'Restrepo,' 'Winter's Bone' take top Sundance honors

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The Independent Culture

Powerful Afghanistan war documentary "Restrepo" and gritty drama "Winter's Bone" scooped the top honors here Saturday as the curtain camed down on the Sundance Film Festival.

Sebastian Junger and Tim Hetherington's "Restrepo" won the US documentary grand jury prize while "Winter's Bone" took the grand jury prize in the US dramatic category as the festival honors were handed out.

"This year it was as if I could feel a shift in the DNA of the film community - the reaction to the films was inspiring," festival director John Cooper said Saturday as the awards were handed out.

Junger and Hetherington's "Restrepo" was one of the best reviewed films of Sundance, the world's biggest and most festival of independent film which is being held this year for the 26th time.

"Restrepo," is a visceral account of a year in the lives of 15 American soldiers stationed at a remote mountain outpost in the Korengal Valley, where Taliban attacks are almost a daily occurrence.

"This award goes to the 'Restrepo' generation, those hundreds of thousands of soldiers who come back home and become invisible," Hetherington said.

"Winter's Bone" is a dark mystery written and directed by Debra Granik about a teenager trying to find her missing father in the backwoods of Missouri.

The foreign grand jury prize for drama went to Australia's "Animal Kingdom", David Michod's coming-of-age crime film set in Melbourne.

The grand jury prize for foreign documentary went to Denmark's "The Red Chapel," Mads Brugger's hilarious account of how he and two Danish comedians infiltrate North Korea under the guise of a cultural exchange.

"These awards celebrate the diversity of this year's program," said Trevor Groth, Sundance's director of programming.

"Hopefully the attention these prizes bring will allow the films to connect with a wider audience hungry for choice."

Other films earning recognition Saturday included "Enemies of the People," Thet Sambath and Rob Lemkin's superb documentary exploring the inner workings of Cambodia's "Killing Fields" era through hundreds of hours of interviews with the Khmer Rouger regime's number two. The film won the special jury prize.

More than 110 films were screened during this year's festival, with 58 entered in competition.

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