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Sunday, 28 January, 2001, 06:39 GMT
Believer wins at Sundance
Sundance: the leading showcase for independent cinema
Snow covers Park City during the Sundance festival
The Believer, a powerful portrait of an anti-Semitic fascist who happens to be Jewish, has won the Grand Jury prize, the top prize at the 2001 Sundance Film Festival.

Written and directed by Henry Bean, Believer stars Ryan Gosling as a boy who is militantly opposed to conservative Jewish teachings and becomes an anti-Jewish rabble rouser.

Liz Hurley
Liz Hurley arrived to promote Double Whammy
"This is truly a story of love and hate," Bean said after winning the award.

"I love the provocative aspects... the notion of being a Jew and a Nazi at the same time."

The Sundance Film Festival at a ski resort in Park City, Utah, has become the world's leading showcase for independent cinema.

Winners at Sundance often go on to have hits on the independent film circuit and catch the eye of mainstream film backers.

Gender confusion

Gender confusion has emerged as this year's theme at Sundance.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch, an adaptation of a New York stage show which features a male survivor of a botched sex-change operation who dons a big wig and forms a rock band, won the dramatic audience award, chosen by balloting Sundance film-goers.

Mick Jagger
Mick Jagger is one of Enigma's backers
Sundance jurors gave the documentary prize to Southern Comfort, which explores the last days of Robert Eads, a woman who became a man so effectively that he is referred to as a transgender cowboy.

Eads, who lived in rural Georgia, died of cancer and the film chronicles the last year of his life.

Special awards

The documentary audience award was shared by two films: Dogtown and Z-Boys, the story of a band of misfit skateboarders in Santa Monica, California, who pioneered extreme sports in the 1970s, and Scout's Honour, a study of anti-gay policies in the Boy Scouts.

A special acting prize was given to Sissy Spacek and Tom Wilkinson for their gripping performances in In the Bedroom.

Some other awards at Sundace:

  • The jury prize for short films was given to Gina, An Actress, Age 29

  • The screenwriting prize went to Christopher Nolan for Memento

  • A special jury prize was awarded to Children Underground, about children living in a Romanian underground station

  • The Latin America cinema prize was shared by Without a Trace and Possible Loves.

Whammy hit

Sundance has also been inundated with big-name stars trying to promote their pet projects.

Liz Hurley was in town throwing her weight behind director Tom DiCillo's comedy Double Whammy.

Although some critics were unimpressed by DiCillo's work, that didn't prevent Double Whammy from becoming one of the first films to secure a distributor during the festival.

Mick Jagger also came to town to show his support for Enigma, a British World War II code breaking drama starring Kate Winslet and Dougray Scott.

Although Michael Apted directed the film, Jagger has nurtured the project for several years.

When it comes to money Enigma has a $20m budget, gigantic by the standards of most Sundance pictures. Its presence at an independent film festival has raised a few eyebrows.

'Losing the edge'

The BBC correspondent at Sundance, Tom Brooks, says some festival-goers have complained that the festival is losing its edge, with young directors coming into town with corporate backing, an army of publicity people and the support of big name stars.

The British actress, Tilda Swinton, who is appearing in a Sundance film, the drama The Deep End, fears that the world of independent film is changing and becoming too commercial.

She said: "Independent spirit can make people a lot of money, there's a transitional phase going on here and I think that we should all be very suspicious."

The BBC's Tom Brook
"Some at the festival say Sundance is losing its edge"
See also:

07 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Enigma premières at Sundance
26 Jan 01 | Entertainment
The buzz at Sundance
18 Jan 01 | Entertainment
Sun rises on Redford's festival
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