Chase Joynt’s Framing Agnes was among the LGBTQ+ winners at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival—announced on Friday January 28th—honored with both the NEXT Innovator Award and the NEXT Audience Award. “This film simply grabbed me, taking me on a ride, questioning and re-questioning what was “real”,” commented NEXT juror, Transparent creator Joey Soloway. “What an inspiring, alive structure this filmmaker pulled off—holding space for his own subjective presence, compelling and brilliant performances, an actual de-centering of cisness, but mostly—reclaiming history and pumping new breath into the outlines of those we never knew.” In his ★★★★ review of the film The Queer Review’s editor James Kleinmann called it, “an exhilarating endeavor, cerebral, but accessible and often deeply moving”.
Upon receiving the NEXT Innovator Award during the online ceremony Joynt said, “This project is an extraordinary labor of love. We are indebted to every single person on screen and off screen who made it possible. The future of film is collaborative.” In response to the Audience Award win for Framing Agnes Joynt added, “I’m new to Twitter, but people in our life, on screen and off screen, have arrived in support of this film and in support of trans people who are moving and working in public towards greater, more expansive lives for all of us in our interlocking communities. I really feel like our project does not exist without the hustle and grit that is so often excluded from these kinds of hyper-visible institutional circuits and we’re going to keep hustling and keep paying it forward.” The film features some of today’s most prominent trans creatives including Zackary Drucker, Angelica Ross, Silas Howard, Max Wolf Valerio, Jen Richards, Stephen Ira, and Jules Gill-Peterson.
The World Cinema Dramatic Special Jury Award for Acting was presented to Teresa Sánchez for her work as an iron-willed businesswoman fighting the impending collapse of her tequila factory in Juan Pablo González’s Dos Estaciones. “This performance is a total standout”, enthused Juror La Frances Hui. “This actress delivers the complexity of a factory owner bearing the weight of a family business under threat. Her nuanced performance embodies toughness, loneliness, a yearning for love, and an ignitable rage that brings the character fully alive and infinitely fascinating to follow.”
The Short Film Special Jury Award for Ensemble Cast was presented to Zélia Duncan, Bruna Linzmeyer, Camila Rocha, Clarissa Ribeiro, and Lorre Motta for the intergenerational lesbian drama A wild patience has taken me here. Juror Kevin Jerome Everson described it as, “A film that exercised extreme confidence with its generational group dynamics and an amazing cast that made the story and characters feel natural, exciting and inspirational to live and learn from.” In accepting the honor alongside the filmmaker and other cast members, Zélia Duncan said, “I want to dedicate this award to my partner Flávia and to every lesbian Brazilian woman who has said ‘I love you’ in this crazy place.”
Dania Bdeir was presented with the Short Film Jury Award: International Fiction for Warsha starring Khansa as a Syrian migrant in Beirut who operates a dangerous crane, discovering his freedom. Juror Penelope Barlett said, “What first appears to be an everyday story about man’s quotidian existence set against the drudgery of a hazardous workplace transforms into a stunning, joyful journey of self-discovery and self-expression.” Barlett went on to praise the film’s “combination of jaw-dropping aerial cinematography and the intense performance by the lead actor”.
Also among the LGBTQ+ Sundance winners was Alli Haapasalo’s queer coming of age drama Girl Picture, which took the World Cinema Dramatic Audience Award, with Haapasalo commenting, “Thank you Sundance audience! I could not be happier or more proud to receive an award from you. It makes me so excited to hear that you took Girl Picture into your hearts. A shout out to all the girls in the world, wherever you are and whoever you are. Keep drawing that picture of yourselves and do it on your own terms.”
Other major award winners included Grand Jury Prizes for Nanny (U.S. Dramatic), The Exiles (U.S. Documentary), Utama (World Cinema Dramatic), and All That Breathes (World Cinema Documentary), while other Audience Awards were presented to Cha Cha Real Smooth (U.S. Dramatic), The Territory (World Cinema Documentary), and Navalny (U.S. Documentary) which also won the Festival Favorite Award.
“Today’s awards represent the determination of visionary individuals, whose dynamic work will continue to change the culture and create discourse throughout the year,” said Sundance Institute CEO Joana Vicente. “This year’s entire program has proven that no matter the context, independent storytelling remains a pivotal tool in expanding critical dialogues, and these stories will and must be shared.”
“The 2022 Sundance Film Festival once again met our audience wherever they happened to be,” added Sundance Film Festival Director Tabitha Jackson, “Whether you watched from home or one of our seven satellite screens, this year’s Festival expressed a powerful convergence; we were present, together, as a community connected through the work. And it is work that has already changed those who experienced it.”
“We are so grateful for this year’s jurors who brought their expertise and passion to their decision-making process,” said the Festival’s Director of Programming Kim Yutani, “We congratulate the award winners and we’re so thankful to each and every film in the program that made the 2022 Sundance Film Festival such a huge success.”