Film trilogy `Personal Velocity' win top honors at Sundance

Saturday, January 19th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

PARK CITY, Utah (AP) _ ``Personal Velocity,'' a movie trilogy about three women confronted with momentous life crises, won the grand jury prize, the top dramatic honor at the Sundance Film Festival.

Sundance jurors gave the documentary grand jury prize to ``Daughter From Danang,'' which follows an Amerasian child of a Vietnamese woman and U.S. soldier who searches for her natural mother years after she was adopted by an American woman.

Awards were presented Saturday night, with top winners screening one last time on Sunday as the 11-day independent-film showcase closed.

``Real Women Have Curves,'' the story of a Mexican-American girl's struggle to reconcile her family's traditional expectations with her own desire for higher education, received the audience award for dramatic films, chosen in voting by Sundance movie-goers. The film also received a special jury prize for America Ferrera, who plays the girl, and Lupe Ontiveros, who plays her mother.

The documentary audience award went to ``Amandla! A Revolution in Four Part Harmony,'' which examines the role of freedom songs in South Africa's battle over apartheid. ``Amanda!'' also won Sundance's freedom of expression award.

``Personal Velocity'' stars Kyra Sedgwick, Parker Posey and Fairuza Balk in three separate tales of women at crossroads _ an abused wife who flees with her children, a book editor whose sudden success puts her marriage in the dumps, and a woman who reaches a decision about her pregnancy after two scary roadway encounters. Writer-director Rebecca Miller adapted the film from her book.

The movie also earned the dramatic cinematography award for Ellen Kuras.

``Daughter From Danang,'' co-directed by Gail Dolgin and Vicente Franco, examines the conflict between their subject's ''101 percent Americanized'' upbringing and her desire to retrace her roots.

Gary Winick earned the dramatic directing honor for ``Tadpole,'' which stars Sigourney Weaver, John Ritter, Bebe Neuwirth and newcomer Aaron Stanford in a family farce about a precocious boy with a romantic fixation for his stepmother.

Rob Fruchtman and Rebecca Cammisa won the documentary directing award for ``Sister Helen,'' about a woman who becomes a nun after the deaths of her husband and sons and starts a home for recovering alcoholics and drug addicts.

Sundance jurors gave a special prize for originality to the drama ``Secretary,'' a wickedly humorous yet touching tale of sadomasochism about a self-mutilating woman (Maggie Gyllenhaal) and her abusive new boss (James Spader).

Receiving a special jury prize for its ensemble cast was ``Manito,'' a mean-streets story of two Hispanic brothers in Manhattan's Washington Heights area.

Gordy Hoffman won the Waldo Salt screenwriting award for ``Love Liza,'' the story of a widower (played by the writer's brother, Philip Seymour Hoffman) who finds solace in sniffing gasoline as he tries to understand his wife's suicide.

Among other Sundance winners:

_ The world cinema award was shared by ``Bloody Sunday,'' a dramatization of a 1972 clash in Northern Ireland in which British troops killed 13 civilians, and ``The Last Kiss,'' a romantic drama involving four Italian couples.

_ ``The Trespasser,'' a murder-conspiracy thriller set in Brazil, won the Latin American cinema award.

_ Special jury prizes went to the documentaries ``Seniorita Extraviada,'' the story of factory women in Mexico who were raped and murdered over the past decade, and ``How to Draw a Bunny,'' a portrait of reclusive pop artist Ray Johnson.

_ Daniel B. Gold won the documentary cinematography prize for ``Blue Vinyl.''

_ The grand jury prize for short films went to ``Gasline,'' directed by Dave Silver. Honorable mentions for short films were given to ``Bus 44,'' ``Drowning Lessons,'' ``Morning Breath,'' ``No Dumb Questions,'' ``The Parlor'' and ``Stuck.''