on travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

    Sundance Institute head Keri Putnam told the audience she wanted to “acknowledge the artists from Muslim majority countries who joined us at the festival this year.”

    The US dramatic audience award — the second prize to the grand jury award — went to Matt Ruskin’s “Crown Heights,” the story of a man fighting to clear his name after being wrongly convicted of a crime.

    The US documentary directing prize went to Peter Nicks for “The Force” — a portrait of the Oakland police department — while the US documentary audience award went to “Chasing Coral,” which sounds the alarm on the decline of coral reefs.

    Tarik Saleh’s Swedish thriller “The Nile Hilton Incident” came away with the grand jury prize for world drama while Feras Fayyad’s “Last Men in Aleppo,” about the Syrian conflict, won the world cinema documentary competition.

    The Sundance Film Festival founded by actor Robert Redford is considered a showcase for independent and documentary films and festival winners often go on to receive critical acclaim and Hollywood awards season glory.

    Last year, the crop of movies shown at the festival yielded “Manchester by the Sea,” which is up for six Oscars next month, including best picture and best actor for its star Casey Affleck.

    “This has been one of the wildest, wackiest and most rewarding festivals in recent memory,” said Sundance director John Cooper.

    “From a new government to the independently organized Women’s March on Main, to power outages, a cyberattack and snow at record levels, the work of our artists rose above it all and challenged and changed us these last 10 days.” (Interaksyon)

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