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by Susan Royal

The 2005 Sundance Film Festival’s awards were presented at the closing ceremony on Saturday, January 29. Ira Sachs’ Forty Shades of Blue won the American Dramatic Grand Jury Prize, while Eugene Jarecki’s Why We Fight took the American Documentary Grand Jury Prize. Both films had been supported by the Sundance Institute. Eugene Jarecki had been given the Sundance Documentary Fund Grant last year to develop his documentary about the Pentagon and the military industrial complex. Ira Sachs developed his film (about a Russian woman living in Memphis with a much-older, legendary music producer) at the Sundance Screenwriters Lab.

The American Dramatic Audience Award went to Craig Brewer’s Hustle & Flow, a hip-hop success story film that inspired great buzz and a bidding war at Sundance, with Paramount Pictures and MTV acquiring it as part of a three-film $16 million package deal with producer John Singleton. This was the biggest acquisition deal at Sundance since the $10 million paid by Miramax for the rights to Happy, Texas in 1999. When that film went on to gross only $2 million at the box office, it put a chill on such big deals at Sundance for the past five festivals. John Singleton said he was particularly pleased to watch the bidding war over Hustle & Flow, since every studio had previously turned it down when offered the rights for only $1.5 million. The film will be released this summer. For a complete list of the winners, go to:

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