Whiplash was teh big winner at the 2014 Sundance Film Festival, taking home two top honors — the audience award and grand jury prize in the U.S. dramatic competition. For the second year in a row, one single film has taken home the two top honors at the indie film festival held annually in Park City, Utah. Last year, the prizes went to director Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale, a retelling of the 2009 Oscar Grant shooting at a Bart Station in Oakland.
Whiplash is the directorial debut for 29-year-old director Damien Chazelle. First written as a short film, Whiplash won in that category at last year’s Sundance before flipping the film into a feature length film for this year. The feature-length version stars J.K. Simmons (Juno, Spider-Man 3) and Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now, That Awkward Moment), as an intense drum teacher and drum-obsessed student at New York City’s most prestigious music school. Sony Pictures Classics pictures acquired the film and plans on releasing it later this year in theaters.
The grand jury prize for documentary went to the Recession-focused film Rich Hill, which follows a small-town Missouri family as they battle financial burdens. Alive Inside: A Story of Music & Memory, which explores music’s impact on Alzheimer’s victims won the documentary audience prize. The directing award went to Cutter Hodierne VICE-produced film on Somali pirates, Fishing Without Nets.
In the international categories the big winners were the Chilean film To Kill a Man, which follows a family and their fight with bullies across several fronts. The world cinema documentary grand jury prize went to Return to Homs, which follows a Syrian revolutionary/soccer star during today’s politically hot climate in the Middle Eastern country. The Waldo Salt screenwriting prize went to Craig Johnson and Mark Heyman who penned The Skeleton Twins, starring former Saturday Night Live veterans Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader as reunited twin siblings. The film was purchased by Lionsgate/Roadside films and is expected to drop this fall.