The Best of Sundance 2020: Full Recap

The Sundance 2020 Film Festival may be over, but everyone in Hollywood is still buzzing about the films! Which ones will you see once they hit theaters?

The biggest deal in Sundance history

Probably the funniest story to come out of Sundance 2020 is about comedy Palm Springs. Starring Andy Samberg, the film set the record for most expensive acquisition in the film festival’s history – by 69 cents. That’s right, Palm Springs sold to Neon and Hulu for exactly $17,500,000.69.

“We spent over 85 million dollars of our own money on this movie, we are taking a bath on this deal,” producers Party Over Here (comprised of Samberg, Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone and Becky Sloviter) said in a statement. “We hope Neon and Hulu are happy but we definitely have a lot of explaining to do to our families.”

The film’s unique price beats the previous record of $17.5 million, held by 2016’s The Birth of a Nation, which was bought for $17.5 million.

Other Sundance 2020 Deals

Palm Springs wasn’t the only film to rake in the cash. Documentary Boys State also broke a record – for the highest price paid for a documentary feature ($12 million). Apple and A24 bought the film, which won Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize for Documentary.

Boys State

Boys State follows teenagers as they attend a mock government competition at a national leadership conference, essentially showing us how the next generation of politicians are born. Variety called the film “a revolution in vérité filmmaking.”

The Night House

Horror-thriller The Night House, directed by David Bruckner, features Rebecca Hall as a widow who is still reeling from her husband’s death when she discovers a ghostly presence and must solve a mystery.

Uncle Frank

Amazon also jumped into the ring with its Sundance 2020 purchase of Uncle Frank, a road trip drama set in 1973. The film stars Paul Bettany and was directed by Alan Ball (creator of Six Feet Under and True Blood).

The influence of Streaming

Just five or six years ago, these Sundance 2020 deals would have been unheard of. But now companies like Amazon and Netflix jump at the chance to buy both theatrical and streaming rights for Sundance titles.

But last year at Sundance, Amazon actually spent around $46 million on films that only earned $26 million in theaters – Late Night, Brittany Runs a Marathon, The Report and Honey Boy. Does the streaming income of these films make their price tags worthwhile?

“I think we all are really pleased with how last year’s Sundance strategy paid off for us,” says Amazon Studios Head Jennifer Salke, who just attended Sundance for the first time.

“The goal going into last year was to make sure that we were able to think about our customers,” she continues. “We were shifting our business away from being a prestige art house movie studio into something like a split focus. Continuing to be the home for those prestigious creator’s voices and stories, but reaching out and trying to bridge across to global Amazon Prime subscribers.”

Sundance 2020 Full List of Winners

More interested in the winners than the biggest sales? See the Sundance 2020 full list of winners below!

U.S. Dramatic Jury Awards

Grand Jury Prize: “Minari,” directed by Lee Isaac Chung

Jury Award for Directing: Radha Blank, “The 40-Year-Old Version”

Waldo Salt Screenwriting Award: Edson Oda, “Nine Days”

Special Jury Award for Neorealism: Eliza Hittman, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always”

Special Jury Award for Auteur Filmmaking: Josephine Decker, “Shirley”

Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast: “Charm City Kings”

U.S. Documentary Jury Awards

Grand Jury Prize: “Boys State,” directed by Jesse Moss

Jury Award for Directing: Garrett Bradley, “Time”

Special Jury Award for Innovation in Nonfiction Storytelling: Kirsten Johnson, “Dick Johnson Is Dead”

Special Jury Award for Editing: Tyler H. Walk, “Welcome To Chechnya”

Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking: Elyse Steinberg, Josh Kriegman, and Eli Despres, “The Fight”

Special Jury Award for Emerging Filmmaker: Arthur Jones, “Feels Good Man”

World Cinema Dramatic Jury Awards

Grand Jury Prize: “Yalda, A Night for Forgiveness,” directed by Massoud Bakhsh (Iran/France/Germany/Switzerland/Luxembourg)

Jury Award for Directing: Maïmouna Doucouré, “Cuties” (France)

Special Jury Award for Best Screenplay: Fernanda Valadez and Astrid Rondero, “Identifying Features (Sin Señas Particulares)” (Mexico/Spain)

Special Jury Award for Visionary Filmmaking: Lemohang Jeremiah Mosese, “This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection” (Lesotho/South Africa/Italy)

Special Jury Award for Acting: Ben Whishaw, “Surge” (U.K.)

World Cinema Documentary Jury Awards

Grand Jury Prize: “Epicentro,” directed by Hubert Sauper (Austria/France/U.S.A.)

Jury Award for Directing: Iryna Tsilyk, “The Earth Is Blue as an Orange” (Ukraine/Lithuania)

Special Jury Award for Creative Storytelling: Benjamin Ree, “The Painter and the Thief” (Norway)

Special Jury Award for Cinematography: Mircea Topoleanu and Radu Ciorniciuc, “Acasa, My Home” (Romania/Germany/Finland)

Special Jury Award for Editing: Mila Aung-Thwin, Sam Soko, and Ryan Mullins, “Softie” (Kenya)

Next Innovator Award: “I Carry You With Me,” directed by Heidi Ewing (U.S.A./Mexico)

Audience Awards

U.S. Dramatic: “Minari,” directed by Lee Isaac Chung (U.S.A.)

U.S. Documentary: “Crip Camp,” directed by Nicole Newnham and Jim LeBrecht (U.S.A.)

World Cinema Dramatic: “Identifying Features (Sin Señas Particulares),” directed by Fernanda Valadez (Mexico/Spain)

World Cinema Documentary: “The Reason I Jump,” directed by Jerry Rothwell (U.K.)

Next: “I Carry You With Me,” directed by Heidi Ewing (U.S.A./Mexico)

Alfred P. Sloan Feature Film Prize: “Tesla,” directed by Michael Almereyda (U.S.A.)

Short Film Jury Awards

Grand Jury Prize: Sofia Alaoui, “So What If The Goats Die” (France, Morocco)

Jury Award for U.S. Fiction: Terrance Daye, “-Ship: A Visual Poem” (U.S.A.)

Jury Award for International Fiction: Dylan Holmes Williams, “The Devil’s Harmony” (United Kingdom)

Jury Award for Non-fiction: Matthew Killip, “John Was Trying to Contact Aliens” (U.S.A.)

Jury Award for Animation: Daria Kashcheeva, “Daughter” (Czech Republic)

Special Jury Award for Acting: Sadaf Asgari, “Exam” (Iran)

Special Jury Award for Directing: Michael Arcos, “Valerio’s Day Out” (Colombia, U.S.A.)

Sundance Institute / Amazon Studios Producers Awards

Documentary Features: Diane Becker and Melanie Miller of Fishbowl Films, “Whirlybird” (U.S.A.)

Narrative Features: Huriyyah Muhammad, “Farewell Amor” (U.S.A.)

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