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Added by Kinga on 15 Aug 2010 04:20
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Sundance - U.S.&World Grand Jury Prize (Dramatic)

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U.S. Grand Jury Prize

People who added this item 15 Average listal rating (7 ratings) 6.1 IMDB Rating 6.3
Old Enough (1984)
Director and writer Marissa Silver debuted with this captivating film on the friendship of two young girls from opposite sides of the economic tracks but same side of town. Twelve-year-old Lonnie Sloan (Sarah Boyd) is a well-to-do New York rich kid and Karen Bruckner (Rainbow Harvest) is the more ordinary, impoverished New York kid. They happen to meet one day on the street in their neighborhood and hit it off just because each is fascinated with unknown quantities. As they learn that they were taught to perceive and react to the world differently, their relationship becomes one of unfolding adventure -- even for the grown-up viewers.
People who added this item 821 Average listal rating (499 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.6
Blood Simple. (1984)
Abby is cheating on her saloonkeeper husband, Marty. The object of her affections is Ray, one of Marty's bartenders. Marty hires Visser, an unscrupulous detective, to kill them. But Visser has other, more lucrative plans of his own. So begins a calculating round of double and triple crosses that build to a bloodcurdling, surprise-filled climax.
People who added this item 36 Average listal rating (15 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.5
Produced for PBS's American Playhouse series, Smooth Talk was given a brief theatrical release before its "official" February 9, 1987 TV debut. Laura Dern plays a teenager anxious to experience the pleasures of sexual contact. Left alone in the family summer cottage when her mother (Mary Kay Place), father (Levon Helm) and sister (Elizabeth Berridge) go shopping, Dern decides to wander into town for male companionship. She makes the acquaintance of Treat Williams, a handsome if mildly psychotic type who identifies himself as "A. Friend" and behaves like James Dean. When she returns home, Dern is bewildered and dishevelled. We can only speculate as to whether or not she was raped by Williams; we do know that she isn't the same person we met at the beginning of the film. Smooth Talk was based on a 1970 short story by Joyce Carol Oates entitled "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?"
A few months in the life of Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein. During this 1930s summer, they fear Gertrude is seriously ill. While they await the results of medical tests, Alice attends to Gertrude in addition to giving assistance editing Gertrude's writing. They go driving in the French countryside (Gertrude drives, Alice navigates) and meet a young American on his way to fight in the Spanish Civil War. They visit Pablo Picasso and his muse, Fernande Olivier, and Guillaume Apollinaire. Ernest Hemingway pays a call. A friend brings a fatherless baby whom Alice agrees to care for. Through it all, Gertrude takes Alice for granted, treating her abruptly and unfeelingly. Hemingway complains on Alice's behalf. Can Gertrude bring herself to be tender?
People who added this item 4 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 4.5 IMDB Rating 5.6
Though a young sci-fi writer suffers from a bad case of writer's block, he does not seem to have a problem finding someone to date; he is involved with his landlady and her daughter. This low-budget comedy is the feature debut of writer and director, Gary Walkow.
People who added this item 8 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 3.5 IMDB Rating 5.1
Rob Nilsson both directed and starred in Heat and Sunlight. Nilsson plays a San Francisco photographer who has trouble curbing his obsessions. He falls in love with dancer Consuelo Faust, then is unable to shake off his violently jealous impulses when the ardor cools. The musical score by David Byrne and Brian Eno successfully conveys the seismic disturbances in Nilsson's troubled psyche. The film itself lacks cohesiveness, though the individual sequences are for the most part worthwhile. Heat and Sunlight has enough exposed skin and profanity to fully warrant its R rating.
People who added this item 11 Average listal rating (3 ratings) 5.7 IMDB Rating 6
True Love (1989)
Independent filmmaker Nancy Savoca's True Love stars Annabella Sciorra as a none-too-bright young lady who evinces untapped brilliance in getting her boyfriend Ron Eldard to the altar. Sciorra's work is certainly cut out for her: Eldard, who prefers chumming around with his old high school chums, is a virtual stranger to the word "commitment." Even so, a wedding date is set, and the guests begin gathering. Will the bells peal for Sciorra, or is she in for another let-down? Hardly original material, True Love scores in its "little truths" about the characters: these are people that you and I know all too well, no matter what our social standing in life. Co-written by Nancy Savoca and her husband Richard Guay, the film won first prize at the Utah-based US Film Festival.
People who added this item 20 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 7.6 IMDB Rating 7.1
Wendell B. Harris wrote, directed, and stars in Chameleon Street, a sly comedy based loosely on the real-life exploits of conman William Douglas Street, who demonstrates a gift for becoming what people want him to be. The film opens with Street (Harris) being interviewed by a prison psychiatrist. In this scene, he expresses what is basically his mantra, "I think, therefore I scam." The film then flashes back to Street's earlier days, living with his parents, and working for his taciturn father installing burglar alarms. Street eventually marries a beautiful, intelligent woman, Gabrielle (Angela Leslie), who sends him off each day with the same message -- "Make some money." Overcome by boredom and desperate for cash, Street concocts a shakedown scheme that completely backfires when his accomplice, Curtis (Anthony Ennis), signs Street's name to the extortion note, and sends it to the local papers. Ironically, no charges are pressed, and the scam turns Street, briefly, into a media darling. He finds he enjoys the spotlight. Gabrielle is less pleased. Street next tries to pass himself off as a writer from Time Magazine in order to interview a women's basketball player (Paula McGee, who plays herself). "She had the four 'B's," he exults, "Black, Beauty, Brains, and Basketball." As his relationship with his now pregnant wife disintegrates, Street engages in his most ambitious scheme yet -- posing as an Harvard-educated intern at a local hospital. Everything is going smoothly until he's called upon to perform a hysterectomy. Harris' low-budget film won the grand prize at the Sundance Film Festival, but only received limited theatrical distribution. Harris disappeared from national view until his memorable supporting role in Steven Soderbergh's Out of Sight in 1998. He also had a small part in the 2000 teen comedy Road Trip.
People who added this item 85 Average listal rating (35 ratings) 6.7 IMDB Rating 6.4
This film has become infamous thanks to the efforts of the Rev. Donald Wildmon, who publicly questioned the fact that NEA dollars were spent on this "filth." While Wildmon's point was certainly overstated, this debut feature from Todd Haynes is quite disturbing. The Poison in question is sex, and its toxic effects are explored in three segments which have been shuffled together like a deck of cards. "Hero" is a pseudo-documentary about a seven-year-old boy who shoots his father and then ascends into the sky. "Horror" is a mad-scientist story filmed like a Roger Corman "B"-movie. The scientist in question has managed to distill the essence of the human sex drive into a test tube. When he inadvertently drinks it, he turns into a leprous monster, terrorizing the city. "Homo" is a gay love story set in a prison. All three segments are based on the writings of Jean Genet.
People who added this item 76 Average listal rating (31 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7.1
In the Soup (1992)
Alexandre Rockwell's quirky autobiographical comedy stars Steve Buscemi as Adolpho Rollo, a would-be screenwriter who is obsessed with getting his 500-page script "Unconditional Surrender" produced. Desperate for money, he places an ad for financial backing, which is answered by con man Joe (Seymour Cassel). The film was shot in color, but was released theatrically in black & white. Both verisions eventually made their way to home video release.
Ruby in Paradise is an independent film about a young woman (Ashley Judd) who leaves her native rural Tennessee hometown to work at a tourist trap in Panama City, Florida. The film is an engaging, subtle character study highlighted by a wonderful debut performance by Judd.
People who added this item 14 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 5.8 IMDB Rating 5.2
Before making their Oscar-winning film The Usual Suspects, director Bryan Singer and writer Christopher McQuarrie made their first film -- this low-budget independent feature and Grand Jury Prize winner at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Public Access examines the power and dangers of mass media consumption upon a small-town community. Ron Marquette plays Whiley Pritcher, a stranger in the small community of Brewster, who lands a job as the host of a local public access call-in show. On his program he asks the simple question "What's wrong with Brewster?" and gets all manner of call-in complaints -- from discrimination at the school to political corruption at the town hall. Soon, Whiley becomes a local celebrity and an arbiter of public opinion. As his power grows, he makes a pact with Bob Hodges (Burt Williams), Brewster's mayor, and begins an affair with Rachel (Dina Brooks), the town librarian.
Two vaguely acquainted co-workers meet for a first date. This is the deceptively simple premise of What Happened Was..., the directorial debut of actor and playwright Tom Noonan. Noonan also portrays Michael, a paralegal; Karen Sillas plays Jackie, an executive assistant at the same New York law firm. The film limits itself to their first encounter outside the office, a dinner date at Jackie's apartment, and allows the evening to unfold at a natural, unforced pace. Michael and Jackie are humorously awkward at first, nervously focusing their conversations on the office; in these early sections, the film plays as a sly, humorous dissection of modern mating rituals. But as the evening continues, Michael and Jackie begin to open up. As they reveal more about themselves, it becomes clear that they both have secrets; though the conversation remains relatively mundane, something ominous is lurking beneath the surface. By the end of the evening, the film takes a turn towards serious drama, as Michael and Jackie reveal more about themselves than they ever intended.
People who added this item 59 Average listal rating (35 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.6
Three Irish Catholic brothers from Long Island struggle to deal with love, marriage, and infidelity.
People who added this item 80 Average listal rating (29 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.1
This film is based on a true story about a British teenager who allegedly poisoned family, friends, and co-workers. Graham is highly intelligent, but completely amoral. He becomes interested in science, especially chemistry, and begins to read avidly. Something of a social misfit, he is fascinated by morbid subjects such as poisons and murder. His family environment is intolerable to him and, in particular, his stepmother torments him. He decides to poison those who annoy him, first with antimony and later with thallium. He smugly thinks himself cleverer than all those around him, but nevertheless he is caught and sentenced to 'rehabilitation' at a psychiatric institution. Once there, he undertakes to deceive the new eminent psychiatrist sent there to 'cure' him, thereby securing his release.
Insightful look at an unattractive 7th grader as she struggles to cope with un-attentive parents, snobbish classmates, a smart older brother, an attractive younger sister, and her own insecurities.
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People who added this item 9 Average listal rating (4 ratings) 6.5 IMDB Rating 0
After loosing his job, bad-luck forces Matthew onto the streets. Eventually, Matthew encounters Madeline, a British actress who is divorcing her husband. Madeline mistakes Matthew for director Oliver Delacorta and invites him to her apartment. After Matthew tells her who he really is, Madeline confesses a secret of her own.
People who added this item 53 Average listal rating (22 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.1
Slam (1998)
SLAM centers on Raymond Joshua, a gifted rapper/poet in Washington D.C. who is arrested on a petty drug charge and is swallowed up by the capital's criminal justice system. In prison, he meets Lauren Bell, a beautiful writing teacher who recognizes Raymond's unique talents and inspires him to use his unique power of creative expression.
People who added this item 32 Average listal rating (14 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 7.3
Three Seasons (1999)
With sweeping directorial vision and a powerful poetic narrative, Tony Bui has created an enormously impressive feature debut about the "new" Vietnam. Weaving three stories (really four) into a striking pictorial tapestry, Three Seasons contrasts the traditional to the modern in a nation in the chaotic throes of transition. We meet four ordinary people living almost as strangers in their own land: a young girl hired to aid a reclusive spiritual master; a cyclo driver who becomes obsessed with a proud and ambitious prostitute; a very young boy hustling lighters, gum, and cheap watches from the case around his neck; and an American Vietnam vet searching for the daughter he has never seen. What ensues is images of lives struggling to find both place and meaning in a nation which won the war but may now be losing a piece of its soul. The rich diversity of American independent film is deepened this year by the Southeast Asian, melodramatic style of Bui's work. The usual hyperbole about craft and art can't describe the immense visual sensibility of this film. It's not an overstatement to say that more arresting lyrical beauty may not appear in another American film this year. As the first American film to be shot in Vietnam since the war, with a remarkable Vietnamese cast and emotionally provocative acting by the stalwart Harvey Keitel, Three Seasons achieves a pinnacle of excellence that is rare in filmmaking today.
People who added this item 102 Average listal rating (63 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 6.7
Girlfight (2000)
Diana, without her father knowing it, trains as a boxer and achieves impressive success, blazing new trails for female boxers.
People who added this item 258 Average listal rating (133 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.5
Single mother Samantha Prescott is already preoccupied with raising her son, who's become sullen -- and curious about his missing father -- when her wayward brother appears on the scene to borrow money ... and instantly bonds with the boy
People who added this item 401 Average listal rating (223 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.2
The Believer (2001)
A young Jewish man develops a fiercely anti-Semitic worldview. Based on the true story of a KKK member in the 1960s who was revealed to be Jewish by a New York Times reporter.
Delia (Sedgwick) escapes from an abusive husband. Greta (Posey) risks everything for a new career. And Paula (Balk) takes flight after a tragic accident. These women must overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles that confine them. But are they really on their way to new lives-or are they just making new versions of old mistakes?
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People who added this item 639 Average listal rating (398 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.4
Harvey Pekar is file clerk at the local VA hospital. His interactions with his co-workers offer some relief from the monotony, and their discussions encompass everything from music to the decline of American culture to new flavors of jellybeans and life itself. At home, Harvey fills his days with reading, writing and listening to jazz. His apartment is filled with thousands of books and LPs, and he regularly scours Cleveland's thrift stores and garage sales for more, savoring the rare joy of a 25-cent find. It is at one of these junk sales that Harvey meets Robert Crumb, a greeting card artist and music enthusiast. When, years later, Crumb finds international success for his underground comics, the idea that comic books can be a valid art form for adults inspires Harvey to write his own brand of comic book. An admirer of naturalist writers like Theodore Dreiser, Harvey makes his American Splendor a truthful, unsentimental record of his working-class life, a warts-and-all self portrait. First published in 1976, the comic earns Harvey cult fame throughout the 1980s and eventually leads him to the sardonic Joyce Barber, a partner in a Delaware comic book store who end ups being Harvey's true soul mate as they experience the bizarre byproducts of Harvey's cult celebrity stature.
People who added this item 867 Average listal rating (484 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.8
At night and on weekends, four men in a suburban garage have built a cottage industry of error-checking devices. But, they know that there is something more. There is some idea, some mechanism, some accidental side effect that is standing between them and a pure leap of innovation. And so, through trial and error they are building the device that is missing most. However, two of these men find the device and immediately realize that it is too valuable to market. The limit of their trust in each other is strained when they are faced with the question, If you always want what you can't have, what do you want when you can have anything?
People who added this item 23 Average listal rating (10 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.1
"Forty Shades of Blue" tells the story of Laura, a young Russian woman living in Memphis with a much older rock n' roll legend, and the personal awakening she experiences in the wake of her unfortunate affair with his estranged son.
People who added this item 37 Average listal rating (18 ratings) 6.6 IMDB Rating 7
As Magdalena's 15th birthday approaches, her simple, blissful life is complicated by the discovery that she's pregnant. Kicked out of her house, she finds a new family with her great-granduncle and gay cousin.
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People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (1 ratings) 5 IMDB Rating 6.4
Padre nuestro (2005)
Children come to a hospital to visit their dying father they haven't seen for 8 years. They try to recover their relationships before he dies.
People who added this item 217 Average listal rating (139 ratings) 6.8 IMDB Rating 7.1
Frozen River (2008)
Frozen River is a dramatic feature film which takes place in the days before Christmas near a little-known border crossing on the Mohawk reservation between New York State and Quebec. Here, the lure of fast money from smuggling presents a daily challenge to single moms who would otherwise be earning minimum wage. Two women- one white, one Mohawk, both single mothers faced with desperate circumstances- are drawn into the world of border smuggling across the frozen water of the St. Lawrence River.
People who added this item 1353 Average listal rating (815 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.3
Precious (2009)
Lee Daniels’s PRECIOUS: BASED ON THE NOVEL “PUSH” BY SAPPHIRE is a vibrant, honest and resoundingly hopeful film about the human capacity to grow and overcome. Set in Harlem in 1987, it is the story of Claireece “Precious” Jones (Gabourey Sidibe), a sixteen-year-old African-American girl born into a life no one would want. She’s pregnant for the second time by her absent father; at home, she must wait hand and foot on her mother (Mo’Nique), a poisonously angry woman who abuses her emotionally and physically. School is a place of chaos, and Precious has reached the ninth grade with good marks and an awful secret: she can neither read nor write. Precious may sometimes be down, but she is never out. Beneath her impassive expression is a watchful, curious young woman with an inchoate but unshakeable sense that other possibilities exist for her. Threatened with expulsion, Precious is offered the chance to transfer to an alternative school, Each One/Teach One. Precious doesn’t know the meaning of “alternative,” but her instincts tell her this is the chance she has been waiting for. In the literacy workshop taught by the patient yet firm Ms. Rain (Paula Patton), Precious begins a journey that will lead her from darkness, pain and powerlessness to light, love and self-determination.
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People who added this item 1143 Average listal rating (713 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 7.2
Winter's Bone (2010)
17 year—old Ree Dolly (Jennifer Lawrence) sets out to track down her father, who put their house up for his bail bond and then disappeared. If she fails, Ree and her family will be turned out into the Ozark woods. Challenging her outlaw kin’s code of silence and risking her life, Ree hacks through the lies, evasions and threats offered up by her relatives and begins to piece together the truth. Based on the novel by Daniel Woodrell, WINTER’S BONE is directed by Debra Granik (DOWN TO THE BONE) and adapted for the screen by Granik and Anne Rosellini. The film stars Jennifer Lawrence, John Hawkes, Kevin Breznahan, Dale Dickey, Garret Dillahunt, Sheryl Lee and Tate Taylor.
People who added this item 512 Average listal rating (275 ratings) 6.9 IMDB Rating 6.7
Like Crazy (2011)
A British college student falls for an American student, only to be separated from him when she's banned from the U.S. after overstaying her visa.
This fantastical drama follows a little girl named Hushpuppy who lives in a dilapidated pocket of homes in the Mississippi Delta. When her father falls ill and natural disasters strike, Hushpuppy sets off to find her long-lost mother.
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People who added this item 329 Average listal rating (198 ratings) 7.3 IMDB Rating 7.5
Ryan Coogler's Fruitvale Station follows the true story of Oscar Grant (Michael B. Jordan), a 22-year-old Bay Area resident who wakes up on the morning of December 31, 2008 and feels something in the air. Not sure what it is, he takes it as a sign to get a head start on his resolutions: being better son to his mother (Octavia Spencer), whose birthday falls on New Year's Eve, being a better partner to his girlfriend Sophina (Melonie Diaz), who he hasn't been completely honest with as of late, and being a better father to Tatiana (Ariana Neal), their beautiful four year-old daughter. Crossing paths with friends, family and strangers, Oscar starts out well, as the day goes on, he realizes that changes are not going to come easily. His resolve takes a tragic turn, however, when BART officers shoot him in cold blood at the Fruitvale subway stop on New Year's Day. Oscar's life and tragic death would shake the Bay Area - and the entire nation - to its very core.
People who added this item 1395 Average listal rating (1059 ratings) 8.1 IMDB Rating 8.5
Andrew Neyman is an ambitious young jazz drummer, single-minded in his pursuit to rise to the top of his elite east coast music conservatory. Plagued by the failed writing career of his father, Andrew hungers day and night to become one of the greats. Terence Fletcher, an instructor equally known for his teaching talents as for his terrifying methods, leads the top jazz ensemble in the school. Fletcher discovers Andrew and transfers the aspiring drummer into his band, forever changing the young man's life. Andrew's passion to achieve perfection quickly spirals into obsession, as his ruthless teacher continues to push him to the brink of both his ability-and his sanity.
Greg Gaines is an awkward, self-deprecating high school student determined to coast through his senior year as anonymously as possible. Avoiding social interactions like the plague, Greg spends most of his time remaking wacky versions of classic movies with his only friend, Earl. Greg’s well-meaning mother intervenes, forcing him to befriend Rachel, a classmate who's been diagnosed with leukemia. Against his better judgment, Greg concedes. Both Greg and Rachel are surprised—even shocked—to find out that they actually like each other. Tentative at first, this unlikely duo becomes inseparable. But when Rachel gets sicker, Greg’s well-fortified world is changed forever.
People who added this item 73 Average listal rating (40 ratings) 6.3 IMDB Rating 6.4
People who added this item 16 Average listal rating (9 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 6.5
Clemency (2019)
People who added this item 150 Average listal rating (93 ratings) 7 IMDB Rating 7.4
People who added this item 100 Average listal rating (74 ratings) 7.4 IMDB Rating 8
CODA (2021)
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World Grand Jury Prize

People who added this item 3 Average listal rating (2 ratings) 6 IMDB Rating 6.5
O Herói (2004)
A 20-year veteran of the Angolan civil war returns to the capital city of Luanda where he faces the challenges of assimilation and survival.
People who added this item 190 Average listal rating (104 ratings) 7.1 IMDB Rating 7.3
Sebastian, a young man, has decided to follow instructions intended for someone else, without knowing where they will take him. Something else he does not know is that Gerard Dorez, a cop on a knife-edge, is tailing him. When he reaches his destination, Sebastian falls into a degenerate, clandestine world of mental chaos behind closed doors in which men gamble on the lives of others men.
People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (8 ratings) 7.9 IMDB Rating 7.2
Sweet Mud (2006)
On a kibbutz in southern Israel in the 1970's, Dvir Avni realizes that his mother is mentally ill. In this closed community, bound by rigid rules, Dvir must navigate between the kibbutz motto of equality and the stinging reality that his mother has, in effect, been abandoned by the community.
People who added this item 13 Average listal rating (6 ratings) 6.2 IMDB Rating 6.4

Rille's one refuge is ping pong. He's an accomplished player and supervises a community ping-pong program for kids, acting as mentor and, okay, a sort of self-appointed king over his younger subjects. The entire formula of Rille's life makes for a tenuous equilibrium, and this is threatened when family secrets are accidentally disclosed, setting Rille and Erik on an emotional collision course. But in his pained progress toward the chaotic adult world, Rille occasionally catches a glimpse of the possibility of surviving and thriving.

Director Jens Jonsson renders this delicate story with finesse and a quiet humor that infuses everyday drama, and even a few shocking moments of near calamity, with lightness and warmth. Outwardly quiet, but abuzz with emotional interest, King of Ping Pong is a lovingly etched portrait of the awkward years, certain to be familiar to many filmgoers.
People who added this item 105 Average listal rating (52 ratings) 7.2 IMDB Rating 7.3
After 23 years working as housemaid in an upper class Santiago, Chile household, Raquel (Catalina Saavedra) is as much a part of the Valdez family as the wife, husband, and kids she lives with and looks after.
People who added this item 461 Average listal rating (299 ratings) 7.5 IMDB Rating 7.3
Welcome to the Melbourne underworld. Following the death of his mother, seventeen year–old Joshua ‘J’ Cody (newcomer JAMES FRECHEVILLE) moves in with his hitherto–estranged family, under the watchful eye of his doting grandmother, Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody (JACKI WEAVER), and her three criminal sons – the Cody boys. Eldest son and armed robber, Andrew ‘Pope’ Cody (BEN MENDELSOHN) is in hiding from a gang of renegade detectives. Middle brother Craig (SULLIVAN STAPLETON) is a successful but volatile drug dealer, whilst the youngest Cody, Darren (LUKE FORD), naïvely follows his elder brothers’ lead. Just as ‘Pope’s’ business partner and best friend, Barry Brown (JOEL EDGERTON), decides that he wants out of the game, recognising that their days of old–school banditry are all but over, tensions between the family and the police explode. ‘J’ finds himself at the centre of a cold–blooded revenge plot that turns his family upside down and which throws him directly into the path of senior homicide detective, Nathan Leckie (GUY PEARCE). ANIMAL KINGDOM is a powerful crime drama exploring the tense battle between a criminal family and the police, and the ordinary lives caught in the middle.
People who added this item 43 Average listal rating (24 ratings) 5.9 IMDB Rating 6.5
Happy, Happy (2010)
In this inventive Norwegian comedy, Kaia (Agnes Kittelsen) is a school teacher who is a very gregarious and cheerful person. Much to her dismay and discomfort, her husband Eirik (Joachim Rafaelsen) treats her with disdain and her son Theodor (Oskar Hernaes Brandso) sides with his father against her. At one point they stare her down with glaring and hostile looks. She runs from the kitchen upset and feeling persecuted. No wonder Kaia wants another child, preferably a little girl. But that doesn't seem to be a possibility. Eirik's main passions in life are watching wrestling on television and going on week-long hunting trips.

This unhappy couple's existence is set on a new course with the arrival of Sigve (Henrik Rafaelsen) and Elisabeth (Maibritt Saerens) who are sophisticated city folk. She is a lawyer, and he keeps fit by running. They have an adopted African son Noa (Ram Shihab Ebedy) from Ethiopia. Kaia thinks they are the perfect couple but one evening, Sigve admits that they have come to the country to heal their relationship after Elisabeth's affair. This opens the door for the love-starved Kaia, who has not had sex for a year, to pleasure Sigve. A few days later they are having an affair which brings joy to both of them. He feels admired and she feels adored: things both their mates have not been able to provide. Meanwhile, the troubled Theodor is playing games with Noa in which he is the master and the African boy is his slave.

Happy, Happy is Norwegian filmmaker Anne Sewitsky's directorial debut. The screenplay by Ragnhild Tronvoll tackles a very controversial subject: the redemptive powers of an extramarital affair to clarify relationships and to lend zest to life. Some male a capella singers present their indirect commentary on the proceedings with ballads, hymns, and spirituals.

Sigve and Elisabeth join the church choir and convince Kaia to do so as well. She thinks she cannot sing, but her self-confidence is so bolstered by her affair that she volunteers to be the soloist in a program. Her cautious rendition of "Amazing Grace" captures and conveys the redemption she feels inside. Her affair has set her on a new course in which we can rejoice. In a note on the meaning of the film, Anne Sewitsky has written:

"I wanted to tell the story of an insistently happy person. No matter how hopeless and tragic the world may be, she smiles. Kaja lives through others, wants to be like everyone else, maybe for want of individual foundations. Her driving force becomes happiness: she's made joy her survival strategy."
Film based on the life of Chile's best known folk artist, Violeta Parra.
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Sundance Film Festival (20 lists)
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