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January 30, 2014

Trojans in Park City

By Joshua Clark

While turning thirty for many can be a stressful milestone, this year’s Sundance Film Festival took it in stride with its usual mix of sales, screenings, prizes and parties. 2014 marked the 30th anniversary of Sundance and as usual Park City, UT was home to artists of all kinds with films vying for awards, distribution deals, and the ever-gratifying standing ovation. The small, mountain town also reprised its role as a getaway for film enthusiasts eager to see the next big thing in independent cinema. It was a banner year for Trojan filmmakers, with USC alums taking home awards for U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary and Audience Award: Best of NEXT, among others.

USC maintained its usual presence with both its breakfast and cocktail party events. Cinematic Arts alumni were attached to more than twenty films spanning a myriad of categories including the U.S Dramatic, World Cinema Dramatic, and U.S.  Documentary competitions. “What was so impressive about the 2014 festival, was not only the number of USC projects in the festival, but also the variety of awards which our students and alumni won,” said Senior Director of Alumni Relations Justin Wilson. USC is clearly no stranger to Sundance, but it’s also no stranger to the festival’s awards circle. Both this year’s U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Dramatic and Audience Award: U.S. Dramatic went to Whiplash, executive produced by alum Jason Reitman. According to the LA Times, this is the second year in a row that one film won both of the top U.S. dramatic awards. Fruitvale Station, directed by alum Ryan Coogler, took both awards last year.

The U.S. Grand Jury Prize: Documentary went to Rich Hill, directed and produced by ’93 alum Tracy Droz Tragos; Difret, written, produced, and directed by ‘02 alum Zeresenay Berhane Mehari,won the Audience Award: World Cinema Dramatic; Imperial Dreams, written and directed by ’03 alum Malik Vitthal, associate produced by ’11 alum Doug Patterson, and edited by Suzanne Spangler, won the Audience Award: Best of NEXT; and the Short Film Audience Award went to Chapel Perilous, with cinematography by ’11 alum Paul Gleason. In addition, the directing awards for U.S. Dramatic and U.S. Documentary went to the films Fishing Without Nets, produced by ’09 alum Raphael Swann and The Case Against 8, edited by Kate Amend, respectively.

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