PARK CITY, Utah (Reuters) - "Winter's Bone," a stark tale of a young woman trying to keep her family together, and Afghanistan war documentary "Restrepo" won top awards at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday,
"Winter's Bone" earned two prizes, best drama film by the Sundance jury of industry professionals and screenwriting for co-writer and director Debra Granik at the top U.S. gathering for independent movies.
"Restrepo," which tells of a year in the life of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan, earned the jury prize for best documentary for filmmakers Sebastian Junger (author of "The Perfect Storm") and Tim Hetherington.
"This country's in a very painful moment, we're in the middle of two wars," Junger said on stage, accepting his award. "If our movie can help this country understand how to go forward, we would be incredibly honoured by that."
Sundance, backed by Robert Redford's Sundance Institute for film, kicks off the year for movies made outside Hollywood's major studios, and hits here are often among the most-watched in theatres that show low-budget, art and foreign movies.
"Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire" was a big winner in 2009 and earned critical acclaim and box office success in theatres, and Sundance has helped launch the careers of directors such as Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino.
While "Winter's Bone" and "Restrepo" took home top honours from the Sundance juries, audiences also get to vote for their favourites at the festival, which ends on January 31.
AUDIENCES AWARDS, WORLD CINEMA
Audiences voted "happythankyoumoreplease" best drama film. From first-time director and actor Josh Radnor, who stars in U.S. television comedy "How I Met Your Mother," it tells of six young New Yorkers dealing with life, love and friendship.
"I think my movie is rebellious," Radnor said on stage, echoing a theme of this year's festival about edgy filmmaking. "It's about people saying 'no' to cynicism and 'yes' to love."
Audiences voted Davis Guggenheim's ("An Inconvenient Truth") documentary, "Waiting for Superman," their favourite non-fiction film. "Superman" is a look at the crumbling U.S. educational system and what can be done to fix it.
U.S. dramatic film directing honours went to Eric Mendelsohn with "3 Backyards," a trio of tales about three people -- a businessman, housewife and young girl -- who find their lives change on a seemingly normal autumn day.
Among documentaries, Leon Gast was named best director for "Smash His Camera," a look at the life and career of paparazzi Ron Galella, and the editing award went to Penelope Falk for "Joan Rivers - A Piece Of Work", a look at the comedienne
Australia's, "Animal Kingdom," was named best dramatic film by the Sundance jury. It tells of an armed robber on the run from a gang of renegade detectives. The audience award for best drama went to "Contracorriente," set in a Peruvian village and tells of a young married fisherman in love with a gay painter.
The jury prize winner for documentary was Denmark's "The Red Chapel," about an unscrupulous journalist, and the audience trophy went to environmental film "Wasteland," backed by filmmakers in the United Kingdom and Brazil, about a Brazilian artist who creates images of people using materials from where they live.
(Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte, Editing by Sandra Maler)